The 365th Fighter Group in WWII
The 365th Fighter-Bomber Group, otherwise known as the Hell Hawks, was activated May 15, 1943 and assigned to fly P-47 Thunderbolts. They trained in Dover, Delaware and flew their gunnery training missions out of Millville, New Jersey. They departed Richmond Army Air Base in December 4, 1943 and sailed on the Queen Elizabeth along with 15,000 troops. They arrived at Gosfield, Essex on December 23, 1943. Their first combat air field training resumed for two months. On February 22, 1944, the Hell Hawks flew their first combat mission and over the next one to two months gradually converted from escorting 8th Air Force heavy bombers to their fighter-bomber mode that continued to the war's end.
They were instrumental in determining the maximum bomb loads for the P-47. Two one-thousand pound bombs and an external fuel tank on the belly rack. They were the first group to fly a dive-bombing mission with that bomb load. Their fire power was eight fifty caliber machine guns and their total arsenal included rockets and napalm. This armament was standard for all thirteen P-47 fighter-bomber groups shortly after the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944.
The 9th Tactical Air Command and the Hell Hawks flew in direct support of General Hodges First Army. Their mission was two-fold. Protect the ground forces from enemy air attack and destroy any and all obstacles on the ground that prevented our forces from advancing. On two occasions to support Patton's Third Army. The first was shortly after August 1, 1944. The second was during the last months of the Battle of the Bulge. The Hell Hawks were active against specific targets on D-Day before, during and following. This was the first company breakthrough in the Battle of the Bulge in taking Germany. The Hell Hawks were the first group to move into Germany on March 17, 1945 at Aachen and the first to fly a combat mission off a German soil ever! The remaining eighteen to twenty groups followed nine days to five weeks later.
The Hell Hawks flew combat from February 22, 1944 through May 4, 1945, totalling 14.5 months. They flew combat from eleven air fields or air strips moving more times than any other fighter-bomber group in the 9th Air Force.
Bases of the Hell Hawks
Richmond, VA, AAB, 11/4/43–12/18/43
Gossfield, Essex, England, 12/23/43 (P-47's operational 2/44)
Beaulieu, Hants, Englan, 3/5/44
Azeville, France (Fontanay-Sur-Mer)- Strip A7, 6/27/44
Balleroy, France- Strip A12, 8/15/44
Bretigny, France (Paris)- Strip A48, 9/3/44
Juvincourt, France (Reims)- Strip A68, 9/11/44
Chievres, Belgium (Mons)- Strip A84, 10/4/44
Metz, Alsace Lorraine, France- Strip Y34, 12/25/44
Florennes/Juzaine, Belgium, 1/20/45
Aachen, Germany, 3/17/45
Fritzlar, Germany, 4/12/45
Hell Hawk Unit Citations
A listing of the decorations and campaign ribbons that the members of the Hell Hawks may wear. The actual citations or each of the noted decorations and campaigns are included except for the three Belgium decorations. The Belgium Croix de Guere citation appeared in the New York Times in December 1946. The other two are noted in Combat Squadrons of the 9th Air Force, World War II, edited by Mauer Marer, Historical Research Division (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1969).
Distinguished Unit Citation, October 21, 1944
Distinguished Unit Citation, April 20, 1945
Order of the Day, Belgium Army, June 6-September 30, 1944
Belgium Four Ragere, December 16, 1944-June 25, 1945
Belgium Croix De Guere*, December 21, 1945
(*) Awarded to the 9th Air Tactical Air Command of the Ninth Air Force to commemorate events in December 1944 when the Ninth Air Force launched it's attack on the German armored colums that had broken through the Ardennes defences. All men in the Ninth Tactical Air Command on December 13, 1944 are entitled to wear the green and red decoration on their shoulder.