Combat Chronology of the
United States Army Air Forces in World War II

March 1942

AIRCRAFT MENTIONED IN THIS REPORT:

  • A-20, Douglas Havoc

  • A-24, Douglas Dauntless

  • B-17, Boeing Flying Fortress

  • B-24, Consolidated Liberator

  • B-26, Martin Marauder

  • Hudson, Lockheed

  • LB-30, Consolidated Liberator

  • O-47, North American

  • O-49, Stinson Vigilant

  • O-52, Curtiss Owl

  • O-59, Piper Cub

  • P-36, Curtiss Hawk

  • P-38, Lockheed Lightning

  • P-39, Bell Airacobra

  • P-40, Curtiss

  • P-400, Bell Airacobra

  • Spitfire, Vickers Supermarine

SUNDAY, 1 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

CARIBBEAN

(6th Air Force): During Mar, a detachment of the 23d Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 36th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), is sent from Vega Baja, Puerto Rico to St Thomas, US Virgin Islands with P-39's and P-40's.

ZONE OF INTERIOR 

(3d Air Force): During Mar, the following cease flying ASW patrols:
15th Observation Squadron (Medium), III Air Support Command, from Ellington Field, Houston, Texas with O-47's, O-49's and O-52's.
34th, 37th, and 95th Bombardment Squadrons (Medium) and 89th Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium), 17th Bombardment Group (Medium), from Columbia AAB, South Carolina with B-25's. The 89th is redesignated 432d Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 22 Apr.
During Mar, the 55th, 56th, 57th and 88th Bombardment Squadrons (Light), 48th Bombardment Group (Light), begin flying ASW patrols from Savannah AB, Georgia with A-20's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA 

(5th Air Force): The last heavy bomber mission is flown from Java, Netherlands East Indies (NEI).  Air echelon of 9th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), ceases operating from Jogjakarta, Java, NEI and begins a movement to India with B-17's and LB-30's. Ground echelon is already enroute from Australia to India.
11th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), begins a movement from Jogjakarta, Java to Melbourne, Australia with B-17's and LB-30's.
Air echelon of 14th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy) [attached to 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy)] ceases operating from Singosari, Java with B-17's, B-24's and LB-30's and begins moving to Melbourne, Australia. Ground echelon is at Bugo, Mindanao, Philippine Islands.
33d Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 22d Bombardment Group (Medium), transfers from Brisbane to Ipswich, Australia with B-26's; first mission is 6 Apr.
Air echelon of 91st Bombardment Squadron (Light), 27th Bombardment Group (Light), ceases operating from Malang, Java and begins moving to Brisbane, Australia; ground echelon is on Bataan, Luzon, Philippine Islands.
93d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Singosari, Java to Melbourne, Australia.
During March: 
HQ 27th Bombardment Group (Light) transfers from Bataan, Luzon, Philippine Islands to Batchelor Field, Australia.
HQ 35th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) transfers from Brisbane, Australia to New Delhi, India.

MONDAY, 2 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ZONE OF INTERIOR 

(Air Force Combat Command): 19th Observation Squadron
(Light), Air Force Combat Command, is activated at Miami Municipal Airport, Florida and during Mar begins flying ASW patrols with L-1's and L-4's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA 

(5th Air Force): 5 B-17's and 3 LB-30's (the last airplane taking off just before midnight) evacuate the last 260 men from
Jogjakarta, the last airfield on Java in Allied hands. Japanese ground forces are within 20 miles (32 km) at this time.
Bataan-based P-40's attack shipping in Subic Bay. The pilots claim considerable damage to the ships, but 4 of the few P-40's remaining on Bataan are lost.
HQ V Bomber Command ceases operating on Java and ceases to function as an operational unit.
HQ 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy) transfers from Singosari, Java to Melbourne, Australia.
2d and 19th Bombardment Squadrons (Medium), 22d Bombardment Group (Medium), transfer from Brisbane to Ipswich, Australia with B-26's; first mission is in April.

TUESDAY, 3 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ZONE OF INTERIOR

The Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) take under consideration a recommendation to continue Operation SUPERGYMNAST (projected plan to combine the US and British plans for the seizure of Dakar, Casablanca and Tunisia) as an "academic study" only. Thus the proposed N African venture ceases to affect the 8th Air Force until it is revived later as Operation TORCH.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA 

(5th Air Force): Japanese aircraft attack the airfield and harbor at Broome, Australia at 1000 hours, shortly after the arrival of 9 heavy bombers evacuating men from Java, NEI. The Japanese
destroy 2 B-17's, 2 B-24's, 12 seaplanes, and 2 Hudsons, and kill at least 45 Dutch civilians and 20 US airmen.

WEDNESDAY, 4 MARCH 1942

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA

(7th Air Force): A lone Japanese aircraft attempts to attack Honolulu, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, but drops its bombs short of the city. Overcast conditions prevent successful pursuit by 7th Air Force aircraft.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA (5th Air Force): 11th and 22d Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), arrive at Melbourne, Australia from Jogjakarta, Java, NEI with B-17's and LB-30's.
Air echelon of 14th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy) [attached to 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy)] begins operating from Melbourne, Australia with B-17's, B-24's and LB-30's; ground echelon is at Bugo, Mindanano, Philippine Islands attached to 5th Interceptor Command (Provisional).
Air echelon of 28th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Singosari, Java, NEI to Melbourne, Australia with B-17's, B-24's and LB-30's. Ground echelon remains in Luzon and Mindanano Islands, Philippine Islands attached to the 5th Interceptor Command
(Provisional).

THURSDAY, 5 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ZONE OF INTERIOR 

(HQ AAF): HQ XII Interceptor Command is activated at Drew Field, Tampa, Florida.
(1st Air Force): The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) begins flying ASW patrols off the E coast.

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA THEATER OF OPERATIONS 

(10th Air Force): Major General Lewis H Brereton who arrived in India from the NEI on 25 Feb, formally takes command of the 10th Air Force, which at this time has 8 tactical aircraft (B-17's).

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA 

(5th Air Force): Air echelon of 30th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), arrives at Melbourne, Australia from Singosari, Java, NEI with B-17's, B-24's and LB-30's. The ground echelon is on Luzon and Mindanao Islands, Philippine Islands attached to the 5th Interceptor Command (Provisional).

FRIDAY, 6 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

CARIBBEAN 

(6th Air Force): HQ XXVI Interceptor Command is activated at
Albrook Field, Canal Zone, Brigadier General Adlai H Gilkeson commanding.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA 

(5th Air Force): HQ 8th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) and 35th, 36th and 80th Pursuit Squadrons (Interceptor) arrive at Brisbane, Australia from the US with P-39's; first mission in April.

SATURDAY, 7 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ZONE OF INTERIOR 

(Air Force Combat Command): 19th Observation Squadron
(Light), Air Force Combat Command, transfers from Jacksonville Municipal Airport from Miami Municipal Airport, Florida and continues flying ASW patrols with L-1's and L-4's.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA 

(5th Air Force): HQ 22d Bombardment Group (Medium) transfers from Brisbane to Ipswich, Australia.

SUNDAY, 8 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ALASKA 

(11th Air Force): Colonel William O Butler assumes command of the 11th Air Force with HQ at Ft Richardson, Anchorage, Territory of Alaska.

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA THEATER OF OPERATIONS

(10th Air Force): HQ 10th Air Force begins moving from Patterson Field, Fairfield, Ohio to India. Between this date and 13 Mar, the 8 B-17's in India transport 474 troops and 29 tons
(26.3 metric tonnes) of supplies from India to Magwe, Burma and on the return flights evacuate 423 civilians.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA 

(5th Air Force): Air echelons of 16th and 17th Bombardment Squadrons (Light), 27th Bombardment Group (Light), cease operating from Batchelor Field, Northern Territory and begin a movement to Brisbane, Australia with A-24's; ground echelon is on Bataan, Luzon, Philippine Islands.
89th and 90th Bombardment Squadrons (Light), 3d Bombardment Group (Light), transfer from Brisbane to Charters Towers, Australia with A-20's; first mission is in April.
Following units transfer from Brisbane to Ballarat, Australia:
HQ 38th Bombardment Group (Medium) and 15th Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium) with B-26's. Ground echelon of 69th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) also transfers; air echelon of 69th remains in US until May 42. 
39th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 35th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) with P-39's.

MONDAY, 9 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ZONE OF INTERIOR

Military reorganization, implementing an Executive Order of 28 Feb, becomes effective. The Air Corps and the US Army Air Force Combat Command, which previously had made up the Army Air Forces (AAF) under Lieutenant General Henry H "Hap" Arnold as Chief, are discontinued, and the AAF is reorganized with Arnold as Commanding General. Army Ground Forces under Lieutenant General Lesly J McNair and Services of Supply (later Army Service Forces) under Lieutenant General Brehon B Sommervell are also organized. All are under control of General George C Marshall, Chief of Staff (CoS). In the US Navy (USN), Admiral Ernest V King, Commander-in-Chief (CinC) US Fleet, assumes additional responsibilities as he succeeds Admiral Harold R Stark as Chief of Naval Operations (CNO).

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA THEATER OF OPERATIONS 

(10th Air Force): Japanese forces complete the capture of Rangoon, Burma, dealing China a great blow by cutting off supplies from the Burma Road.

TUESDAY, 10 MARCH 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA 

(5th Air Force): HQ 3d Bombardment Group (Light) and 13th Bombardment Squadron (Light) transfer from Brisbane to Charters Towers, Australia with A-20's; first mission is 6 Apr.
Arriving at Brisbane are the A-24 air echelons of the following 27th Bombardment Group (Light) units:
16th and 17th Bombardment Squadrons (Light) from Batchelor Field, Australia, and 91st Bombardment Squadron (Light) from Malang, Java.  Ground echelon of all 3 squadrons is on Bataan, Luzon, Philippine Islands.

THURSDAY, 12 MARCH 1942

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA THEATER OF OPERATIONS 

(10th Air Force): 10 P-40's arrive in Karachi, India by ship from Australia. Arriving at Karachi, India are:
HQ 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 88th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy) from Australia; the air echelon of the 88th is at Townsville, Australia with B-17's; 88th will be redesignated 436th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 22 Apr; last mission from Australia is 14 Mar; first mission is CBI is 4 Jun; and 16th and 25th Pursuit Squadrons (Interceptor), 51st Pursuit Group (Interceptor), from the US with P-40's; first mission is in Jul 42.

FRIDAY, 13 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ZONE OF INTERIOR

(3d Air Force): HQ XII Bomber Command is activated at
MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida.

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA THEATER OF OPERATIONS 

(10th Air Force): 26th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 51st Pursuit Group (Interceptor), arrives at Karachi, India from the US with P-40's; first mission is 15 Oct.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA 

(5th Air Force): 36th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 8th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), transfers from Brisbane to Lowood, Australia with P-39's.

SATURDAY, 14 MARCH 1942

CHINA-BURMA-INDIA THEATER OF OPERATIONS 

(10th Air Force): HQ 51st Pursuit Group (Interceptor) arrives at Karachi, India from the US.
9th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), arrives at Karachi, India from Australia with B-17's; first mission is 2 Apr.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA 

(5th Air Force): 13th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy), 43d Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Melbourne to Laverton, Australia with B-17's; the 13th will be redesignated 403d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 22 Apr; first mission is Oct 42. Air echelon of 14th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), ceases operating from Melbourne, Australia with B-17's; men and equipment are transferred to other units; the ground echelon is at Bugo, Mindanano and fights as infantry; the unit is carried as an active unit but is not manned or equipped after the surrender of the Philippines in May 42.
Detachment of the 22d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), ceases operating from Townsville and returns to base at Melbourne, Australia with B-17's.
40th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy) is formed at Townsville, Australia with LB-30's and assigned to 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy); first mission is today; squadron is redesignated 435th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 22
Apr.  Air echelon of 88th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy), 7th Bombardment Group (Heavy), ceases operating from Townsville, Australia with B-17's and begins moving to Karachi, India; squadron is redesignated 436th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 22 Apr; first mission in CBI is 4 Jun.

SUNDAY, 15 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ALASKA 

(11th Air Force): XI Interceptor Command is activated at Elmendorf
Field, Anchorage, Territory of Alaska, Colonel Norman D Sillin commanding.
Its operational components are the 11th and the 18th Pursuit Squadrons
(Interceptor).

CARIBBEAN  

(6th Air Force): 24th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 16th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), transfers from Albrook Field, Canal Zone to La Joya, Panama with P-36's.

ZONE OF INTERIOR  

(4th Air Force): 123d Observation Squadron (Light), 70th Observation Group, at Gray Field, Ft Lewis sends a detachment to Hoquiam, Washington with O-46, O-47 and O-49 to fly ASW patrols.

SOUTH PACIFIC OCEAN AREA 

(7th Air Force): 67th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 58th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), the first AAF tactical unit in the theater, arrives on New Caledonia from the US with P-400's.

MONDAY, 16 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ZONE OF INTERIOR  

(2d Air Force): 116th Observation Squadron (Medium),
70th Observation Group, based at Gray Field, Ft Lewis, Washington sends a detachment to Yakima with O-47's and O-49's to fly ASW patrols.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA  

(5th Air Force): 3 B-17's of the 40th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy) begin evacuating General Douglas MacArthur, his family, and his staff from Del Monte, Mindanao, Philippine Islands to Australia.
39th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 35th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), transfers from Ballarat to Mount Gambier, Australia with P-39's; first combat is 2 Jun.
64th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 43d Bombardment Group (Heavy), arrives at Sydney, Australia from the US with B-17's; first mission is 13 Aug.
68th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 58th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), arrives at Amberly Field, Australia from the US with P-39's.

TUESDAY, 17 MARCH 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA

(5th Air Force): General Douglas MacArthur arrives in Australia to assume command of United Nations forces in the SWPA. He actually assumed command on 18 Apr.
8th Bombardment Squadron (Light), 3d Bombardment Group (Light), transfers from Brisbane to Charters Towers, Australia with A-20's; first mission is 1 Apr.
9th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 49th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) transfers from Williamstown to Darwin, Australia with P-40's; first mission is 18 Mar.

FRIDAY, 20 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

CARIBBEAN

(6th Air Force): 39th Observation Squadron (Medium), 72d
Observation Group, transfers from France Field to Howard Field, Canal Zone with O-47's and O-49's.

ZONE OF INTERIOR  

(HQ AAF): "Plan for Initiation of US Army Bombardment
Operations in the British Isles" further elaborates previous AAF plans outlining the intention of launching strategic bombardment from the UK against facilities supporting German national, economic, and industrial structure.
(2d Air Force): 390th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 42d Bombardment Group (Medium), transfers from Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho to McChord Field, Tacoma, Washington and begins flying ASW patrols with A-29's.

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

 

[Army Air Forces in Britain (AAFIB)]: A report submitted by Brigadier General Ira C Eaker in compliance with Major General James E Chaney's instructions of 25 Feb indicates completion of studies of Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command operations and of airfields, training, tactical doctrine, equipment, and methods of conducting air offensive in cooperation with the RAF. The report also indicates much dependence upon the British for the present but emphasizes the apparent compatibility of the tactical doctrines of the US (daylight precision bombing) and RAF (night area bombing), and implies the principle of coordinating these attacks to complement each other.

TUESDAY, 24 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ZONE OF INTERIOR 

(4th Air Force): 94th Pursuit Squadron (Fighter), 1st Pursuit Group (Fighter), ceases flying ASW patrols from Long Beach,
California with P-38's.

PACIFIC OCEAN AREA  

( 7th Air Force): 23d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 5th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Hickam Field to Mokuleia, Territory of Hawaii with B-17's and continues flying patrols. 

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA  

(5th Air Force): Air echelon of 91st Bombardment Squadron (Light), 27th Bombardment Group (Light), ceases operating from Brisbane, Australia and begins moving to Charters Towers, Australia with A-24's. Ground echelon is on Bataan, Luzon, Philippine Islands.

WEDNESDAY, 25 MARCH 1942

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

(AAFIB): Major Cecil P Lessig becomes the first AAF pilot to fly a mission over France in World War II. Flying a Spitfire VB with RAF 64 Squadron from Hornchurch, England, Lessig participates in a 36-aircraft fighter sweep that is recalled when 50 Luftwaffe fighters challenge them.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA  

(5th Air Force): 16th and 17th Bombardment Squadrons (Light), 27th Bombardment Group (Light), cease operating from Brisbane, Australia with A-24's and begin moving to Charters Towers, Australia.

THURSDAY, 26 MARCH 1942

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA  

(5th Air Force): 3 B-17's of the 40th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), evacuate Philippine President Manual L Quezon and his family to Australia.

FRIDAY, 27 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS 

ZONE OF INTERIOR  

(1st Air Force): 119th Observation Squadron (Medium), I Air Support Command (attached to 59th Observation Group), transfers from Newark Municipal Airport to Ft Dix, Wrightstown, New Jersey with O-47's, O-49's and O-52's and begins flying ASW patrols.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA  

(5th Air Force): 30th Bombardment Squadron  (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Melbourne to Cloncurry, Australia with B-17's; ground echelon is on Bataan and Mindanao, Philippine Islands.

SATURDAY, 28 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ZONE OF INTERIOR  

(1st Air Force): Units of the I Bomber Command engaged in ASW patrols are placed under operational control of Commander, Eastern Sea Frontier, USN.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA  

(5th Air Force): HQ 43d Bombardment Group (Heavy) and 63d and 65th Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy) arrive at Sydney, Australia from the US with B-17's; first mission is 14 Aug and 12 Nov respectively.
28th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Melbourne to Cloncurry, Australia with B-17's; a detachment begins operating from Perth, Australia; ground echelon is on Bataan on Mindanao, Philippine Islands.
80th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor), 8th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), transfers from Brisbane to Lowood, Australia with P-39's; first mission is 22 Jul.

SUNDAY, 29 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ZONE OF INTERIOR  

(3d Air Force): 24th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy) and 340th, 341st and 342d Bombardment Squadrons (Heavy), 97th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfer from MacDill Field, Tampa to Sarasota AAFld, Florida with B-17's and begin flying ASW patrols. 

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA  

(5th Air Force): 19th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), 22d Bombardment Group (Medium), transfers from Ipswich to Townsville, Australia with B-26's; first mission is 6 Apr.
93d Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), transfers from Melbourne to Cloncurry, Australia with B-17's; ground echelon is on Bataan and Mindanao, Philippine Islands; first mission is 23 Jul.

TUESDAY, 31 MARCH 1942

AMERICAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

ZONE OF INTERIOR

(HQ AAF): Major General Carl Spaatz suggests that the now "task-less 8th Air Force" be made the nucleus for AAFIB.

SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA  

(5th Air Force): 8th Bombardment Squadron (Light), 3d Bombardment Group (Light), transfers from Charters Towers, Australia to Port Moresby, New Guinea with A-20's; first mission is 1 Apr.