Hell Hawks Reunion
365th Fighter Group
Hell Hawks Reunion
The Tennessee Museum invites you to join us from 10am-1pm for a very special Hell Hawks Recognition Day on Saturday, September 29 for members of the 365th Fighter Group and their families. The event will focus on the men of the 365th Fighter Group who served during World War II.
Book Signing Opportunity
Special Guest: Thomas D. Jones
Hell Hawks! - The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler's Wehrmacht By Robert F. Dorr & Thomas D. Jones
Hell Hawks! is the story of a band of young American pilots and their gritty, close-quarters fight against Hitler's vaunted military. The Hell Hawks were the 365th Fighter Group, three squadrons of fighter-bomber pilots. Beginning just prior to D-Day, June 6, 1944, these pilots fresh from flight training in the United States (most were barely twenty years old), flew in close support of Eisenhower's ground forces as they advanced across France and into Germany.
They flew the rugged, heavily armed P-47 Thunderbolt-affectionately known as "the Jug"-a big tub of a plane that could absorb a pounding from the enemy and still fly back home. Living in tents amid the cold mud of their front-line airfields, the 365th's daily routine had much in common with the GIs they supported. During their year in combat, the Hell Hawks paid a heavy price for the Nazi surrender on May 8, 1945. Sixty-nine pilots and airmen died in the fight across the continent. The Group's 1,241 combat missions forged bonds between these men that remain strong sixty years later. Many of them were interviewed for this book, bringing the Hell Hawks' fight against the Reich to life in their own words. 320 pages, B&W photographs
**Unfortunately, Mr. Jones will not be attending the reunion.**
Special Guest: Don Barnes
Thunderbolts of the Hell Hawks - 365th Fighter-Bomber Group in Words, Pictures and Illustrations By Don Barnes, John Crump & Roy Sutherland
Ninth Air Force P-47 units have been long overlooked, despite their significant contribution to victory in WWII. Their war was close to the ground, dive-bombing and strafing in support of the US Army at the Normandy landings, and in the race across France, Belgium and Germany. "Thunderbolts of the Hell Hawks" is a new book offering a personal view of one of the most decorated and effective P-47 units in the Ninth Air Force. This rich visual account of the 365th Fighter-Bomber Group, the "Hell Hawks", is presented in 320 pages with over 500 photos, most published for the first time. The book also features 98 thoroughly researched and detailed color profiles of their Thunderbolts, illustrated by Don Barnes. All but three of the aircraft profiled have languished in obscurity for the past 65 years, brought to light for the first time here.
The 365th Fighter Group History in WWII
The 365th Fighter-Bomber Group, otherwise known as the Hell Hawks, was activated May 15, 1943 and assigned to fly P-47 Thunderbolts. They trained in Dover, Delaware and flew their gunnery training missions out of Millville, New Jersey. They departed Richmond Army Air Base in December 4, 1943 and sailed on the Queen Elizabeth along with 15,000 troops. They arrived at Gosfield, Essex on December 23, 1943. Their first combat air field training resumed for two months. On February 22, 1944, the Hell Hawks flew their first combat mission and over the next one to two months gradually converted from escorting 8th Air Force heavy bombers to their fighter-bomber mode that continued to the war's end.
They were instrumental in determining the maximum bomb loads for the P-47. Two one-thousand pound bombs and an external fuel tank on the Billy Rack. They were the first group to fly a dive-bombing mission with that bomb load. Their fire power was eight fifty caliber machine guns and their total arsenal included rockets and napalm. This armament was standard for all thirteen P-47 fighter-bomber groups shortly after the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944.
The 9th Tactical Air Command and the Hell Hawks flew in direct support of General Hodges First Army. Their mission was two-fold. Protect the ground forces from enemy air attack and destroy any and all obstacles on the ground that prevented our forces from advancing. On two occasions to support Patton's Third Army. The first was shortly after August 1, 1944. The second was during the last months of the Battle of the Bulge. The Hell Hawks were active against specific targets on D-Day before, during and following. This was the first company breakthrough in the Battle of the Bulge in taking Germany. The Hell Hawks were the first group to move into Germany on March 17, 1945 at Aachen and the first to fly a combat mission off a German soil ever! The remaining eighteen to twenty groups followed nine days to five weeks later.
The Hell Hawks flew combat from February 22, 1944 through May 4, 1945, totaling 14.5 months. They flew combat from eleven airfields or airstrips moving more times than any other fighter-bomber group in the 9th Air Force.
Bases of the Hell Hawks
Richmond, VA, AAB, 11/4/43–12/18/43
Gossfield, Essex, England, 12/23/43 (P-47's operational 2/44)
Beaulieu, Hants, Englan, 3/5/44
Azeville, France (Fontanay-Sur-Mer)- Strip A7, 6/27/44
Balleroy, France- Strip A12, 8/15/44
Bretigny, France (Paris)- Strip A48, 9/3/44
Juvencourt, France (Reims)- Strip A68, 9/11/44
Chievres, Belgium (Mons)- Strip A84, 10/4/44
Metz, Alsace Lorraine, France- Strip Y34, 12/25/44
Florennes/Juzaine, Belgium, 1/20/45
Aachen, Germany, 3/17/45
Fritzlar, Germany, 4/12/45
Hell Hawk Unit Citations
A listing of the decorations and campaign ribbons that the members of the Hell Hawks may wear. The actual citations or each of the noted decorations and campaigns are included except for the three Belgium decorations. The Belgium Croix de Guere citation appeared in the New York Times in December 1946. The other two are noted in Combat Squadrons of the 9th Air Force, World War II, edited by Mauer Marer, Historical Research Division (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1969).
Distinguished Unit Citation, October 21, 1944
Distinguished Unit Citation, April 20, 1945
Order of the Day, Belgium Army, June 6-September 30, 1944
Belgium Four Ragere, December 16, 1944-June 25, 1945
Belgium Croix De Guere*, December 21, 1945
(*) Awarded to the 9th Air Tactical Air Command of the Ninth Air Force to commemorate events in December 1944 when the Ninth Air Force launched its attack on the German armored columns that had broken through the Ardennes defenses. All men in the Ninth Tactical Air Command on December 13, 1944 are entitled to wear the green and red decoration on their shoulder.
The evening of September 28, the Tennessee Museum of Aviation will host a private Hell Hawks Reunion Dinner. During the evening, members of the 365th Fighter Group and their families with honor and remember those not present ... Hell Hawks who have earned their final set of wings. Among those -- Frank "Lucky" Luckman a very special Hell Hawk and family member of the Tennessee Museum of Aviation.