XIX Tactical Air Command

Summary

The XIX Tactical Air Command is an inactive United States Air Force unit. The unit's last assignment was with the Ninth Air Force based at Biggs Field, Texas, where it was inactivated on 31 March 1946.

XIX Tactical Air Command
Gen. O. P. Weyland in the cockpit of his P-47 Thunderbolt.JPG
Maj Gen Otto P. Weyland in the cockpit of his P-47 Thunderbolt
Active1944-1946
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
RoleCommand of fighter bomber and aerial reconnaissance units
EngagementsEuropean Theater of Operations[1]
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Maj Gen Otto P. Weyland
Maj Gen Elwood R. Quesada[1]
Insignia
Patch with XIX Tactical Air Command unofficial emblem[2]XIXTAC-Emblem.jpg

During World War II, the mission of the XIX Tactical Air Command was to support General Patton's Third Army with tactical air support throughout during the army's advance from formation in France on 1 August 1944 until VE-Day. The initial Commander was Maj Gen Elwood Richard Quesada.[3]

HistoryEdit

Formed in England in early 1944, the command was designed to provide air support to Army ground forces, primarily with Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and North American P-51 Mustang aircraft. It supported all of Third Army's operations and more. Its roles included an extensive number of tactical roles: close air support, battlefield air interdiction, deep interdiction, dive bombing, counterair, reconnaissance, and even leaflet dropping.

The command's close air support role took its most concerted, extended, and spectacular form in supporting Patton's armored and motorized infantry columns as they sped across France. The Third Army's tank crews and their accompanying air liaison officers pointed out enemy concentrations, and divisional artillery at times gave further assistance by marking targets with smoke. In return, the P-47 and P-51 pilots of the command provided cover for the tanks.

A typical close air support tactic involved one-hour shifts of four aircraft per flight, and four more on ground alert could be called in if necessary. As little as three minutes after being contacted, they could strike the designated target, thereby freeing the armored forces to continue their advance.

Another role of the command was dive bombing. Normally thought of as a tactic, the command considered it a separate role. It resembled deep interdiction, for both types of missions made use of various aerial bombing techniques and normally attacked similar, prearranged targets. But while deep interdiction was designed to cut off enemy movements either in or out of the combat zone, dive-bombing missions were most often used for static warfare. They were employed, for example, during the unsuccessful September attempt to seize Metz, and their most extensive use was during the siege at Brest.

The results of Brest were not particularly impressive. It was soon obvious that the defenders––as part of Hitler's "hold on to the ports" strategy––had ample provisions and were determined to hold out. It also became evident that fighters and fighter bombers assigned to the operation were insufficient to perform effectively all of the tasks they were expected to carry out, particularly in terms of dive bombing. P-47s and P-51s simply did not have the bombing power to bring about the desired results. Thus the American commander called on other air formations to assist. Eighth Air Force responded between 11 August and 5 September with four missions in which 983 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortressess dropped 2520 tons of bombs. British Bomber Command made two raids with approximately 220 Aro Lancasters taking part. IX Bomber Command's Martin B-26 Marauders and new Douglas A-26 Invaders undertook six missions. IX Tactical Air Command loaned some of its squadrons to the command – squadrons that flew 839 sorties between 5 and 11 September, when Brest's capture was accorded a high priority. By the time the last of Germany's beleaguered troops capitulated on the 19th, the Allies had flown more than 3500 Brest-related sorties. The city was in shambles. Its port facilities, for which the operation originally had been undertaken, were so badly damaged (by German demolitions along with Allied bombing and artillery shelling) that the Americans never used it as a major supply port. Obviously, air power had affected the outcome of the battle but not in the way that had been hoped for.

XIX Tactical Air Command was also involved in counterair operations, although, because of the Luftwaffe's relative weakness, to a lesser extent than it might have been. Only in critical situations or when they had a numerical advantage did Jagdkorps II's Messerschmitt Me-109s and Focke Wulf FW-190s venture out and pose a threat. During the early August Mortain counteroffensive, German fighters and some bombers did support the attack, but they were overwhelmed by the Allies' superior numbers, better aircraft, and experienced pilots. While IX Tactical Air Command led the counterair response, the Royal Air Force and the command's 354th Fighter Group of P-51s also lent a hand. At Falaise, the German Air Force again was active, and the command's fighters performed a variety of defensive and offensive counterair tasks––intercepts, sweeps, combat air patrols, and escorts, including bomber escorts––along with other support missions. Near Paris, U.S. pilots also encountered opposition; but at times several of Weyland's groups reported seeing no enemy aircraft for days at a time. Although the Allies remained aware that the situation might change, Allied aircraft now reigned supreme.

XIX Tactical Air Command further undertook reconnaissance duties. Most of the sorties were confined to visual reconnaissance, but they included day and night photo missions as well, especially from 10th Photo Group, whose P-51s were stationed in the area. Overall, during the two months, aircraft under Weyland's command flew 2011 reconnaissance sorties, or slightly more than 9 percent of the 22,233 total sorties flown.

One final mission was that command pilots performed several special air operations in the form of leaflet-dropping sorties. During August and September, it was involved in seven different missions––close air support, battlefield and deep interdiction, dive bombing, counterair, aerial reconnaissance, and special operations.

LineageEdit

  • Constituted as the XIX Air Support Command on 29 November 1943
Activated on 4 January 1944
Redesignated XIX Tactical Air Command in April 1944.
Inactivated on 31 March 1946
Disbanded on 8 October 1948[1]

AssignmentsEdit

ComponentsEdit

Wings
Groups
Squadrons

StationsEdit

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 451-452
  2. ^ See Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 451-452 (no approved emblem).
  3. ^ https://www.nationalaviation.org/our-enshrinees/quesada-elwood-richard/
  4. ^ Robertson, Patsy (16 December 2008). "Factsheet 404 Air Expeditionary Group (USAFE)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  5. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 451-452 (year only)
  6. ^ Robertson, Patsy E. (7 July 2017). "Factsheet 48 Operations Group (USAFE)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 31 December 2021.
  7. ^ Dollman, TSG David. (18 October 2016). "Factsheet 366 Operations Group (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  8. ^ Hauman, Daniel L. (21 November 2014). "Factsheet 405 Air Expeditionary Group (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  9. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 13
  10. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 20-21
  11. ^ Dollman, TSG David (5 August 2016). "Factsheet 4 Air Support Operations Group (USAFE)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  12. ^ Dollman, TSG David (16 May 2019). "Factsheet 11 Air Support Operations Squadron (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 15 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 62-63
  14. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 74-75
  15. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 78
  16. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 155
  17. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 184
  18. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 266
  19. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 333
  20. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 360
  21. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 361-362
  22. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 362
  23. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 364
  24. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 489
  25. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 522
  26. ^ a b Station number in Anderson, p. 31.
  27. ^ Station information in Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 451-452, except as noted.

BibliographyEdit

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  • Anderson, Capt. Barry (1985). Army Air Forces Stations: A Guide to the Stations Where U.S. Army Air Forces Personnel Served in the United Kingdom During World War II (PDF). Maxwell AFB, AL: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  • Johnson, 1st Lt. David C. (1988). U.S. Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO) D-Day to V-E Day (PDF). Maxwell AFB, AL: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  • Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  • Wilt, Alan F. (March–April 1985). "Coming of Age: XIX Tac's Roles During The 1944 Dash Across France". Air University Review. Air University. 36 (3).

External linksEdit

  • Fly, Seek, Destroy: The Story of the XIX TAC