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Tarquinia

Military site : airfield

Detailed history

Somewhere between that attack and 25 June the airfield was conquered by the Allies, because on 25 Jun 1944 P-47s of 345FS (350FG) moved onto the airfield from Pomigliano.
In the days prior to 25 June combat engineers of XXII Engineer Command had repaired the damaged airfield using a graded earth compacted surface, with a prefabricated hessian burlap surfacing known as PHS.
PHS was an asphalt-impregnated jute, rolled out over the compacted surface over a square mesh track SMT grid of wire joined in 3-inch squares.
Tarquinia hosted an Army parade on 7 July, when 351 Combat Team of 88th Infantry Division stood at attention for Sec. of War Henry L. Stinson and Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark.
The P-47s of 345FS were joined by a detachment of 416 Night Fighter Squadron (Beaufighters) on 8 July.
On 20 July 1944 75, 76 and 78TCS C-47s (435TCW) began operating from the airfield.
Another P-47 squadron landed on the airfield on 24 August when 346FS arrived.
The detachment of 416 Night Fighter Squadron transferred to Mosquitos while operating from the base about that time, and they returned to their unit at Rosignano on 4 September.
On 8 September 1944 circumstances at the base had stabilised enough to allow HQ-350FG to join the squadrons at Tarquinia.
A week later they were followed by 347FS, flying in from Sardinia.
350FG was joined by another Group on 2 October 1944, with the arrival of the full 27FG (522, 523 and 524FS, all with P-47s).
Their cohabitation did not last long however: 350FG began moving out to Pisa on 16 November.
Two weeks later 27FG began moving out to Pontedera airfield.
C-47s of 7TCS (62TCG) began moving from Tarquinia to Brindisi on 4 December 1944.

From Tarquina operations were supported over northern Italy and southern France.
C-47 cargo aircraft and Waco glider aircraft operated from the base during the invasion of southern France (Operation Dragoon).
Living conditions at the airfield were spartan, tents were used for billeting and support facilities.
From late October 1944 the airfield also hosted the Brazilian 1°GAvCA (1st Brazilian Fighter Squadron, callsign 'Jambock') under the umbrella of 350FG.
With the exception of the aircraft of the commander and his operations officer their P-47s were finished in standard US fighter colours, olive-drab (top surfaces) and neutral grey (undersurfaces).
The aircraft carried a large squadron badge just after the engine cowling, with their aircraft code in white on the cowling itself.
1°GAvCA consisted of over 300 highly motivated men who as a result of their motivation had a high rate of serviceability.
Although the Brazilian pilots were trained in the US for fighter operations there were virtually no German aircraft left in Italy.
As a result the unit began its fighting carreer as a fighter bomber unit in support of the US 5th Army (to which the Brazilian Expeditionary Force was attached).
The unit served with distinction at Tarquinia and later at Pisa, and thus formed the basis of todays Brazilian Air Force.

After the war the airfield was returned to the Italian authorities.
While it remains unsure what happened to the airfield over the past 60 years, it does still remain.
Its runway, although deteriorated, is readily visible from the air.
Photographs taken locally show that one of the airfield buildings also still exists, as does the main gate.

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known

Service

Units

  • 27th Fighter Group

    27th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 27th went through two different incarnations during the Second World War. As the 27th Bombardment Group it fought in the Philippines and Java in 1941-42. It was then reformed in the US and sent to North Africa, where it eventually became the 27th...

People

  • James Cooper

    Military | Major | Fighter pilot | 27th Fighter Group
    Assigned to 307FS, 31FG, 8AF USAAF. Transferred to 522FBS, 27FBG, 12AF.

  • John Diffendal

    Military | First Lieutenant | Fighter pilot | 350th Fighter Group
    Assigned to 346FS, 350FG, 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) bombing mission to Bologna 23-Dec-44 in P-47D 42-28827 fell victim to flak Killed in Action (KIA). MACR 14557. Awards: SS, AM (3OLC), PH.

  • John Felton

    Military | Flight Officer | Fighter pilot | 31st Fighter Group
    Joined RCAF 1940, Assigned to 185 Sqn RAF Malta defense. 50 missions. Credited 1 x Ju88 Strait of Messina. Transferred USAAF, assigned to 309FS, 31FG, 15AF USAAF. Credited 1 x destroyed. Spitfires and P-51 Mustangs. Ended Tour Duty (ETD). ...

  • Frank Hill

    Military | Colonel | Fighter pilot | 31st Fighter Group
    Hill taught himself to fly gliders as early as 1937. Began his career in 1939 in the Army Air Corps. He became a flight commander [308FS] and in May-42 went to England where the 31st Fighter Group was flying Spitfires. Hill participated in invasions...

Aircraft

  • 42-28827 'Jersey Jerk'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 361FS, 356FG, 8AF USAAF. Personal aircraft of Major Donald J Strait. Re-assigned to Capt Edward L Faison. Transferred to 346FS, 350FG, 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) bombing mission to Bologna 23-Dec-44 to flak pilot Lt John Diffendal...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
06 December 2016 04:11:01 466thHistorian Created entry with name, latitude, longitude and history
Sources

http://www.forgottenairfields.com/italy/lazio/viterbo/tarquinia-s552.html

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