The First Combat Bomb Wing in World War II

Title – The First Combat Bomb Wing in World War II

Author – Ron Mackay

Book detail


This detailed book focuses on one of the key WW2 era 8th USAAF’s European based units, the 1st Combat Bomb Wing (1CBW).

The 1st Bombardment Wing was initially formed in France in 1918 during World War I as a command and control unit for Pursuit Groups of the First Army Air Service. Disestablished in France after the end of WW1, the unit was reestablished in 1919 the United States as the 1st Wing in the reorganised United States Army Air Service.  The role of the unit was to control 3 groups which were involved in patrols of the US border with Mexico after a revolution broke out in Mexico. With its organisational structure giving it a critical role,  the 1st Wing, was one of the founding units of the General Headquarters Air Force on 1 March 1935.

The First Bomb Wing was involved in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) from August 1942 until 25 April 1945. During World War 2 the 1st CBW operated primarily from RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire. The Wing controlled the B-17 Flying Fortress heavy strategic bombardment wings of 8th Bomber Command and later, Eighth Air Force. They also received operational orders from VIII BC headquarters and was involved in mobilising subordinate combat operation groups for strategic bombing of enemy targets in Germany controlled Europe.

The Wing was formally created on 13 September 1943 but its lineage was preceded by the 1st Bomb Wing, and then the 101st Provisional Bomb Wing. Included in this Wing’s makeup was the 91st Bomb Group. As the war over Europe developed with more combat units needed, further units joined the 1st CBW – 351st BG and 381st BG, with the 398th BG later replacing the 351st BG.

Many of these bomb groups would become famous in the years spent in Europe with some suffering severe losses at the hands of the German military. Author Ron Mackay examines the monthly operations of the Wing’s USAAF B-17 Flying Fortresses, their crews, the targets they hit, the losses suffered and some personal insights. At the end of World War 2, the 1st CBW and its units returned to the United States in August 1945. The 1st CBW was formally inactivated on 7 November 1945.

Ron Mackay has crafted a book honouring the men of the war era with many wartime photos showing all aspects of the war on the ground and in the air.

This is a highly informative book for any WW2 air war or B-17 Flying Fortress enthusiast.


ISBN13: 9780764343759

Size:   240 pages , 8 1/2″ x 11″ | 302 color & b/w photos

Binding: paperback

The book can be bought direct from Schiffer Books at this link for US $39.99 + postage