This site is dedicated to the men and women who served their nation in World War II, especially those in the 8th Air Force, 316th Bombardment Wing, and 346th Bombardment Group, and their families back home.
HISTORY OF THE 346th
By Glenn Carman
When I originally contacted the Air Force Archives in 2004 I learned that a fire in St. Louis in 1973 destroyed all the records on the 316th. Sad thing. As a result we have had to piece together the history from a variety of sources, most importantly from the members of the unit.
The unit was constituted as 346th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on September 3, 1942, activated on September 7, 1942, and assigned to Second Air Force. It was originally equipped with B-17s and B-24s. It served first as an operational training unit and later as a replacement training unit.
It was inactivated on April 1, 1944, redesignated 346th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy), activated on August 18, 1944, and assigned to the Second Air Force. It was then prepared for combat with B-29s and moved to the Pacific Theater from June through August 1945 and assigned to the Eighth Air Force.
The War ended before the group could begin combat operations as a unit. In history books it is said they saw no action. Formed too late in the war. But this is not entirely true. I know of at least 20 crews that flew in combat. They were forward echelon Detached Service (DS) crews on Saipan, Guam, and Tinian. They flew combat so that when the rest of the group got to Okinawa they could be made the lead crews.
After the War the group participated in several show-of-force missions over Japan and for a time ferried allied prisoners of war from Okinawa to the Philippine Islands. It was inactivated on Okinawa on June 30, 1946.
* Originally each squadron had three B-29s per flight, called A, B, C, D, making a total of 12 planes per squadron. Later on they were going to beef up each bomb group to 100 B-29s by adding 20 crews per squadron and five squadrons per group. That's probably where squadrons 502-505 came from. They were probably only on paper because the war had come to an end. Never realized.
Asiatic Pacific Theater
The official info about the movements of the 346th:
1) Salt Lake City AAB, Utah, September 7, 1942
2) Smoky Hill AB, Kansas, October 3, 1942
3) Dyersburg AAFld, Tennessee, February 26, 1943 through April 1, 1944
4) Dalhart AAFld, Texas, August 18, 1944
5) Pratt AAFld, Kansas, January 18, through June 29, 1945
6) Kadena, Okinawa, August 7, 1945 through June 30, 1946
The actual movement of the 346th as I know it
1) Alamogordo, NM
2) Dalhart TX
3) Pratt, KS
4) Borinquen, Puerto Rico (over-water training)
5) Back to Pratt, KS
Embarkation Flight To Okinawa
1) San Francisco
3) Johnson Island
1) Col. Budd J. Peaslee, October 6, 1942
2) Lt. Col. Samuel C. Mitchell December 20, 1943
3) Lt. Col. John D. Moorman, March 1943
4) Col. Samuel C. Gurney Jr, October 1943 through April 1, 1944
5) Maj. James A. Gibb Jr, August 21, 1944
6) Lt. Col. Charles E. Dewey, August 23, 1944
7) Col. William M. Canterbury, September 13, 1944
8) Col. Ben I. Funk, January 3, 1945
9) Col. Joseph F. Carroll, November 30, 1945 through June 30, 1946
Click here to enlarge this cross section
Although most of the crews arrived too late to see combat, a few did fly bombing missions out of Guam and/or Tinian. Some flew with the 19th Bomb Group, 28th Bomb Squadron out of North Field, Guam, identified by the square M tail marking.