56th Fighter Group of US 8th Army Air Force
The 56th Pursuit Group and its three Squadrons the 61st, 62nd and 63rd Pursuit Squadrons, were activated on the 15th January 1941 at Savannah Air Base, Georgia USA. Initially flying P35’s and P36’s also later P39's and P40 aircraft, the unit subsequently received P47 Thunderbolts in June 1942.
CAVE TONITRUM – "Beware the Thunderbolt" became the motto of the redesigned 56th Fighter Group, and certainly the enemy would have cause to beware!
The Group was initially deployed in the European Theatre of Operations at Kings Cliffe, United Kingdom in January 1943. By the time the group had moved to Horsham St Faiths on April 5th 1943 it was a well-trained combat-ready unit. On 12th June Captain Walter V Cook of the 62nd Fighter Squadron shot down a FW190 thereby scoring the group's first success and embarking the group on a record of aerial victories that was never equalled by any other Fighter Group in the US 8th Army Air Force.