United States Army Air Forces

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United States Army Air Forces

US Army Air Corps Hap Arnold Wings.svg

USAAF emblem
active June 20, 1941 to September 17, 1947
Country United StatesUnited States United States
Armed forces United States Armed Forces
Armed forces Air Force
Strength 2.4 million soldiers (March 1944)
Insinuation United States Army
Planes 79,908 (July 1944)
Wars Second World War
1941-1946 General of the Army Henry H. Arnold
1946-1947 General Carl A. Spaatz

United States Army Air Forces ( USAAF ) was the official name of the US Army's air force from 1941 to 1947 . The USAAF was the direct predecessor of the US Air Force .


The US Air Force was founded in August 1907 and was only organized as a separate armed force 40 years later . In the meantime, they have been named as follows:

  • Aeronautical Division, US Signal Corps: August 1, 1907 to July 18, 1914
  • Aviation Section, US Signal Corps: July 18, 1914 to May 20, 1918
  • Division of Military Aeronautics: May 20, 1918 to May 24, 1918
  • U.S. Army Air Service : May 24, 1918 to July 2, 1926
  • US Army Air Corps : July 2, 1926 to June 20, 1941
  • US Army Air Forces: June 20, 1941 to September 18, 1947
  • United States Air Force since September 18, 1947

The United States Army Air Forces emerged from the United States Army Air Corps on June 20, 1941 . While in other states such as Great Britain with the Royal Air Force or Germany with the Air Force, air forces already existed as an independent military force, in the USA they were still subordinate to the Army or the US Navy .

With the introduction of heavy bomber formations , the Air Corps was created in 1926, making the air force somewhat more independent. In 1935 all US Army aviation associations were subordinated to General Headquarters Air Force . Until then, these were assigned to the individual army corps based on the model of General John J. Pershing from the First World War . Pershing had seen the air force primarily as a support force for ground troops. This view was also widespread in the Army in the 1920s and 1930s.

The General Headquarters Air Force established three combat groups, one each on the Atlantic coast , the Pacific coast and the Gulf of Mexico .

The General Headquarters Air Force was administratively separate from the Air Corps and only commanded combat squadrons , while the Air Corps was responsible for doctrine , training , procurement , ground facilities and their personnel.

Second World War

After the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, and especially with a view to the Battle of Britain in 1940, the USA also realized that the air forces needed greater autonomy. This step was taken with the introduction of a Chief of Army Air Forces (commander in chief of the Army Air Forces ), who was directly under the command of the Chief of Staff of the Army George C. Marshall . The post went to Major General Henry H. Arnold , who advocated independence for the air force.

The General Headquarters Air Force was transferred to the Air Force Combat Command and its combat groups converted into air fleets . Organizationally, the Air Force Combat Command and Army Air Corps were placed under the command of the Army Air Forces. On March 9, 1942, Henry H. Arnold was appointed Commanding General, Army Air Forces and the Air Force Combat Command was disbanded. This gave the Army Air Force control over both the combat units and all other units.

As part of Special Film Project 186 , cameramen of the Army Air Forces filmed the advance of American troops into Germany from March to May 1945 and the immediate post-war period in Europe. They were equipped with 16 mm cine film cameras and new types of color films.

Deployed bombers (selection)

Boeing B-17F
Superfortress in flight
Consolidated B-24M-20-CO "Liberator"
USAAF North American B-25G-10
B-26B-55-MA of the 596th BS, 397th BG, 1944

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress (German: Flying Fortress ) was a heavy bomber. She is the best-known USAAF bomber in World War II and was known to return from missions despite severe damage. The full crew of the B-17 consisted of ten people, four of whom were exclusively machine-gunmen. A total of 12,731 machines were manufactured.

The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was a US long-range bomber . It was the largest and most powerful bomber of World War II and was still in service in the early stages of the Cold War . The maximum take-off weight could be more than double that of the predecessor model Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress . The USAAF first used the four-engined mid - decker in the summer of 1944. B-29 were also used for the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki .

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was a heavy bomber . The four-engined high - wing aircraft with double vertical tail was next to the B-17 the most important strategic bomber of the USAAF in the European theater of war. The first use took place at the beginning of the Pacific War against Japan in January 1942 during the attack on Sulawesi , the first major operations with B-24D in February 1943 in New Guinea .

The North American B-25 Mitchell was a twin-engine medium-weight bomber . A total of 9,984 B-25s were produced.

The Martin B-26 Marauder was a medium-weight medium-range bomber produced by the Glenn L. Martin Company . She was a twin-engined shoulder wing plane . From 1940 to 1945 5,157 machines were built. The aircraft was used during the Second World War, first in the Pacific War and later in Europe.


After the Second World War , in which the USAAF made a significant strategic contribution to the Allied victory, on July 26, 1947 they became the independent US Air Force.

Web links

Commons : United States Army Air Forces  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Bernard C. Nalty: Reaction to the war in Europe. In: Winged Shield, Winged Sword: A History of the United States Air Force. Vol. I, 1997, ISBN 0-16-049009-X , pp. 176 and 378.
  2. ^ John F. Shiner, The Coming of the GHQ Air Force, 1925-1935. In: Winged Shield, Winged Sword. Pp. 112-113.
  3. Shiner: Winged Shield, Winged Sword. Pp. 131-133.
  4. Nalty: Winged Shield, Winged Sword. P. 181.
  5. What color is the war? (Spiegel-Online) accessed on July 15, 2012
  6. FlugRevue December 2009, pp. 90-93, Schattenspieler - Consolidated B-24 Liberator