About the 379th Bomb Group
This is a summary of the history of the 379th that can be found, in its entirety, at the 379th Bomb Group Association’s website.
The 379th Bomb Group was activated on November 26, 1942. It was part of the 8th Air Force, 1st Division, 41st Wing and it consisted of 4 squadrons: the 524th, 525th, 526th and 527th. The Group arrived at Kimbolton, England, AAF 117 in May 1943 and its first mission was to attack German U-boat pens in France. The Group flew B-17s, a heavy bomber used during World War II.
Kimbolton is a small village about 24 miles east of Cambridge, England. The flat land in that area of England was perfect for building airfields and the one at Kimbolton, like many of the airfields built in England at the time, was originally designed for fighter planes. When the British leased the airfields to America, they had to improve the runways to accommodate bombing planes which are larger and heavier than their fighter counterparts.
In June 1943, the use of a geometric symbol with a white letter was introduced as a means to quickly identify the bombardment wing. The triangle denoted the B-17 Bombardment Wing, later known as the 1st Division. These symbols were painted on the vertical stabilizer of the airplane’s tail. The 379th was assigned the letter “K”, aka the “Triangle K” Group, and sported a yellow triangle.
The 379th was quite an accomplished Group. Accomplishments include:
- It flew its first 300 missions in less time than any other bombardment group
- It led the 8th Air Force in bombing accuracy
- It flew more sorties than any other heavy bombardment group
- It had a lower loss and abortive ratio than any other unit for an extended period of time
- It developed the 12 plane squadron formation and 36 plane integral group
- It used a straight-line approach on the entire bomb run
In May 1944 the 379th made an unprecedented “8th Air Force Operational Grand Slam” during the month of April 1944. The 379th Bomb Group is the only unit ever awarded this recognition which includes achievements such as:
- Best Bombing Results (greatest percentage of bombs on target)
- Greatest tonnage of bombs dropped on a target
- Largest number of aircraft attacking
- Lowest losses of aircraft
- Lowest abortive rate of aircraft dispatched
The 379th received two Presidential Unit citations for its accomplishments in combat. It last combat mission was flown in April 1945 and it remained active at Kimbolton for about another 3 years. During its 5 years in Kimbolton, nearly 6,000 personnel were stationed at the base. According to one record, 345 B-17s were assigned to the Triangle K Group. Of those 345, 141 were lost in combat with 57% of those lost between May 1943 and March 1944.
Today, part of the Kimbolton Airfield’s tarmac still exists and it is used as a racetrack for the Hunts Kart Racing Club. To this day, the members of the racing club still find detritus from the War in the area surrounding the track. The club also has a nice display about the 379th in its club house, complete with photos, found parts, and all kinds of history. They are proud of their track’s heritage!
Keith Ellefson, Researcher, 384th Bomb Group
November 18, 2014 at 6:43 am
“All of the planes assigned to the 1st Division of the 8th Air Force were assigned a large black triangle outlined in yellow”
This is not entirely correct. Only the 379th triangle was outlined in yellow. Each of the other bomb groups of the 1st Division of the 8th Air Force had a different color scheme.
November 3, 2015 at 8:47 pm
Thank you! I will look into this and correct if needed. I’m almost positive I pulled that from the 379th Bomb Group Association’s website but cannot find the reference…missy.
November 3, 2015 at 9:10 pm
Correction made! Thank you for keeping me honest!…missy.
November 3, 2015 at 9:23 pm
A ddescription of Tail Fin Markings for the 1st Air Division/41st CBW can be seen here: http://photos.384thbombgroup.com/index.php?/category/2177
November 3, 2015 at 9:30 pm
Thanks! If I find an appropriate spot on my site, would you mind if I used these images? …missy.
November 3, 2015 at 9:33 pm
Our respective groups, 379th and 384th were in the same CBW.
November 3, 2015 at 9:44 pm
Please use the images if they will be helpful for your BG. The originals came from The National Archives via FOLD3.
November 3, 2015 at 9:48 pm
The images are from official government files via Fold3.
November 3, 2015 at 9:50 pm
Excellent! Thank you!!
Daniel Ford Rousseau
August 8, 2020 at 10:42 am
My boyhood hero was a navigator/bombardier, Lt. Richard L. Ritchie, who completed 32 missions on March 23, 1944. His plane was named FATSO. After D-Day, he was sent to West Palm Beach, Florida, where he trained others. I had just completed first grade when I met him. He would visit our dairy and he and my dad became great friends. Soon I was serving as a bat-boy for the squadron’s softball team [I thought I was hot stuff]. At Christmas of ’44, Ritchie took me with him to eat in the officer’s mess at what is now Palm Beach International, then called Morrison Field. After dinner, he took me out to the tarmac and gave me a tour of a B17. I went from the nose to the tail, sitting in every battle station, but I would NOT crawl down into the belly turret. I was scared to get down there. In 2001, I met a former ball turret gunner who flew with the 303rd Bomb Group. He said flak had hit them so hard the ship broke in half right where the ball turret was attached. He found himself falling to earth inside the turret. He also told me he never attached his parachute during combat because it hampered his movements, but on that day he did connect it. He said he didn’t know why he did, he just felt the impulse to do it. With the turret rotating, he managed to time it so he dropped out when the opening was pointed to the earth. He spent the war as a POW.
August 19, 2020 at 5:17 pm
Hello Daniel! What a wonderful memory! Thank you for sharing it. That is quite the story about the ball turret gunner. With that turret being so small, I can understand why the gunner wouldn’t want to wear his parachute. I recognize the plane name, Fatso, and it looks like she flew with the 379th for a bit after serving in the 94th. Looks like she returned to the States in August 1944 and then was sold for scrap metal in December 1945. Looks like she was also named “The Widow Maker” at one point. Here’s a little info about her: https://b17flyingfortress.de/en/?s=FATSO I have found this website to have pretty reliable information about the B-17s of WWII. Also, if you’re on Facebook, there are several groups dedicated to the Mighty Eighth Air Force and the 379th Bomb Group. I’m sure you can find groups for the 303rd and 94th, too. Again, thank you for sharing your story. I love hearing these sorts of things from others. Best – Missy.