|419th Night Fighter Squadron|
Emblem of the 419th Night Fighter Squadron
|Branch||United States Army Air Forces|
|Type||Night Fighter Operations|
Activated on 1 April 1943. Trained at Kissimmee, Florida using in the RP-322 Lightnings and P-70 Havocs due to non-availability of P-61 Black Widows. By the end of training, the night fighter pilots realized that the Black Widow would not be forthcoming and resigned themselves to the fact they would be going overseas with P-70s.
The squadron arrived at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands on 15 November 1943, assigned to Thirteenth Air Force. The squadron absorbed Detachment B of the 6th Night Fighter Squadron. On 21 November 1943, the squadron was assigned to the 18th Fighter Group. With the mixed bag of P-38H Lightnings and P-70s prowling the skies, combat operations commenced. The P-38Hs were stock day fighters with no radar or any other equipment for finding the enemy at night. The Lightning pilots would wait until the enemy was over a target and, hopefully, illuminated by the defender's searchlights. They would then try to pick out the outline of the enemy aircraft and intercept. This method had its dangers since the P-38 was subjecting itself to antiaircraft fire from defenders as well as gunners aboard the Japanese bombers. The squadron received the P-61 Black Widow to replace the P-38s/P-70s in May 1944. Then on 25 August 1944, the squadron was re-assigned to the XIII Fighter Command.
The squadron flew numerous missions against Japanese night intruders, which were a real nuisance to American forces and which up to this time had been virtually immune from interception. On typical missions, the pilot would be directed to the vicinity of its target by ground based radar. The onboard A/I radar under the control of the radar operator would then be used to direct the pilot to close with and intercept the enemy. As soon as the pilot had gotten close enough to its target to make a visual identification, the guns would be aimed and fired by the pilot or by the gunner. The appearance of the Black Widow in the night skies over the Pacific was a rude and unpleasant surprise for these night raiders. Engaged the enemy during the New Guinea, Northern Solomon Islands and Bismarck Archipelago Campaigns.
Moved the Philippines in 1945, operating primarily over the southern islands. During 1945 aerial targets became increasingly rare, the 419th turned to long range night-time intruding, carrying out the same mission as the aircraft they had originally been stalking ending the war being stationed on Palawan. Personnel demobilized at Clark Field and returned to the United States after the war; equipment remained in the Philippines for reclamation or sent to postwar units.
Inactivated on 20 February 1947 at Puerto Princess, Palawan, Philippines as a paper unit.
- Constituted as: 419th Night Fighter Squadron on 24 March 1943
- Activated on 1 April 1943
- Inactivated on 20 February 1947
- Air Defense Department, Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics, 1 April 1943
- Attached to 481st Night Fighter Operational Training Group, 17 July 1943
- XIII Fighter Command, 15 November 1943
- 18th Fighter Group, 21 November 1943
- XIII Fighter Command, 25 August 1944
- 85th Fighter Wing, 10 January 1946 – 20 February 1947.
- Northrop P-61 Black Widow—The Complete History and Combat Record, Garry R. Pape, John M. Campbell and Donna Campbell, Motorbooks International, 1991.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556. http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/Publications/fulltext/combat_sq_of_the_af_wwii.pdf.
- USAAF Chronology
- Wartime Service of Northrop P-61 Black Widow
- The United States Army Air Force in World War II
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