Highlights of History
  The Air Forces in Alaska

 Part 3

1942 - 1943

1 Jan 1942: Major Norman D. Sillin assumed command of the Provisional Pursuit Interceptor Command.

1 Jan 1942: The B-26 equipped 77th Bomber Squadron arrived at Elmendorf Field.

15 Jan 1942: Alaskan Air Force activated per General Order 3, HQ Alaskan Defense Command.

Mid Jan 1942: The War Department issued orders deploying the first heavy bombers to Alaska, three LB-30s and a B-17E, to provide long range sea searches.  They arrived in early March.

21 Jan 1942: First Lieutenant John S. Chennault, son of Gen Clare Chennault, assumed command of the 11th Fighter Squadron.

5 Feb 1942: Alaskan Air Force redesignated 11th Air Force. Assigned units included Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Provisional Interceptor Command composed of the 11th and 18th Fighter Squadrons, 28th Composite Group consisting of 36th 73rd and 77th Bomber Squadrons, 23rd Air Base Group.  There were 439 officers and men assigned to the Interceptor Command, 1,055 in the 28th Composite Group and 1,466 in the service organizations.  Eighty-five officers and men were assigned to the Air Warning Service, Alaska.  There were at total of 3,045 assigned.

15 Feb 1942: The Alaskan Air Depot activated per Sacramento Air Depot radiogram.  Its designation changed to 342nd Sub-Depot by General Order No 92, HQ XI Service Command, 25 September 1942, and later to Alaskan Air Depot per General Order No 8, HQ XI Air Force Service Command 19 March 1943.

17 Feb 1942: Colonel Lionel H. Dunlap assumed command of the 11th Air Force per General Order No 3 HQ Alaskan Air Force from Lt Col Everett Davis who became chief of staff.

8 Mar 1942. Colonel William O. Butler assumed command of 11th Air Force per General Order No 5, HQ 11th Air Force.

May 1942: Field Headquarters, 11th Air Force, established at Kodiak with Colonel Davis in charge.

21 May1942: Naval intelligence learned that the Japanese are planning to expand their defensive perimeter by occupying Midway Island and the western Aleutian Islands.

31 May 1942:  The 54th Fighter Squadron, equipped with P-38Es, arrived at Elmendorf Field.

3-4 Jun 1942: Planes from a Japanese carrier task force bombed Dutch Harbor and Fort Mears in eastern Aleutian Islands.

6 Jun 1942: Japanese forces occupied Kiska and Attu the following day in the western Aleutian Islands.

8 Jun 1942: The crew of an LB-30 piloted by Capt Robert E. Speers, 36th Bomber Squadron, observed Japanese forces on Kiska Island.

11 Jun 1942: The crews of four B-24Ds and an LB-30 loaded up with bombs at Umnak and proceed to Kiska where they bomb the Japanese who shoot down the B-24 piloted by Capt Jack F. Todd.

21 Jun 1942: Elmendorf AFB redesignated Elmendorf Army Air Base.

21 Jun 1942: The XI Service Command activated at Elmendorf as a provisional unit with Col Lionel Dunlap commanding.  The provisional designation was dropped 30 July 1942.

1 Jul 1942: The 924th Boat Squadron (Aviation) activated.

1 Jul 1942:  The provisional XI Bomber Command activated with Col William O. Eareckson commanding.

8 Jul 1942:  The 404th Bomber Squadron arrived at Elmendorf AAB.

18 Jul 1942: Colonel Robert V. Ignico assumed command of the IX Air Force Service Command and remained its head until 23 September 1943.

24 Jul 1942: Six base headquarters and air base squadrons activated the IX Air Force Service Command.

4 Aug 1942: Lieutenants Kenneth Ambrose and Stan Long, 54th Fighter Squadron, scored  first P-38 victory of World War II by shooting down two Japanese flying boats near Atka Island.

30 Aug 1942: U.S. Army troops occupied Adak Island and engineers built a runway within ten days.

10 Sep 1942: The first aircraft, a B-18, landed on Adak. Three days later there were 15 B-24s, a B-17, 15 P-38s and 16 P-39s on the island.

11 Sep 1942: The 343rd Fighter Group activated per General Order No 34, HQ Eleventh Air Force with Lt Col John S. Chennault commanding.  The 11th, 18th and 54th Fighter Squadrons were assigned.

14 Sept 1942: First air attack from Adak, consisting of 12 B-24s, 14 P-38s and 14 P-39s, launched against Japanese positions on Kiska.

18 Sep 1942: The 11th Air Force was redesignated the Eleventh Air Force.

24 Sep 1942: Army Engineers met at Contact Creek, 50 miles east of Watson Lake, linking Dawson Creek with Whitehorse, completing the first segment of the Alaska Highway.

25 Sep 1942: First joint U.S. Canadian air attack against Kiska flown with No 111 Squadron, RCAF participating.

4 Oct 1942: The 396th Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron arrived at Adak

9 Nov 1942: Pilots of four P-38s from 54th Fighter Squadron destroyed eight Japanese Rufe float planes in Holtz Bay, Attu.

15 Nov 1942: The 54th Troop Carrier Squadron arrived at Elmendorf AAB.

28 Nov 1942: Colonel Everett S. Davis, first Commander, Eleventh Air Force, killed in an aircraft accident.

13 Jan 1943: Troops landed on the unoccupied island of Amchitka.

16 Feb 1943: The first aircraft, a P-38 and a P-40, landed on Amchitka.

18 Feb 1943: First air mission against Kiska flown from Amchitka.

11-29 May 1943: Battle to retake Attu Island fought.

22 May 1943: Approximately 15 Mitsubishi Betty bombers from Paramushiru attacked surface forces on Attu.

23 May 1943: Twelve Mitsubishi Betty bombers from Paramushiru attempted attack of U.S. forces on Attu, but intercepted by five P-38s from 54th Fighter Squadron who shoot down five and damage seven.  Two P-38s are lost and one pilot missing.

29 May 1943: U.S. troops occupied the uninhabited island of Shemya and began building an air base.

7 Jun 1943: The first aircraft, a C-47, landed on Attu.

8 Jun 1943: P-40 landed on Attu to provide air defense.

21 Jun 1943: A C-47 made the first landing on newly completed runway on Shemya Island.

8 Jul 1943: Eight B-25s from the 77th Bomber Squadron conducted the first land base air attack against the Japanese, departed Attu and bombing the Shimushu Japanese Naval Base in the Northern Kurile Islands.

28 Jul 1943:  Japanese secretly evacuated their 5000 man garrison from Kiska.

10 Aug 1943: Headquarters Eleventh Air Force moved to Adak.

15 Aug 1943: U.S. and Canadian forces reoccupied Kiska Island, ending Aleutian Campaign.

20 Aug 1943: The Eleventh Air Forces loses the following units between 20 August and 1 September: 21st Bomber Squadron (Heavy), 36th Bomber Squadron (Heavy), 73rd Bomber Squadron (Medium), 406th Bomber Squadron (Medium) and 407th Bomber Squadron (Dive Bomber).

11 Sep 1943: Eleventh Air Force lost over half its offensive striking power during a raid against Japanese Naval base at Paramushiru in Northern Kurile Islands. Of the 19 B-24s and B-25s launched from Shemya, ten failed to return.  No more combat missions were flown in 1943.

13 Sep 1943: Major General Davenport Johnson assumed command of Eleventh Air Force from General Butler.

5 Oct 1943:  First instrument flying school established at Elmendorf.

9 Oct 1943:  Japanese attack Attu with estimated Betty bomber causing no damage.

1 Nov 1943: Alaskan Defense Command redesignated Alaskan Department.

Dec 1943: Three signal air warning companies and ten service units alerted for movement to the states during the first week and the 28th Composite Group was organized as a bomber group with the 404th Bomber Squadron (Heavy) and the 77th Bomber Squadron (Medium) assigned to it during the last week.

Part 4    1944 - 1945

Courtesy of:   The United States Air Force Office of History

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11th Air Force
XI Bomber Command
XI Fighter Command
28th Composite Group
Bomb Squadrons
343 Fighter Group
Air/Air Support Units
Fighter Squadrons
War Stories

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