3RD AIR COMMANDO GROUP, 5TH AIR
IN THE SOUTHWEST PACIFICA AREA (SWPA)
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The 3rd Air Commando Group was constituted on 25 April 1944 and activated on 1 May 1944 under Commanding Officer Colonel Arvid Olsen. It was initially assigned to the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics and was then assigned to the 5th Air Force in December 1944.
The 3rd Air Commando Group moved from Drew Field, Florida to Mangaldan Airfield, at Luzon in the Philippines in December 1944 with the 5th Air Force.
The C-47's of the 318th Troop Carrier Squadron flew across the Pacific Ocean and arrived at Nadzab in New Guinea on 26 October 1944. The 318th Troop Carrier Squadron air-evacuated wounded soldiers to Australia and hauled cargo and passengers back to New Guinea for about 10 weeks until they were relocated to Leyte on 15 January 1945. While on Luzon, in the Philippines, the 318th Troop Carrier Squadron dropped supplies to ground forces using parachutes.
The flight echelons of the 3rd and 4th Fighter Squadrons assembled at Nadzab, New Guinea in late November 1944 and flew patrol missions from there until moving to Leyte in January 1945. The ground echelons of the fighter squadrons went directly from California to Leyte, with the 3rd Fighter Squadron personnel arriving in the Philippines in December 1944 and the 4th Fighter Squadron ground personnel arriving there in early January 1945.
The Liaison Squadrons, along with the 341st Airdrome Squadron, all staged through New Guinea with 1 day stops in Finschaven and Hollandia on 24 and 26 November 1944 before arriving at Tacloban on Leyte Island on 1 December 1944. The liaison group did not receive their crated aircraft until mid January 1945, so flying personnel were rotated through the 25th Liaison Squadron "Guinea Short Lines" for orientation and initial combat experience.
The 157th, 159th and 160th Liaison Squadrons finally began their own air operations from Calasio, Luzon in the final week of January 1945. In February 1945, still operating at less than 2/3 strength strength, the 45 planes of the three squadrons flew 5,940 sorties and evacuated 4,225 casualties. In the 3 succeeding months of combat operations the three squadrons, now at full strength of 28 L-5's and 2 UC-64's each, evacuated in excess another 16,000 sick or wounded and hauled over 1,000 tons of cargo, as well as directing numerous airstrikes as forward air controllers, carrying the mail and accomplishing the myriad other tasks to which the small planes were put.
In June 1945, Laoag in Northern Luzon became the staging field for the 719 mile overwater flight to Okinawa that was first undertaken by the 157th Liaison Squadron on 5 July 1945. Due to personnel limitations the 160th Liaison Squadron left their planes in the Philippines and transferred to Ie Shima, near Okinawa in August 1945 via C-47. In early September the 159th Liaison Squadron made the long flight to Okinawa with their L-5's .
The 3 Liaison Squadrons were involved in flying out the wounded, acting as observers for Army units at the frontline and ferrying supplies and personnel to the frontline. After the Japs were defeated in the Philippines most of the L-5's of the Liaison Squadrons were required in Okinawa. They were fitted with extra fuel tanks for the 7.5 hours flight over water to Okinawa. They were escorted by US Navy PBY's on this 750 mile flight. The remaining L-5's went to Japan or Korea during the occupation after the war ended.
The four Airdrome Squadrons were formed to support the other flying squadrons by providing accommodation, mess facilities, engineering and other general housekeeping duties.
The 237th Medical Detachment (Aviation) operated a 36 bed hospital as a forward echelon where wounded and injured men received treatment until they were evacuated.
The various Squadrons operated from Atsugi Airfield, Japan from 20 September 1945 until 7 October 1945. They then relocated to Chitose AB, Japan from 27 October 1945 until 25 March 1946.
The 3rd Air Commando Group was inactivated on 25 March 1946 and disbanded on 8 October 1948.
During the 8 months that the 3rd Air Commando Group was in action, its two Fighter Squadrons shot down 6 Japanese aircraft. The 3rd Air Commando Group was awarded the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.
Does anyone know if any 3rd Air Commando
Group Squadrons staged through Australia at all?
Fifth Air Force Story
by Kenn C. Rust
Air Force Combat Units Of World War II.
Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History
I'd like to thank James Gray, Sentinel Owners and Pilots Association, Phoenix, Arizona USA www.sentinelclub.org
Can anyone help me with more information ?
© Peter Dunn 2006
This page first produced 4 October 2009
This page last updated 21 November 2010