The 50thFighter Group was constituted as the 50thPursuit Group (Interceptor) on November 20, 1940 and activated on January 15, 1941. It was re-designated as the 50thFighter Group in May 1942 and initially served as part of the Fighter Command School, testing equipment, conducting training in air defense operations, training pilots and furnishing cadre to night fighter units. The group later operated with the Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics, training personnel in fighter tactics under simulated combat conditions. In these activities it primarily employed P-40 Warhawks and P-47 Thunderbolts, but it also used A-20 Havocs, P-51 Mustangs, and P-70 Nighthawks, a night fighter variant of the A-20.
The 50thmoved to England with the 10th, 81st, and 313th Fighter Squadrons during March and April 1944. Assigned to the Ninth Air Force, the 50thbegan operations by making a fighter sweep over France with P-47 Thunderbolts on May 1. It engaged primarily in escort and dive-bombing missions during the next month, and flew air cover over the Normandy beaches on June 6 and 7. It moved to Europe later that month, and attacked bridges, roads, vehicles, railways, trains, gun emplacements, and marshalling yards. In July it bombed targets near St. Lo to support the breakout and then supported the subsequent drive across France. It assisted in stemming the German offensive in the Saar Hardt area early in January 1945, engaged in the offensive that reduced the Colmar bridgehead in January and February, and supported the drive that breached the Siegfried Line and carried Allied forces into southern Germany in March and April.
The 50threceived a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for its close cooperation with the Seventh Army in March, during the assault on the Siegfried Line. In spite of severe enemy opposition and difficult weather conditions, the group persevered in demolishing enemy defenses and isolating battle areas by destroying bridges, communications, supply areas, and ammunition dumps. The 50th received a second DUC for April 25, when, despite intense antiaircraft fire, the group destroyed or damaged numerous enemy aircraft on an airfield southeast of Munich. The group ended operations in May and returned to the United States in August. The 50thFighter Group inactivated on November 7.
Campaigns: American Theater; Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe