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457th Air Expeditionary Group
Emblem of the 457th Air Expeditionary Group
Active 1943–1945; 1993–1994; 2003
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Garrison/HQ Air Combat Command

A B-52 Stratofortress is refueled before the jet returns to its next mission. The base at which the B-52s are located is currently home of the 457th Air Expeditionary Group which has been positioned to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stacia M. Willis).

B-52H of the USAF Reserve 917th Wing takes off on a unique mission with new equipment, 7 April 2003. The mission they are preparing for will be the first "real world" mission where a Lightening 2 Pod is used for laser-guided bomb delivery. The base at which the aircrew is deployed is currently the home of the 457th Air Expeditionary Group, which has been positioned to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The United States Air Force's 457th Air Expeditionary Group is a provisional United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Combat Command. The 457 AEG may be activated or inactivated at any time.

Its last assignment was to the United States Central Command Air Forces, being stationed at RAF Fairford, England, for duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. It was inactivated sometime after the active combat phase of the operation ended.

During World War II, its predecessor unit, the 457th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was an Eighth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress unit stationed in England. Assigned to RAF Glatton in early 1944, the group carried out 236 combat missions over Occupied Europe and Nazi Germany. Total number of sorties was 7,086 with nearly 17,000 tons of bombs and 142 tons of leaflets being dropped.

History[edit | edit source]

Lineage[edit | edit source]

  • Established as 457th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 May 1943
Activated on 4 July 1943
Inactivated on 28 August 1945
  • Redesignated 457th Operations Group and activated on 1 July 1993
Inactivated on 1 October 1994
  • Redesignated 457th Air Expeditionary Group and converted to provisional status in 2003

Assignments[edit | edit source]

Components[edit | edit source]

Stations[edit | edit source]

Aircraft[edit | edit source]

Operational history[edit | edit source]

World War II[edit | edit source]

B-17s of the 457th Bomb Group attacking a target. Aircraft in foreground is Boeing B-17G-40-BO Fortress Serial 42-97075 "Flak Dodger" of the 750th Bomb Squadron. This plane survived the war and returned to the USA in June 1945. It also features on the covers of both The Fireball Outfit and Ready or Not: Into the Wild Blue.

Douglas-Long Beach B-17G-25-DL Fortress Serial 42-38056 "Queen Bea" of the 751st Bomb Squadron. Queen Bea was returning from a mission to Rouen, France on 22 June 1944 and was badly shot up from flak with no hydraulic system. After landing, the plane swerved out of control and collided with another aircraft on landing.

Constituted as the 457th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 19 May 1943. Activated on 1 July 1943. Trained for combat with B-17's.[1] Moved to RAF Glatton England, January–February 1944, and assigned to Eighth Air Force. The group was assigned to the 94th Combat Bombardment Wing of the 1st Bombardment Division. Its tail code was Triangle-U.

The 457th Bomb Group consisted of the following operational squadrons:

The 457th Bomb Group flew its first mission on 21 February 1944[2] during Big Week, taking part in the concentrated attacks of heavy bombers on the German aircraft industry. Until June 1944, the Group engaged primarily in bombardment of strategic targets, such as ball-bearing plants, aircraft factories, and oil refineries in Germany.

The Group bombed targets in France during the first week of June 1944 in preparation for the Normandy invasion, and attacked coastal defenses along the Cherbourg peninsula on D-Day. Struck airfields, railroads, fuel depots, and other interdictory targets behind the invasion beaches throughout the remainder of the month.

Beginning in July 1944, the 457th resumed bombardment of strategic objectives and engaged chiefly in such operations until April 1945. Sometimes flew support and interdictory missions, aiding the advance of ground forces during the Saint-Lô breakthrough in July 1944 and the landing of British 1st Airborne Division during the airborne attack on Holland in September 1944; and participating in the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944 – January 1945, and the assault across the Rhine in March 1945. The Group flew its last combat mission, number 236, on 20 April 1945.[3]

After V-E Day, the 457th transported prisoners of war from Austria to France, and returned to Sioux Falls Army Airfield, South Dakota, during June 1945.

The 457th was inactivated on 18 August 1945.[4]

Empire State Building[edit | edit source]

On Saturday, 28 July, Lieutenant Colonel William F. Smith lost his way while ferrying a B-25 Mitchell bomber from Bedford, Massachusetts, to Sioux Falls AAF via Newark Airport. Emerging from low cloud at about 9,000 feet (2,700 m) the 457th pilot found himself among the skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan. The aircraft crashed headlong into the 79th floor level of the Empire State Building, killing Lieutenant Colonel Smith, two passengers and eleven office workers. The B-25 exploded on impact spraying burning fuel into 34th Street below, one of the engines completely passing through the building and out the other side.[5]

Modern era[edit | edit source]

Emblem of the 457th Operations Group

During 1 July 1993 – 1 October 1994, the 457th Operations Group was an operational component of the 19th Air Refueling Wing, with its headquarters at Altus AFB, Oklahoma. The 457th operated the 11th Air Refueling Squadron and 306th Air Refueling Squadron, flying KC-135R Stratotankers in Southwest Asia from Aviano Air Base, Italy, and Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, supporting Operation Northern and Operation Southern Watch duties as the lead tanker unit.

War on Terrorism[edit | edit source]

The 457th Air Expeditionary Group was activated as a combat unit as part of the Global War on Terrorism, to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is known that the group supported B-52 Stratofortresses operations, using B-52Hs attached from the 23d Bomb Squadron, Minot AFB, North Dakota, and USAF Reserve 917th Wing, Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. The B-52s operated from a "forward deployed location", which was RAF Fairford, England. The unit inactivated sometime after Operation Iraqi Freedom ended active combat operations.

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Angier 2005, pp. 61–94.
  2. Blakebrough 1968, p. 91.
  3. Blakebrough 1968, p. 94.
  4. Blakebrough 1968, p. 59.
  5. Blakebrough 1968, p. 58.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Angier, Major (Ret) J. Francis. Ready or Not – Into the Wild Blue: The Aviation Career of a B-17 Pilot, 457th BG, 8th AAF. South Burlington, Vermont: Success Networks International, 2003./Cowbit, Lincolnshire, UK: Old Forge Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-9544507-7-9.
  • Bass, James L. Fait Accompli: A Historical Account of the 457th Bomb Group. Carthage, TN: JLB Publications, 1995. ISBN 0-9648925-0-2.
  • Bass, James L. Fait Accompli II: A Historical Account of the 457th Bomb Group. Carthage, TN: JLB Publications, 1998. ISBN 0-9648925-1-0.
  • Bass, James L. Fait Accompli III: A Historical Account of the 457th Bomb Group. Carthage, TN: JLB Publications, 2000. ISBN 0-9648925-2-9.
  • Blakebrough, Ken. The Fireball Outfit: The 457th Bombardment Group in the Skies Over Europe. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1968. ISBN 0-8168-9754-9.
  • Byers, Roland O. Black Puff Polly. Moscow, Idaho: Pawpaw Press, 1991. ISBN 0-9614563-2-9
  • Byers, Roland O. Flak Dodger. Moscow, Idaho: Pawpaw Press, 1985. ISBN 0-9614563-0-2.
  • Freeman, Roger A. and Winston G. Ramsey. Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. London: After the Battle, 1978. Republished 1992.
  • Freeman, Roger A. The Mighty Eighth: Units, Men and Machines – A History of the US 8th Air Force. 1970. ISBN 0-87938-638-X.
    • Revised as The Mighty Eighth: a History of the Units, Men and Machines of the US 8th Air Force. Cassell & Co., 2000. ISBN 1-85409-035-6.
  • Freeman, Roger A. The Mighty Eighth in Colour. London: Arms & Armour, 1991.
    • New Edition as The Mighty Eighth: The Colour Record. London: Cassell & Co., 2001. ISBN 0-304-35708-1.
  • Freeman, Roger A. The Mighty Eighth War Diary. London: Jane's Publishing Company, 1981.
  • Freeman, Roger A. The Mighty Eighth War Manual. London: Cassell & Co., 2001. ISBN 0-304-35846-0.
  • Freeman, Roger A. The Mighty Eighth: Warpaint and Heraldry. London: Arms & Armour, 1997.
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Weingarten, Arthur. The Sky is Falling – Plane Crash at Empire State Building. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1977. ISBN 0-448-14411-5.
  • Welch, John F. Dead Engine Kids. Rapid City, South Dakota: Silver Wings Aviation, Inc., 1993. ISBN 0-9637909-0-0.

External links[edit | edit source]

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