|44th Fighter Group|
F-22A Raptor assigned to the 44th Fighter Group flies over the Nevada Test and Training Range for a training mission during Red Flag 11-3, 2 March 2011.
|Active||15 January 1941-Present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Air Force Reserve Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida|
|44th Fighter Group emblem|
The 44th Fighter Group (44 FG) is an Air Reserve Component (ARC) of the United States Air Force. It is assigned to the Tenth Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. The 44 FG is an associate unit of the 325th Fighter Wing, Air Combat Command (ACC) and if mobilized the wing is gained by ACC. Otherwise, the 44 FG operates as a geographically-separated unit (GSU) of AFRC's 301st Fighter Wing at NAS JRB Fort Worth, Texas.
During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 44th Bombardment Group was the first VIII Bomber Command B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment group stationed in England. It was initially stationed at RAF Cheddington on 11 September 1942, and moved to RAF Shipdham in October. The 44th operated from England for a longer period than any other B-24 group; sustained the highest Aircraft MIA loss of all Eighth Air Force B-24 groups; claimed more enemy fighters than any other Eighth Air Force B-24 group, and was the first group in the VIII Bomber Command to be awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for actions on 14 May 1943 for an extremely hazardous mission against naval installations at Kiel, Germany
In the postwar era, the 44th Bombardment Group was one of the original ten USAAF bombardment groups assigned to Strategic Air Command on 21 March 1946.
Administratively, the 44 FG is a component of the AFRC 301st Fighter Wing, based at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base (formerly Carswell Air Force Base), Texas. Within Air Force Reserve Command channels, the 301st Wing is responsible for the 44th Group and its 301st Fighter Squadron, flying the F-22 Raptor as an associate unit to the active duty 325th Operations Group of the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
In April 2010, the 44th Fighter Group, Detachment 2 was activated at Holloman Air Force Base. On 1 October 2012, it was transferred to the 325th Wing, forming a classic association with the 325th Wing while it was under Air Education and Training Command. Detachment 2 helped lead the transition of the F-22 Raptor combat-coded mission from Holloman Air Force Base to Tyndall. The 44th Group supports operations, flying training and maintenance. The group also supported Northrop T-38 Talon operations at Holloman in which they played the role of adversary aircraft in F-22 training exercises.
In 2012, it was also announced that all F-22 aircraft, pilots and support personnel assigned to Holloman AFB would transfer to Tyndall AFB in the spring of 2013 to comply with USAF's F-22 fleet consolidation plan and the reassignment of the 325 FW from AETC to Air Combat Command (ACC). Due to U.S. congressional action, this transfer was subsequently delayed until January 2014.
Concurrent with relocation of Holloman's active duty F-22 operations to Tyndall, the group shifted its headquarters and main body to Tyndall, replacing Detachment 2 as a reserve associate unit to the 325th Wing, operating and maintaining the F-22 Raptor at that location while establishing/retaining its Detachment 1 at Holloman in support of MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper training and operations as a reserve associate element in support of the active duty 49th Wing.
Activated 15 January 1941 at MacDill Field Florida. Received first B-24, and later B-24C. Moved Barksdale Field, La. on 16 February 1942 and acted as training unit for 98th, 93rd, and 90th Bomb Groups. During same period took part in anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico and was credited with the destruction of one U-boat. On 26 July 1942 they moved to Will Rogers Field in Oklahoma, and prepared for overseas movement. Ground echelon left by Queen Mary on 4 September 1942 for Grenier Field in NH, and remained there until the first aircraft left for the United Kingdom late in September 1942. The 404 Bomb Squadron originally part of the Group was reassigned while in the United States.
In England, the group was assigned to the VIII Bomber Command 14th Combat Bombardment Wing, and the group tail code was a "Circle-A". Initially stationed at RAF Cheddington, the group was moved to RAF Shipdham in October 1942.
The 44th Bomb Group's operations consisted primarily of assaults against strategic targets in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Romania, Austria, Poland, and Sicily. Among the targets attacked were submarine installations, industrial establishments, airfields, harbors, shipyards, and other objectives, November 1942 - June 1943.
The unit received a Distinguished Unit Citation for an extremely hazardous mission against naval installations at Kiel on 14 May 1943: Its B-24's flew in the wake of the main formation and carried incendiaries to be dropped after three B-17 groups had released high explosive bombs, thus the group's aircraft were particularly vulnerable, lacking the protection of the firepower of the main force. This vulnerability increased when the group opened its own formation for the attack; but the 44th blanketed the target with incendiaries in spite of the concentrated flak and continuous interceptor attacks it encountered.
Late in June 1943 a large detachment moved to North Africa to help facilitate the Allied invasion of Sicily by bombing airfields and marshalling yards in Italy. The detachment also participated in the famous low-level raid on the Ploesti oil fields on 1 August 1943. The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its part in this raid and its commander, Colonel Leon W. Johnson, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his daring and initiative in leading his men into smoke, flame, and alerted fighter and antiaircraft opposition over the target, which already had been bombed in error by another group.
Before returning to England at the end of August, the detachment bombed an aircraft factory in Austria and supported ground forces in Sicily. In September 1943 the group struck airfields in the Netherlands and France and convoys in the North Sea. Also in September, a detachment was sent to North Africa to support the Salerno operations.
This proved to be the 44th's last detachment and in October when several new B-24 groups were arriving in Norfolk, the 44th was fully committed to the combined bomber offensive from the UK. From November 1943 to April 1945, the group carried out operations against targets in western Europe, concentrating on airfields, oil installations, and marshalling yards.
The group took part in the intensive campaign of heavy bombers against the German aircraft industry during Big Week, 20-25 February 1944. The group flew support and interdictory missions. Struck airfields, railroads, and V-weapon sites in preparation for the Normandy invasion; supported the invasion in June 1944 by attacking strong points in the beachhead area and transportation targets behind the front lines. The group aided the Caen offensive and the Saint-Lô breakthrough in July. Dropped food, ammunition, and other supplies to troops engaged in the airborne attack on the Netherlands in September. The group also helped to check the enemy offensive during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 - January 1945, by striking bridges, tunnels, choke points, rail and road junctions, and communications in the battle area. The group attacked airfields and transportation in support of the advance into Germany, and flew a resupply mission during the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945.
The 44th Bomb Group flew its last combat mission on 25 April 1945. During the course of hostilities, the 44th flew a total of 343 missions and its gunners were credited with 330 enemy fighters shot down and its own losses. highest of any B-24 group in the Eighth, were 153.
Redeployed to the US June 1945. First of the air echelon departed the United Kingdom on 22 May 1945. Ground echelon sailed on Queen Mary on 15 June 1945, arriving in New York on 20 June 1945. Personnel had 30 days R and R with some assembling in Sioux Falls AAFd, South Dakota.
In July 1945, On July 1945 the Group was selected for reforming as a B-29 unit, and in late July 1945 established at Great Bend AAFd, Kansas for training. Aircraft and personnel were transferred to another unit, and then the Group was inactivated on 12 July 1946.
The 44th Bomb Group was one of the SAC bomb groups activated and placed training status when Korean War was 6 months old. Depended on the 22nd Bombardment Group for initial cadre and help in becoming organized. Not manned effective, 10 February 1951. Inactivated on 16 June 1952 when its parent unit, the 44th Bombardment Wing, converted to the Air Force tri-deputate organization and all assigned units and personnel were assigned directly to the Wing.
Redesignated as the 44th Operations Group and activated on 1 September 1991 under the "Objective Wing" concept adopted by the Air Force. The ICBM squadrons of the renamed 44th Missile Wing were reassigned to the group.
On 28 September 1991, in response to President Bush's directive to stand down the Minuteman II, personnel of the 44 OG worked around the clock to dissipate launch codes and pin safety control switches at 15 launch control facilities. Removal of the first Minuteman II missile assigned to the 44 OG occurred at G-02, near Red Owl, South Dakota, on 3 December 1991. On 6 April 1992, the first launch control center shut down.
On 1 June 1992, the 44 OG was relieved of its Emergency War Order mission and its primary focus was deactivation of the Minuteman II weapon system. This day also marked the end of SAC and the beginning of Air Combat Command (ACC)
The 67th Missile Squadron (MS) was inactivated on 15 August 1992, and the 66 MS was inactivated on 1 September 1993. On 1 July 1993 its parent unit, the 44 MW changed hands from ACC to Air Force Space Command along with all other ICBM wings. Deactivation of the entire missile complex ended in April 1994. With its mission complete, the 44th Operations Group formally inactivated on 4 July 1994.
On 9 April 2010, the 44th Fighter Group (44 FG) of the Air Force Reserve Command was activated at Holloman AFB, New Mexico as an associate unit to the 49th Fighter Wing (49 FW) of the Air Combat Command as part of that unit's F-22 Raptor operations. The 44th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and 301st Fighter Squadron were also activated during the ceremony as part of the fighter group.
In 2012, it was announced that all F-22 aircraft, pilots and support personnel assigned to Holloman AFB would be transferred to Tyndall AFB, Florida in the spring of 2013 to comply with USAF's F-22 fleet consolidation plan. However, in August 2013, the U.S. Congress enacted a freeze on U.S. Air Force structure changes, including aircraft transfers. By the end of 2013, all issues were resolved, and the Congress permitted the divestiture of F-22 operations from the 49 FW pending transition to F-16 Fighting Falcon operations. The first five F-22 Raptors left Holloman AFB for Tyndall AFB on 6 January 2014 with the final four-ship tactical sortie being flown on 20 February. The final F-22 departed for Tyndall AFB on 9 April 2014 and the 44 FG completed its relocation from Holloman to Tyndall as an AFRC associate unit to the 325th Fighter Wing (325 FW) on 12 July 2014.
The 44 FG is one of only two Air Force Reserve organizations selected to fly and maintain the F-22 Raptor. The 44 FG also established 44 FG Detachment 1 (44 FG Det 1) at Holloman AFB, which assists in the training of Pilots and Sensor Operators for the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft as an AFRC associate unit to the active duty Air Force's 49th Wing.