Early in January 1941 the Army Air
Corps wheels began to turn and a few days later
when “the smoke had cleared” a new
Pursuit Group had been formed. This unit, then
called the Fifty-Seventh Pursuit Group, was destined
to play a leading and unique role in the history
of the United States Army Air Forces.
The activation took place at Mitchell Field, New
York on January 15, and the personnel were taken
from several sources.
They came from the 8th and 33rd Pursuit Group
and from many Army Air Corps training schools.
Many groups were activated that day so each group
obtained only a few experienced personnel on whom
fell the task of developing an effective organization.
At Windsor Locks, Connecticut - halfway between
Hartford and Springfield, Massachusetts –
a new airfield was being constructed to vase the
Fifty-Seventh Group. It was to be built in the
tobacco section of Connecticut – a revolutionary
idea in several respects. The landing strips,
hangers, and installations were cleverly camouflaged,
and from the air the entire area resembled one
of the many surrounding tobacco farms. In August
the Group moved into its new home, and after receiving
additional basic personnel was ready to go to
The Sixty-Sixth Squadron had the grand total of
four aircraft, three P-40’s and one two-place
trainer, and the other squadrons were equally
short. In those peaceful days aircraft gasoline
and ammunition were scarce and flights were made
for training and gunnery – far from an intense
schedule. The big question in everyone’s
mind was, “When are we going to get some
aircraft?” and the general opinion was that
all P-40’s being built were being shipped
to China for General Chennault’s “Flying
Life on the base was dull and monotonous but the
two cities of Hartford and Springfield became
a lure to everyone during off-duty hours. The
numerous insurance firms in Hartford employed
thousands of girls, and most of the men in the
Squadron were wined and dined nightly by the up-to-then
lonely queens. On several occasions, dances sponsored
by the various insurance companies were held in
the exclusive Hartford Club and the Fifty-Seventh
Group virtually held the key to the city.
There was serious work to do: Staffing with personnel,
assigning them to duties, training “in house”
or sending men to existing groups for training.
A typical order was “Special Orders #104,
Paragraph 11 of Air Base Headquarters on May 1.
On the same day, duty assignments were affected
by Special Orders #41 of the Group. A typical
order of Aug. 7, 1941 related to training. A guard
duty order identifies some of the EM’s of