Activated on December 12, 1942, the 356thmoved to England with its three P-47 Thunderbolt-equipped squadrons, the 359th, 360th, and 361st, in August and September 1943. Assigned to the Eighth Air Force, the group served in combat from October 1943 through May 1945. It participated in operations preparing for the invasion of Europe, and supported landings in Normandy and the Allied drive across France into Germany. The group converted from P-47s to P-51 Mustangs in November 1944. From October 1943 until January 1944 it escorted bombers attacking industrial areas, V-weapon sites, airfields, and communications. After January 1944, it engaged primarily in bombing and strafing missions. Targets included U-boat installations, barges, shipyards, airdromes, hangars, marshalling yards, locomotives, trucks, oil facilities, flak towers, and radar stations.
The 356threceived the Distinguished Unit Citation for effective bombing and strafing that neutralized enemy gun emplacements in support of the airborne attack on Holland during September 1944. It flew its last combat mission, escorting B-17s dropping information operations leaflets, on May 7, 1945. The 356thFighter 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