325th Fighter Group
"The Checkertail Clan"
By General Orders Number 50, dated 30 July 1942, Headquarters Air Force, Eastern Defense Command and First Air Force brought into being and activated 325th Fighter Group. Led by Major Leonard C. Lydon, a cadre of Officers and Enlisted men from the 85th, 86th, and 87th Fighter Squadrons of the 79th Fighter Group proceeded to Theodore F. Greene Field, Providence, Rhode Island, where it became the nucleus of the new group.
The 319th Fighter Squadron was born, along with her sister squadrons the 317th and 318th, as part of the 325th Fighter Group, later to become the famed "Checkertail Clan", on June 24, 1942. Activation took place on August 3, 1942. The group headquarters and 317th Squadron were based at Theodore Green Field, Hillsgrove, Rhode Island, the 318th was sent to Grenier Field, Manchester, New Hampshire and the 319th deployed to Renschler Field, Hartford, Connecticut.
On October 5, 1942 the 319th squadron was transferred to Hillsgrove, Rhode Island with the squadron strength at 29 officers and 312 enlisted men. On January 2, a few days shy of three months, the group was ordered to proceed by rail to Langley Field, Virginia. The Flight Echelon, consisting of the twenty-seven pilots, left Hillsgrove by air to begin their long journey to Casablanca. Everyone thought it was a permanent change of station. When they arrived new Curtis P-40F(specs) Warhawks were waiting for them. They were told that they were going to be transported by carrier somewhere off the coast of North Africa where they would then fly their new planes off the carrier to their new base. With only three days training in their new aircraft, on a runway marked off to simulate the takeoff from a flight deck, the crews were ready to go. On January 7, 1943 seventy two new P-40Fs were taxied through town down main street to Norfolk, VA Naval Air Station and hoisted, with the pilot still in the cockpit, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger. The squadrons left Norfolk on the January 7, 1943. After eleven days on the cold Atlantic, they were within range of the final destination, Cazes Aerodrome near Casablanca. The planes took off from the carrier squadron by squadron with the 319th last. When the pilots landed at Cazes they stayed there until January 23rd and then were sent to Mediouna. The next day they flew protective cover for President Roosevelt's party and the following day flew to Tafaraoui to join the others who had arrived a few days earlier. (This date is not compatible with the history of the USS Ranger (CV 4) which states http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/ships/carriers/histories/cv04-ranger/cv04-ranger.html
Following training in Chesapeake Bay, the carrier underwent overhaul in the Norfolk Navy Yard from 16 December 1942 to 7 February 1943. She next transported 75 P-40-L Army pursuit planes to Africa, arriving Casablanca on 23 February)
The above statement is contradicted by Mr Crochet in his diary
TUESDAY, 19 JANUARY 1943, WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN (Twelfth Air Force) 72 P-40Ls of the 325th Fighter Group are flown off the USS Ranger and land at Cazes Airdrome, Casablanca.. 42-10578, Curtiss P-40L-5-CU Warhawk condemned salvage non combat Mar 29, 1945
1943 -- Anti-Sub, Air Operations, Ferrying
Jan 7, 1943 -- Loading up with P-40s once again plus 4 TBFs.
Jan 12, 1943 -- Rodman (DD) made sub contact. Dropped ash cans (depth charges).
Jan 13, 1943 -- Fitch (DD) made sub contact. Dropped ash cans.
Jan 17, 1943 -- Ellyson (DD) made sub contact in afternoon. Dropped ash cans.
Jan 19, 1943 -- Launching P-40s at 0910 (to Casablanca, Morocco). 6 flights (72 planes).
Source for below: http://funsite.unc.edu/hyperwar/AAF/II/AAF-II-4.html (Page 130)
By the time of the conference, a shortage had also developed in P-40's. The 33d Group had brought with it two months' replacements (Spaatz recommended that all groups committed to an operation such as TORCH carry along at least the first month's replacements),121 but it had donated twenty-five planes to re-equip a French squadron, the Lafayette Escadrille,122 and its losses at Thelepte began to be heavy. Here the Ranger proved invaluable. Admiral King made the carrier available as a result of a plea from Eisenhower to the War Department in December: it ferried the air echelon of the 325th Group--seventy-five P-40's and pilots diverted from the Ninth Air Force--in mid-January, the planes landing at Cazes;123 at the Casablanca conference Arnold asked for its continued good offices, and it brought seventy-five P-40L replacements in February.124 However, out at Thelepte, the 33d Group, short of new pilots and down to thirteen aircraft by the 1st of February, had to be relieved in the midst of intensive operations.125
Ferrying P-40s to Casablanca
Feb 13, 1943 -- Loading up with P-40s.
Feb 13, 1943 -- Left Norfolk at 1300. Rough sea, rolling and pitching.
Feb 16, 1943 -- Rodman (DD) made sub contact. No good.
Feb 23, 1943 -- Rodman made sub contact. Dropped ash cans. Two tin fish fired at us on our starboard bow. Missed.
Feb 24, 1943 -- Corry (DD) made sub contact and dropped 8 ash cans. Launched P-40s. Fitch made 2 sub contacts, dropped 16 ash cans.
Feb 25, 1943 -- Contacts during night. Launched all P-40s (to Casablanca).
Source for following: http://www.web-birds.com/
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