Information

311th Fighter Group


311th Fighter Group

History - Aircraft - Time Line - Commanders - Main Bases - Component Units - Assigned To

History

The 311st was one of only three groups to use the A-36 dive bomber version of the P-51 Mustang. It was created in 1942 as a light bombardment group, training with the Vultee Vengeance, before moving on to the A-36 (and the P-51) when it entered combat in India. The A-36 was a generally successful dive bomber, but was not built in large numbers.

The unit went through a number of changes of designation, but by the time it entered combat it had become the 311st Fighter-Bomber Group in recognition of the nature of the A-36.

The group moved to India via Australia between July and September 1943. It performed a mix of ground attack missions over northern Burma and fighter escort duties that took it further afield. It also helped to protect the Indian end of the Hump air route to China.

The group spent most of July and August 1944 operating from Tingkawk Sakan, Burma, helping to support Merrill's Marauders (amongst others). It was then transferred to China and to the Fourteenth Air Force, remaining there until the end of the war. In China it performed a similar mix of fighter and fighter-bomber missions.

At the end of the war the group was used to ferry P-51s to China to equip the Chinese Air Force, before returning to the United States in December 1945.

Aircraft

Vultee V-72 Vengeance: 1942
North AmericanA-36 and P-51 Mustang: 1943-1945

Timeline

28 January 1942Constituted as 311th Bombardment Group (Light)
2 March 1942Activated
July 1942Redesignated as 311th Bombardment Group (Dive)
September 1943Redesignated as 311th Fighter-Bomber Group
September 1943-July 1944Active with Tenth Air Force, from India
May 1944Redesignated as 311th Fighter Group
July-August 1944Based in Burma with Tenth Air Force
August 1944-December 1945Transferred to Fourteenth Air Force, China

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Lt. Colonel Clinton U True: 1942
Lt. Colonel John R Kelly: 10 August 1942
Colonel Harry R Melton Jr: 26 November 1942
Colonel Charles G Chandler Jr: 25 November 1943
Colonel John S Chennault: 12 February 1945
Colonel Gabriel P Disosway: 24 May 1945
Colonel Allen R. Springer 5 August 1945

Main Bases

Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma: 2 March 1942
Hunter Field, Ga.: 4 July 1942
Waycross, Ga: 22 October 1942-18 July 1943
Nawadih, India: 14 September 1943
Dinjan, India: 11 October 1943
Tingkawk Sakan, Burma: 6 July 1943
Pungchacheng, China: 28 August 1944-14 December 1945

Component Units

385th Fighter Squadron: 1942-1943
528th Fighter Squadron: 1942-1945 (previously 382nd, later 132rd)
529th Fighter Squadron: 1942-1946 (previously 383rd, later 133rd)
530th Fighter Squadron: 1942-1946 (previously 384th, later 134th)

Assigned To

Tenth Air Force, India and Burma: July 1943-August 1944
312th Fighter Wing, Fourteenth Air Force, China: July 1944-December 1945


311th Fighter Group - History

Background
Born in Wickliffe, KY. Melton joined the U. S. Army and attended West Point class of 1936. He married Lavonia Smith of of San Antonio, TX and had a daughter, Anne who was born in October 2, 1938. Afterwards, the couple divorced in 1940 or 1941 and Harry took custody of his daughter. On June 23, 1941 Melton married Natalie Jean Wilson of St. Petersburg, FL. During 1943, he was the Commanding Officer of the 311th Fighter-Bomber Group. After Melton's death in 1944, Natalie remarried in September 1946 to Captain Wilks O. Hiatt, an Army doctor. Natalie died in January 1987 in North Carolina. Melton's daughter Anne went to live with her grandparents and passed away on December 20, 1999.

Wartime History
During World War II, Melton was the Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the 311th Bombardment Group (Dive). On September 30, 1943 the unit was redesignated the 311th Fighter-Bomber Group (311th FBG). During his service, Melton flew the A-36 Apache and later the P-51A Mustang from Nawadih Airfield and Dinjan Airfield in India on dive bombing and escort missions over Burma.

Mission History
On November 25, 1943 took off piloting P-51A Mustang 43-6069 from Ramu on a mission to escort bombers over Rangoon in Burma. Weather was good with good visibility. Over the target, Ki-43 Oscar piloted by Lt. Yohei Hinoki from the 64th Sentai was about to land at Mingaladon Airfield when he spotted approaching aircraft and flew to investigate, incorrectly believing they were Japanese aircraft. Melton fired on and scored three hits then performed a split-s maneuver, exposing his belly to Hinoki who opened fire damaging his aircraft. Afterwards, Hinoki broke off his attack to aid his comrades.

When leaving the target area, Melton's aircraft began trailing black smoke and lost air speed. P-51A piloted by 2nd Lt. Everett Briggs observed him bailing out at 1,000' above the ground then disappeared roughly 100 miles northwest of Rangoon and twenty miles east of the Bay of Bengal. Last contacted by radio with 2nd Lt. Everett Briggs. When he failed to return, Melton was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

Fate of the Pilot
Melton was immediately captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW). After he was captured, Lt. Hinoki received a telephone call, telling him that they caught a colonel, and if he was interested in meeting him, but Hinoki declined. But he remembered the name &ldquoMelton&rdquo and wrote the story in his postwar memoir. Melton was detained at Burma #5 (Moulmein & Rangoon Jail) Burma 16-97. Later, he was transported to Singapore to be transported aboard a ship to Japan.

Melton was one of 2,200 British and Australian prisoners loaded aboard the Rakuyo Maru and departed Singapore on September 6, 1944 bound for Japan. On September 12, 1944 while in the South China Sea off Hainan Island, torpedoed by USS Sealion (SS-315). Her second torpedo hit Rakuyo Maru's bow, and penetrated No. 1 hold filled with rubber. A third torpedo ran directly into her engine room, and the main engine and auxiliary equipment including the generators stopped, and she became unable to make way and began to sink. On September 14, 1944. Melton was in a lifeboat with other POWs when a Japanese destroyer machine gunned everyone in the life boat, including Melton.

The Tragic Story of Colonel Harry R. Melton Jr. by Henry Sakaida
"I tracked down Maj/Gen Charles G. Chandler Jr. who lived in Santa Cruz, CA. He took over the 311th when Melton didn't return. In a letter dated 3 October 1980, he wrote: . The sole prisoner survivor was the British officer, and he was the person who, after the war, confirmed Col. Melton&rsquos death to the War Department. This same officer also wrote Col. Melton&rsquos wife giving her all of the details. He also enclosed a love letter that Col. Melton had written to his wife while in Singapore. The British officer carried this letter between the insole and sole of his shoe until the war&rsquos end. Believe it or not, this letter was still legible except where folded. I remember reading it shortly after Mrs. Melton received it."

The Ultimate Unreal Real Story by Henry Sakaida:
"Hinoki-san was truly saddened by the way Melton died, and politely asked me to see if I could locate the widow. I thought it was a worthy challenge and I accepted. He composed a letter of sympathy and asked that I deliver it. Hinoki-san died in January 1991 of cancer, but I continued to my search for 30 years until I located her daughter, Kip, to whom I delivered his letter."

Melton remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA) to this day.

Memorials
Melton is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. After he went MIA, Melton's five year old daughter Anne Melton accepted his Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) awarded to her father for "extraordinary achievement in aerial flight" from Col. Douglas Johnson, C.O. of Mitchel Field in New York.

References
Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 1215
Herald Tribune "Five year old daughter accepts medal awarded father" July 22, 1944
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harry R. Melton Jr.
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Harry R. Melton Jr.
FindAGrave - Col Harry Ripley Melton, Jr
POW Research Network Japan - Rakuyo Maru
Air War Pacific: Chronology page 253 incorrectly states he was shot down by a Ki-45
Pacifica Military History FREE Sample Chapters incorrectly states shot down by AAA.
Tsubasa No Kessen (Wings of Bloody Combat) by Yohei Hinoki
Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937-45 by Henry Sakaida page 36
Banzai Newsletter "The Tragic Story of Colonel Harry R. Melton Jr." by Henry Sakaida
Banzai Newsletter "The Ultimate Unreal Real Story" by Henry Sakaida
Thanks to Henry Sakaida for research and analysis

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Contents

Lineage

  • Constituted as 311th Bombardment Group (Light) on 28 Jan 1942
  • Redesignated 101st Fighter Group

Assignments

Components

  • 385th Bombardment Squadron: 2 Mar 1942-30 sep 1943
  • 382d Bombardment (later 528th Fighter-Bomber Fighter) Squadron: 2 Mar 1942-6 Jan 1946
  • 383d Bombardment (later 529th Fighter-Bomber Fighter) Squadron: 2 Mar 1942-6 Jan 1946
  • 384th Bombardment (later 530th Fighter-Bomber Fighter) Squadron: 2 Mar 1942-6 Jan 1946

Stations

    , Oklaholma, 2 Mar 1942 , Georgia, 4 Jul 1942 , Georgia, 22 Oct 1942-18 Jul 1943 , India, 14 Sep 1943
    , India, 11 Oct 1943 , Burma, 6 Jul 1944 , China, 28 Aug 1944-14 Dec 1945 , Washington, 5-6 Jan 1946

Operational History

Trained with V-72 Vengeance aircraft. Moved to India, via Australia, Jul-Sep 1943. Assigned to Tenth Air Force. Operating from India and using A-36A Apaches. The units aircraft had yellow tails with two black bands the 530th Fighter Squadron having its diagonal bands sloping from top right to bottom left, while the other two Squadrons had theirs either vertical or sloping the opposite way. The red nose was also a squadron marking. Many planes of this Group had a girl's name on the nose but very few had any artwork.

The group supported Allied ground forces in northern Burma covered bombers that attacked Rangoon, Insein, and other targets bombed enemy airfields at Myitkyina and Bhamo and conducted patrol and reconnaissance missions to help protect transport planes that flew The Hump route between India and China.

Converted to P-51C Mustangs in May 1944. Moved to Burma in July and continued to support ground forces, including Merrill's Marauders also flew numerous sweeps over enemy airfields in central and southern Burma.

Moved to China in Aug 1944 and assigned to Fourteenth Air Force. Escorted bombers, flew interception missions, struck the enemy's communications, and supported ground operations, serving in combat until the end of the war. Ferried P-51's from India for Chinese Air Force in Nov 1945. Returned to the US in Dec 1945.


Rare WWII USAAF 58th Fighter Group 5th Air Force Unit History 69th, 310th, 311th Fighter Sq

ARTIFACT: This is a rare World War II unit history up through April 1, 1945 of the United States Army Air Forces 58th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force (69th, 310th, 311th Fighter Squadrons). The book is entitled "Memoirs of the 58th Fighter Group", and includes a unit roster and home addresses.

VINTAGE: Circa World War II.

SIZE: 268 pages, with photographs and illustrations approximately 11-1/2" in height and 8-1/2" in width and 1" in thickness.

MATERIALS / CONSTRUCTION: Covered paperboard cover, glossy paper.

ATTACHMENT: Glued binding.

MARKINGS: CONTENTS OF THIS BOOK HAVE BEEN EXAMINED AND APPROVED BY THE CHIEF MILITARY CENSOR, GHQ, SWPA, AND THE THEATER CENTER, HEADQUARTERS, USAFFE.

ITEM NOTES: This is from a United States Army Air Forces collection which we will be listing more of over the next few months. VAEJX12 L/SCDEX6/12

CONDITION: 7+ (Very Fine+): The book is in very good condition with only a few pages showing small areas of light water damage toward the end.

GUARANTEE: As with all my artifacts, this piece is guaranteed to be original, as described.


311th Fighter Squadron

Constituted 311th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 21 Jan 1942. Activated on 9 Feb 1942. Redesignated: 311th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942 311th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine, on 20 Aug 1943. Inactivated on 20 Feb 1946. Redesignated 311th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 25 Jun 1952. Activated on 10 Jul 1952. Inactivated on 1 Jul 1958. Redesignated 311th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron on 12 Jan 1970. Activated on 18 Jan 1970. Redesignated 311th Fighter Squadron on 1 Nov 1991. Inactivated on 1 Apr 1994. Activated on 1 Jan 1995.

58th Pursuit (later, 58th Fighter) Group, 9 Feb 1942?27 Jan 1946 Fifth Air Force, 27 Jan?20 Feb 1946. 58th Fighter-Bomber Group, 10 Jul 1952 (attached to 58th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 1 Mar?7 Nov 1957) 58th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 8 Nov 1957?1 Jul 1958. 58th Tactical Fighter Training (later, 58th Tactical Training) Wing, 18 Jan 1970 58th Operations Group, 1 Oct 1991?1 Apr 1994. 56th Operations Group, 1 Jan 1995?.

Harding Field, LA, 9 Feb 1942 Dale Mabry Field, FL, 4 Mar 1942 Richmond AAB, VA, 16 Oct 1942 Bolling Field, DC, 23 Oct 1942 Bradley Field, CT, 1 Mar 1943 Hillsgrove, RI, 1 May 1943 Grenier Field, NH, 15 Sep?22 Oct 1943 Brisbane, Australia, 21 Nov 1943 Dobodura, New Guinea, 28 Dec 1943 Saidor, New Guinea, 5 Apr 1944 Noemfoor, 6 Sep 1944 San Roque, Leyte, 18 Nov 1944 San Jose, Mindoro, 21 Dec 1944 Mangaldan, Luzon, 7 Apr 1945 Porac, Luzon, 17 Apr 1945 Okinawa, 8 Jul 1945 Japan, 26 Oct 1945 Ft William McKinley, Luzon, 28 Dec 1945?20 Feb 1946. Taegu AB, South Korea, 10 Jul 1952 Osan-ni (later Osan) AB, South Korea, 7 Apr 1955?1 Jul 1958. Luke AFB, AZ, 18 Jan 1970?1 Apr 1994. Luke AFB, AZ, 1 Jan 1995?.

P?39, 1942 P?40, 1942?1943 P?47, 1943?1945. F?84, 1952?1954 F?86, 1954?1958. F?4, 1970?1983 F?16, 1983?1994.

Operational and replacement training unit, Mar 1942?Apr 1943. Combat in Southwest and Western Pacific, 2 Feb 1944?14 Aug 1945. Not fully manned or equipped, 23 Sep 1945?20 Feb 1946. Combat in Korea, 10 Jul 1952?27 Jul 1953. Trained US and foreign aircrews, Jan 1970?1 Nov 1991.

Service Streamers. World War II American Theater.

Campaign Streamers. World War II: Air Offensive, Japan New Guinea Bismarck Archipelago Western Pacific Leyte Luzon Southern Philippines Ryukyus China Offensive. Korea: Korea Summer-Fall, 1952 Third Korean Winter Korea, Summer 1953.

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers. None.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Philippine Islands, 26 Dec 1944 Korea, 1 May?27 Jul 1953. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 1 Jan 1971?31 Dec 1972 1 Jan 1978?31 Dec 1979 1 Aug 1982?31 May 1984 1 Jun 1986?31 May 1988 1 Jun 1990?31 May 1992. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation (WWII). Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation: 10 Jul 1952?31 Mar 1953.

Per fess Celeste and Azure, a serpent coiled head Vert langued Gules armed Argent, its body a machine gun cartridge belt Or all within a diminished bordure of the third. Approved on 9 Oct 1943.


311th Fighter Squadron

Constituted 311th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 21 Jan 1942. Activated on 9 Feb 1942. Redesignated: 311th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942 311th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine, on 20 Aug 1943. Inactivated on 20 Feb 1946. Redesignated 311th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 25 Jun 1952. Activated on 10 Jul 1952. Inactivated on 1 Jul 1958. Redesignated 311th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron on 12 Jan 1970. Activated on 18 Jan 1970. Redesignated 311th Fighter Squadron on 1 Nov 1991. Inactivated on 1 Apr 1994. Activated on 1 Jan 1995.

58th Pursuit (later, 58th Fighter) Group, 9 Feb 1942?27 Jan 1946 Fifth Air Force, 27 Jan?20 Feb 1946. 58th Fighter-Bomber Group, 10 Jul 1952 (attached to 58th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 1 Mar?7 Nov 1957) 58th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 8 Nov 1957?1 Jul 1958. 58th Tactical Fighter Training (later, 58th Tactical Training) Wing, 18 Jan 1970 58th Operations Group, 1 Oct 1991?1 Apr 1994. 56th Operations Group, 1 Jan 1995?.

Harding Field, LA, 9 Feb 1942 Dale Mabry Field, FL, 4 Mar 1942 Richmond AAB, VA, 16 Oct 1942 Bolling Field, DC, 23 Oct 1942 Bradley Field, CT, 1 Mar 1943 Hillsgrove, RI, 1 May 1943 Grenier Field, NH, 15 Sep?22 Oct 1943 Brisbane, Australia, 21 Nov 1943 Dobodura, New Guinea, 28 Dec 1943 Saidor, New Guinea, 5 Apr 1944 Noemfoor, 6 Sep 1944 San Roque, Leyte, 18 Nov 1944 San Jose, Mindoro, 21 Dec 1944 Mangaldan, Luzon, 7 Apr 1945 Porac, Luzon, 17 Apr 1945 Okinawa, 8 Jul 1945 Japan, 26 Oct 1945 Ft William McKinley, Luzon, 28 Dec 1945?20 Feb 1946. Taegu AB, South Korea, 10 Jul 1952 Osan-ni (later Osan) AB, South Korea, 7 Apr 1955?1 Jul 1958. Luke AFB, AZ, 18 Jan 1970?1 Apr 1994. Luke AFB, AZ, 1 Jan 1995?.

P?39, 1942 P?40, 1942?1943 P?47, 1943?1945. F?84, 1952?1954 F?86, 1954?1958. F?4, 1970?1983 F?16, 1983?1994.

Operational and replacement training unit, Mar 1942?Apr 1943. Combat in Southwest and Western Pacific, 2 Feb 1944?14 Aug 1945. Not fully manned or equipped, 23 Sep 1945?20 Feb 1946. Combat in Korea, 10 Jul 1952?27 Jul 1953. Trained US and foreign aircrews, Jan 1970?1 Nov 1991.

Service Streamers. World War II American Theater.

Campaign Streamers. World War II: Air Offensive, Japan New Guinea Bismarck Archipelago Western Pacific Leyte Luzon Southern Philippines Ryukyus China Offensive. Korea: Korea Summer-Fall, 1952 Third Korean Winter Korea, Summer 1953.

Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers. None.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citations: Philippine Islands, 26 Dec 1944 Korea, 1 May?27 Jul 1953. Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 1 Jan 1971?31 Dec 1972 1 Jan 1978?31 Dec 1979 1 Aug 1982?31 May 1984 1 Jun 1986?31 May 1988 1 Jun 1990?31 May 1992. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation (WWII). Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation: 10 Jul 1952?31 Mar 1953.

Per fess Celeste and Azure, a serpent coiled head Vert langued Gules armed Argent, its body a machine gun cartridge belt Or all within a diminished bordure of the third. Approved on 9 Oct 1943.


This list displays the first 500 files in the package. If the package has more, you will need to download it to view them.

Filename/Directory File Date File Size
311th FBS Screen.jpg03.26.09150.53 kB
effects.zip12.08.083.81 kB
F-86 Pictures and History.zip03.26.098.04 MB
F-86 Sabre 311th FBS.zip03.26.095.73 MB
Gauges.zip12.04.08612.95 kB
Original Panel Docs.zip03.25.091.53 MB
Read Me First.txt03.25.092.59 kB
Text.txt03.25.09403 B
flyawaysimulation.txt10.29.13959 B
Go to Fly Away Simulation.url01.22.1652 B


311th Fighter Group - History

2 Presidential Distinguished Unit Citations:

The Group was constituted as 86th Bombardment Group (Light) on 13-Jan 1942, and activated on 10 Feb 1942. It was redesignated 86th Bombardment Group (Dive) in Sep 1942, 86th Fighter-Bomber Group in Aug 1943, and 86th Fighter Group in May 1944.

In March through May of 1943, they m oved to North Africa and trained until July, then began combat with Twelfth Air Force. They were engaged primarily in close support of ground forces, with the group moving forward to bases in Sicily, Italy, Corsica, France, and Germany as the battle line changed. Patrol and interdictory missions were also flown. A-36, P-40, and P-47 aircraft were used to attack convoys, trains, ammunition dumps, troop and supply columns, shipping, bridges, rail lines, and other objectives.

They p articipated in the softening up of Sicily and supported the invasion by Seventh Army in July of 1943, and provided cover for the landings at Salerno in September of that year. The Group assisted the Allied advance toward Rome during Jan-Jun 1944. They supported the invasion of Southern France in Aug 1944, and worked to take out enemy communications in northern Italy from Sep 1944 to April 1945. They attacked enemy transportation in Germany during April and May 1945.

The 86th received two DUC's: one for action on 25 May 1944 when the group repeatedly dived through intense flak to destroy enemy vehicles and troops as German forces tried to stop the Allies short of Rome the other for activity against convoys and airfield installations in northern Germany on 20 April 1945 to disorganize the enemy's withdrawal from that area.

The Fighter Bomber Group r emained in Germany after the war as part of United States Air Forces in Europe. They were transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the US in Feb 1946, and inactivated on March 31, 1946.

History of the 525th, 526th, 527th and the 528th
Fighter-Bomber Squadrons


History

The 311th Troop Carrier Squadron trained in the United States from 1943–1944 and later flew cargo and personnel missions. It transferred to Hawaii in February 1945 and flew cargo in the Hawaiian Islands. When Lieutenant General Millard F. Harmon crashed in the Pacific, the squadron participated in an intensive air search for survivors. In August 1945 it moved to Okinawa and continued its airlift mission until May 1946.

The 311th trained in C-46 aircraft from June 1949-April 1951.

In Vietnam, the 311th flew cargo and passengers in support of I and II Corps. In addition, the unit flew flare, communications cover, air evacuation, and search and rescue missions for downed aircraft.

On 10 May 1968, The special forces camp at Kham Duc in the central highlands near Laos came under heavy mortar fire and was ordered to be evacuated. On 12 May, during evacuation efforts, an Army Boeing CH-47 Chinook and two division C-130s were disabled by enemy fire. One C-130 burst into flames at the end of the runway, killing all aboard. The final C-130 took off thinking it had boarded the last of the men on the ground. As the Viet Cong overran the forward outpost and established gun positions on the airstrip, eight aircraft were destroyed and the C-130 on the runway reduced its usable length to only about 2,200 feet. However, the three-man combat control team, in charge of directing the evacuation, was still on the ground searching for survivors. [1]

Informed that three men remained behind, Lt Col Joe M. Jackson of the 311th Air Commando Squadron (834th Air Division) dove his Fairchild C-123K Provider from 9,000 to land at the field. Unable to slow by reversing his propellers (Reversing the propellers on the C-123K shut off the two jet engines. They would have to be restarted before the aircraft could begin to take off again.) he jammed on the brakes and skidded halfway down the runway. The three combat controllers jumped from a culvert next to the runway and leaped into the open rear cargo door. A 122 mm rocket, fired from just outside the perimeter stopped only 10 meters from the plane. It did not explode. Jackson taxied around the shell and took off under heavy fire from the hills on either side of the camp. For this rescue, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. [1]

The flight replaced the 11th Airlift Flight and was equipped with C-21A aircraft in 1997. It has since supported the Commander, US Strategic Command, providing passenger airlift for high-level Defense Department officials and members of Congress throughout the US.