Eight Air Force in the Pacific Theater during WWII

Following the end of the war in Europe in May 1945 plans were made to transfer some of the B-17/B-24 heavy bomber groups of Eighth Air Force to the Pacific Theater of Operations and upgrade them to B-29 Superfortress Very Heavy (VH) bomb groups. As part of this plan, Eighth Air Force headquarters was reassigned to Sakugawa (Kadena Air Field), Okinawa, on July 16, 1945, being assigned to the U.S. Strategic Air Forces In The Pacific without personnel or equipment.

On Okinawa, Eighth Air Force derived its headquarters personnel from the inactivated XX Bomber Command, and Lt. Gen. Jimmy H. Doolittle assumed command, being reassigned from England on July 19. The command controlled three airfields on Okinawa, Bolo, Futema, and Kadena Airfield. The Eighth received its first B-29 Superfortress on August 8, 1945.

Eighth Air Force’s mission in the Pacific was initially to organize and train new bomber groups for combat against Japan. In the planned invasion of Japan, the mission of Eighth Air Force would be to conduct B-29 Superfortress raids from Okinawa in coordination with Twentieth Air Force operating from airfields in the Mariana Islands.

Units assigned to Eighth Air Force in the Pacific were:

  • Headquarters, 301st Fighter Wing
Ie Shima Airfield, Okinawa, July 31 – November 29, 1945
318th Fighter Group (P-47N Thunderbolt)
Ie Shima Airfield, Okinawa, July 31 – November 29, 1945
413th Fighter Group (P-47N Thunderbolt)
Ie Shima Airfield, Okinawa, July 31 – November 29, 1945
507th Fighter Group (P-47N Thunderbolt)
Ie Shima Airfield, Okinawa, July 31 – January 29, 1946
  • Headquarters, 316th Bombardment Wing
Kadena Airfield Okinawa, September 5, 1945 – June 7, 1946
22d Bombardment Group, (B-29 Superfortress)
Kadena Airfield Okinawa, August 15 – November 23, 1945
333d Bombardment Group, (B-29 Superfortress)
Kadena Airfield, Okinawa, August 5, 1945 – May 28, 1946
346th Bombardment Group, (B-29 Superfortress)
Kadena Airfield, Okinawa, August 7, 1945 – June 30, 1946
382d Bombardment Group, (B-29 Superfortress)
Northwest Field, Guam, September 8 – December 16, 1945
Note: Only 420th Bombardment Squadron of group arrived with B-29 Aircraft, 464th and 872d Bomb Squadrons only ground echelons arrived. Air Echelon of squadrons with assigned aircraft remained in United States until inactivation.
383d Bombardment Group, (B-29 Superfortress)
West Field, Tinian, September 12 – December 19, 1945

The atomic bombings of Japan led to the Japanese surrender before Eighth Air Force saw action in the Pacific Theater. Eighth Air Force remained in Okinawa until June 7, 1946

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