B-17 42-5233 Flying Fortress

12th Air Force

12th Air Force Patch, World War II

The Rigor Mortis joined the 32nd Bomb Squadron, 301st Bombardment Group when it was under the command of the 12th Air Force. The command area of the 12th stretched from the West coast of Africa east to Algeria.

During the time 42-5233 was in the 301st, from 31 December 1942 to 1 November 1943, the a/c and his crew flew missions to Tunisia, Sardinia, Sicily, Italy, France, Greece and Austria. There were even missions to intercept convoys in the Mediterranean Sea. The opening of the North African front put forces in the German rear area as they had been in confict with the British east of Tunisia in Libya and Egypt. Tunisia was close to Italy and offered a shortened shipping supply line and ports at LaGoulette, Bizerta, Sfax and Tunis were heavily used by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel of the German Afrika Korps. These ports were strategic targets for the groups of the 12th Air Force.

Following victory in North Africa the 12th turned their attention to Sardinia and Sicily. Again, the targets of the B-17 groups of the 12th Air Force were strategic in nature. Harbors, Shipping, Bridges, Road Junctions in places such as Cagliari, Terranova, Comiso, Palermo and Messina. Next came targets in Italy from Naples to Rome and Foggia. On the plains of Foggia were located the airfields used by the Italians and Germans, these same fields where the 15th Air Force would be established and would launch their missions to Central and Eastern Europe including Germany itself in 1944 and 1945.

12th AF, 301st BG, 32nd BS patches and insignia

The 12th Air Force participated in the invasion of Algeria and French Morocco in November, 1942 known as "Operation Torch".

Constituted as Twelfth Air Force on 20 August 1942 and activated the same day. Moved to England, August-September 1942, and then on to North Africa for the invasion of Algeria and French Morocco in November 1942. Operated in the Mediterranean theater until the end of the war, serving with Northwest African Air Forces (NAAF) from February to December 1943, and afterward with Mediterranean Allied Air Forces (MAAF). Inactivated in Italy on 31 August 1945.


  • XII Bomber : 1942-1944
  • XII Tactical Air: 1942-1944
  • XXII Tactical Air (formerly XII Fighter): 1942-1945


  • Bolling Field, DC, 20-28 August 1942
  • England, 12 September - 22 October 1942
  • Algeria, 9 November 1942
  • Tunisia, 10 August 1943
  • Italy, 5 December 1943 - 31 August 1945


  • Lt. Col. Roger J Browne, 26 August 1942
  • Lt. Col. Harold L Neely, 28 August 1942
  • Maj. Gen. James H Doolittle, 23 September 1942
  • Lt. Gen. Carl Spaatz, 1 March 1943
  • Lt. Gen. John K Cannon, 21 December 1943
  • Maj. Gen. Benjamin W Chidlaw, 2 April 1945
  • Brig. Gen. Charles T Myers, 26 May - 31 August 1945


  • Air Combat, EAME Theater
  • Algeria-French Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Sicily
  • Naples-Foggia
  • Anzio
  • RomeArno
  • Southern France
  • North Apennines
  • Po Valley

Copyright, Robert Coalter
All Rights Reserved

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