The 483rd Bombardment Group (H) was a B-17 group that fought with the Fifteenth Air Force in Italy from April 1944 to April 1945. They played a significant role in the eventual defeat of Germany’s forces. They flew a total of 5,623 sorties from 12 April 1944 to 26 April 1945 and they dropped nearly 14,000 tons of bombs. They lost 79 of their aircraft in combat. The Squadrons of the 483rd were the 815th, 816th, 817th and 840th which was formerly the 818th. Of the original 646 personnel that was sent to Italy in 1944, 39.8 percent were either killed in action or became prisoners of war.
Activated in the United States on 20 September 1943, the 483rd moved to Italy in March and April 1944. The combat operations of the Fifteenth Air Force began in April 1944 and they missions against enemy controlled targets in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Southern France and Yugoslavia. The 483rd also supported ground forces during the invasion of Southern France in August 1944 and the Allied offensive in Northern Italy in April 1945. There were also two secret missions that were flown in support of Czech patriots who held Tri Duby airdrome near Banska-Bystrica.
The 483rd received two distinguished unit citations for its strategic bombing. The first was awarded for an attack on the German airfield at Memmingen on 18 July 1944. This attack was carried out without a fighter escort. The second was for an attack on tank factories at Berlin on 24 March 1945. Other combat records include:
- Most enemy aircraft destroyed by a B-17 on one mission by one crew
- Most Me-262 jets destroyed on one mission by one crew
- Most Me-262 jets destroyed by one gunner on one mission
- The B-17 with the greatest number of ‘flak’ from combat action to return to an operating base
- The most decorated combat crew for one mission in Air Force history where each of 10 crew members was awarded a Silver Star, and four wounded members, the Purple Heart Medal
- The most jets destroyed by one Group during the entire war
The 483rd also flew a number of tactical missions. In the summer of 1944 the group destroyed two spans of the Casarsa bridge which cut off the Tarviso Railway line to north-eastern Italy. The Tarviso Railway line was one of the two main lines that linked the German front line to north-eastern Italy. In April 1945 the group supported the Allied armies during their final offensive in the Po valley.
After the end of the war, the 483rd was used to fly American personnel from Italy to North Africa on the first stage of their journey home to the United States. The 483rd was inactivated in Italy on 24 September 1945.