390th Bomb Group

“It takes excellent planning and execution to attain the fine record established by the 390th.”

–Lt. General Jimmy Doolittle, Commanding General, 8th Air Force

Based in Parham, England, the 390th Bombardment Group (H) flew 301 combat missions against German military targets. It played an important role in many missions now recognized as key to winning WWII such as D-Day, Munster, Schweinfurt, and the raid on Berlin. It also participated in lesser-known humanitarian missions in which the B-17 was utilized to drop supplies and food.

The 390th Bomb Group’s bombing accuracy was at times the best in the 8th Air Force. It was awarded two Presidential Unit Citations, eight Battle Streamers and many commendations. Its aircraft losses were the lowest percentage (measured per mission flown/bombs dropped) in the entire Mighty Eighth Air Force.

Behind the success of this (and every) group were thousands of personnel. For every flier there were twenty or so people on the ground, supporting every aspect of a mission. From pre-flight checks to food prep, the success of each combat mission depended on all units on the base working together.

The Structure of a Bomb Group

The 8th Air Force was comprised of forty-one bomb groups. Each one had a unique symbol and aircraft tail marking:


The Svr Le Nez emblem represents the 390th Bombardment group. Svr le Nez means on the nose in French.

The Square J was placed on the tail of all 390th aircraft.

Each flight squadron also had its own symbol:

In addition to the flight squadrons, each bomb group was supported by other units including operations, intelligence, engineering and tech inspection, ordnance, personal equipment, communications, photography, transportation, flying control, weather, statistical control, personnel, training, administrative, inspection, mess (food), medical, base utilities, base defense, special services, and chaplains.






Ground Crews

Ground crews were comprised of specialized mechanics who completed thousands of necessary jobs. They worked in stretches of up to 36 hours long, through every type of cold and foul weather. These crews were acutely aware that success was not just measured by the miracles they performed on damaged airplanes; but also by the safe return of the fliers. These silent (and often forgotten) war heroes performed tirelessly, in spite of suffering the loss of many planes and air crews.

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The 390th Family: From Wartime to Museum

While the 390th Bomb Group held numerous records and accomplishments, its individuality among other 8th Air Force units was lost during combat operation.

Most 390th veterans say that they did nothing special during the war: they were doing a job that tens of thousands of others were tasked to do. In that regard, there is nothing special about the 390th Bomb Group or why they eventually had a memorial museum created in their honor.

It was place, time, and leadership that led to the creation of the 390th Memorial Museum in 1984. One of the Group’s Commanding Officers, Col. Joseph A. Moller, secured the loan of a B-17 aircraft for display. 390th Bomb Group Veterans answered Moller’s call to create a museum, ultimately building the hangar and exhibits with their own hands. For over two decades, it was veterans who staffed the museum, served as docents, built the database, and catalogued the collection. The museum stands today not only as a testimony to all WWII B-17 fliers and to the 390th Bomb Group itself, but to the way in which war builds lifelong family and friendships.


The J Wall holds the signatures of over 600 Bomb Group veterans who participated in establishing the museum.

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