UNITED STATES ARMY AIR FORCES
 


 
FLAGS, COLORS & GUIDONS
VIII COMPOSITE COMMAND  •  EIGHTH AIR FORCE  •  WORLD WAR II
 

In June 1944 the Eighth Air Force's VIII Composite Command was headquartered at Ketteringham Hall, Norfolk. Its mission was twofold: combat and training. Its two subordinate bombardment groups, the 402nd and the 801st (Provisional), were stationed at Aconbury, Huntingdonshire and Atcham, Huntingdonshire respectively. The 482nd was the Eighth Air Force's pathfinder unit, employing specialized radar and radio equipment to locate and mark targets. The 801st, nicknamed the Carpetbaggers, was tasked to support resistance groups by parachuting weapons, equipment and agents into occupied Europe. It flew a variety of aircraft including specially modified B-24s and C-47s. The separate 803rd Bombardment Squadron (Provisional), was Eighth Air Force's radar countermeasures unit, flying modified B-24s. It was stationed at Oulton, Norfolk. (In August 1944 the 801st assumed the identity of the 492nd Bombardment Group, which had been disbanded in the 2nd Bombardment Division, and the 803rd became the 36th Bomb Squadron (RCM). They are shown below with these new designations.) The 18th Weather Squadron was administratively assigned to the VIII Composite Command but was divided into numerous detachments throughout Eighth Air Force.

The two fighter training groups provided advanced combat training and refresher training for pilots newly assigned to VIII Fighter Command. They had no assigned aircraft, drawing them as necessary from the operational fighter groups. The 495th FTG was stationed at Atcham, Shropshire and the 496th FTG was stationed at Goxhill, Lincolnshire. Four combat crew replacement center groups performed the same training mission for bomber crews. A number of service units were directly assigned to the command headquarters. Three separate tow target flights supported the training mission.

The group, usually composed of three or four squadrons, was the color-bearing echelon of the US Army Air Corps (USAAC). Organizational standards for groups were of the standard Army pattern for mounted and mechanized units, made of silk, 3 feet at the hoist by 4 feet on the fly, plus 2 1/2-inch fringe. The field of the standard was ultramarine blue and the fringe was golden orange. The standard was always carried or displayed with a National Standard of the same materials and dimensions. Echelons above the group level had distinguishing flags based on the AAC branch colors. They were made of wool bunting; dimensions were three feet at the hoist by four feet on the fly. Distinguishing flags were carried or displayed with National Standard, Service made of wool bunting with silk fringe but otherwise identical to the silk National Standard.

Squadrons of groups and separate squadrons had guidons based on the colors ultramarine blue and golden orange, the Air Corps branch colors. Guidons for headquarters squadrons of echelons above the group level were of the same colors and design as the distinguishing flag. Guidons of squadrons assigned to groups had the group number above and the squadron number below the USAAC branch insignia; separate squadrons had their number below the insignia. Provisional and miscellaneous units including those not organized as groups/squadrons were not authorized guidons but many probably used one with the USAAC insignia and no other markings. Service units  that were not part of the USAAC had flags and guidons of the designs authorized for their parent branches. All guidons were made of wool bunting, 20 inches at the hoist by 27 3/4 inches on the fly with a 10-inch fork.

Note: The enormous expansion of the USAAC during the war makes it doubtful that all groups received a coat of arms and a unique organizational standard. Shown below are the National and Organizational Standards of the 5th Bombardment Group, a prewar unit. Wartime units that did not receive a coat of arms may have had a standard with the eagle's breast feathered and a badge above its head, as authorized by AR 260-10 for color-bearing units with no coat of arms.

Credits: The drawings on this page are based on the specifications given in Army Regulation 260-10 dated 25 October 1944, a copy of which was kindly provided by FOTW Mailing List member Joseph McMillan. Order of battle information was taken from Dr. Leo Niehorster’s outstanding and essential website, World War II Armed Forces: Orders of Battle and Organizations.
 


 

          

NATIONAL STANDARD, SERVICE & DISTINGUISHING FLAG, VIII COMPOSITE COMMAND

 

HEADQUARTERS SQUADRON, VIII COMPOSITE COMMAND

 

         

NATIONAL & ORGANIZATIONAL STANDARD FOR USAAC GROUPS (5th BOMBARDMENT GROUP)

 

482nd BOMBARDMENT GROUP (HEAVY) (B-17)
"PATHFINDERS"
 

 

492nd BOMBARDMENT GROUP (HEAVY)
(B-24 & C-47) "CARPETBAGGERS"
 


36th BOMB SQUADRON (RCM) "GREMLINS"

 

495th FIGHTER TRAINING GROUP (P-47)
 


496th FIGHTER TRAINING GROUP (P-38 & P-51)
 


SERVICE & SUPPORT UNIT GUIDONS

 

84th STATION COMPLEMENT SQUADRON

 

DETACHMENT B, 1077th SIGNAL COMPANY

 

DETACHMENT D
1056th QUARTERMASTER COMPANY (AVIATION)

 

DETACHMENT B
1220th QUARTERMASTER COMPANY (AVIATION)

 

DETACHMENT A, 1730th ORDNANCE COMPANY
(MUNITIONS SUPPLY & VEHICLE MAINTENANCE) (AVIATION)

 

DETACHMENT B, 1787th ORDNANCE COMPANY
(MUNITIONS SUPPLY & VEHICLE MAINTENANCE) (AVIATION)

 

18th WEATHER SQUADRON

 

DETACHMENT A, 1139th MILITARY POLICE COMPANY (AVIATION)

 

MISCELLANEOUS AVIATION UNITS


 

BACK to EIGHTH AIR FORCE Page