5TH AIR FORCE USAAF
IN AUSTRALIA
1942 - 1945

 

Plaque in the Passenger Terminal at Archerfield airport commemorating the United States Fifth Air Forces' involvement at Archerfield

 

The 5th Air Force had its early beginnings as the Philippine Department Air Force on 20 September 1941 under the command of Brigadier General Henry B. Clagett.

It was renamed to the Far East Air Force (FEAF) on 28 October 1941 and was under the command of Major-General Lewis Hyde Brereton. The FEAF fought in the Philippines at the outbreak of the Pacific War. They covered the retreat south to Java and then escaped back to Australia where they played a small part in the Battle of the Coral Sea (7-8 May 1942) and went on to became the nucleus of the new Fifth Air Force.

 

Allotment of USAAF Units
In Australia on 27 May 1942

 

On 9 August 1942, the American Chief of Staff, General Marshall gave orders to establish the 5th Air Force and gave George C. Kenney immediate command of this new air force and all other Allied air units in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). Kenney's headquarters were located in Brisbane.

The 5th Air Force USAAF was established in Australia on 3 September 1942 under the command of Major General George Kenney who had arrived in Brisbane, in the State of Queensland in Australia on 29 July 1942. Kenney made a lightning tour of bases in northern Queensland and summarily fired the entire command air staff.

At the time that Kenney had arrived, there were three fighter groups, 5 bombardments groups, two transport squadrons and one photographic squadron operational in the SWPA comprising 1,602 officers and 18,116 men.

FIGHTER GROUPS BOMBER GROUPS
8th FG (P-39's) in Australia 3rd BG (B-25's, A-20's, & A-24's)
49th FG (P-40's) in Australia 19th BG (battle scarred from Philippines & Java)
35th FG (P-40's) in Port Moresby 22nd BG (B-26's)
    43rd BG (no planes)
    38th BG (B-25's not operational yet)

 

The following two units were heavily hit by the Japanese when the war in the Pacific broke out
and some members escaped to Australia to join up with units of the 5th Air Force.

7th Bomb Group LB-30s and B-17s Moved to 10th Air Force in India in early 1942
27th Bomb Group

    - HQ Squadron
     - 16th Squadron
     - 17th Squadron
     - 91st Squadron
     - 2nd Observation Squadron
     - 454th Ordinance

A-24s 27 BG were in Australia for a short time en-route Java

 

Kenney's Deputy was Ennis Whitehead who was to command the advance base in Port Moresby. Brigadier General Ken Walker was placed in charge of the 5th Bomber Command, based in Townsville. "Squeeze" Wurtsmith (49th Fighter Group) was placed in charge of the 5th Fighter Command. Major Victor Bertrandais was placed in charge of the Services Command, also based in Townsville.

Kenney started construction of a central depot at Townsville and began planning the replacement of the battle scarred 19th Bomb Group with the 90th Bomb Group.

Brigadier General Walker had earlier been told by Kenney to take charge in Townsville and reorganise the Northeast Area Command.

On 4 November 1942, the 5th Air Force commenced sustained action against the Japanese in Papua New Guinea.

 

No. 2 U.S. Air Command

 

COMMANDING OFFICERS OF THE 5TH AIR FORCE
AND ITS PREDECESSORS

PHILIPPINES DEPARTMENT AIR FORCE

Brig. Gen. Henry B. Clagett 20 Sep 1941

 

FAR EAST AIR FORCE

Maj.-Gen. Lewis H. Brereton 28 Oct 1941 - 18 Jan 1942

 

MacARTHUR'S ALLIED  AIR FORCE

Lt. Gen. George H. Brett 23 Feb - 4 Aug 1942
Lt.-Gen. George C. Kenney 4 Aug 1942

 

5TH AIR FORCE COMMANDERS

Lt.-Gen. George C. Kenney 3 Sep 1942
Lt.-Gen. Ennis C. Whitehead 15 Jun 1944
Maj.-Gen. Kenneth B. Wolfe 4 Oct 1945

 

STATIONS

Nichols Field Luzon, Philippines 20 Sep 1941
Darwin Northern Territory, Australia Dec 1941
Java Java Jan - Feb 1942
Brisbane Australia 3 Sep 1942
Nadzab New Guinea 15 Jun 1944
Owi Schouten Islands 10 Aug 1944
Leyte Philippines 20 Nov 1944
Mindoro Philippines Jan 45
Clark Field Luzon, Philippines Apr 45
Okinawa Japan Jul 45
Irumagawu Japan 25 Sep 45

 

5TH BOMBER COMMAND
28 OCTOBER 1941 - 1946

BOMBARDMENT GROUPS IN THE 5TH AIR FORCE

3rd Bomb Group "The Grim Reapers"

    - HQ Squadron
     - 8th Squadron
     - 13th Squadron
     - 89th Squadron
     - 90th Squadron
      - 46 Ordinance Co.
     - 2 Chemical Co.

A-24s, A-20s & B-25s One of the oldest Groups in Air Force. 8th, 13th & 90th Aero Squadrons were forerunners of the Gp. and saw action in France in WW I.
19th Bomb Group

     - Headquarters Squadron
     - 28th Squadron
     - 40th Recon. Squadron (redesignated the 435th Squadron on 22 Apr 42)
     - 30th Squadron
     - 93rd Squadron
     - 435th Squadron "The Kangaroo Squadron" (Previously the 40th Recon. Squadron)

LB-30s and B-17s Came out of P.I., returned to states in late 1942. Later returned to Pacific with B-29's in 20th Air Force.
22nd Bomb Group "The Red Raiders"

     -  HQ Squadron
     -  2nd Squadron (1940 -1952)
     -  18th Recce Squadron
     -  19th Squadron (1940 -1952)
     -  33rd Squadron (1940 -1952)
     -  408th Squadron (1940 -1952)
     -  46 Ordinance Co., 3 Platoon
     -  453 Ordinance Co.,
     -  484 Ordinance Co.
     -  1 Chemical Co Detachment

B-26s, B-25s & B-24s  
38th Bomb Group "The Sun Setters"

    - 69th Squadron (eventually transferred to another bomb group)
     - 70th Squadron (eventually transferred to another bomb group)
     - 71st Squadron - "The Wolf Pack"
     - 405th Squadron - "The Green Dragons"
     - 822nd Squadron - "The Black Panthers"
     - 823rd Squadron - "The Terrible Tigers"

B-25s 1940-1946
43rd Bomb Group "Ken's Men"

     - 63rd Squadron "The Sea Hawks"
     - 64th Squadron
     - 65th Squadron "The Lucky Dicers"
     - 403rd Squadron "The Mareeba Butchers"

B-17s & B-24s  
90th Bomb Group "The Jolly Rogers"

     - 319th Squadron
     - 320th Squadron "Moby Dick"
     - 321st Squadron
     - 400th Squadron

B-24s  
312th Bomb Group

     - HQ Squadron
     - 386th Bomb Squadron
     - 387th Bomb Squadron
     - 388th Bomb Squadron
     - 389th Bomb Squadron

V-72s
A-24s
A-36s
P-40s
A-20s
B-32
1942-45
345th Bomb Group "The Air Apaches"

     - 498th Squadron - "Falcons"
     - 499th Squadron - "Bats outa Hell"
     - 500th - "Rough Raiders"
     - 501st - "Black Panthers"

B-25s  
380th Bomb Group

     - 528th Bomb Squadron
     - 529th Bomb Squadron
     - 530th Bomb Squadron
     - 531st Bomb Squadron

B-24s Operated under Australian operational control, provided operational training for Australian crews and was replaced by RAAF squadrons when they left Australia.
417th Bomb Group A-20s  

 

5TH FIGHTER COMMAND
AUGUST 1942 - 1946

 

1st Fighter Control
Amberley

 

FIGHTER GROUPS IN THE 5TH AIR FORCE:

8th Fighter Group

    - Headquarters
     - 35th Fighter (Pursuit) Squadron
     - 36th Fighter (Pursuit) Squadron
     - 80th Fighter (Pursuit) Squadron
     - 683 Ordinance

P-39's, P-40's & p-38's 1942-46
35th Fighter Group

    - 39th Pursuit Squadron - "The Cobra Squadron"
     - 40th Pursuit Squadron - "Fightin' Red Devils"
     - 41st Pursuit Squadron
     - 679 Ordinance Co., 1 & 2 Platoon

P-38,P-39's,P-47's & P-51's 1942-45
27th Fighter Group ? ?
49th Fighter Group

    - Headquarters Squadron
     - 7th Squadron "Screamin' Demons"
     - 8th Squadron "Blacksheep"
     - 9th Squadron "Flying Knights"
     - 49th Interceptor Squadron (radiomen)

P-38's, P-40's & P-47's 1942-45; Major Bong's outfit, our Ace of Aces
58th Fighter Group

    - 67th Fighter Squadron
     - 68th Fighter Squadron
     - 69th Fighter Squadron
     - 310th Fighter Squadron
     - 311th Fighter Squadron
     - Mexican Squadron

   
348th Fighter Group

    - 340th Fighter Squadron
    - 341st Fighter Squadron
    - 342nd Fighter Squadron
    - 460th Fighter Squadron

  1943-45
475th Fighter Group

     - 431st Squadron "Hades"  
     - 432nd Squadron "Clover" 
     - 433rd Squadron "Possum"

  1943-45

 

AIR COMMANDO GROUPS

3rd Air Commando Group

     - 3rd Fighter Squadron (C)
     - 4th Fighter Squadron (C)
     - 318th Troop Carrier Squadron (C)
     - 157th Liaison Squadron (C)
     - 159th Liaison Squadron (C)
     - 160th Liaison Squadron (C)
     - 334th Airdrome Squadron
     - 335th Airdrome Squadron
     - 341st Airdrome Squadron
     - 343rd Airdrome Squadron
     - 23tth Medical Detachment (Aviation)

  P-51D's, C-47's, Stinson L-5's 1944-45

 

NIGHT FIGHTER GROUPS

418th Night Fighter Squadron P-61's  
421st Night Fighter Squadron P-61's  
547th Night Fighter Squadron P-61's  

 

RECCE AND PHOTO GROUPS

6th Photographic Group, Reconnaissance
     - 8th Photo Reconn. Squadron
     - 25th Photo Reconn. Squadron
     - 26th Photo Reconn. Squadron
       - 20th Combat Mapping Squadron
F-4, F-4A, F-5' & F-7A, F-7B  
71st RCN TACT B-25's, P-38's, L-4's, L-5's & L-6's  

 

TRANSPORT GROUPS

54th Troop Carrier Wing

       - Headquarters Squadron

       - 2nd Combat Cargo Group
               - 5th Combat Cargo Squadron
               - 6th Combat Cargo Squadron
               - 7th Combat Cargo Squadron
               - 8th Combat Cargo Squadron

       - 317th Troop Carrier Group
               - 39th Troop Carrier Squadron
               - 40th Troop Carrier Squadron
               - 41st Troop Carrier Squadron
               - 46th Troop Carrier Squadron

       - 374th Troop Carrier Group
               - 6th Troop Carrier Squadron
               - 21st Troop Carrier Squadron
               - 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron
               - 33rd Troop Carrier Squadron

       - 375th Troop Carrier Group
               - Headquarters Squadron
               - 55th Troop Carrier Squadron
               - 56th Troop Carrier Squadron

               - 57th Troop Carrier Squadron

               - 58th Troop Carrier Squadron

       - 433rd Troop Carrier Group
               - 65th Troop Carrier Squadron
               - 66th Troop Carrier Squadron
               - 67th Troop Carrier Squadron
               - 68th Troop Carrier Squadron
               - 69th Troop Carrier Squadron
               - 70th Troop Carrier Squadron

       - 333rd Signal Corps

       - 415th Signal Corps

       - 21st Service Group

       - 801st Medical Air Evacuation Squadron

       - 804th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron

       - 820th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron

 

 

IV Air Service Area Command

7th Service Group

     - 10th Service Squadron
     - ?

 

 

5TH AIR FORCE SERVICE COMMAND

4th Air Depot Group

    - HQ & HQ Squadron
     - 83rd Depot Repair Squadron
     - 4th Depot Supply Squadron
     - 911th Signal Co. Dept. Av.
     - 1125th M.P. Co. Av.

 

12th Air Depot Group

     - HQ & HQ Squadron
     - 12th Depot Repair Squadron
     - 317th Depot Repair Squadron
     - 12th Depot Supply Squadron
     - 1699th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Co. Av.
     - 2483 Q.M. Truck Co. Av.

 

15th Air Depot Group

     - HQ & HQ Squadron
     - 15th Depot Repair Squadron
     - 29th Depot Repair Squadron
     - 15th Depot Supply Squadron
     - 194th Ordnance Dep. Co.
     - 1702nd Ordnance Medium Maintenance Co. Av.
     - 2486th Q.M. Truck Co. Av.

 
22nd Service Group

- 895th Chemical Company
- 30th Service Squadron
- 1535th Ordnance S&M Company (Aviation)

 
45th Service Group

     - HQ & HQ Squadron
     - 1058th Signal Co. Services Group
     - 1158th Q.M. Co. Service Gr. Av.

 
5th Air Service Area Command

     - 8th Service Squadron
     - 760th Chem. Dept. Co.
     - 1909th Ordnance Co.

 

 

U.S. Air Commands

 

V Bomber Command

 

V Fighter Command

 

15th Weather squadron

 

United States Air Transport Command

 

Directorate of Air Transport

 

5th Air Force Service Command

 

13th Air Task Force (Provisional)
Assigned to the Fifth Air Force

 

ACES OF THE 5th AIR FORCE

Maj. Richard I. Bong 40 kills 35th/49th/475th Fighter Group
Maj. Thomas B. McGuire Jr. 38 kills 475th Fighter Group
Col. Charles H. MacDonald 27 kills 475th Fighter Group
Lt.-Col. Gerald R. Johnson 22 kills 49th Fighter Group
Col. Neel E. Kearby 22 kills 348th Fighter Group
Maj. Jay. T. Robbins 22 kills 8th Fighter Group
Lt.-Col. Thomas J. Lynch 20 kills 35th Fighter Group
Maj. George S. Welch 16 kills 8th Fighter Group
Lt.-Col. William D. Dunham 16 kills 348th Fighter Group
Maj. Edward Cragg 15 kills 8th Fighter Group
Capt. Cyril F. Homer 15 kills 8th Fighter Group
Maj. Daniel T. Roberts Jr. 15 kills 475th Fighter Group
Capt. Robert M. DeHaven 14 kills 49th Fighter Group

 

Central War Room

A case of  mistaken identity
USAAC emblem mistaken for Japanese Rising Sun

General Douglas MacArthur

Command Structure in the SWPA

American Base Sections in Australia during WW2

 


 

E-mails from Judy Bousquet
regarding her father, Howard Hovland

 

OTHER INTERNET SITES ON THE 5th AIR FORCE

octo.jpg (3311 bytes) Hostages to Freedom
The Fall of Rabaul

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Bob Livingstone for his assistance with this home page.

 

BOOK REFERENCES

"The Menace from Moresby; a pictorial history of the 5th Air Force in World War II"

 


 

2004 REUNION

A Fifth Air Force Reunion was held on 19 - 23 September 2004, in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. This reunion also included HQ. 5th Bomber Command, 5th Station Hospital, 405th Signal Co. (AVN), 80th Service Group, 502 Tac Con Group, HQ & HQ 314th Comp. Wing

The contact person was Lou Buddo, 5th Air Force, Box 270362, St. Louis, MO 63127.

 

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This page first produced 8 November 1998

This page last updated 16 November 2014