380th Bombardment Group, USAAF

380th Bombardment Group, USAAF

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380th Bombardment Group, USAAF

History - Books - Aircraft - Time Line - Commanders - Main Bases - Component Units - Assigned To


The 380th Bombardment Group was a B-24 unit that entered combat from Australia and that was attached to the RAAF for most of its operational career, fighting over New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies, Bornea, the Philippines, Formosa and eventually Japan.

The group was activated on 3 November 1942 and moved to Australia in April-May 1943. The group was part of the Fifth Air Force, controlled operationally by the RAAF but under the overall command of the Allied Air Forces, South West Pacific Area.

The group began to fly armed reconnaissance patrols in May 1943.

The group began offensive operations in mid-July, after enough B-24s reached Australia. It was based at Darwin, and its early operations took it over the Dutch East Indies. One early attack saw it attack Soerabaja, a 1,200 mile raid that involved fourteen hours of flight. Late in the summer of 1943 it also made a few attacks on the oil refineries at Balikpapan on Borneo, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation for its efforts.

On 18 October 1943 two of the group's squadrons joined with the 43rd and 90th groups to take part in a major attack on the Japanese base at Rabaul. Weather prevented them from reaching their target, but some of the aircraft were able to attack targets of opportunity in western New Britain.

In December the group took part in operations to support the Allied landings on New Britain. Bad weather protected Cape Hoskins on 13 December, but the bomber force moved to Lindenhafen instead. On 15 December, Z-Day for the landings at Arawe, the group was on alert in case they were needed, and were to attack Cape Gloucester if not.

Next came the landings at Cape Gloucester. On 18 December the group attacked the Japanese airfield at Cape Hoskins, while on the day of the invasion the group dropped sixty-seven tons of bombs on Target Ridge, where the Japanese were believed to have troops.

In the spring of 1944 the Allies prepared to invade Hollandia. The 380th was part of the air force allocated to this mission, when the group came under the command of RAAF Command. Its main role was to attack the Japanese on the Vogelkop peninsula and protect the western flank of the Allied line of advance, mainly by neutralising Japanese airfields. This involved the group in very long missions, largely unconnected to the rest of air effort. The attacks on the Vogelkop peninsula continued in May, as the Allies prepared to invade Biak. A raid on 19 May saw thirteen of the group's aircraft run into six Japanese fighters (Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Demon) Tojos), five of which were shot down (four by the group's escort fighters). A second DUC was awarded for the groups efforts in April and May.

On 6 June the group found and attacked a force of Japanese cruisers that were in the vicinity of the invasion targets, but the attack was unsuccessful. The raids also continued in June, this time to cover the invasion of Noemfoor.

Despite being based in Australia the 380th had a role in the invasion of the Palaus. It was given the task of neutralising the Japanese airfields on the Ambon, Boeroe and Ceram islands and in the Timor and Arafura seas, to prevent Japanese aircraft based there from interfering with the rear areas of the invasion.

On 4 September 1944 the group raided Kendari airfield on the Celebes, filling a gap in the bombardment programme left by bad weather over the Allied bases on Biak and Owi.

At the start of 1945 the 380th moved from Darwin to Mindoro in the Philippines. This brought many more targets into range. On 18 February it attacked Formosa for the first time. On 15 April Giran airfield on Formosa was the target. The group also acted in support of the ground forces fighting on the Philippines.

On 22 April the group hit the naval yards at Saigon, three days after the first in a series of USAAF raids on the city. In May the group attacked railways in Indo-China.

In June 1945 the group joined in the attack on Brunei, bombing the island on 3, 5, 8 and 9 June, as part of the pre-invasion bombardment.

On 23 July 1945 the group's aircraft reached Okinawa, but the ground echelon didn't arrive until August. The group did become operational from its new base, but only for a short period. After the end of the war it was used to fly reconnaissance missions over Japan and to transport liberated POWs from Japan to Manila.

The group returned to the Philippines in November 1945 and was inactivated on 20 February 1946.


To Follow


1942-: Consolidated B-24 Liberator


28 October 1942Constituted as 380th Bombardment Group (Heavy)
3 November 1942Activated
April-May 1943To Asia-Pacific Theatre and Fifth Air Force, attached to RAAF
January 1945Period of attachment to RAAF ends
20 February 1946Inactivated

Commanders (with date of appointment)

528th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-1946; 1947-1951
529th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-1946; 1947-1949
530th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-1946; 1947-1949
531st Bombardment Squadron: 1942-1946; 1947-1951

Main Bases

Davis-Monthan Field, Ark:3 Nov 1942
Biggs Field, Tex: 2 Dec 1942
Lowry Field, Colo: 4 Mar-c. 17 Apr 1943
Fenton, Australia: May 1943
Darwin,Australia: 9 Aug 1944
San Jose, Mindoro:20 Feb 1945
Okinawa: c. 9 Aug 1945
Ft William McKinley, Luzon: 28 Nov1945-20 Feb 1946.

Component Units

Col William A Miller:3 Nov 1942
Col Forrest L Brissey: 10 Feb1944
Lt Col Gayle S Cox: 30 Aug 1945
Col David A Tate: 8 Sep 1945-unkn

Assigned To

1943-1945: V Bomber Command; Fifth Air Force
1945: VII Bomber Command; Seventh Air Force

380th Expeditionary Operations Group

The 380th Expeditionary Operations Group) is the operational flying component of the United States Air Force 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. It is a provisional unit stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, and is assigned to the United States Air Forces Central component of Air Combat Command.

The unit was first activated in 1991 at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York as the 380th Wing's operational element. It managed the wing's tankers until the fall of 1994, when flying operations at Plattsburgh ended in preparation for the base's closure in response to the 1993 BRAC recommendations


The 380 SPCS is the Reserve Associate Unit to the 16th Space Control Squadron. They jointly conduct space electronic warfare support operations to enable and enhance U.S. offensive and defensive space control capabilities. 380SPCS and 16SPCS utilize the Rapid Attack Identification Detection Reporting System Block 10 systems to rapidly achieve flexible and versatile space superiority in support of theater COCOMs and USSTRATCOM's space superiority mission.

The 380 SPCS will operate the RB-10 Central Operating Location, five RAIDRS Deployable Ground Segments. The units monitor, intercept and geolocate satellite communications jammers, sources of electromagnetic interference and other signals of interest. When fully operational, RB-10 will detect and geolocate signals in the C-, X-, Ku- and UHF frequency bands.

Activated in mid-1942 as a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber squadron, trained by Third Air Force in the southeastern United States. Deployed initially to England in September 1942 and flew some missions under VIII Bomber Command over German-occupied France attacking enemy troop formations, bridges and airfields. Was part of the Operation Torch invasion of North Africa in November 1942, being deployed to the new Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO), being assigned to Twelfth Air Force in French Morocco in November. In North Africa, the squadron engaged primarily in support and interdictory operations, bombing marshalling yards, rail lines, highways, bridges, viaducts, troop concentrations, gun emplacements, shipping, harbors, and other objectives in North Africa.

The squadron also engaged in psychological warfare missions, dropping propaganda leaflets behind enemy lines. Took part in the Allied operations against Axis forces in North Africa during March–May 1943, the reduction of Pantelleria and Lampedusain islands during June, the invasion of Sicily in July, the landing at Salerno in September, the Allied advance toward Rome during January–June 1944, the invasion of Southern France in August 1944, and the Allied operations in northern Italy from September 1944 to April 1945. Inactivated in Italy after the German Capitulation in September 1945.

Reactivated as part of the Air Force Reserve in 1947, it is unclear whether or not the squadron was manned or equipped. Inactivated in 1949.

Reactivated in 1952 as a Strategic Air Command squadron, receiving B-29 Superfortress bombardment training from 90th Bombardment Wing, April–August 1952. Acted as a training squadron until 1954 when it replaced the propeller-driven B-29s with new B-47E Stratojet swept-wing medium bombers, capable of flying at high subsonic speeds and primarily designed for penetrating the airspace of the Soviet Union. In the early 1960s, the B-47 was considered to be reaching obsolescence, and was being phased out of SAC's strategic arsenal. B-47s began being sent to AMARC at Davis-Monthan in early 1965 was inactivated in March.

380th Bombardment Group, USAAF - History

The 380th Bombardment Group (380th BG) was nicknamed "The Flying Circus" and includes Headquarters Squadron (HQ), 528th Bombardment Squadron (528th BS), 529th Bombardment Squadron (529th BS), 530th Bombardment Squadron (530th BS) and 531st Bombardment Squadron (531st BS).

528th Bombardment Squadron (528th BS)
B-24D "Shady Lady" 42-40369 pilot Craig force landed August 14, 1943
B-24D "Beautiful Betsy" 42-40387 pilot McDaniel crashed February 26, 1945
B-24D "Miss Giving" 42-40489 transfered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Liberator A72-4
B-24D "Golden Goose" 42-40521 written off September 21, 1944
B-24D "Black Widow" 42-40967 pilot Beller crashed November 21, 1943, 11 missing
B-24D "Career Girl" 42-41234 written off December 15, 1943
B-24D 42-41241 transferred to the 530th BS
B-24D 42-41242 pilot Grenfell crashed November 11, 1943
B-24J "Bums Away" 42-110123 pilot Harwood crashed May 17, 1945

529th Bombardment Squadron (529th BS)
B-24D "Big Chief Cockeye" 42-40351 pilot Thornton crashed July 5, 1944, 4 prisoners, executed/died
B-24D "Esmeralda II" 42-40507 pilot Merkel crashed July 10, 1943 remains recovered, case resolved
B-24D "Nothing Sacred" 42-40509 crashed October 7, 1943
B-24D "Snafu" 42-40513 damaged September 13, 1943 fuselage displayed at AAHC
B-24D "Toughy" 42-40525 pilot Terpnin crashed May 7, 1944
B-24D "Snafu No. 2" 42-41120 salvaged May 29, 1945
B-24J "Paper Doll" 42-73187 pilot Wormer crashed January 19, 1944
B-24J "Lucky Don" 42-73485 crashed April 7, 1944

530th Bombardment Squadron (530th BS)
B-24D "Fyrtle Myrtle" 42-40485 pilot Farrington crashed October 26, 1943
B-24D "Gus's Bus" 42-40504 pilot ? crash landed October 20, 1943
B-24D "The Red Ass" 42-40524 pilot Lippincott MIA September 11, 1943
B-24D "Dauntless Dabbie" 42-40528 pilot Doornbos ditched June 15, 1943
B-24D 42-41241 damaged December 26, 1943 afterwards written off
B-24D "Quack Wac" 42-72775 abandoned at Darwin, nose art displayed AAHC
B-24J 42-73127 written off December 9, 1944 ultimate fate unknown

531st Bombardment Squadron (531st BS)
B-24D "Fyrtle Myrtle" 42-40485 pilot Farrington crashed October 26, 1943
B-24D "Careless" 42-40500 pilot Dienelt crashed June 11, 1943
B-24D "Mr. Five By Five" 42-40505 pilot Johnson crashed October 9, 1944
B-24D "Kathy" 42-40517 crashed June 15, 1943
B-24D "Deliverer" 42-40522 assigned to the RAAF, scrapped postwar
B-24D "The Leila Belle" 42-40527 pilot Smith MIA June 11, 1943
B-24D "Sunshine I" 42-41225 pilot Jennings crashed March 8, 1944
B-24D "The Big Ass Bird II" 42-72801 pilot Martens MIA March 18-19, 1944
B-24J "Doodlebug" 42-73117 pilot Smith crashed January 19, 1944
B-24J "Milady" 42-73134 pilot Neal crashed January 17, 1944

Life of the 380th Bomb Group at Fenton Field

A B-24D comes into land at Fenton Field in June 1943, some two months after the group formally arrived at the Field. The photo was taken at the center of the runway from the control tower.
(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

Life of the 380th Bomb Group USAAF at Fenton Field

The following page aims to paint a picture of the experiences of the 380th Bomb Group “Flying Circus” USAAF at Fenton Field from the 28th of April 1943 to the 9th of August 1944 (USAAF Combat Chronology Documents). It is not intended as a military history or chronology of combat missions flown by the squadron as this topic has received considerable attention in other works such as in Glenn R. Horton’s authoritative account of the 380th Bomb Group entitled “The Best in the Southwest (1995)” Rather this page aims to focus on the social aspects of the 380th Bomb Groups occupation of Fenton Field and document the personal experiences of officers and enlisted personnel at the remote and “desolate” airbase some 110 miles south of Darwin. As such, accommodation, food, personal recollections and other activities will be examined throughout this page.

This page is dedicated to preserving the memory of those US Airmen who flew in defence of Australia 1942-1945

Please contact me if you can contribute information to this page. Thanks.

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

This photo really exemplifies the nature of life at Fenton Field in mid 1943. Note the home made bathroom cupboard, mirror and wash basin that has been constructed around an iron wood tree.


The author wishes to acknowledge the following people and organisations to make this page possible.

1. The 380th Bomb Group Association who have provided me with contacts and help with my research

2. Mr. Theodore J. Williams (1923-2013) Formally of the 529th Squadron, who provided me with photos, and camp and aircraft information between 1999-2000. The author was saddened to learn of his passing in 2013. “Lest We Forget”

3. T/Sgt Mr . Jack W. Rivers (1923-2003) Formally of the 528th Squadron who provided me with photos and personal accounts of his life at Fenton in 1999-2000. The author was saddened to learn of his passing in 2003. “Lest We Forget”

4. Mr. William Shek Jr who’s father, Capt. William Shek, served as Operations Officer in 528th Squadron and who has provided me with a wealth of photos and information about Fenton Field and the 528th.

5. Mr. Doug Tilley for use of his photos of Fenton Field and Base Camp.

Accommodation at Fenton Field / April 1943 to August 1944

Accommodations appeared to have improved somewhat with the departure of 319th Squadron, 90th BG who had occupied the field since February 1943, and the arrival the 530th and 528th squadrons, 380th BG in May of 1943. Areas that were improved early in mid 1943 were that of sleeping quarters and the construction of more permanent buildings required for both recreation and operations management and administration.

Tent floors which had been left unsealed or that had been temporarily sealed with demolished termite mounds were at some point sealed with concrete to prevent dust from rising during the ‘dry’ season and to prevent floors from turning to mud during the ‘wet’ season (monsoon season). Some tent sites also appear to have been sealed with crushed white quartz and asphalt. The crushed white quartz tent sites appear to have been been constructed by the 8th M.W.S. RAAF, probably in 1944 with the southern end of Fenton Field is sealed with the same crushed quartz material.

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

A large ‘Wall Tent’ with a newly constructed concrete floor during the ‘dry’ season of 1943 being used for accommodation. Tent pole inserts were left in the concrete at each corner to provide more stability to each pole and prevent them from blowing over in the event of strong winds. Note the ‘cots’ (US term) or ‘camp stretchers’ (Australian term) and what appears to be a chess set on the small table in the center. Each tent could accommodated six airmen or officers.

A concrete tent floor at Fenton in 1999. Note the post holes at the corner of the floor.

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

An officer taking a nap in his cot. Note the US Army issue Sun and M1 Helmets. At right hanging up side down to prevent insects crawling into it hangs a B-4 Clothing Bag.

What follows is an account of the sleeping accommodations at Fenton by Jack Rivers.

“The sleeping conditions consisted of the six enlisted men on each crew sharing a tent. The tents were a fair size and you could get six cots in them if the cots were arranged so that every other one was at right angles to each other. We had to go out into the woods and cut a few tree limbs with our machete to use as poles to hold the mosquito net over the bed. After we crawled into bed (cots) we would tuck the bottom of the mosquito net under the mattress. Oh yes… some of us were lucky enough to have an air mattress which we inflated with our mouths”. Jack W. Rivers 1999.

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

An M-1934 tent with the sides rolled up an a newly constructed concrete floor at Fenton base camp in 1943. A rigid frame has been constructed around the base of the roof to provide for additional strength.

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

The tent (M-1943) of the Commanding Officer of 528th Squadron, Captain Zed S. Smith. Note how bamboo has been used to construct the supporting frame and what looks to be bracing for the apex of the roof. The tent does not look to have a concrete floor meaning that this photo would have been taken shortly after the squadrons arrival at Fenton in May of 1943.

As time progressed and the wet season began to make its presence felt in October, tents began to be further improved and airmen and officers began to customize their living quarters with the addition of skirting boards which ran around the tents periphery in order to provide better protection from dust, monsoonal storms and insects, such as scorpions and centipedes which made their way into clothing and bedding.

Theodore J. Williams Collection (1999)

Although taken at Long Airfield in the 529th Squadron Camp area, this photo illustrates the improvements made to tents towards the end of 1943. While the roof and tent flaps at the front of the tent remain part of the type M-1934, skirting boards, constructed from corrugated iron, have been placed around the sides of the tent.

Theodore J. Williams Collection (1999)

The layout of a standard officers M-1934 tent as draw by Ted Williams in 1999 showing sleeping and living areas within.

Skirting around the tents was also constructed from Bamboo as corrugated iron was in high demand at all military camp sites across the top end in 1942-45. Although not common place in the NT, Bamboo is sometimes found growing near creeks and streams in the Fenton/Long area and proved an invaluable building material to supplement other materials when they were lacking during the war years.

Jack W. Rivers Collection (1999)

Jack Rivers in his tent in the ‘Airmen’s’ lines at Fenton Field base camp in 1943. Note the bamboo skirting wall constructed from local bamboo.

The permanent buildings at Fenton were constructed from a combination of local material and items brought in from further afield. Most appear to have conformed to a standard design consisting of a concrete floor, corrugated iron, bamboo or timber skirting and a roof, the form of which was constructed from local or imported timber with corrugated iron or canvas forming the roof proper. All permanent buildings appear to have fulfilled operational, recreational and maintenance requirements of the 380th Bomb Group with tents used exclusively for quartering purpose.

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

The 528th Squadron building under constructions by the officers of the unit. Note the corrugated iron skirting.

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

Inside a partially completed 528th Squadron building. Note the local timber (most likely from Woollybutt or Ironbark trees) supports for the roof and the imported timber beams for the roof.

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

The 528th Squadron’s Operations building, 1943.

Photo lab of the 380th Bomb Group either taken at Fenton or Long in 1943/44. It appears to resemble a Sidney Williams hut, although it is evidently of a different design. It offers us a very good insight into camouflage of buildings at the camp site and appears to consist of three different tones/shades although it has not yet been established which colours were used. What is evident is that it was applied to the sides as well as to the roof of the building. (Copy write Authors Collection, 2015)

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

The first CO of the 380th Bomb Group Lt. Col. William A. Miller at his desk. Note the desk plaque.

A desk plaque thought to have been used at Fenton Field. (Authors Collection 2012)

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

The 528th’s Chapel, constructed to much the same design as the Operations building.

An example of a concrete foundation from a permanent building at Fenton Base Camp in the year 2000. The USO shows took place directly behind this building.

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

Another example of the permanent buildings at Fenton Field was the 528th Squadron’s Bar known as “Herky’s Hangout”. Note the use of timber from the Iron Bark tree (Eucalyptus jensenii) as cladding for the base and roof of the bar.

The main Officers Club foundation located on Headquarters Hill. (Doug Tilley Collection, 2008)

Jack Rivers remembers frequenting the enlisted men’s bar at Fenton and adds the following…”Sometimes we would go to the EM club for a drink. Most of us really liked the aussie beer, but we didn’t care so much for it being hot. During the hot dry season you could cool it a bit by wrapping a cloth around the bottle and wetting the cloth and let the evaporation cool it. Needless to say this did not work so good during the monsoon season. We did get a fair ration of scotch and bourbon whiskey. I wasn’t in to that much“. Jack W. Rivers 1999.

Jack W. Rivers Collection (1999)

Jack Rivers (far right) enjoying a bottle of “aussie beer” at Fenton Field in 1943.

An interior view of the Kitchen in the 531st Bomb Squadron camp area at Long Field in 1944. The structure appears to be have been constructed with imported pine. The bins at right are marked flour and sugar. Note the refrigerator at far left. (Copy write Authors Collection, 2015)

What follows is an interesting account of some of the activities around Fenton Field by Jack W. Rivers. In the account he gives his recollections on food, recreation and other activities.

“Life at Fenton: For my self personally it was quite simple. If we were not scheduled for a combat mission, the day started by getting out of bed around 7:00 AM and wash up for breakfast. Man you sure didn’t want to miss that. There was the powdered eggs, powdered milk and fried spam if you were lucky! We mostly looked forward to the coffee which was usually OK. Sometimes we would take the coffee and go back to the tent and open up a K-ration meal if we had them, left over from the combat missions. The K- rations usually consisted of a small can of spam or potted meat (I hesitate to guess what the potted meat was made of) and a few stale crackers plus a candy bar which tasted like it was treated with funalgahide (Sp)”.

“During the morning after breakfast we sometimes went to the flight line to help the ground crew. The help mostly consisted of being a gopher for the maintenance men. We would go-for this or go-for that. Some times we would get a nice job of scraping the paint off of the B-24’s. If the maintenance men did not need or want our help we did our best to find a way to entertain ourselves. As I’ve said before some of the guys passed the time playing poker, but that wasn’t for me. I usually read a bit and played chess if I could find an opponent. I finally got to be a pretty fair chess player. About the only card game I liked was gin rummy. For lunch we could look forward to some more powdered milk and this time powdered potatoes and more spam. I do want to add that on occasion the group headquarters would send a B-24 to Adelaide and bring back some fresh beef, pork or lamb. (These flights were called Fat Cat missions). Man that was really a treat as it didn’t happen very often. Some of the evenings were spent at the open air theater when we could get a movie that we had not seen over and over”. Jack W. Rivers 1999.

Another more personal account of activities at Fenton comes to use from a Sergeant (Gunner) in the 530th Squadron in a letter home to his family. Written on the December 4th, 1943, the letter details the types of food eaten, the supply situation, sporting events and other activities in camp. Names have been blanked out to protect the privacy of the individuals mentioned in the letter.

Cover of the letter showing the APO (Army Post Office) number, �”, which was based at Mt Bundy, Adelaide River. Click on each page to enlarge.

The following poem entitled “UBIQUE” (Everywhere) was composed by William A. Buchanan, a member of the 528th Squadron who gives us another invaluable insight into the social history of the 380th BG in Australia. He provides us with commentary on the setting up of camps, the conditions and the constant activity experienced by the squadron.

Other events not yet mentioned were the extremely popular USO (United Service Organizations) Show’s that were held at Fenton Base camp to provide morale boosting services to the troops and included some big name performers like John Wayne and Gary Cooper.

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

The “Duke” performs for the Officers and Airmen at Fenton in 1943. Note the RAAF band members accompanying his performance.

(Copy write) William Shek Jr. Collection

Gary Cooper and his female co-star on stage at Fenton. The popularity of these ‘USO Shows’ can be gauged by the looks on the faces in the audience.

380th Air Expeditionary Wing

The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing's mission is to perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and aerial refueling operations in support of regional contingencies out of Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.

The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing traces its history to the 380th Bomb Group (Heavy), which was activated at Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona on 3 November 1942, during World War II. The Group quickly moved to Biggs Field, Texas in December 1942, where it underwent intensive B-24 Liberator combat training. During March-April 1943, the unit received additional combat training at Lowry Field, Colorado, all in preparation for their deployment to the Southwest Pacific area.

The 380th Bombardment Group received deployment orders on 14 April 1943. The first group of 38 aircraft left the following day enroute to Amberley Airfield west of Brisbane, Australia. In May 1943, the air echelon arrived in Australia, followed by the ground echelon in June 1943. The Group headquarters and 2 squadrons operated from Fenton Field, while the other 2 squadrons were located 100 miles away at Long Strip, both in northern Australia. Assigned to the Fifth Air Force and attached to the Royal Australian Air Force, the 380th Bombardment Group assisted in securing Australia's Darwin area in the Northern Territory against the threatened Japanese invasion by flying armed reconnaissance patrols, which began in May 1943.

The Group earned a Distinguished Unit Citation for a series of long-range attacks on oil refineries, shipping, and dock facilities in Balikpapan, Borneo, in August 1943. Group bombers repeatedly bombed enemy airfields in Western New Guinea during April and May 1944 in support of the American landing in the Hollandia area, for which it received its second Distinguished Unit Citation. In August 1944, the Group moved back to Darwin and then to Mindoro, Philippines, between February and March 1945, where it launched air strikes against ground forces in Luzon, industries in Formosa, oil refineries in Borneo, railways and shipping in French Indochina, and ground installations on the China coast. The 380th Bombardment Group also had the distinction of remaining under control of an ally longer than any other Army Air Forces unit.

Following cessation of hostilities, the Group moved to Yontan Airfield, Okinawa, Japan, in August 1945 and flew armed reconnaissance patrols over Japanese islands and ferried former prisoners of war from Japan to Manila. The Group was reassigned to the Seventh Air Force in October 1945 and participated in the Sunset Project, the return of B-24s and their crews to the United States. The Group was then reduced to a paper unit in November 1945 and moved to Manila and placed under the Far East Air Force until its formal inactivation on 20 February 1946.

In June 1947, the Group was reactivated in the Reserve at MacDill Field, Florida, where it remained until it was briefly ordered to active duty on 1 May 1951. It was again inactivated on 16 May 1951. The 380th Bombardment Group consolidated with the 380th Bombardment Wing on 23 March 1953. The Wing did not, however, activate until 11 July 1955 at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York. At the same time, 3 squadrons, the 528th, 529th, and 530th Bombardment Squadrons (known as the 'The Flying Circus' due to the cartoon nature of their official squadron emblems) were activated.

Personnel arrived at Plattsburgh Air Force Base in July and August of 1955. In December 1955, the first B-47 Stratojet was assigned to the Wing. Aircrew members, however, trained in strategic bombardment and conducted combat training through a wing detachment at Pinecastle Air Force Base, Florida, from January through June 1956, while facilities at Plattsburgh Air Force Base underwent construction for the B-47 aircraft. The first permanently assigned B-47E arrived at Plattsburgh Air Force Base on 21 March 1956, and was christened "City of Plattsburgh." The Wing also received KC-97 Stratofreighter aircraft in September 1956, which conducted the first aerial refueling mission for the Wing, and conducted worldwide air refueling missions, from September 1956 through April 1961 and again following receipt of the KC-135 Stratotanker in September 1964.

The Wing was also redesignated the 380th Strategic Aerospace Wing on 15 September 1964 and briefly controlled Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missile operations from December 1962 through April 1965. The 556th Strategic Missile Squadron, formerly assigned to Dow Air Force Base, Maine, was transferred to Plattsburgh Air Force Base on 1 October 1961, and became operational on 20 December 1962 assigned to the 380th Strategic Aerospace Wing. Twelve Atlas F missile sites were constructed within a 50-mile radius of Plattsburgh Air Force Base. This was the last Atlas squadron to be accepted and the only ICBM base east of the Mississippi River.

The Wing began global strategic bombardment training with the B-52 Stratofortress in June 1966. The first B-52 to arrive at Plattsburgh Air Force Base was christened "Champlain Lady" on 19 June 1966. The Vietnam conflict concerned the members of the Wing in a manner of temporary duty assignments in the Pacific theater. The B-52s were destined to be short lived in the history of the Wing with the introduction of the Air Force's newest strategic aircraft, the FB-111A Aardvark in October 1970. During 1971, the Wing converted to FB-111s, serving as Strategic Air Command's single FB-111 combat crew training organization. As a result, the Wing was redesignated as the 380th Bombardment Wing, Medium, on 1 July 1972.

The wing deployed KC-135A/Q aircraft and personnel to provide tanker and airlift support during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 through March 1991. On 1 July 1991, the Wing was redesignated as the 380th Air Refueling Wing. The Wing inactivated on 30 September 1995, as Plattsburgh Air Force Base closed.

Following the events of 11 September 2001, the Air Force reactivated the unit on 25 January 2002, as the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. There the Wing supported Operation Enduring Freedom, providing both intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and aerial refueling in support. The wing flew KC-10s, U-2s, and RQ-4 Global Hawk umanned aerial vehicle. Image analysts from the Air Intelligence Agency at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, viewed imagery taken by a U-2 on light tables. The Mobile Intelligence Processing Element, deployed to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, was a one-of-a kind wet-film processing mobile facility used by analysts.

The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing supported Operation Iraqi Freedom after it began in 2003, and continued its support of US forces in Iraq after the operation transitioned to Operation New Dawn. In addition, the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing was tasked to provide support to the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. By August 2010, the Wing consisted of 5 groups and 18 squadrons. Its mission partners included a US Army air defense battalion, an Air Force training group, and a US Navy aerial maritime surveillance detachment.


  • Constituted as 380th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 October 1942
  • Redesignated 380th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy). Allotted to the reserve
  • Converted to provisional status and allocated to Air Combat Command to activate or inactivate any time after 4 December 2001.
  • Redesignated as 380th Expeditionary Operations Group in early 2002 and activated.


    , 3 November 1942 – 17 April 1943 , May 1943-20 February 1946
    , 16 June 1947 – 16 May 1951
  • Air Combat Command, Early 2002–present


    : 1942–1946 1947–1951 : 1942–1946 1947–1949 : 1942–1946 1947–1949 : 1942–1946 1947–1951
  • 12th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron: 2002-Undetermined : 2002-Undetermined
  • 964th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron: 2002-Undetermined
  • 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron: 2002-Undetermined
  • 380th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron: 2002-Undetermined


    , Arizona, 3 November 1942 , Texas, 2 December 1942 , Colorado, 4 March – 17 April 1943 , Australia, May 1943 , Australia, 9 August 1944 , Mindoro, Philippines, 20 February 1945 , Okinawa, 9 August 1945 , Luzon, 28 November 1945 – 20 February 1946 , Florida, 16 June 1947 – 16 May 1951 , Southwest Asia, Early 2002–present



World War II

The history of the 380th dates back to 28 October 1942 when the unit was established. The 380th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated on 3 November 1942 at Davis-Monthan Field, Tucson, Arizona. Originally, the 380th BMG consisted of four bombardment squadrons, the 528th, 529th, 530th, and 531st. Shortly after being activated, the group moved to Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas where it underwent extensive combat training. After completing training, the 380th BMG moved to Lowry Field, Denver, Colorado to undergo final combat training. The 380th was part of the 5th Air Force, and was known as the FLYING CIRCUS and as the KING OF THE HEAVIES (note the lion in the insignia).

The 380th went overseas in April 1943 to become the second B-24 unit in the Fifth Air Force at that time after the 90th Bomb Group. The other Heavy Bomber unit (the 43rd) flew B-17s. [1] The group arrived at Fenton Airfield, Australia, and also encompassed a part of Western Australia at Corunna Downs Airfield, a top secret airfield in the Pilbara, north of Perth Western Australia in the RAAF's North West Area of operation, where it was assigned to 5th Air Force, V Bomber Command. The Command's purpose was to engage in destroying Japanese strongholds in the Pacific. Later moving to RAAF Base Darwin, the Group was placed under Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) command, assigned to the Australian North West Area Command operating out of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, and was the only B-24 Liberator unit attached to the RAAF. The 380th was assigned to train RAAF personnel on the B-24 and to secure Australia's safety against a threatened Japanese invasion along its northern coast. Upon its arrival in Australia, the 380th BG immediately began combat operations. This was thus the only heavy bomber unit available to cover the whole of the Dutch East Indies (1,000,000 square miles) from July 1943 until late in 1944 At that time the successes in the New Guinea campaign had brought the other Fifth Air Force units close enough to the East Indies to join the 380th in that task. . [2]

During April and May 1944, the 380th engaged in the most intensive and sustained operations since arrival in the southwest Pacific, neutralizing the rear bases through which the Japanese might reinforce their air force in the Wakde-Hollandia area of the Dutch East Indies. From the end of May 1944 until it moved to Murtha Field, San Jose, Mindoro, Philippines in February 1945, the 380th concentrated on neutralizing enemy bases, installations and industrial compounds in the southern and central East Indies. In April 1945, Far East Air Force relieved the 380th of its ground support commitments in the Philippines. During the month, the Group flew the first heavy bomber strikes against targets in China and French Indochina. In June 1945, the 380th was placed under the operational control of the 13th Air Force for pre-invasion attacks against Labuan and on the oil refineries at Balikpapan in Borneo. For nearly two weeks, the Group's Liberators kept these targets under a state of aerial siege. After the Borneo raids, the 380th flew its last combat missions to Taiwan.

After the cessation of hostilities, the 380th moved to Okinawa and flew reconnaissance patrols over the Japanese islands. The group ferried released prisoners of war to Manila. On 18 October 1945, the unit was transferred to the 7th Air Force in the Philippines, where it moved to Clark Field on Luzon, and participated in the Sunset Project, the return of B-24s and their crews to the United States. Although some aircraft and crews were flown back to the United States, most of the aircraft from inactivating units were simply scrapped at Clark and personnel were returned via Navy ships from Manila.

In its service with the Australians, the 380th served longer under the operational control of an Allied country than any other Air Force unit (from June 1943 until February 1945). [3]

The 380th Bomb Group was inactivated at Clark Field on 20 February 1946.

B-24 Aircraft

The basic unit of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II was the Group. Groups were built around the operational use of a specific type of airplane. In the case of the 380th, this was the B-24 Liberator Bomber. These planes were used in a particular class of mission suited to their capabilities. This was heavy bombardment associated with a large fraction of reconnaissance missions, particularly in the Australian phase of the 380th's service in the 5th Air Force. The 380th was assigned to the South West Pacific War Area because of the long-range capabilities of the Liberator and the need for its services there at that point in the war (Spring 1943). A total of 137 planes served in Australia and New Guinea. Of these, 53 served further in The Philippines. [4] [5] [6] [7]

Bombing Missions

The 380th made the longest bombing missions of WWII, to the oil refineries at Balikpapan, Borneo (200 miles further than the Ploesti mission in Europe) and to those at Surabaja, Java (as long as Ploesti). Both of these missions were accomplished several times during their stay in Australia. [1]

In addition to attacks on the Japanese oil supply, the 380th was heavily engaged in crippling their shipping fleet to reduce the Japanese capability of supplying their far-flung forces. Numerous Japanese airfields were also heavily bombed in the East Indies to reduce the Japanese threat to Australia and New Guinea forces. [2]

As part of its duties in Australia, the 380th carried out the operational training of 52 Australian crews and their associated ground staffs so that the Australians could take over the East Indian campaign activities of the 380th when they were assigned to The Philippines in February 1945. [8]

Squadrons of the 380th

The 380th was composed of four Squadrons: the 528th, 529th, 530th, and 531st.

Mascots of the squadrons were:

  • 528th Squadron—HERKY, the clown
  • 529th Squadron—LITTLE BEAVER, the Indian boy sidekick of RED RYDER in the cowboy movies of the 1930s
  • 530th Squadron—BUGS BUNNY
  • 531st Squadron—a fierce DONALD DUCK

The insignia were sewn on their leather flying jackets as in all Air Force units in WWII. [3]


As noted above, the 380th was based in Northern Territory, Australia, from May 1943 through February 1945. At that time, the Group moved to Murtha Strip, San Jose, Mindoro Island, The Philippines. There they joined the rest of the 5th Air Force in attacks on Formosa, Indo China, Japanese areas of The Philippines, and on China itself. [3]

As the war progressed, the 380th moved with the rest of the 5th Air Force to Yonton Strip, Okinawa, to begin the attack on Japan proper. As the world knows, the atom bomb negated this need and the war ended.

Cold War

The 380th Bombardment Group remained inactive from 20 February 1946 until its redesignation from Heavy to Very Heavy on 13 May 1947. On 29 May 1947, the Group was activated at MacDill Field, near Tampa, Florida, as a B-29 Superfortress reserve unit under the 49th Air Division. The group remained an inactive reserve unit until being called to active duty on 1 May 1951 during the Korean War. Fifteen days later on 16 May 1951, after the personnel had been processed for active duty and transferred to other units for service in Korea, the Group was inactivated.

Global War on Terrorism

Reactivated and redesignated as the 380th Expeditionary Operations Group in early 2002 to support the War in Afghanistan. The group participates in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

380th Bombardment Group, USAAF - History

Former Assignments
43rd BG

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego completed on March 13, 1943. Constructors Number 1586. Assigned to the U.S. Army. Ferried overseas to Australia. On April 29, 1943 arrived at Amberley Field near Brisbane.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group and operated from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby flying bombing missions over New Guinea.

During September 1943, trasnfered to the 380th Bombardment Group, 529th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Nothing Sacred" and flew an additional 13 bombing missions.

Mission History
On September 21, 1943 took off from Fenton Airfield a bombing mission over Langgoer. Damaged it crashed near Fenton Airfield. Officially stricken on October 7, 1943.

Other sources list the date of the crash as October 7, 1943
380th Bomb Group Association - B-24D "Nothing Sacred" 42-40509

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380th Bombardment Group, USAAF - History

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated in San Diego between September 3-10, 1943 and delivered painted with olive drab upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces. Constructors Number 2704. On September 14, 1943 this aircraft made a first flight. On September 16, 1943 delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-15-CO Liberator serial number 42-73134. On September 21, 1943 flown to Tucson, Arizona to the modification center. On September 29, 1943 flown to Topeka, Kansas. On October 29, 1943 flown to Fairfield Airfield then departed via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia arriving at Garbutt Field on November 3, 1943.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 380th Bombardment Group (380th BG), 531st Bombardment Squadron (531st BS) based at Long Airfield near Darwin. Nicknamed "Milady" with the nose art of a nude woman sitting on a bomb and holding a pen and pad of paper. Crew chief MSgt William B. Camp.

On December 17, 1943 first combat mission (FEN III-39) piloted by Baptist on a reconnaissance mission over Selaru and Utoram. In total, this B-24 flew a 56 combat missions before it was lost. In total, this B-24 flew at least 12 combat missions. Afterwards, this B-24 was stripped to bare aluminum finish.

Mission History
On January 17, 1945 took off from Long Airfield pilot 2nd Lt. Robert T. Neal on a practice bombing mission over Quail Island. This bomber crashed at Charles Point on the Cox Peninsula west of Darwin, killing the entire crew. Officially written off on January 17, 1944. On April 3, 1945 officially stricken of charge.

Recovery of Remains
After the crash, the remains of the crew were recovered and buried in the Northern Territory then reburied at Rookwood U.S. Armed Forces Cemetery in Sydney. Postwar, transported to the United States for permanent burial.

The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission.

Scanlon is buried at Saint Marys Cemetery in Randolph, MA.

Sacre is buried at La Plata Cemetery in La Plata, MO.

Ward was buried on March 30, 1948 at Golden Gate National Cemetery at section D, site 509.

Caballero is buried at Eagle Pass Catholic Cemetery in Maverick County, TX.

The crash site remains in situ. Over the years, many parts have been taken as souvenirs by visitors. This aircraft wreck was placed on the NT Heritage Register. A memorial plaque was placed at the site by the Northern Territory Government to commemorate the crash.

Bob Alford adds:
"It was rapidly falling victim to the souvenir hunters until we had it put on the NT Heritage Register and thus legislatively protected. The local government offices took it's presentation and maintenance up as a project and the NT Government had the site interpreted with assistance of the 380th Bomb. Group Association in the USA. Items previously taken from the site were returned and many people visit the site annually. The very real potential for these sites now is the ever increasing interest in visiting the WWII heritage the Territory offers."

John Sauer adds:
"As of May 23, 2013 The access road is in bad condition and requires a good 4WD to access. There is a gate with no lock stating this is private property."

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380th Bombardment Group, USAAF - History

The B-52 made a penetration at its home base, executed a missed approach, and subsequently landed at the weather alternate. The pilot taxied off the runway, stopped, and proceeded with his after landing checklist. Numbers 4 and 5 engines were advanced to 82% power to reset the stabilizer trim. At that time, the aircraft commander noticed that the aircraft started to roll forward. He then queried the copilot to determine if he had released the parking brakes. The copilot replied that he had not released the brakes, but he had thought the aircraft commander had done so. As indicated in their statements, neither the aircraft commander nor the copilot had released the brakes. The aircraft commander checked the braking action and found it normal and proceeded to the parallel taxiway . After reapplying the brakes he found no response and no deceleration of the aircraft. The copilot then attempted to apply the brakes, but to no avail, and he was instructed to shut down engines 1, 2, 7 and 8 and notify the tower of the difficulty. The remaining engines, with the exception of number 5 were shut down in an attempt to reduce engine thrust and maintain hydraulic pressure.

During the period that lack of braking action was experienced, there were no indication on the hydraulic panel of a malfunction or failure of any of the systems. After it was determined that the aircraft could not be controlled due to lack of braking action, the tower was again notified that complete engine shut down was being performed. Number 5 engine was shut down in the belief the aircraft would roll to a stop based on the evaluation of the terrain features at that time. The left wing of the B-52 contacted the external drop tank of KC-97 153. The B-52 rolled further and collided with KC-97 185 which in turn swung around and hit KC-97 651. Immediately after the B-52 contacted the first KC-97 the aircraft commander alerted the crew to prepare to abandon the aircraft. He then left his seat and proceeded to the lower deck to prepare for egression. The copilot remained in his seat until the aircraft came to a rest. The distance traveled from the time all engines were in cut off to the final stopping point was approximately 3,000 feet.

Watch the video: USA prahlen mit Bombardierung irakischer Insel So sieht ein 36-Tonnen-Bomben-Abwurf aus