Jump to navigation Jump to search For the current active service branch, see United States Air Force. Seal of the United States Air force united fc of War.
The AAF administered all parts of military aviation formerly distributed among the Air Corps, General Headquarters Air Force, and the ground forces’ corps area commanders, and thus became the first air organization of the U. Army to control its own installations and support personnel. The peak size of the AAF during the Second World War was over 2. In its expansion and conduct of the war, the AAF became more than just an arm of the greater organization.
By the end of World War II, the Army Air Forces had become virtually an independent service. The roots of the Army Air Forces 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, beginning with those espoused by Brig. 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 arm and assured a continuing policy of support of ground operations as its primary role. The expected activation of Army General Headquarters prompted Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall to request a reorganization study from Chief of the Air Corps Maj.
General of the Army Henry H. 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 and equality with the ground forces by March 1942. On 20 June 1941, to grant additional autonomy to the air forces and to avoid binding legislation from Congress, the War Department revised the army regulation governing the organization of Army aviation, AR 95-5. Under the revision of AR 95-5, the Army Air Forces consisted of three major components: Headquarters AAF, Air Force Combat Command, and the Air Corps. Yet the reforms were incomplete, subject to reversal with a change of mood at the War Department, and of dubious legality. By November 1941, on the eve of U. After war began, Congress enacted the First War Powers Act on 18 December 1941 endowing President Franklin D.
Roosevelt with virtual carte blanche to reorganize the executive branch as he found necessary. The former field activities operated under a “bureau” structure, with both policy and operating functions vested in staff-type officers who often exercised command and policy authority without responsibility for results, a system held over from the Air Corps years. March 29, 1943 Reorganization of the United States Army Air Forces. A “strong and growing dissatisfaction” with the organization led to an attempt by Lovett in September 1942 to make the system work by bringing the Directorate of Management Control and several traditional offices that had been moved to the operating staff, including the Air Judge Advocate and Budget Officer, back under the policy staff umbrella. This wartime structure remained essentially unchanged for the remainder of hostilities. Most personnel of the Army Air Forces were drawn from 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. The Air Corps at the direction of President Roosevelt began a rapid expansion from the spring of 1939 forward, partly from the Civilian Pilot Training Program created at the end of 1938, with the goal of providing an adequate air force for defense of the Western Hemisphere. An initial “25-group program”, announced in April 1939, called for 50,000 men. 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. 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. 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. An offensive strategy required several types of urgent and sustained effort.