THE 380TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (H)
5th AF - RAAF
Bombardment Group (H), insignia above, flew B-24 Liberator bombers in the
South West and Western Pacific areas in WWII. We were part of the 5th Air
Force. We were known as the FLYING CIRCUS and as the KING OF THE HEAVIES (note
the lion in the insignia).
went overseas in April 1943 to become the second B-24 unit in the Fifth Air
Force at that time after the 90th Bomb Group. The other Heavy Bomber unit (the 43rd) flew B-17s.
The 380th was placed under the control of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
and assigned to the Australian NorthWest Area Command operating out of Darwin,
Northern Territory, Australia. We were thus the only heavy bomber unit
available to cover the whole of the Dutch East Indies (1,000,000 square miles)
from July 1943 until late in 1944. At that time the successes in the New Guinea campaign had
brought the other Fifth Air Force units close enough to the East Indies to
join us in that task.
When arriving in Northern Territory, the 380th Bomb Group took over from the 319th Squadron of the 90th Bomb Group, which has been serving there from January 1943. The 319th helped indoctrinate the new arrivals with mixed crews and joint missions until the 380th was deemed fully operational. The 319th returned to the other 90th Group Squadrons in New Guinea in early July 1943.
made the longest bombing missions of WWII, to the oil refineries at Balikpapan,
Borneo (200 miles further than the Ploesti mission in Europe) and to those at
Surabaja, Java (as long as Ploesti). We did both of these missions several
times during our stay in Australia.
addition to our attacks on the Japanese oil supply, we were heavily engaged in
crippling their shipping fleet to reduce the Japanese capability of supplying
their far-flung forces. We also heavily bombed the numerous Japanese airfields
in the East Indies to reduce the Japanese threat to Australia and our New
service with the Australians, the 380th served longer under the operational
control of an Allied country than any other Air Force unit (from June 1943
until February 1945).
of its duties in Australia, the 380th carried out the operational training of
52 Australian crews and their associated ground staffs so that the Australians
could take over the East Indian campaign activities of the 380th when they
were assigned to The Philippines in February 1945. Many of the Australians so
trained have become part of the 380th Bomb Group Association, our veterans
group here today, strong evidence of the strong ties of friendship, which
developed between us in our long service together.
380th was composed of four Squadrons: the 528th, 529th, 530, and 531st.
The mascot of the 528th Squadron was HERKY, the clown, as shown on
the insignia to the left.
The mascot of the 529th Squadron was LITTLE BEAVER, the Indian boy
sidekick of RED RYDER in the cowboy movies of the 1930s (our era).
insignia were sewn on our leather flying jackets as in all Air Force units in
above, the 380th was based in Northern Territory, Australia, from May 1943
through February 1945. At that time, the Group moved to Murtha Strip, San Jose,
Mindoro Island, The Philippines. There they joined the rest of the 5th Air Force
in attacks on Formosa, Indo China, Japanese areas of The Philippines, and on
war progressed, the 380th moved with the rest of the 5th Air Force to Yonton
Strip, Okinawa, to begin the attack on Japan proper. As the world knows, the
atom bomb negated this need and the war ended.
380th served throughout the Cold War flying B-52, B-47, and FB-111 aircraft. It
was disbanded in the draw-down since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Last updated: 08/24/2010 11:15 AM