307TH BG HISTORY
13TH AIR FORCE, 307TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (HEAVY)—HISTORY
The 307th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated in 1942 by the Army Air Corps Combat Command after the attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the United States into war with Japan. In succeeding years, the 307th’s participation in World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam Conflict proved it to be one of the most renowned bombing units in military annals.
On April 15, 1942, the 307th began operations as a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber unit at Geiger Field, Washington. Its first mission to guard the northwestern U.S. and Alaskan coasts against armed invasion prepared the group for its later role in the Pacific Theater of World War II. After patrolling the coastline of America for five months, the 307th’s B-17s were replaced with longer range B-24 Liberator bombers. Subsequently, the entire unit was transferred to Sioux City, Iowa, for a brief training period. After completing a three-week familiarization program, the 307th relocated its entire cadre and 35 bombers to Hamilton Field, California.
Three days later, the 307th BG and their B-24’s were deployed to Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. Upon arrival at Oahu, each of the group’s four squadrons were assigned to different Hawaiian locations: the 370th to Kipapa, the 371st to Wheeler Field, the 372nd to Kabuka, and the 424th to Mokaleia with Headquarters for the 307th at Hickam Field. The 307th conducted search and patrol missions over the surrounding Pacific area. Maintaining a 24-hour vigil, the bombers were to avert any naval attack against the Hawaiian Islands.
Group bombers received their first taste of combat on December 24, 1942. Twenty-seven of the group’s B-24 bombers were deployed from Oahu to Midway Island from where, the 307th BG staged their first combat mission flying 1,260 miles to bomb Japanese held Wake Island. All planes returned safely from the strike having flown 2,240 miles, the longest mass raid of WWII. The enemy was taken by surprise during the predawn raid. Before Japanese units responded with a barrage of anti-aircraft fire, 307th BG bombers had blasted 90 percent of the Wake stronghold. It was from this and succeeding long-distance combat missions that the 307th Bombardment Group became known as the “Long Rangers.” It was January 1943 when the unit was credited with its first Japanese Zero.
Within a few weeks, the 307th BG moved to Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands in Feb. 1943. Group bombers attacked fortified Japanese airfields, shipping, harbors, and other targets in the Southwest Pacific. At Guadalcanal, the 307th BG was subjected to massive air attacks by enemy bombers and fighter aircraft. In March 1943, three waves of Japanese planes blasted the airfield, causing the greatest number of 307th casualties during the war.
November 11, 1943, the 307th participated in the largest aerial strike of the South Pacific War. In conjunction with U.S. Navy elements, group bombers pounded enemy war and merchant ships at Rabaul, New Guinea. Amidst swarms of Japanese “Zeros” and heavy anti-aircraft fire, 307th aircraft released their bombs, leaving the port of Rabaul in complete ruin.
Throughout the remainder of the war, the 307th aircraft continued to cripple the debilitated enemy. Group elements neutralized Japanese forces at Yap, Truk, Palau, Balikpapan, and the Philippines. Bombing strikes against Japanese shipping centers in the Philippines inhibited the enemy from gaining a further stronghold in the area. Unescorted attacks by group aircraft against Japanese captured oil refineries at Balikpapan, Borneo on Sept. 30th and Oct. 3rd, ‘44, together with subsequent combat missions helped assure an allied victory in the South Pacific.
307th BG B-24’s were the first over Tarawa, Nauru, Ocean Island, the Marshall Islands, and Corregidor, Philippines. 307th BG gunners shot down an average of 25 percent of their Japanese fighter interceptors. 307th BG Crews encountered coordinated and concentrated interception by Japanese airmen over many Japanese-held islands without their own fighter escorts, including Rabaul, Truk, Yap, Palau, Balikpapan, and the Philippines. The 307th BG hit the Japanese in the air. They shot down 355 planes and were credited with 68 probable’s and 51 damaged. On the ground, they destroyed 170 airplanes, scores of airfields and supply dumps, oil refineries, and harbor installations. On the sea, they sunk 21,000 tons of shipping and damaged another 112,000 tons.
On Oct. 26th, ’44, the 307th BG attacked the Japanese Fleet in the Sulu Sea damaging two battleships and other vessels. This was the 1st time heavy bombers had been tasked with the bombing of an enemy fleet and heavy losses were endured. Following V-J Day, 1945, the 307th aircraft ferried former American war prisoners from Okinawa to Manila. The 307th BG returned to the states in December 1945 and was subsequently deactivated. Within a few months, the 307th BG was reactivated on August 4, 1946, at MacDill Field, Florida. The group was equipped with B-29 Superfortresses, and the wing was appropriately designated “Very Heavy.”
The 307th was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, one for action in the bombing of the Island of Truk, the most heavily defended and strongly fortified Japanese base in the Pacific. During withdrawal. Gunners of the unescorted Group destroyed 31 of the 75 attacking aircraft, were credited with 12 more “probable’s”, and damaged another 10 in an air battle that lasted 43 minutes. This daring raid, made on 29 March 1944, neutralized the Island's airfields, making possible long-range flights without fighter protection. A 2nd Distinguished Unit Citation was awarded for the successful strike at the Balikpapan Oil Refineries in Borneo on 03 October 1944. The 307th BG flew their B-24 bombers for 17 1/2 hours for a round trip of 2,610 miles, the longest mass raid ever accomplished. The group was also awarded the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for its active role in the Philippines campaign.
- 370th: 1942-1946; 1946-1952
- 371st: 1942-1946, 1946-1952
- 372d: 1942-1945; 1946-1952
- 424th: 1942-1945
- Geiger Field, Wash, 15 Apr 1942
- Ephrata, Wash, 28 May 1942
- Sioux City AAB, Iowa, 30 Sep-20 Oct 1942
- Hickam Field, TH, 1 Nov 1942
- Guadalcanal, Feb 1943
- New Georgia, 28 Jan 1944
- Los Negros, c. 29 Apr 1944
- Wakde, 24 Aug 1944
- Morotai, c. 18 Oct 1944
- Clark Field, Luzon, Sep-Dec 1945
- Camp Stoneman, Calif, 16-18 Jan 1946
- MacDill Field, Fla, 4 Aug 1946-16 Jun 1952
- Capt Bill Jarvis, 1 May 1942
- Col William A Matheny, 22 May 1942
- Col Oliver S Picher, 19 Aug 1943
- Col Glen R Birchard, 27 Oct 1943
- Col Robert F Burnham, 28 Mar 1944
- Col Clifford H Rees, Nov 1944-unkn
- Col Richard T King Jr, 4 Aug 1946
- Lt Col Clyde G Gillespie, 25 Aug 1946
- Lt Col Frank L Davis, Sep 1946
- Col John G Eriksen, 13 Jan 1947
- Col Clifford Heflin, 12 Aug 1947
WORLD WAR II CAMPAIGNS
- Central Pacific
- New Guinea
- Northern Solomons
- Eastern Mandates
- Bismarck Archipelago
- Western Pacific
- Southern Philippines
- Distinguished Unit Citation: Truk, 29 Mar 1944
- Distinguished Unit Citation: Borneo 3 Oct 1944
- Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
307TH BOMB GROUP (HV) HISTORIES:
- We’ll Say Goodbye Song from the Story of the “Long Rangers”
- Charles Lindbergh flew with the 307BG (424th)
- 307th BG Logos
- A Partial List of 307th BG Mission Reports & Historical Records
- A Partial List of 307th BG Targets
- 307th BG (H) Missing Air Crew Reports
- 307th BG (H) Aircraft Inventory and Personnel Losses
- 307th BG Stations (Bases)
- The B-24 Liberator
- 307th BG Signed Phonograph Top from Guadalcanal
The following 307th BG historical documents are in a PDF file format.
- History of the 307th Bombardment Group (Hv) from ACTIVATION to December 1943
- Airdromes Guide for the Southwest Pacific Area—Published December 1, 1944
- The AAF in Australia the summer of 1942 (AAFHS No.. 9)
- Army Air Forces in the War Against Japan – 1941-1942
- History of the 307th BG Plane, FRENISI. AC# 42-40323, B-24D, that flew 100 missions
- History of the 307th BG Plane, Frenisi - A Pictorial View
- History of the 307th Bomb Group (HV) from Apr -1942 to Dec 1943
- Air Action in the Papuan Campaign – 21 July 1942 to 23 January 1943
- The AAF in the South Pacific – to October 1942. December 1944.
- Guadalcanal and the Origins of the Thirteenth Air Force
- The Thirteenth Air Force - March - October 1943 (AAFRH No. 20)
- 26 October 1942 307th Order listing Crews Assigned to Hawaiian Defense from Hamilton Field, CA. Plane numbers and crew names are listed.
- 1 January 1943 Honolulu Star-Bulletin-307th Bomb Group Airmen Smash Wake!
- DUC - Truk Mission-29 March 1944
- DUC Truk 29 Mar 1944 abridged document
- DUC Balikpapan 3 Oct 1944 Original Document
- DUC Balikpapan 3 Oct 1944 abridged document
- Addendum to 3 Oct 1944 307th BG DUC Balikpapan
- Lineage and Honors History 307 Operations Group (AFRC)