The 352nd Fighter Group were one of the legendary fighter units that made up the 8th Army Air Force during WW2.
Activated in October 1942, they moved across the US to various airfields while training on the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.
Captain George Preddy's P-47D-15-RE 'Cripes A Mighty'.
July 1943 would see the group arrive at its main wartime home of RAF Bodney in Norfolk, originally planned for RAF Bomber Command, Bodney was handed over to the 8th AAF in 1943 and assigned as an airfield of the VIII Fighter Command.
RAF Bodney photographed in 1945 by No. 542 Sqn, Royal Air Force.
With their P-47's the 3 Fighter Squadrons that comprised the 35nd, the 328th, 486th and 487th would begin offensive operations in the form of fighter sweeps into Northern France in September 1943. They would then go on to provide escorts to the 'heavies' of the Mighty Eighth.
Their time with the P-47 in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) would only last a few months as the VIII Fighter Command transitioned all but one of its groups to the new P-51 Mustang. For the 352nd, this occurred in April 1944. It was during their time operating the P-51 with their distinctive blue noses (a group identifier unique to the 352nd to distinguish them from the other P-51 Fighter Groups in the VIII Fighter command) that they earned the nickname 'The Blue-Nosed Bastards of Bodney!
'Snoots Sniper' a P-51B-10-NA flown by Lt Francis Horne of the 328th FS, 352nd FG.
P-51D-5-NA 'Barbara M 4th' of the 328th FS, 352nd FG.
Participating in the Invasion of Normandy providing air support, and throughout the advance across NW Europe, the 352nd FG, along with the 361st FG would deploy forward to the continent, attached to the IX Tactical Air Command to provide support to ground troops during the Battle of the Bulge.
During this time, their most notable action occurred during New Years Day 1945 - but more of this in the next blog!
The 352nd provided aircover for Operation Varsity, the Rhine Crossing in March 1945, finally returning to Bodney in April 1945.
The 352nd returned to the USA in late 1945 and was subsequently assigned to serve with the National Guard.
The pilots of the 352nd were some of the most successful in the whole of the 8th AAF with the group amassing a total of 27 aces! Major George Preddy and Colonel John C. Meyer among them - but more of them in a future blog!
Col John, C. Meyer of the 487th FS, 352nd FG in the cockpit of his personal P-51D 'Petie 2nd'.
In tribute to this amazing Fighter Group and its pilots we created our 'Blue-Nosed Bastards' Range of Apparel. Our 352nd t-shirts are dedicated to each Fighter Squadron that comprised the group.