Please replace links to Wikipedia in this article with links to this wiki. Only do this if these links relate to the wiki subject. Thank you!

United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)

USAAF Shoulder Sleeve Insignia ("Hap Arnold Emblem")

Active June 20, 1941 – September 17, 1947
Country United States of America
Branch United States Army
Size 2.4 million members (March 1944)

79,908 aircraft (July 1944)

Disbanded September 18, 1947


GA[1] Henry H. Arnold, 1941–1946Gen. Carl Spaatz, 1946–1947

The United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force.

The AAF was a component of the United States Army, which in 1942 was divided functionally by executive order into three autonomous forces: the Army Ground Forces, the Services of Supply (which in 1943 became the Army Service Forces), and the AAF. Each of these forces had a commanding general who reported directly to the Chief of Staff of the United States Army. The AAF controlled all parts of military aviation formerly distributed among the Air Corps, General Headquarters Air Force, and ground forces corps area commanders, and thus became the first air organization of the U.S. Army to control its own installations.

The peak size of the AAF was over 2.4 million men and women in service and nearly 80,000 aircraft in 1944, and 783 domestic bases in December 1943.[2] By VE Day it had 1.25 million men stationed overseas and operated from more than 1,600 airfields worldwide.[3]

The Air Corps became the Army Air Forces in June 1941 to provide the air arm a greater autonomy in which to expand more efficiently, and to provide a structure for the additional command echelons required by a vastly increased force. Although other nations already had separate air forces independent of the army or navy (such as the British Royal Air Force and the German Luftwaffe), the USAAF remained a part of the United States Army until the United States Air Force came into being in September 1947.


[hide] *1 Creation of the Army Air Forces

Creation of the Army Air ForcesEdit

Unity of command problems in the Air CorpsEdit

The roots of the AAF arose in the formulation of theories of strategic bombing at the Air Corps Tactical School that gave new impetus to arguments for an independent air force. Despite a perception of resistance and even obstruction by the War Department General Staff (WDGS), much of which was attributable to lack of funds, the Air Corps made great strides in the 1930s, both organizationally and in doctrine. A strategy stressing precision bombing of industrial targets by heavily armed, long-range bombers emerged, formulated by the men who would become its leaders.[4]

A major step toward a separate air force came in March 1935 when command of all combat air units within the Continental United States was centralized under a single headquarters called General Headquarters Air Force. Since 1920, control of aviation units had resided with commanders of the corps areas (a peacetime ground forces administrative echelon), following the model established by General John Pershing during World War I. In 1924 the WDGS planned for a wartime activation of an Army general headquarters (GHQ), similar to the American Expeditionary Forces model of World War I, with a GHQ air force as a subordinate component. Both were created in 1933 when war with Cuba seemed possible following a coup, but were not activated.

Activation of GHQ Air Force represented a compromise between strategic airpower advocates and ground force commanders who demanded that the Air Corps mission remain tied to that of the land forces. Airpower advocates achieved a centralized control of air units under an air commander, while the WDGS divided authority within the air service and assured a continuing policy of support of ground operations as the primary role of the air arm.[5] GHQ Air Force organized combat groups administratively into a strike force of three wings deployed to the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts. A division of the air defense of the United States into four geographical districts followed in 1940 that laid the foundation for the subsequent numbered air forces when, in November, Army GHQ was activated and obtained full control of GHQ Air Force. Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall requested a reorganization study from the Air Corps, and on October 5, 1940, Chief of the Air Corps Maj. Gen. Henry H. Arnold submitted a proposal for creating an air staff, unifying the air arm under one commander, and giving it autonomy with the ground and supply forces, but it was immediately opposed by the General Staff in all respects.[6]

GHQ Air Force was small in comparison to European air forces. Lines of authority were difficult, at best, since GHQ Air Force controlled only operations of its combat units while the Air Corps was still responsible for doctrine, acquisition of aircraft, and training. The corps area commanders continued to control all airfields and the support personnel manning them. The commanders of GHQ Air Force and the Air Corps, Major Generals Frank Andrews and Oscar Westover respectively, clashed philosophically over the direction in which the air arm was moving, exacerbating the difficulties.[7]

Army Air Forces createdEdit

[2][3]General of the Army Henry H. ArnoldSee also: Air warfare of World War IIThe likelihood of U.S. participation in World War II prompted the most radical reorganization of the aviation branch in its history, developing a structure that both unified command of all air elements and gave it total autonomy by March 1942.

By the spring of 1941 the success of centralized control of air operations in Europe had made clear that the dichotomy of authority in the American air forces, deemed a "hydra-headed air authority" by one congressman, had caused a disturbing lack of clear channels of command. A struggle with the War Department General Staff (WDGS) over control of air defense of the United States had been won by airmen and vested in four command units called "numbered air forces", but the bureaucratic conflict threatened to renew the dormant struggle for an independent United States Air Force. Marshall had come to the view that the air forces needed a "simpler system" and a unified command. Working with Arnold and Robert A. Lovett, recently appointed to the long-vacant position of Assistant Secretary of War for Air, he reached a consensus that quasi-autonomy for the air forces was preferable to immediate separation.[8]

On June 20, 1941, to grant additional autonomy to the air forces and to avoid a legislative struggle in Congress, the War Department revised the army regulation governing the organization of Army aviation, AR 95-5.[8][9] Arnold assumed the title of Chief of the Army Air Forces, creating an echelon of command over all military aviation components and ending the dual status of the Air Corps and GHQ Air Force (renamed Air Force Combat Command). The AAF gained the Air Staff that had been long opposed by the WDGS, and a single air commander.[8] However the AAF still did not have equal status with the Army ground forces within Army GHQ, and air units continued to report through two chains of command.[10]

Arnold and Marshall agreed that the AAF would enjoy autonomy within the War Department until the end of the war, while its commanders would cease lobbying for independence. Marshall, a strong proponent of airpower, left understood that the Air Force would likely achieve its independence after the war. Soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, in recognition of importance of the role of the Army Air Forces, Arnold was given a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the planning staff that served as the focal point of American strategic planning during the war, in order that the United States would have an air representative in staff talks with their British counterparts on the Combined Chiefs. In effect the head of the AAF gained equality with Marshall. While this step was never officially recognized by the United States Navy, and was bitterly disputed behind the scenes at every opportunity, it nevertheless succeeded as a pragmatic foundation for the future separation of the Air Force.[11]

The four geographical districts of the former GHQ Air Force were converted in January 1941 into numbered air forces, with a subordinate organization of 54 groups. Organizationally, the Army Air Forces was created as a higher command echelon encompassing both Air Force Combat Command and the Air Corps, thus bringing all of the air arm under the authority of one airman for the first time. Yet these reforms were only temporary, lasting just nine months. By November 1941, on the eve of U.S. entry into the war, the division of authority within the Army as a whole, caused by the activation of Army GHQ a year before, had led to a "battle of memos" between it and other agencies over administering the AAF, leading Marshall to state he had "the poorest command post in the Army." To streamline the AAF in preparation for war, with a goal of centralized planning and decentralized execution of operations, Arnold submitted to Marshall essentially the same reorganization plan rejected by the General Staff in October 1940.[8][10]Executive Order 9082 issued 28 Feb 42 changed Arnold's title to "Commanding General, Army Air Forces" effective March 9, 1942, making him co-equal with the commanding generals of the new Army Ground Forces and Services of Supply, the other two components of the Army of the United States. The War Department issued Circular No. 59 on March 2 that carried out the executive order,[12] intended as a wartime expedient to expire six months after the end of the war.[13] The three components replaced a multiplicity of branches and organizations, saw the General Staff greatly reduced in size, and proportionally increased the representation of the air forces members on it.

In addition to dissolving both Army General Headquarters and the chiefs of the combat arms, assigning their training functions to the Army Ground Forces, War Department Circular 59 reorganized the Army Air Forces, disbanding the Combat Command (formerly GHQAF) and the Office of Chief of the Air Corps (changing the latter into a non-organizational branch of the Army), which eliminated an entire layer of authority.[14] Replacing them were eleven numbered air forces (later raised to sixteen) and six major commands (which became eight in January 1943: Flying Training, Technical Training, Troop Carrier, Air Transport, Materiel, Air Service, Proving Ground, and Anti-Submarine Commands). In July 1943, Flying Training and Technical Training Commands merged into a single Training Command.

Between March 1942 and March 1943 the AAF operated under a division of administrative control activities by a policy staff, an operating staff, and the support commands. Field activities of many support commands operated under a "bureau" structure, with no separation of policy and operating functions. Staff officers often exercised command and policy authority without responsibility for results, a system remaining from the Air Corps years. The concept of an "operating staff," or directorates, resulted from a desire to place experts in various aspects of military aviation in key positions of implementation. However functions often overlapped, communication and coordination between the divisions failed or was ignored, policy prerogatives were usurped by the directorates, and they became overburdened with detail. Eventually more than thirty offices were authorized to issue orders in the name of the commanding general.[15]

The hierarchical "command" principle, in which a single commander has direct final accountability but delegates authority to staff, was adopted AAF-wide in a major reorganization and consolidation on 29 March 1943. The four main directorates and nineteen subordinate directorates (the "operating staff") were abolished as an unnecessary level of authority and execution of policies was removed from the staffs and assigned solely to field organizations along functional lines.[15] The policy functions of the directorates were reorganized and consolidated into offices regrouped under six assistant chiefs of air staff.[16]

Most members of the Army Air Forces also remained members of the Air Corps. In May 1945, 88 per cent of officers serving in the Army Air Forces were commissioned in the Air Corps, while 82 per cent of enlisted members assigned to AAF units and bases had the Air Corps as their combat arm branch.[17]

Expansion of the Army Air ForcesEdit

The Air Corps began a rapid expansion in the spring of 1939 at the direction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide an adequate air force for defense of the Western Hemisphere. An initial "25-group program", developed in April 1939, called for 50,000 men. When war broke out in September 1939 the Air Corps still had only 800 first-line combat aircraft and 76 bases, including 21 major installations and depots.[18]

Following the successful German invasion of France and the Low Countries in May 1940, President Roosevelt asked Congress for a supplemental appropriation of nearly a billion dollars, a production program of 50,000 aircraft a year, and a military air force of 50,000 aircraft (of which 36,500 would be Army).[19] Accelerated programs followed in the Air Corps that repeatedly revised expansion goals, resulting in plans for 84 combat groups, 7,799 combat aircraft, and the annual addition to the force of 30,000 new pilots and 100,000 technical personnel.[20] The accelerated expansion programs resulted in a force of 156 airfields and 152,125 personnel at the time of the creation of the Army Air Forces.[21] "In its expansion during World War II, the AAF became the world's most powerful air force. From the Air Corps of 1939, with 20,000 men and 2,400 planes, to the nearly autonomous AAF of 1944, with almost 2.4 million personnel and 80,000 aircraft, was a remarkable expansion. Robert A. Lovett, the Assistant Secretary of War for Air, together with Arnold, presided over an increase greater than for either the ground Army or the Navy, while at the same time dispatching combat air forces to the battlefronts." "The Evolution of the Department of the Air Force" – Air Force Historical Studies Office[22]The German invasion of the Soviet Union, occurring only two days after the creation of the Army Air Forces, caused an immediate reassessment of U.S. defense strategy and policy. The need for an offensive strategy to defeat the Axis Powers required further enlargement and modernization of all the military services, including the new AAF. In addition, the invasion produced a new Lend lease partner in Russia, creating even greater demands on an already struggling American aircraft production.[23]

An offensive strategy required several types of urgent and sustained effort. In addition to the development and manufacture of aircraft in massive numbers, the Army Air Forces had to establish a global logistics network to supply, maintain, and repair the huge force; recruit and train personnel; and sustain the health, welfare, and morale of its troops. The process was driven by the pace of aircraft production, not the training program,[24] and was ably aided by the direction of Assistant War Department Secretary Robert A. Lovett, for all practical purposes, "Secretary of the Air Corps".[25]

A lawyer and a banker, Lovett had prior experience with the aviation industry that translated into realistic production goals and harmony in integrating the plans of the AAF with those of the Army as a whole.[26] Lovett initially believed that President Roosevelt's demand following the attack on Pearl Harbor for 60,000 airplanes in 1942 and 125,000 in 1943 was grossly ambitious. However, working closely with General Arnold and engaging the capacity of the American automotive industry brought about an effort that produced almost 100,000 aircraft in 1944.[27]

The logistical demands of this armada were met by the creation of the Air Service Command to provide service units and maintain 250 depots in the United States; the elevation of the Materiel Division to full command status to develop and procure aircraft, equipment, and parts; and the Air Technical Service Command to ship the materiel overseas.[28] In addition to carrying personnel and cargo, the Air Transport Command made deliveries of almost 270,000 aircraft worldwide while losing only 1,013 in the process.[29] The operation of the stateside depots was done largely by more than 300,000 civilian maintenance employees, many of them women, freeing a like number of Air Forces mechanics for overseas duty.[30]

Growth of the USAAF, aircraftEdit

Main article: United States aircraft production during World War II

Type of aircraft 31 December 1941 31 December 1942 31 December 1943 31 December 1944 31 August 1945 Date of maximum size
Grand total 12,297 33,304 64,232 72,726 63,715 July 1944 (79,908)
Combat aircraft 4,477 11,607 27,448 41,961 41,163 May 1945 (43,248)
Very heavy bombers - 3 91 977 2,865 August 1945 (2,865)
Heavy bombers 288 2,076 8,027 12,813 11,065 April 1945 (12,919)
Medium bombers 745 2,556 4,370 6,189 5,384 October 1944 (6,262)
Light bombers 799 1,201 2,371 2,980 3,079 September 1944 (3,338)
Fighters 2,170 5,303 11,875 17,198 16,799 May 1945 (17,725)
Reconnaissance 475 468 714 1,804 1,971 May 1945 (2,009)
Support aircraft 7,820 21,697 36,784 30,765 22,552 July 1944 (41,667)
Transports 254 1,857 6,466 10,456 9,561 December 1944 (10,456)
Trainers 7,340 17,044 26,051 17,060 9,558 May 1944 (27,923)
Communications 226 2,796 4,267 3,249 3,433 December 1943 (4,267)

SOURCE: Army Air Forces Statistical Digest (World War II), Table 84=== Growth of the USAAF, personnel=== [4][5]The propaganda film Winning Your Wings (1942) helped recruit 100,000 pilotsThe huge increases in aircraft inventory resulted in a similar increase in personnel, and changed the personnel policies under which the Air Service and Air Corps had operated since the National Defense Act of 1920. No longer could pilots represent 90% of commissioned officers. The need for large numbers of specialists in administration and technical services resulted in the establishment of an Officer Candidate School in Miami Beach, Florida, and the direct commissioning of thousands of professionals.[31] Even so, 193,000 new pilots entered the AAF during World War II, while 124,000 other candidates failed at some point during training or were killed in accidents.[32]

The requirements for new pilots resulted in a massive expansion of the Aviation Cadet program, which had so many volunteers that the AAF created a reserve pool that held qualified pilot candidates until they could be called to active duty, rather than losing them in the draft. By 1944, this pool became surplus, and 24,000 were sent to the Army Ground Forces for retraining as infantry, and 6,000 to the Army Service Forces.[33] Pilot standards were changed to reduce the minimum age from 20 to 18, and eliminated the educational requirement of at least two years of college. One beneficiary of this change went on to become a general in the United States Air Force, Charles E. Yeager.[34] Tuskegee Airmen War bonds posterAir crew needs resulted in the successful training of 43,000 bombardiers, 49,000 navigators, and 309,000 flexible gunners, many of whom also specialized in other aspects of air crew duties. 7,800 men qualified as B-29 flight engineers and 1,000 more as radar operators in night fighters, all of whom received commissions. Almost 1.4 million men received technical training as aircraft mechanics, electronics specialists, and other technicians. Non-aircraft related support services were provided by airmen trained by the Army Service Forces, but the AAF increasingly exerted influence on the curricula of these courses in anticipation of future independence.[35][36]

African-Americans comprised approximately six per cent of this force (145,327 personnel in November 1943).[37] In 1940, pressured by Congress, General Arnold agreed to accept blacks for pilot training, albeit on a segregated basis. A flight training center was set up at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Despite the handicap—caused by the segregation policy—of not having an experienced training cadre as with other AAF units, the Tuskegee Airmen distinguished themselves in combat with the 332nd Fighter Group. The Tuskegee training program produced 673 black fighter pilots, 253 B-26 Marauder pilots, and 132 navigators.[38]

The vast majority of African-American airmen, however, did not fare as well. Mainly draftees, most did not fly or maintain aircraft. Their largely menial duties, indifferent or hostile leadership, and poor morale led to serious dissatisfaction and several violent incidents.[39]

Women served more successfully as part of the war-time Army Air Forces. Nearly 40,000 served in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps/Women's Army Corps as AAF personnel,[40] more than 1,000 as Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), and 6,500 as nurses in the Army Air Forces, including 500 flight nurses.[41] 7,601 USAAF WACs served overseas in April 1945, and women performed in more than 200 job categories.[42]

The Air Corps Act of July 1926 increased the number of general officers authorized in the Army's air arm from two to four. The activation of GHQAF in March 1935 doubled that number and pre-war expansion of the Air Corps in October 1940 saw fifteen new general officer billets authorized.[43] By the end of World War II, 320 generals were authorized the wartime AAF.[44]

Date Total USAAF Tot Officers Tot Enlisted # overseas Officers o/s Enlisted o/s
31 July 1939 24,724 2,636 22,088 3,991 272 3,719
31 December 1939 43,118 3,006 40,112 7,007 351 6,656
31 December 1940 101,227 6,437 94,790 16,070 612 15,458
31 December 1941 354,161 24,521 329,640 25,884 2,479 23,405
31 December 1942 1,597,049 127,267 1,469,782 242,021 26,792 215,229
31 December 1943 2,373,882 274,347 2,099,535 735,666 81,072 654,594
31 March 1944 (Peak size) 2,411,294 306,889 2,104,405 906,335 104,864 801,471
31 December 1944 2,359,456 375,973 1,983,483 1,164,136 153,545 1,010,591
30 April 1945 (Peak overseas) 2,329,534 388,278 1,941,256 1,224,006 163,886 1,060,120
31 August 1945 2,253,182 368,344 1,884,838 999,609 122,833 876,776

SOURCE: Army Air Forces Statistical Digest (World War II), Table 4. 1939–1940 totals were U.S. Army Air Corps=== Growth of the USAAF, installations=== The Air Corps operated 156 airfields at the beginning of 1941. An airbase expansion program had been underway since 1939, attempting to keep pace with the increase in personnel, units, and aircraft, and using existing municipal and private facilities where possible. However the outbreak of war and the resulting accelerated expansion necessitated a wide variety of facilities for both operations and training within the Continental United States (CONUS).

In addition to the construction of new permanent bases and the building of numerous bombing and gunnery ranges, the USAAF utilized civilian pilot schools, training courses conducted at college and factory sites, and officer training detachments at colleges. In early 1942, in a controversial move, the USAAF Technical Training Command began leasing resort hotels and apartment buildings for large-scale training sites (accommodation for 90,000 existed in Miami Beach, Florida, alone).[45] The leases were negotiated for the USAAF by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, often to the economic detriment of hotel owners in rental rates, wear and tear clauses, and short-notice to terminate leases.[46]

In December 1943, the USAAF reached a war-time peak of 783 airfields in the Continental United States.[47]


CONUS Installations{| align="center" class="wikitable" |- style="background: khaki;" |Type of facility | align="center"|7 December 1941 | align="center"|31 December 1941 | align="center"|31 December 1942 | align="center"|31 December 1943 | align="center"|31 December 1944 | align="center"|VE Day | align="center"|VJ Day |- |Total all installations | align="center"|181 | align="center"|197 | align="center"|1,270 | align="center"|1,419 | align="center"|1,506 | align="center"|1,473 | align="center"|1,377 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Main bases | align="center"|114 | align="center"|151 | align="center"|345 | align="center"|345 | align="center"|377 | align="center"|356 | align="center"|344 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Satellite bases | align="center"| - | align="center"| - | align="center"|71 | align="center"|116 | align="center"|37 | align="center"|56 | align="center"|57 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Auxiliary fields | align="center"| - | align="center"| - | align="center"|198 | align="center"|322 | align="center"|309 | align="center"|291 | align="center"|269 |- |Total CONUS airfields | align="center"|114 | align="center"|151 | align="center"|614 | align="center"|783 | align="center"|723 | align="center"|703 | align="center"|670 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Bombing & gunnery ranges | align="center"| - | align="center"| - | align="center"|unk | align="center"| - | align="center"|480 | align="center"|473 | align="center"|433 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Hospitals& other owned facilities | align="center"|67 | align="center"|46 | align="center"|29 | align="center"|32 | align="center"|44 | align="center"|30 | align="center"|30 |- |Contract pilot schools | align="center"|unk | align="center"|unk | align="center"|69 | align="center"|66 | align="center"|14 | align="center"|14 | align="center"|6 |- |Rented office space | align="center"| - | align="center"| - | align="center"|unk | align="center"|unk | align="center"|79 | align="center"|109 | align="center"|103 |- |Leased hotels & apartment bldgs | align="center"| - | align="center"| - | align="center"|464 | align="center"|216 | align="center"|75 | align="center"|75 | align="center"|75 |- |Civilian & factory tech schools | align="center"| - | align="center"| - | align="center"|66 | align="center"|47 | align="center"|21 | align="center"|17 | align="center"|16 |- |College training detchs | align="center"| - | align="center"| - | align="center"|16 | align="center"|234 | align="center"|2 | align="center"|1 | align="center"|1 |- |Specialized storage depots | align="center"| - | align="center"| - | align="center"|12 | align="center"|41 | align="center"|68 | align="center"|51 | align="center"|43 |} SOURCE: USAF Historical Study No. 69 Development of AAF Base Facilities in the United States, 1939–1945, Chart I, p. 169.Overseas airfields{| align="center" class="wikitable" |- style="background: khaki;" |Location | align="center"|31 December 1941 | align="center"|31 December 1942 | align="center"|31 December 1943 | align="center"|31 December 1944 | align="center"|VE Day | align="center"|VJ Day |- |US possessions | align="center"|19 | align="center"|60 | align="center"|70 | align="center"|89 | align="center"|130 | align="center"|128 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |North America | align="center"|7 | align="center"|74 | align="center"|83 | align="center"|67 | align="center"|66 | align="center"|62 |- |Atlantic islands | align="center"|5 | align="center"|27 | align="center"| - | align="center"|20 | align="center"|21 | align="center"|21 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |South America | align="center"| - | align="center"|27 | align="center"|28 | align="center"|22 | align="center"|32 | align="center"|32 |- |Africa | align="center"| - | align="center"|73 | align="center"|94 | align="center"|45 | align="center"|31 | align="center"|21 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Europe | align="center"| - | align="center"|33 | align="center"|119 | align="center"|302 | align="center"|392 | align="center"|196 |- |Australia | align="center"| - | align="center"|20 | align="center"|35 | align="center"|10 | align="center"|7 | align="center"|3 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Pacific islands | align="center"| - | align="center"|21 | align="center"|65 | align="center"|100 | align="center"|57 | align="center"|56 |- |Asia | align="center"| - | align="center"|23 | align="center"|65 | align="center"|96 | align="center"|175 | align="center"|115 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Total overseas | align="center"|31 | align="center"|358 | align="center"|559 | align="center"|751 | align="center"|911 | align="center"|634 |} SOURCE: AAF Statistical Digest, Table 217: Airfields outside the CONUS, 1941–1945.== Organization and equipment==

Command structureEdit

By the end of World War II, the USAAF had created 16 numbered air forces (First through Fifteenth and Twentieth) distributed worldwide to prosecute the war and defend the Americas, plus a Zone of the Interior general air force within the continental United States to support the whole.[48]

Several air forces were created de novo as the service expanded during the war. Some grew out of earlier commands—for example, the Eighth Air Force was originally VIII Bomber Command, then later had its designation again assigned to the command when that organization was discontinued—as the service expanded in size and organization, and higher echelons such as United States Strategic Air Forces (USSTAF) in Europe and U.S. Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific became necessary to control the whole. In August 1945, the U.S. Strategic Air Forces became the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). A subordinate organizational tier, the command, was created to segregate units of similar functions (fighters and bombers) for administrative control.

An additional eight air divisions served as an additional layer of command for the vast organization, capable of acting independently if the need arose. Inclusive within the air forces and divisions were administrative headquarters called wings to control groups (operational units; see section below). As the number of groups increased, the number of wings needed to control them multiplied, with 91 ultimately activated, 69 of which were still active at the end of the war. As part of the Air Service and Air Corps, wings had been composite organizations, that is, composed of groups with different types of missions. Most of the wings of World War II, however, were composed of groups with like functions (denoted as bombardment, fighter, reconnaissance, training, antisubmarine, troop carrier, replacement, or composite).[49] USAAF recruitment poster.Several independent support organizations, also called commands, remained under the control of Headquarters Army Air Forces. These were created, or expanded from earlier Air Corps organizations, in 1941 and 1942 to support and supply the numbered air forces, to which the operational units (groups and squadrons) were assigned.[50][51]

These commands were:

While officially the air arm had become the Army Air Forces, colloquially the term Air Corps persisted among the public as well as veteran airmen, whose branch remained the Air Corps; in addition, the singular "Air Force" often crept into popular and even official use, reflected by the term "Air Force Combat Command" in 1941–42. This misnomer crept onto official recruiting posters (see image on right) and was important in promoting the idea of an "Air Force" as an independent service. Capt. Jimmy Stewart used the term interchangeably in his narration of the 1942 recruiting short Winning Your Wings. The term also appeared prominently in Frank Capra's 1945 War Department indoctrination film War Comes to America, of the Why We Fight series, as an animated map graphic of equal prominence to that of the Army and Navy.

Tactical organizationEdit

The primary combat unit of the Army Air Forces for both administrative and tactical purposes was the group, an organization of three or four flying squadrons and attached or organic ground support elements, which was the rough equivalent of a regiment of the Army Ground Forces.[52] The Army Air Forces fielded a peak of 269 combat groups during World War II, and an operational peak in 1945 of 243 combat groups.[49] The Air Service and its successor the Air Corps established 15 permanent combat groups between 1919 and 1937,[53] which on 1 January 1940 were designated:

USAAF recruitment poster.With the buildup of the military forces beginning February 1, 1940, the Air Corps expanded from 15 to 30 combat groups. By the time the United States entered World War II, the number had increased to 67, but half were in the process of being organized and were unsuitable for combat.[67] Of the 67 groups formed or being organized, 26 were bombardment: 13 Heavy Bomb groups (B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator), and the rest Medium and Light groups (B-25 Mitchell, B-26 Marauder, and A-20 Havoc). 26 were Pursuit groups (renamed fighter group in May 1942), 9 Observation (renamed Reconnaissance) groups, and 6 Transport (renamed Troop Carrier or Combat Cargo) groups.[49][68]

In the first half of 1942 the Army Air Forces expanded rapidly. The extant training establishment was inadequate to train units wholesale, and so a concept was adopted of training cadres who would direct the training of their assigned units. The Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics (AAFSAT) was established 9 October 1942 to provide this training. By the beginning of 1944 there were 269 groups. 136 were deployed overseas, and of the remainder still in the United States, 77 were being organized and trained for overseas deployment. The other 56 served as defense units, as Operational Training Units (OTUs) preparing new units for combat, and as Replacement Training Units (RTUs) to train personnel replacements.[49]

Early in 1944, all training was assigned to base units (non-standard administrative organizations of all units at a particular airfield under a single headquarters, and commonly seen designated as "AAF Base Units") and the OTUs and RTUs inactivated, reducing the number of groups to 218. However, with the formation and deployment of the remaining 25 new groups, the USAAF grew to its final form and at the time of the Invasion of Normandy in June 1944, 148 combat groups were fighting against Germany. By August 1945, when all combat operations ended, 86 groups were deployed in the Pacific and Far East, and the remaining force was either in occupation duties in Europe or re-deploying to the United States.

After the operational deployment of the B-29 Superfortress bomber, Very Heavy Bombardment units became part of the force structure. In February 1945, in its final organizational structure, the USAAF fielded 243 combat groups:

  • 25 Very Heavy, 72 Heavy, 20 Medium, and 8 Light Bombardment groups;[49]
  • 71 Fighter groups;[49][69]
  • 29 Troop Carrier and Combat Cargo groups;[49][70]
  • 13 Reconnaissance groups;[49] and
  • 5 Composite groups.[49][71]

The basic permanent organization of the AAF for both combat and support elements was the squadron.[52] 1,226 combat squadrons were active in the USAAF between December 7, 1941 and September 1, 1945.[72] In 1945 a total of 937 squadrons remained active, with 872 assigned to the various groups. 65 squadrons, mostly reconnaissance and night fighter, were not assigned to groups but as separate units under higher command echelons.[49] Norms for AAF combat units[73]February 1945{| align="center" class="wikitable" |- style="background: khaki;" |Type of unit | align="center"|Type of aircraft | align="center"|Number of aircraft | align="center"|Number of crews | align="center"|Men per crew | align="center"|Total personnel | align="center"|Officers | align="center"|Enlisted |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Very heavy bombardment group | align="center"|B-29 | align="center"|45 | align="center"|60 | align="center"|11 | align="center"|2,078 | align="center"|462 | align="center"|1,816 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Heavy bombardment group | align="center"|B-17, B-24 | align="center"|72 | align="center"|96 | align="center"|9 to 11 | align="center"|2,261 | align="center"|465 | align="center"|1,796 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Medium bombardment group | align="center"|B-25, B-26 | align="center"|96 | align="center"|96 | align="center"|5 or 6 | align="center"|1,759 | align="center"|393 | align="center"|1,386 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Light bombardment group | align="center"|A-20, A-26 | align="center"|96 | align="center"|96 | align="center"|3 or 4 | align="center"|1,304 | align="center"|211 | align="center"|1,093 |- |Single-engine fighter group | align="center"|P-40, P-47 P-51 | align="center"|111 to 126 | align="center"|108 to 126 | align="center"|1 | align="center"|994 | align="center"|183 | align="center"|811 |- |Twin-engine fighter group | align="center"|P-38 | align="center"|111 to 126 | align="center"|108 to 126 | align="center"|1 | align="center"|1,081 | align="center"|183 | align="center"|838 |- style="background: rgb(204, 204, 204);" |Troop carrier group | align="center"|C-47 | align="center"|80 - 110 | align="center"|128 | align="center"|4 or 5 | align="center"|1,837 | align="center"|514 | align="center"|1,323 |- style="background: rgb(204, 204, 204);" |Combat cargo group | align="center"|C-46, C-47 | align="center"|125 | align="center"|150 | align="center"|4 | align="center"|883 | align="center"|350 | align="center"|533 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Night fighter squadron | align="center"|P-61, P-70 | align="center"|18 | align="center"|16 | align="center"|2 or 3 | align="center"|288 | align="center"|50 | align="center"|238 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Tactical reconnaissance squadron | align="center"|F-6, P-40 L-4, L-5 | align="center"|27 | align="center"|23 | align="center"|1 | align="center"|233 | align="center"|39 | align="center"|194 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Photo reconnaissance squadron | align="center"|F-5 | align="center"|24 | align="center"|21 | align="center"|1 | align="center"|347 | align="center"|50 | align="center"|297 |- style="background: rgb(238, 238, 238);" |Combat mapping squadron | align="center"|F-7, F-9 | align="center"|18 | align="center"|16 | align="center"|8 | align="center"|474 | align="center"|77 | align="center"|397 |}


Main article: List of military aircraft of the United States

The United States Army Air Forces used a large variety of aircraft in accomplishing its various missions, including many obsolete aircraft left over from its time as the Air Corps, with fifteen designations of types.[74]

The following were the most numerous types in the USAAF inventory, or those that specifically saw combat. Variants, including all photo-reconnaissance ("F") variants, are listed and described under their separate articles. Many aircraft, particularly transports and trainers, had numerous designations resulting from differences in power plants.


[6][7]B-17G Fortresses of the 306th Bomb Group*A-20 Havoc


[8][9]P-51 Mustangs of 361st Fighter Group, 1944*P-35

Taylorcraft L-2M==== Observation====

C-47 of the 438th Troop Carrier Group====Transport====


[10][11]PT-19 primary trainer*AT-6 Texan

Utility, rescue, and glidersEdit

[12][13]UC-64 Norseman*UC-43 Traveler

Role in World War IIEdit

Main article: Air warfare of World War II=== Strategic planning=== Changing USAAF Bombing Priorities

On 13 August 1941, the Air War Plans Division of the USAAF produced its plan for a global air strategy, AWPD-1.[78] Formally known as "Annex 2, Air Requirements" to "The Victory Program," a plan of strategic estimates involving the entire U.S. military,[79] the plan was prepared in accordance with strategic policies drawn earlier that year in the ABC-1 agreement with the British Commonwealth and the U.S. war plan Rainbow 5. Its forecast figures, despite planning errors from lack of accurate information about weather and the German economic commitment to the war, were within 2 percent of the units and 5.5 percent of the personnel ultimately mobilized,[80] and it accurately predicted the time frame when the invasion of Europe by the Allies would take place.[81]

AWPD-1 called for an air defense of the Western hemisphere, a strategic defense against Japan in the Pacific, and strategic bombardment by 6,800 bombers against Germany, identifying 154 key targets of the German economic infrastructure it considered vulnerable to a sustained campaign.[82] A strategic bomber requirement of 7,500 aircraft, which included the intercontinental B-36[82] (then still in the design phase), was far too large for American industry to achieve to be practical, and an interim plan to attack Germany with 3,800 bombers was included in AWPD-1.[82]

AWPD-1 was approved by General Marshall and Secretary of War Henry Stimson in September 1941.[83] Although war began before the plan could be presented to Roosevelt, it became the foundation for establishing aircraft production and training requirements used during the war, and the concept of a strategic bomber offensive against Germany became policy of the U.S. government,[84] in accordance with United States strategic policy stated in Rainbow 5, as the only means available to the United States to take the war to Germany.[83]

In August 1942 Roosevelt called for a revision of proposed air requirements. AWPD-42 was presented on 6 September 1942, and although never accepted by the U.S. Navy, its revised estimates (which more than doubled production requirements to nearly 150,000 aircraft of all types, including those of the Navy and exports to allies) guided the Roosevelt Administration in 1943. The estimate was later reduced to 127,000, of which 80,000 were combat aircraft.

Like its predecessor, AWPD-42 laid out a strategic plan for the daylight bombing of Germany by unescorted heavy bombers, but also included a similar plan for attacks on Japan. Unfortunately the B-17 bomber command of the U.S. Eighth Air Force had flown just six missions when AWPD-42 was drawn up, and the prior mistake in AWPD-1 of disregarding the need and feasibility of long-range fighter escorts was repeated.

Both plans called for the destruction of the German Air Force (GAF) as a necessary requirement before campaigns against priority economic targets. AWPD-1 established four target sets in order of priority: electrical power production, inland transportation, petroleum production, and Berlin;[85] while AWPD-42 revised the priorities, placing U-Boat facilities first, followed by transportation, electricity production, petroleum production, and rubber production.[86]

Operations summaryEdit

The Air Force Historical Studies Office summarizes the execution of USAAF strategy during World War II:[22] "Arnold's staff made the first priority in the war to launch a strategic bombing offensive in support of the RAF against Germany. The Eighth Air Force, sent to England in 1942, took on that job. After a slow and often costly effort to bring the necessary strength to bear, joined in 1944 by the Fifteenth Air Forcestationed in Italy, strategic bombing finally began to get results, and by the end of the war, the German economy had been dispersed and pounded to rubble. Tactical air forces supported the ground forces in the Mediterranean and European theaters, where the enemy found Allied air supremacy a constant frustration. In the war against Japan, General Douglas MacArthur made his advance along New Guinea by leap frogging his air forces forward and using amphibious forces to open up new bases. The AAF also supported Admiral Chester Nimitz's aircraft carriers in their island-hopping across the Central Pacific and assisted Allied forces in Burmaand China. Arnold directly controlled the Twentieth Air Force, equipped with the new long-range B-29 Superfortresses used for bombing Japan's home islands, first from China and then from the Marianas. Devastated by fire-raids, Japan was so weakened by August 1945 that Arnold believed neither the atomic bomb nor the planned invasion would be necessary to win the war. The fact that AAF B-29s dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nevertheless, demonstrated what air power could do in the future. The Strategic Bombing Survey provided ammunition for the leaders of the AAF in the postwar debates over armed forces unification and national strategy."

USAAF statistical summary of World War IIEdit

The United States Army Air Forces incurred 12% of the Army's 936,000 battle casualties in World War II. 88,119 airmen died in service. 52,173 were battle casualty deaths: 45,520 killed in action, 1,140 died of wounds, 3,603 were missing in action and declared dead, and 1,910 were nonhostile battle deaths. Of the United States military and naval services, only the Army Ground Forces suffered more battle deaths. 35,946 non-battle deaths included 25,844 in aircraft accidents, more than half of which occurred within the Continental United States.[87] 63,209 members of the USAAF were other battle casualties. 18,364 were wounded in action and required medical evacuation, and 41,057 became prisoners-of-war.[87][88] Its casualties were 5.1% of its strength, compared to 10% for the rest of the Army.[89]

Total aircraft losses by the USAAF from December 1941 to August 1945 were 65,164, with 43,581 lost overseas and 21,583 within the Continental United States.[90] Combat losses of aircraft totaled 22,948 world wide, with 18,418 lost in theaters fighting Germany and 4,530 lost in combat in the Pacific.[91] The USAAF credited its own forces with destroying a total of 40,259 aircraft of opposing nations by all means, 29,916 against Germany and its allies and 10,343 in the Pacific.[92]

The cost of the war to the USAAF was approximately $50 billion,[93] or about 30% of the cost to the War Department,[89] with cash expenditures from direct appropriations between July 1942 and August 1945 amounting to $35,185,548,000.[94]

Total sorties flown by the AAF during World War II were 2,352,800, with 1,693,565 flown in Europe-related areas and 669,235 flown in the Pacific and Far East.[95]

36 members of the Army Air Forces received the Medal of Honor for actions performed during air missions, 22 of them posthumously. Two additional awards were made, one posthumously, to AAF officers attached to the Western Task Force during Operation Torch.

Demobilization and Air Force independenceEdit

[14][15]General Carl A. SpaatzWith the defeat of Japan, the entire United States military establishment immediately began a drastic demobilization, as it had at the end of World War I. The USAAF was hit as hard or harder as the older services by demobilization. Officers and members were discharged, installations were closed, and aircraft were stored or sold. Between August 1945 and April 1946, its strength fell from 2.25 million men to just 485,000, and a year later to 304,000. Aircraft inventory dropped from 79,000 to less than 30,000, many of them in storage. Permanent installations were reduced from 783 to 177, just 21 more than pre-war.[96][97]

By July 1946, the Army Air Forces had only 2 combat-ready groups out of 52 that remained on the list of active units. A rebuilt air force of 70 groups, the authorized peacetime strength, was anticipated, with reserve and national guard forces to be available for active duty in an emergency. However considerable opposition to a large peacetime military establishment, and to the financial cost of such an establishment, resulted in planning cuts to 48 groups.

In February 1946, ill health forced the retirement of General Arnold before he could fulfill his goal of achieving independence of the Air Force as an equal service with the Army and Navy. General Carl A. Spaatz replaced Arnold as the only other commanding general of the USAAF, and he oversaw both the demobilization of the largest air force in military history and its rebirth as envisioned by Generals Billy Mitchell and Arnold.

Arnold left the USAAF with two important legacies, based on his experiences in World War II, which shaped the post-war USAAF and their independent successor. The first was a requirement that the command staff of the service must include staff officers of varying expertise besides pilots. The second was the belief that despite the unqualified success of training methods that had expanded the Air Forces, the United States would never again have the time to mobilize and train the reserve components as they had in 1940, necessitating that reservists and National Guardsmen be immediately ready for service in case of national emergency.[98]

For his part, Spaatz consulted closely with the new Army Chief of Staff, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and reorganized the USAAF into three major commands (Strategic Air Command, Tactical Air Command, and Air Defense Command) that would not require a second restructuring once the Air Force became independent.[99] He also re-structured the reserve components to conform with Arnold's concepts, including creation of the Air National Guard in April 1946.[100] "In such a manner for the first time in the history of American aviation the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces definitely took a stand in favor of an independent military air arm. Though far from providing the initial impulse, the President's message of 19 December 1945 contributed considerable impetus to a series of developments within the executive and legislative branches of the government which led directly, if belatedly, to the adoption of the National Security Act of 1947." —R. Earl McClendon, Autonomy of the Air Arm[101]

On April 11, 1945, at the conclusion of a ten month study that took them to every major theater to interview 80 "key military and naval personnel," the Joint Chiefs of Staff Special Committee for the Reorganization of National Defense recommended that the armed forces of United States be organized into a single cabinet department, and that "three coordinate combat branches, Army, Navy, and Air," comprise the operational services. The committee reported that the statutory creation of a United States Air Force would merely recognize a situation that had evolved during World War II with the Army Air Forces, acknowledging that naval aviation and some aspects of army aviation would remain in place. The committee also reported that its recommendation was approved by "Generals of the Army Douglas MacArthur and Dwight D. Eisenhower, Admirals Chester V. Nimitz and William F. Halsey and numerous other leading military and naval personnel."[102]

The Navy Department remained opposed to a single department of defense and at the recommendation of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, created a panel using naval personnel to study the feasibility of a coordinating agency without executive powers as an alternative. The "Eberstadt report" made such a recommendation, but also endorsed the concept of an Air Force as a separate service. The Navy Department did not acknowledge its own findings and continued to oppose creation of a separate Air Force during hearings for unification bills introduced in October 1945. When the hearings failed to submit a report, on December 19, 1945, President Harry S. Truman, came out strongly in support of an air force on a parity with ground and naval forces, and reminded Congress that before the war independent Army and Navy Departments had often failed to work collectively or in coordination to the best interest of the nation. He asserted that wartime expedients that had overcome these defects proved to be the difference between victory and defeat.[102]

Congress, at the recommendation of President Truman, created the Department of the Air Force in 1947. This legislation created the United States Air Force, a completely separate branch of the U.S. military. The transfer of personnel and assets was effected by Transfer Order 1, Office of the Secretary of Defense, September 26, 1947, implementing reorganization provisions of the National Security Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 495), July 26, 1947, and the Army Air Forces abolished.[103]

The initial delineation of service roles, Executive Order 9877, was supplanted on April 21, 1948, by the approval by President Truman of the Key West Agreement, which outlined the air assets that each service would be permitted to maintain. The Air Force was assigned the bulk of strategic, tactical, and transport aircraft, but the issue remained divisive well into the 1950s.[104]

Culture of the U.S. Army Air ForcesEdit

USAAF UniformsEdit

[16][17]Medal of Honor recipient Major Richard Bong in Officer's Service Dress[18][19]Awards ceremony at RAF Debden, April 1944, illustrating varying shades of olive drab. Light shade 33 on left, dark shade 51 on right. Trousers are shade 33, khaki shade 1, and drab shade 54. The three combinations at right are "pinks and greens".[105]M-1944 service dress "Ike jacket" in OD shade 33====[edit] Service dress==== USAAF uniforms for all members consisted of a winter service uniform of olive drab wool worn in temperate weather and a tropical weather summer service uniform of khaki cotton the same as those of other U.S. Army forces. In addition to the service uniforms usually worn for dress purposes and on pass from posts there were a variety of fatigue and flying uniforms. Summer and winter service uniforms were both worn throughout the year in the continental U.S. During World War II the European theater of operations was considered a year round temperate uniform zone and the Pacific theater of operations a year round tropical uniform zone.[106]

The issue enlisted men's winter service uniform consisted of a four pocket coat and trousers in olive drab shade 33 (light shade) 16 oz wool serge. Shirts with two patch pockets and without shoulder straps were either 8.2 oz chino cotton khaki, a light tan, shade No. 1, or 10.5 oz olive drab wool light shade No. 33. Either shirt could be worn under the coat however the cotton shirt could not be worn as an outer garment with the wool trousers.[107] The wool necktie for the winter uniform was black and the summer necktie was khaki, cotton originally.[108] In February 1942 a universal mohair wool olive drab shade 3 necktie was authorized for both uniforms.[109] An overcoat of OD shade 33 Melton wool was worn in cold weather. The enlisted man's summer service uniform consisted of the same cotton khaki shade No. 1 uniform shirt with matching trousers; the coat for this uniform stopped being issued in the 1930s. Whenever the shirt was worn as an outer garment the necktie was tucked between the second and third button of the shirt.[110]

The male officer's winter service uniform consisted of a coat of finer wool fabric in olive drab shade No. 51 (dark-shade) with a fabric belt matching the coat, nicknamed "greens". Officers could wear trousers matching the color and fabric of the coat, or optionally they were allowed taupe colored, officially called "drab shade 54", trousers of the same material as the coat, nicknamed "pinks", leading to the nickname "pinks and greens" for the combination.[111] Officers were also authorized to use the harder-wearing olive drab shade 33 serge uniforms, except for the enlisted men's four pocket service coat, as long as they were not mixed with OD Shade 51 or Drab Shade 54 clothing.[112] An officer's OD overcoat and taupe rain coat were also authorized. Officers wore same cotton khaki shade No. 1 or olive drab wool light shade No. 33 shirts as enlisted men except with the addition of shoulder straps. Officers also had additional shirt color and fabric options, OD dark shade No. 50 or No. 51 and in 1944 drab shade No. 54.[107]

Officers wore black and khaki neckties until after February 1942 when neckties of wool cotton blend khaki shade 5 were authorized.[113] Male officer's summer service uniforms usually consisted of the wash and wear cotton khaki shade 1 uniforms like those of the enlisted men the main difference being that the shirts had shoulder straps. An OD wool shirt and cotton khaki trouser combination was also authorized. However for dress purposes they also had the option of purchasing a khaki shade 1 summer service uniform of tropical weight suiting fabric. This uniform was identical in cut to the winter officers uniform except for the color and cloth however the cloth belt of the winter coat was omitted.[114]

Personnel stationed in Europe, and after 1944 in the U.S., were authorized wear the wool waist length jacket, in either OD Shade 51 (for officers only) or OD Shade 33, nicknamed the "Ike jacket" and eventually standardized as the M-1944 Field Jacket, in lieu of the full-length tunic of the service dress uniform.[115]

Headgear for service uniforms consisted of two types, similar to those in use in the Army ground forces, in olive drab for winter wear and khaki for summer. The garrison cap, commonly called the "flight cap" in the Air Forces, had been authorized for all ranks since 1926 to facilitate the wearing of radio headsets during flights. The "curtain" had piping for enlisted men in the USAAF branch colors of orange and ultramarine blue. Warrant Officers caps were piped with black and silver cord other officers had black and gold except for generals who had all gold cords.[116] The oval service cap was fitted with a spring stiffening device called a grommet, and prior to World War II uniform regulations authorized officers to remove the grommet to permit the use of headsets. This style became widely popular during World War II as a symbol of being a combat veteran, and was known as a "50-mission crush" cap.[117] The service cap however was no longer generally issued to enlisted men after 1942.[118]

Leather items, including shoes, were russet in color, and the USAAF became known as the "Brown Shoe Air Force" after the United States Air Force became a separate service.[119]

Female service dressEdit

[20][21]At the AAF School of Air Evacuation at Bowman Field, Ky., student flight nurses learned how to handle patients with the aid of a mock-up fuselage of a Douglas C-47 transport.Female USAAF uniforms were either the uniform of the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) or that of the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) with appropriate USAAF branch insignia. Later, the Women's Army Corps (WAC) replaced the WAAC. Although female auxiliary organizations such as the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) and Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) performed valuable service as pilots to the USAAF, only the ANC and the WAC were official members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Nurses attached to the USAAF wore Army hospital whites, or prior to 1943, the ANC winter service uniform consisting of the ANC pattern dark blue cap or garrison cap with maroon piping, suit jacket with maroon cuff braid and gold army buttons, light blue or white shirt, black tie and light blue skirt, shoes were black or white. The ANC summer service uniform consisted of a similar suit in beige with maroon shoulder strap piping and cuff braid, beige ANC cap or beige garrison cap with maroon piping, white shirt, and black four-in-hand tie. During World War II the first flight nurses uniform consisted of a blue wool battle dress jacket, blue wool trousers and a blue wool men's style maroon piped garrison cap. The uniform was worn with either the ANC light blue or white shirt and black tie.[120]

After 1943 the ANC adopted service uniforms similar to the newly formed WAAC. In the USAAF they became unofficially known as "Air WACs". The WAAC (later WAC) service uniforms went through an evolution of patterns over the course of the war years, however throughout the period the service uniforms both summer and winter generally consisted of the WAC pattern hat or women's garrison cap, suit coat (winter only for enlisted women), shirtwaist, four-in-hand tie, skirt, russet leather women's service shoes and hand bag. The women's olive drab wool "Ike jacket" was also worn as were women's service trousers. The colors essentially mirrored those of their male counterparts of corresponding rank in the equivalent service uniform although fabrics differed. There were also special off duty dresses of summer beige and winter tan. The new olive drab ANC uniforms were the same as those for WAC officers except for the ANC pattern hat and the ANC pattern handbag. The off duty dress was a separate ANC pattern in olive drab shade 51 or beige. The ANC beige summer service uniform with maroon trim was retained except that the tie was changed to maroon.[121] Sage green fatigue uniforms of herringbone cotton twill for women, along with women's combat boots, field jackets and flight clothing, were manufactured by the U.S. Army during World War II. However. when women's versions of these items were not available, as was often the case during the war, men's issue items were used instead.

Flight clothingEdit

Flight clothing varied widely by theater of operation and type of mission. Innovative aviation flight suits, boots, leather helmets, goggles, and gloves were issued as early as 1928 to the Air Corps, and at least one style, the Type A-3 flight suit, continued in service until 1944.[117] However, A-2 flight jackets, made standard issue in 1931, became one of the best known symbols of the USAAF. Made of seal brown leather with a beige spun silk lining, the jackets featured an officer's stand-up collar, shoulder straps, knit waistbands and cuffs, a zipper closing, and unit insignia.[122] Heavy, sheepskin-lined B-3 and B-6 flight jackets, A-3 winter flying trousers, and B-2 "gunner's" caps, all in seal brown shearling, proved insufficient for the extreme cold temperatures of high altitude missions in unpressurized aircraft, and were supplemented by a variety of one-piece electrically heated flying suits manufactured by General Electric. In addition to men's flight clothing, flight nurses wore specially manufactured women's lightweight and intermediate weight flight jackets and pants.[123] Flight clothing such as the A-2 jacket was not authorized to be worn off the camp or post unless required for flight duty.[124] The same sage green fatigue uniforms of herringbone cotton twill, and wind-resistant poplin field jackets used by Army ground troops, were also used by USAAF troops depending on duty assignment.[125]

AAF uniforms were subject to Army Regulations, specifically AR 600-35 and AR 600-40, authorizing the wearing of emblems, badges, and insignia on the uniform. The vast size of the service saw the wearing of many custom-made variants of authorized emblems, badges, and insignia, and numerous examples of unauthorized insignia and emblems appeared throughout the forces, particularly in combat units overseas.

USAAF BadgesEdit

SOURCE: Martin Bowman, USAAF Handbook 1939–1945, p. 156. Reproduction of relevant page from The Officer's Guide, Military Service Publishing Co., July 1943.

To denote the special training and qualifications required for membership in the USAAF, the following military badges (known colloquially but ubiquitously throughout the service as "wings") were authorized for wear by members of the Army Air Forces during World War II: [22][23]Aerial Gunner Badge (enlisted)[24][25]Bombardier Badge (officer)[26][27]Flight Engineer Badge (enlisted)[28][29]Navigator Badge (officer)*Aerial Gunner Badge

These aviation qualificationbadges were typically worn in full three-inch (76 mm) size on service or dress uniforms, but two-inch versions (nicknamed "sweetheart wings") were also authorized for less-formal shirt wear. Most aviation badges were made of sterling silver or were given a silver finish, and various devices were used to attach them to uniforms. These included the traditional pin and safety catch and, later, clutch-back fasteners. Most USAAF badges of World War II became obsolete, having been superseded by later designs, and were not authorized for wear on the uniform after 1955. Main article: Obsolete badges of the United States military===USAAF Emblems=== The first shoulder sleeve insignia authorized for Air Corps wear was that of the General Headquarters Air Force, approved 20 July 1937.[126] This sleeve insignia, which consisted of a blue triskelion superimposed on a gold circle was retained after GHQ Air Force became Air Force Combat Command on 20 June 1941. The triskelion represented a stylized propeller that symbolized the three combat wings of GHQ Air Force.[127] On 23 February 1942, the GHQ AF patch was discontinued and the service-wide AAF sleeve insignia ("Hap Arnold Emblem") approved. The patch was designed by a member of Gen. Arnold's staff, James T. Rawls, and was based on the V-for-Victory sign popularized by Winston Churchill.[128]

The wearing of sleeve insignia was authorized for members of numbered air forces based overseas on 2 March 1943, and for air forces in the United States on 25 June 1943. From that date forward, the "Hap Arnold Emblem" was worn only by personnel of units not assigned to a numbered air force. AR 600-40, "Wear of the Service Uniform," subsequently limited sleeve insignia to the 16 air forces and the AAF patch. The Quartermaster Corps, responsible for the design and supply of all authorized insignia, resisted further designs for the AAF until 28 July 1945, when command arcs (arc-shaped tabs) were authorized for wear above the AAF insignia by members of the various commands.

Northeast United States (Zone of the Interior)

Northwest United States (Zone of the Interior)

Southeast United States (Zone of the Interior)

Southwest United States (Zone of the Interior)

Philippines Australia Southwest Pacific

Caribbean Islands Panama South America

Hawaii Central Pacific


Middle East North Africa Europe

India Burma


North Africa Mediterranean

South Pacific



India/China Mariana Islands

See alsoEdit

Lineage of the United States Air ForceEdit

    • The Army Air Forces were abolished by Transfer Order 1, Office of the Secretary of Defense, September 26, 1947, implementing the same provisions. Transfer Order 1 was the first of 200 Army-Air Force transfer agreements drawn up in June and July, 1947, and ordered the transfer of all military and civilian personnel of the Army Air Forces to the Department of the Air Force and the USAF.[103]


  1. ^ Although later promoted to General of the Air Force, Arnold did not hold that rank while in actual command of the Army Air Forces.
  2. ^ Nalty, Bernard C. (1997). "Reaction to the war in Europe", Winged Shield, Winged Sword: A History of the United States Air Force Vol. I, ISBN 0-16-049009-X, pp. 176 and 378. Also, see growth tables above.
  3. ^ AAF Statistical Digest, List of Tables Table 215 Airfields in CONUS 1941–1945; Table 217 Airfields outside CONUS 1941–1945.
  4. ^ Shiner, John F. (1997). "The Coming of the GHQ Air Force, 1925–1935", Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p. 112-113.
  5. ^ Shiner, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p.130.
  6. ^ Goss, William A., "Chapter 1: Origins of the Army Air Forces", The Army Air Forces in World War II Vol. Six: Men and Planes (Craven, Wesley F. and Cate, James L. editors, 1954). University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-912799-03-X, pp. 17–18.
  7. ^ Shiner, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p. 131-133.
  8. ^ a b c d Goss, "Chapter 1: Origins of the Army Air Forces", The Army Air Forces in World War II Vol. Six: Men and Planes, pp. 24-28.
  9. ^ Watson, Mark Skinner. ""Chapter IX: The Movement Toward Air Autonomy""]. United States Army in World War II; Chief of Staff : Pre-war Plans and Preparations. p. 293.
  10. ^ a b Nalty, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p.181.
  11. ^ Nalty, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p. 179-181.
  12. ^ The three documents referenced in this section, AR 95-5, EO 9082, and WD Circular 59, are reproduced in their entirety in McClendon (1996) pp. 132-141.
  13. ^ Correll, John T. "GHQ Air Force", AIR FORCE Magazine, September 2008, Vol. 91 No. 9, p.68.
  14. ^ Ray S. Cline (1990). Washington Command Post: The Operations Division "Chapter VI: Organizing the High Command for World War II", p. 92.
  15. ^ a b Mooney, Chase (1956). "USAF Historical Study No. 10: Organization of the Army Air Arm, 1935–1945". AFHRA. Retrieved 2011-03-27. , pp. 29, 33, 40, 41, 43, and 68.
  16. ^ Goss, "Chapter 2: The AAF", The Army Air Forces in World War II Vol. Six: Men and Planes, pp. 43-44.
  17. ^ Correll, John T. (July 2009). "But What About the Air Corps?". Air Force Magazine, Journal of the Air Force Association. , p. 64-65.
  18. ^ Futrell, Robert (1951). USAF Historical Study No. 69: Development of AAF Base Facilities in the United States, 1939–1945, Air Force Historical Research Agency, pp. 2–7.
  19. ^ Tate, Dr. James P. (1998). The Army and its Air Corps: Army Policy Toward Aviation 1919–1941, Air University Press, p. 172. Roosevelt's address to Congress took place on May 16, 1940. Less than two weeks later Congress passed a supplemental apprpriation more than a half billion dollars more than requested.
  20. ^ Wesley F. Craven and James Cate, editors. Army Air Forces in World War II: Vol. I: Plans & Early Operations, January 1939 to August 1942, p.105-106.
  21. ^ AAF Statistical Digest, Table 3: Strength of the AAF 1912–1945
  22. ^ a b "The Evolution of the Department of the Air Force". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 6 July 2008.
  23. ^ Nalty, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p.173.
  24. ^ Watson, George M, Jr. (1997). "Building Air Power", Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p.231.
  25. ^ Tate (1998), p. 179 and 189. The position had been vacant for eight years, since Roosevelt's inauguration in March 1933. Lovett had been elevated Assistant Secretary for Air to resolve the unity of command organizational problems of the Air Corps and had fashioned the compromise that had resulted in creation of the AAF.
  26. ^ Watson, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p.235.
  27. ^ Watson, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, pp.233–235. In all, the United States produced nearly 300,000 aircraft in the years 1941–1945 inclusive.
  28. ^ Watson, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, pp.246–248.
  29. ^ AAF Statistical Digest, Table 206: AAF Ferrying Operations Jan 42 to Aug 45
  30. ^ Watson, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, pp.248–249.
  31. ^ Watson, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p.250.
  32. ^ Watson, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p.259.
  33. ^ Nalty, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p.325.
  34. ^ Watson, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p.255.
  35. ^ Watson, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, pp. 260–263.
  36. ^ "The US Army Air Forces at war: a statistical portrait of USAAF in World War II", AIR FORCE Magazine, June 1995, Vol.78 No. 6, p.36, summarizing AAF Statistical Digest released after World War II. The exact reported figures were 193,440 pilots; 43,051 bombardiers and bombardier-navigators; 48,870 navigators in all three disciplines (celestial, dead reckoning, and radar); and 309,236 flexible gunners.
  37. ^ Bowman, USAAF Handbook, p.160.
  38. ^ Bowman, USAAF Handbook, p.161.
  39. ^ Watson, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, pp.251–252.
  40. ^ "Women in the AAF, Army Air Forces in World War II". HyperWar Foundation. Retrieved 26 October 2008. , p.514. 39,323 WACs were assigned to the AAF in January 1945. Approximately 1,100 were African-American women assigned to ten segregated AAF units.
  41. ^ Watson, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, pp.253–254.
  42. ^ Bowman, USAAF Handbook, p.158.
  43. ^ Official Register of the United States 1941, Volume I, U.S. Civil Service Commission publication, p. 48. The 15 new slots consisted of a lieutenant general, four major generals, and ten brigadier generals.
  44. ^ Finney, Robert T. (1955). USAF Historical Studies No. 100: History of the Air Corps Tactical School, Center for Air Force History, March 1955 edition, as are all references listed, p. 25.
  45. ^ Futrell, USAF Historical Study No. 69, p.112.
  46. ^ Futrell, USAF Historical Study No. 69, p.167.
  47. ^ Futrell, USAF Historical Study No. 69, p.156.
  48. ^ Bowman, Martin W. (1997). USAAF Handbook 1939–1945, Stackpole Books, ISBN 0-8117-1822-0, p.16. The Twentieth Air Force was numbered beyond sequence to be symbolic of a global strategic air force not subordinate to any theater command.
  49. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Maurer, Maurer (1986). "Overview". Air Force Combat Units of World War II. New York Military Affairs Symposium. Retrieved 2 July 2008.
  50. ^ Bowman, USAAF Handbook 1939–1945, p.17-18.
  51. ^ Army Air Forces Historical Study No. 13 "The Development of Tactical Doctrines at AAFSAT and AAFTAC"
  52. ^ a b Goss, "Chapter 2: The AAF", The Army Air Forces in World War II Vol. Six: Men and Planes, p. 58.
  53. ^ Maurer, Maurer (1986). "Introduction: Air Force Combat Organization:1919–1939". Air Force Combat Units of World War II. New York Military Affairs Symposium. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  54. ^ "1st Operations Group". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  55. ^ "2nd Operations Group". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  56. ^ "3rd Operations Group". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  57. ^ Watson, Richard L., Jr.. "USAF Historical Study 111: Army Air Action in the Philippines and Netherlands East Indies, 1941–1942". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 February 2009. , p. 9.
  58. ^ "5th Operations Group". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  59. ^ "6th Operations Group". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  60. ^ "7th Operations Group". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  61. ^ "8th Operations Group". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  62. ^ "9th Operations Group". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  63. ^ a b c Maurer, Maurer. "Part 2". Air Force Combat Units of World War II. New York Military Affairs Symposium. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  64. ^ "18th Operations Group". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  65. ^ "19th Air Refueling Group". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  66. ^ "20th Operations Group". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  67. ^ Spaatz, Gen. Carl A. "Strategic Airpower in the European War", Foreign Affairs, April 1946. Spaatz calculated combat-ready groups at 43.5 at the end of January 1942.
  68. ^ In May 1942 "transport" became the designation for non-combat groups that were part of Air Transport Command.
  69. ^ Employing P-38 Lightning, P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-51 Mustang, or P-80 Shooting Star aircraft.
  70. ^ The four combat cargo groups, numbered 1–4, served in the CBI and 5AF in 1944–45. Two were later redesignated troop carrier groups and became part of the USAF.
  71. ^ These were the 509th CG (B-29/C-54), 28th CG (B-24/B-25), and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Air Commando Groups. The air commando groups were created for service in the CBI and 5AF with one cargo and 2 fighter squadrons each. A medium bomb group, the 477th BG, converted to a P-47/B-25 composite group in June 1945.
  72. ^ Maurer Maurer (1969). USAF Historical Study No. 82: Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II, Air Force Historical Research Agency. This total is for combat-coded squadrons only. Flying squadrons not included in the total are more than 100 Air Transport Command, advanced flight training, and flexible squadrons of AAF Base Units between 1 August 1944 and the end of the war.
  73. ^ Table from Goss, "Chapter 2: The AAF", The Army Air Forces in World War II Vol. Six: Men and Planes, p. 59.
  74. ^ Bowman, USAAF Handbook, p. 113. The types were: A — Attack; AT — Advanced Trainer; B — Bomber; BT — Basic Trainer; C — Cargo/Transport; CG — Cargo Glider; F — Reconnaissance; L — Liaison; O — Observation; OA — Observation-Amphibian; P — Pursuit; PT — Primary Trainer; R — Rotary wing (helicopter); TG — Trainer Glider; and UC — Utility.
  75. ^ Maurer Maurer (1986). Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Spitfire Mk.Vs equipped the 4th Fighter Group until early 1943; Mk.Vs and Mk.IXs were the primary fighter of the 31st and 52nd FGs until 1944.
  76. ^ Maurer Maurer (1969). Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II. Approx. 100 Beaufighters partially equipped four night fighter squadrons of the 12th AF between 1943 and 1945.
  77. ^ Irving, David (2002 – electronic version) [1989] (pdf). Göring: A Biography. Parforce UK Ltd.. pp. 666. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  78. ^ Bowman, USAAF Handbook 1939–1945, p.19.
  79. ^ Griffith, Charles (1999). The Quest: Haywood Hansell and American Strategic Bombing in World War II. Air University Press ISBN 1-58566-069-8, p. 66.
  80. ^ Griffith, The Quest, p.78.
  81. ^ Griffith, The Quest, p.77.
  82. ^ a b c Nalty, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p.188.
  83. ^ a b Nalty, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p.190.
  84. ^ Bowman, USAAF Handbook 1939–1945, pp.19–20.
  85. ^ Griffith, The Quest, pp. 67.
  86. ^ Griffith, The Quest, pp. 96–97.
  87. ^ a b "Battle casualties by type of casualty and disposition, and duty branch: 7 December 1941 -31 December 1946". Army Battle Casualties and Non-battle Deaths in World War II: Final Report. Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 1953. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  88. ^ "Table 34 – Battle Casualties in All Overseas Theaters, By Type of Casualty and Type of Personnel: December 1941 to August 1945". Army Air Forces Statistical Digest, World War II. U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
  89. ^ a b Watson, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p.268.
  90. ^ "Table 99 – Airplane Losses in Continental US and Overseas, By Type of Airplane: December 1941 to August 1945". Army Air Forces Statistical Digest, World War II. U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 1 December 2009.
  91. ^ "The US Army Air Forces at war: a statistical portrait of USAAF in World War II", AIR FORCE Magazine, June 1995, Vol. 78 No. 6, summarizing AAF Statistical Digest, p.34.
  92. ^ "The US Army Air Forces at war", p.33.
  93. ^ Approximately $650 billion in 2011 dollars, calculated from 1945. US Inflation Calculator
  94. ^ AAF Statistical Digest Table 203
  95. ^ "The US Army Air Forces at war", p.32.
  96. ^ Wolk, Herman S. (1997). "The Quest for Independence", Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p. 378.
  97. ^ Futrell, USAF Historical Study No. 69, p. 156. These installations included main bases, sub (satellite) bases, and auxiliary airfields.
  98. ^ Wolk, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p. 374.
  99. ^ Wolk, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p. 375.
  100. ^ Wolk, Winged Shield, Winged Sword, p. 377.
  101. ^ McClendon, R. Earl (1996). Autonomy of the Air Arm. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Air University. ISBN 0-16-045510-3. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
  102. ^ a b McClendon (19996), pp. 104-108
  103. ^ a b c "Records of the Army Air Forces (AAF)". National Retrieved 22 Nov 2010.
  104. ^ Trest, Warren A. and Watson, George M. Jr. (1997). "Framing Air Force missions", Winged Shield, Winged Sword, pp. 418–424.
  105. ^ The commanders L-R are Brig. Gen. Jesse Auton, 65th FW; Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, SHAEF; Lt. Gen. Carl A. Spaatz, USSTAFE; Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle, 8th AF; Brig. Gen. William Kepner, VIII FC; and Col. Donald Blakeslee, 4th FG.
  106. ^ Table of Equipment No. 21 1 Sept. 1945 Part II (theater clothing zones).
  107. ^ a b AR 600-35 31 March 1944 Section I Para. 2, Section II Para. 18.
  108. ^ AR 600-35 10 November 1941
  109. ^ QMC Historical Studies No. 16 1946 pg. 47.
  110. ^ AR 600-40 Section 3, Para. 39.
  111. ^ AR 600-35 31 March 1944 Section I Para. 2, Section II Para. 9, 19.
  112. ^ Army Officers Guide 1942, pp. 132.
  113. ^ AR 600-35 Section I Para. 2a3.
  114. ^ AR 600-35 Section I Para. 2a2.
  115. ^ War Department Cir. No. 391 30 Sept. 1944 Sec. VII.
  116. ^ AR 600-35 para. 12.
  117. ^ a b Bowman, USAAF Handbook, p. 171.
  118. ^ QMC Historical Studies No. 16 1946 pg. 80,81.
  119. ^ Janet R. Daly-Benarek (1995). The Enlisted Experience: A Conversation With the Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force. Diane Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7881-2824-8. By extension "brown shoe" refers to any practice or idea that harks back to the Army Air Forces era.
  120. ^ Smith "Dressed for Duty" pp. 241.
  121. ^ AR 600-37 16 April 1945
  122. ^ Bowman, USAAF Handbook, p. 172.
  123. ^ Smith "Dressed for Duty" pp. 244–246.
  124. ^ AR 600-40 para. 9 sec.2d
  125. ^ QMC Historical Studies No. 16 1946.
  126. ^ "Up from Kittyhawk", AIR FORCE Magazine.
  127. ^ Rottman, Gordon L (1998). U.S. Army Air Force – 1, Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-85532-295-1. P. 54.
  128. ^ "Army Air Forces World War II Shoulder Sleeve Insignia" USAF Historical Studies Office.


External linksEdit

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.