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37th Fighter Squadron


The 37th conducted air defense in the northwestern U.S. between 7 and 24 December 1941 then went on to fly combat missions in the European Theater of Operations and the Mediterranean Theater of Operations from 6 May 1943 to 4 May 1945.

The squadron was first activated as the 37th Pursuit Squadron in January 1941 at Hamilton Field, California.[4] as one of the original squadrons of the 55th Pursuit Group.[5] It moved to Portland Airport, Oregon in early June 1941. The squadron trained with Republic P-43 Lancers until it received Lockheed P-38 Lightnings[5] It deployed to Paine Field, Washington to fly patrols on the west coast of the US after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.[5]

The squadron converted to Lightnings in 1942. In February 1943 it was detached from its parent group and deployed to North Africa, where it was assigned to the 14th Fighter Group[4] the following month. The 14th group had temporarily withdrawn from combat,[6] with some of its men and planes being reassigned to the 1st and 82d Fighter Groups.

The squadron began combat operations in May, after being re-equipped with the P-38F and some P-38Gs. Already prior to the Axis defeat in Tunisia, the Northwest African Air Forces had begun preparations for the invasion of Sicily. The 37th flew dive-bombing missions during the Allied assault on Pantelleria.[6] It helped prepare for and support the invasions of Sicily and Italy.[6]

The unit became part of Fifteenth Air Force in November 1943, and moved to Triolo Airfield, Italy.[6] It engaged primarily in escort work flying missions to cover bombers engaged in long-range operations against strategic objectives in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Rumania, and Bulgaria.[6] On 2 April 1944, the squadron earned a Distinguished Unit Citation for beating off attacks by enemy fighters while escorting bombers attacking ball-bearing and aircraft production facilities at Steyr, Austria,[7] enabling the bombers to strike their targets.[6]

The squadron provided escort for reconnaissance operations, supported the invasion of Southern France in August 1944, and on numerous occasions flew long-range missions to strafe and dive-bomb motor vehicles, trains, bridges, supply areas, airdromes, and troop concentrations in an area extending from France to the Balkans.[6] The 37th Fighter Squadron was inactivated in Italy on 9 September 1945.[4] During its time in combat the 37th Fighter Squadron was credited with destroying 49.5 enemy aircraft in air-to-air combat.[8]


Part of
  • 14th Fighter Group

    14th Fighter Group

    The 14th Fighter Group (USAAF) was a P-38 Lightning Group that fought in Tunisia and the Italian campaign, as well as providing bomber escorts for attacks across southern Europe. ...

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  • John Henry

    Military | Second Lieutenant | 14th Fighter Group

  • Darrell Stoyke

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 14th Fighter Group
    Lt. Darrell K. Stoyke '44Ex, Lightning fighter pilot previously reported missing in action August 19 over France, was killed on that date according to word received here recently. Lt. Stoyke is credited with destroying one Nazi plane and another...





Date Contributor Update
22 November 2016 22:22:13 466thHistorian Created entry with type, category, name, description, air forces, aircraft types and unit encompassing associations