Activated on January 15, 1943 and equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts in March, the 368th, 369th, and 370thFighter Squadrons of the 359th Fighter Group moved to England in October and were assigned to the Eighth Air Force. The group first saw combat in December, flying patrol, strafing, dive-bombing, and weather-reconnaissance missions and escorting bombers attacking airfields in France. The 359thre-equipped with P-51 Mustangs in April 1944 and began escorting bombers striking rail centers in Germany and oil targets in Poland. The group supported the invasion of Normandy by patrolling the English Channel, escorting bombers to the French coast, and dive-bombing and strafing bridges, locomotives, and rail lines near the battle area. From July 1944 through February 1945, the group escorted bombers to oil refineries, marshalling yards, and other targets in such cities as Ludwigshafen, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Berlin, Merseburg, and Brux.
It received a Distinguished Unit Citation for protecting a formation of heavy bombers against large numbers of fighters over Germany on September 11, 1944. The group supported campaigns in France during July and August 1944, bombed enemy positions to support the airborne invasion of Holland in September, and participated in the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945. The 359thalso flew missions to support the assault across the Rhine in March, and escorted medium bombers attacking communications targets from February through April. The 359thFighter Group returned to the United States in November 1945 and inactivated on November 10.
Campaigns: Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe