57th Bomb Wing "HOME" of the 57th BW Web-site (Click on Photo for Story)
The history of the bomb groups under the 57th. Bomb Wing reads in the order of the Mediterranean campaigns. After the North African landings came the battle of Kasserine Pass, a German counter offensive, the failure of which became the turning point of the war. From support of the North African landings, the B-25's flew to attack Axis concentrations and airfields in Tunisia, as well as carry out sea sweeps against enemy shipping. After Tunisia, the Mitchell's concentrated upon the small, heavily fortified Islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa which threatened any future thrust toward Europe from the South. The aerial campaign against these two Islands resulted in the first surrender of troop solely from air attack without the aid of ground troops.
Attacks were then extended from Africa to the mainland of Italy, Corsica and Sardinia. In June 1943, the B-25's entered a role they were to play for the next two years, the destruction of enemy communications. The Mitchell's were in the first medium bombardment of Italy and in July flew in the first attacks on the Rome area. This came only nine days after the invasion of Sicily which was heavily supported by the B-25's. In August the first attacks were made with the B-25G using the 75mm cannon in the nose.
September, 1943, brought Salerno and the hard, steady battle after the initial landings. Operations were directed against communications a short distance from the enemy lines cutting their avenues of support there as well as in the Naples area. By early October, the Mitchell's were operating from new bases in Italy and began their concentrated attacks against targets in the Balkans, resulting in the further destruction of the Luftwaffe. The B-25's also made the first attack of the war on Bulgaria from here.
Then came the reorganization of the Air Forces in the Mediterranean. The B-25's began operations under the British Tactical Bomber force, but later took their permanent place under the 57th. Bomb Wing which became an operational headquarters in January, 1944, Brig. Gen.. (then Col.) Robert D. Knapp became the commanding general.
Owner: Barbi Ennis Connolly