Activated on October 1, 1942, the 352nd provided air defense in the United States while training with P-47 Thunderbolts for combat duty. The 352ndand its three fighter squadrons, the 328th, 486th, and 487th, moved to England during June and July 1943. Assigned to Eighth Air Force, the group engaged in air combat over Europe from September 1943 through May 1944 using P-47s before converting to P-51 Mustangs in April 1944. The 352ndflew numerous escort missions covering bombers attacking factories, V-weapon sites, submarine pens, and other targets. It escorted strikes on German aircraft factories during “Big Week” (February 20- 25, 1944).
The 352ndalso flew counter-air patrols, and on many occasions strafed and dive-bombed airfields, locomotives, vehicles, troops, gun positions, and other targets. It supported the invasion of Normandy in June 1944 by strafing and dive-bombing enemy communications, assisted the Allies in breaking through the German line at St. Lo in July, and participated in the airborne attack on Holland in September. When the Germans launched a counteroffensive in the Ardennes in December, the group’s planes and pilots were sent to Belgium and placed under the control of Ninth Air Force for operations in the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 through January 1945.
On January 1, 1945 the group earned the French Croix de Guerre with Palm when 12 of its aircraft were attacked by approximately 50 German fighters. In the aerial battle that followed, it shot down 25 enemy aircraft with no losses of its own. In February the remainder of the 352ndjoined the detachment in Belgium for operations under the control of the Eighth Air Force. While based on the Continent, the group participated in the airborne assault across the Rhine in March. The group returned to England in April and continued operations until a few days before V-E Day. The 352nd Fighter Group returned to the United States in November and inactivated on November 10.
Campaigns: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe