Hells Angels: The True Story of the 303rd Bomb Group in World War II by Jay A. StoutDuring the air battles that destroyed Nazi Germany’s ability to wage war, one bomb group was especially distinguished.
The Hell’s Angels.
At the outbreak of World War II, the United States was in no way prepared to wage war. Although the U.S declared war against Germany in December 1941, the country lacked the manpower, the equipment, and the experience it needed to fight. Even had an invasion force been ready, a successful assault on Nazi-occupied Europe could not happen until Germany’s industrial and military might were crippled.
Because no invasion could happen without air superiority, the first target was the Luftwaffe—the most powerful and battle-hardened air force in the world. To this end, the United States Army Air Forces joined with Great Britain’s already-engaged Royal Air Force to launch a strategic air campaign that ultimately brought the Luftwaffe to its knees. One of the standout units of this campaign was the legendary 303rd Bomb Group—Hell’s Angels.
This is the 303rd’s story, as told by the men who made it what it was. Taking their name from their B-17 of the same name, they became one of the most distinguished and important air combat units in history. The dramatic and terrible air battles they fought against Germany changed the course of the war.
About the same time other clubs were formed in various places in the state of California, but none of these clubs were associated neither with Hells Angels nor with each other, and most of them do not exist today. The San Bernardino charter also called "Berdoo" still exists, although most of its original members at one time moved northwards to Oakland. During the fifties more Hells Angels Charters came into existence. In the beginning the charters had nothing to do with each other, but after some years they united and regular criteria of admission were laid down. From having been exclusively a Californian phenomenon, the club developed internationally in It happened when the first charter outside California was adopted - strangely enough as far away as Auckland, New Zealand.
The flights to Gander Field, NF allowed crews to check their aircraft for deficiencies before making the over-the-water flight to the UK. On their Bs 4th or 5th mission, Captain Baldwin remarked on interphone that he was thinking about a name. He asked, "How about 'Hell's Angels' from the movie of that name. One of the crewman, commenting on the mission being flown stated, "This is the closest to hell that angels will ever get! Kastenbaum in late November or early December, Eighth Air Force Headquarters later issued a directive that squadron and aircraft Ietters would be painted on the side of the fuselage of all bombers.
The unit was first activated as the rd Bombardment Group in February The group went on to fly more than combat missions, more than any other B group in the theater. The group was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for completing an attack against a heavily defended target in January During the first of these periods, from July to September , the group was not equipped or manned. However, SAC reorganized its combat wings to assign operational squadrons directly to the wing headquarters in June and the group was again inactivated. This group was consolidated with the rd as the rd Aeronautical Systems Group in June The consolidated group was inactivated in June when AF Materiel Command returned to its traditional directorate systems management organization.