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Old 29th January 2006, 02:20
Larry Larry is offline
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What was an ATF in 8th Air Force in 1944?

I have been studying the support that various 9th Air Force Fighter Groups gave the 8th Air Force in the spring of 1944 and many of the Operational Records give details of various withdrawal support missions for various ATF's of the the 1st, 2nd or 3rd Divisions. But what was an ATF?

For example in the orders for 100th, 84th, & 71st Fighter Wings it says for 21st April 1944:-

'Eighth USAAF is attacking Targets in Central Germany, 1st ATF, 2nd Division, 9 CW's Approximately 39 B-24's Flying CW's abreast in trail targets CQ-1507 and GY-4865..etc..etc...(It then gives details of the '2nd ATF of the 3rd Division, 4 CW's 60 B-17s and then 3rd ATF of the 1st Division)

I assume ATF stands for Air Tactical Force but where does an ATF fit in with the Squadrons, Groups, Combat Wings and Air Divisions that were already 'available' to use in distinguishing various parts of an attacking force? And if 9th AF records at Group level refer (on other dates) to support for 'bombers of 3rd ATF' does that always mean support for the 8th AF or did the 9th AF also use ATF for its own B-26 and A-20 operations?
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Old 29th January 2006, 19:51
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Nick Beale Nick Beale is offline
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Re: What was an ATF in 8th Air Force in 1944?

Just a guess but could it be "Air Task Force" perhaps?

In the US Navy, TF meant Task Force at least.
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Old 30th January 2006, 00:05
Larry Larry is offline
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Re: What was an ATF in 8th Air Force in 1944?

Thanks Nick

Air Task Force it may be but I still can't work out why the various forces of 8th Air Force bombers would not have just been described as 1st or 2nd Air Division etc rather than call them an ATF?

Did the 9th AF use the same system?
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Old 30th January 2006, 23:57
Ivo de Jong Ivo de Jong is offline
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Re: What was an ATF in 8th Air Force in 1944?

ATF was indeed Air Task Force. It was a tactical designation and not an 'organisation' in itself and thus had no own staff capacity etc.
On combat missions an ATF was composed of one or more Combat Wings, which were assigned the same target. You would see the entire bomber stream heading east, and then 'fanning out' to various targets. Each target (or two targets close to each other) had an ATF attacking it. I have researched the mission of May 28, 1944 in depth and ATF's ranged from one Combat Wing (to Cologne) to four Combat Wings (to Dessau and Ruhland). Fighter escort was assigned to the various ATF's, depending on their size and target.
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Old 31st January 2006, 01:47
Larry Larry is offline
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Re: What was an ATF in 8th Air Force in 1944?

Thanks Ivo.

Did the 9th AF use the same system?
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Old 5th May 2007, 18:31
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Re: What was an ATF in 8th Air Force in 1944?

Larry - I would doubt that the 9th put enough mediums in the air stiking multiple targets (with the Battle of the Bulge being a distinct exception) to warrant the use of ATF very often, if at all. Of course the fact that I haven't seen ATF in reference to 9th AF tactical operations means precisely nothing..

Ivo's definition is correct.

The Fighter Wing mission order would contain the specific ATF (if referenced) and the Bomb Division and CW's (always cited) they were tasked to escort and the briefing would have included the designated Wing id (ie. 91st would be a icon of B-17 Tail with Triangle A) to help the Fighter leaders and pilots identify their flock.

The bomber tracks on the mission board would also identify the other Fighter Groups as either P-51 or P-47 icons with a number (4, 355, etc) located at the R/V points on the track



If you have not seen a Briefing Room/Map showing all of this, PM me with email address and I will send you some.



Regards,

Bill
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