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Airfield Museum

390th Bombardment Group Memorial Air Museum
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390th Bomb Group

Squadrons of the 390th Bomb Group
568th 569th 570th 571st

 

The Air Ministry surveyed the land between Parham and Great Glenham in January 1942, requisition papers being served to the landowners in February of the same year. Work started in May 1942 and the first concrete being laid in June. Two contractors were involved, Constable and Hart and Haymills Ltd. Labour was of significant importance, but was in very short supply and not always of the standard builders would have wished, but as the saying went " Don't you know there's a war on?"


The Control Tower
during World War Two

Speed was a dominant factor, but before construction could begin the area had to be cleared of nearly eight miles of hedgerows and 1500 trees, first the trees were cut down and then the roots blown up. It was also necessary to dig a large reservoir that was supplied from the river Ore to hold water needed to mix the vast amounts of concrete needed for the project. Hardcore, of which there was never enough, was obtained from any source, bricks and rubble from bombed buildings in London and Birmingham and other towns provided a large ammount together with tons of shingle from nearby beaches.

Night and day trains and lorries carried these essential elements to the local station and along what had been quiet country roads and lanes, cement at that time was carried in sacks that were delivered to the site, emptied then returned for filling, on site a major form of transport was the horse and cart.

The airfield was built to a specification known as a class "A" standard operational airfield, this involved 3 intersecting runways 60 degrees to each other all 150 feet wide, two of these being 4400 feet long and the main runway was 6400 feet long, the perimeter track was 50 feet wide and would circumscribe the entire flying area and was 3.25 miles in length.

The airfield was designed to accommodate 1500 personnel but eventually had over 3000, the design necessitated the building of dispersed living quarters, communal sites, recreational, training and storage facilities, as well as basic utilities such as water, sewerage disposal plant, electricity and telephone.

Most of the flying area had been completed by November 1942 and had already been allocated to the United States Army Airforce and was officially transferred to the 8th Army Airforce on August 15th 1943.

Materials Used and Utilities laid

500,000 square yards of concrete, 4,500,000 bricks, 32,000 square yards of tarmac, 20 miles of drains, 6 miles of water mains, 4 miles of sewers, 10 miles of roads, which was 20 feet wide, roads, paths and runways totalled in excess of 35 miles and 10 miles of electrical conduit. The total cost was £1,000,000 or $4,000,000 U.S (at the 1943 exchange rate)

 

90th Bomb Group Early History

On 26 January 1943, the 390th Bombardment Group (H) was activated on General Order 14, issued by Headquarters second Air Force, Fort George Wright, Washington. Formation did not begin until late February 1943. Training at Geiger until 6 June 1943 when the Group moved to Great Falls AAB, Montana. The aircraft went overseas on the 4th of July 1943 taking the northern ferry route from Iceland to Prestwick, where the first aircraft arrived on the 13th of July 1943. The ground unit left for Camp Shanks, NY on the 4th of July 1943 and sailed on the USS James Parker on the 17th of July 1943, and they arrived in liverpool on the 27th of July 1943. Prepared for combat with B-17's and assigned to Eighth AF. Operated chiefly against strategic objectives, flying many missions with the aid of pathfinders. Began combat on 12 Aug 1943. The first mission was on the 12th August 1943 and involved all four squadrons.

On August 17 1943 attacked the Messerschmitt aircraft complex at Regensburg and received a DUC for the mission. Received another DUC for a mission on 14 Oct 1943 when the group braved unrelenting assaults by enemy fighters to bomb the antifriction-bearing plants at Schweinfurt. Participating in the intensive Allied assault on the German aircraft industry during Big Week, 20-25 Feb 1944, the organization bombed aircraft factories, instrument plants, and air parks. Other strategic missions included attacks on marshalling yards at Frankfurt, bridges at Cologne, oil facilities at Zeitz, factories at Mannheim, naval installations at Bremen, and synthetic oil refineries at Merseburg. Sometimes flew interdictory and support missions. Bombed the coast near Caen fifteen minutes before the landings in Normandy on 6 Jun 1944. Attacked enemy artillery in support of ground forces during the breakthrough at St Lo in July. Cut German supply lines during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944 - Jan 1945. Hit airfields in support of the airborne assault across the Rhine in Mar 1945. Flew last combat mission on 20 Apr 1945. Dropped food supplies to the Dutch during the week prior to V-E Day.


390th Bomb Group Commanders

 

On August 11th 1945 the 390th arrived in New York Harbor. After a months leave the Group reassembled at Sioux Falls S.D, but never reorganized as a unit. The 390th Bombardment Group was deactivated on August 28, 1945.

First Mission: 12 Aug 1943
Last Mission: 20 Apr 1945
Missions: 300
Total Sorties: 8,725
Total Bomb Tonnage: 19,059 Tons

Aircraft Losses by the Group:
Missing in Action 146
Operational Salvage* 30
Non-operational Salvage 10
Total B-17s lost 186

* this figures includes 18 written off in the UK & 12 abandoned on the Continent in friendly territory

Distinguished Unit Citations
17 August 1943: Regensburg (all 4BW groups)
14 October 1943: Schweinfurt

Claims to Fame
Highest claims of enemy aircraft destroyed by bomb group on one mission on the date of 10 October 1943.
Hewitt Dunn of the 390th BG the only man to fly 100 mission

Post War History:
Redeployed States in June/August 1945. the aircraft left from Framlingham on the 25th and 26th of June 1945. the ground unit sailed from Greenock on the Queen Elizabeth on the 5th of August 1945 and arrived in New York on the 11th of August 1945. The group was established at Sioux Falls AAFd South Dakota and inactivated there on the 28th of August 1945. The unit was reactivated as a Titan missile wing in 1962 with its headquarters at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizonia.

 

 

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