United States Army Air Corps
Overview
 
The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was a forerunner of the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

. Renamed from the Air Service
United States Army Air Service
The Air Service, United States Army was a forerunner of the United States Air Force during and after World War I. It was established as an independent but temporary wartime branch of the War Department by two executive orders of President Woodrow Wilson: on May 24, 1918, replacing the Aviation...

on 2 July 1926, it was part of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and the predecessor of the United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces 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....

 (USAAF), established in 1941. Although abolished as an organization in 1942, the Air Corps (AC) remained as a branch of the Army until 1947.

The Air Corps was renamed by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 largely as a compromise between advocates of a separate air arm and those of the Army high command who viewed the aviation arm as an auxiliary branch to support the ground forces.
Encyclopedia
The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was a forerunner of the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

. Renamed from the Air Service
United States Army Air Service
The Air Service, United States Army was a forerunner of the United States Air Force during and after World War I. It was established as an independent but temporary wartime branch of the War Department by two executive orders of President Woodrow Wilson: on May 24, 1918, replacing the Aviation...

on 2 July 1926, it was part of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and the predecessor of the United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces 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....

 (USAAF), established in 1941. Although abolished as an organization in 1942, the Air Corps (AC) remained as a branch of the Army until 1947.

The Air Corps was renamed by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 largely as a compromise between advocates of a separate air arm and those of the Army high command who viewed the aviation arm as an auxiliary branch to support the ground forces. Although its members worked to promote the concept of airpower and an autonomous air force between 1926 and 1941, its primary purpose by Army policy remained support of ground forces rather than independent operations.

On March 1, 1935, still struggling with the issue of a separate air arm, the Army activated the General Headquarters Air Force for centralized control of aviation combat units within the continental United States, separate from but coordinate with the Air Corps. The separation of the Air Corps from control of its combat units caused problems of unity of command that became more acute as the Air Corps enlarged in preparation for World War II. This was resolved by the creation of the Army Air Forces on 20 June 1941, when both organizations became subordinate to the new higher echelon.

The Air Corps ceased to have an administrative structure on 9 March 1942. As "the permanent statutory organization of the air arm, and the principal component of the Army Air Forces," it remained as a branch of the Army until 1947, and the overwhelming majority of personnel assigned to the AAF were members of the Air Corps.

Lineage of the United States Air Force

  • Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps
    Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps
    The Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps was the world's first heavier-than-air military aviation organization and the progenitor of the United States Air Force. A component of the U.S...

     August 1, 1907–July 18, 1914
  • Aviation Section, Signal Corps
    Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps
    The Aviation Section, Signal Corps, was the military aviation service of the United States Army from 1914 to 1918, and a direct ancestor of the United States Air Force. It replaced and absorbed the Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps, and was succeeded briefly by the Division of Military...

     July 18, 1914–May 20, 1918
  • Division of Military Aeronautics  20 May 1918 – 24 May 1918
  • Air Service, U.S. Army
    United States Army Air Service
    The Air Service, United States Army was a forerunner of the United States Air Force during and after World War I. It was established as an independent but temporary wartime branch of the War Department by two executive orders of President Woodrow Wilson: on May 24, 1918, replacing the Aviation...

      24 May 1918 – 2 July 1926
  • U.S. Army Air Corps  2 July 1926 – 20 June 1941*
  • U.S. Army Air Forces
    United States Army Air Forces
    The United States Army Air Forces 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....

      20 June 1941 – 18 September 1947*
  • United States Air Force
    United States Air Force
    The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

      18 September 1947–present


* The Air Corps became a subordinate element of the Army Air Forces on 20 June 1941, and was abolished as an administrative organization on 9 March 1942. It continued to exist as a combat arm of the Army (similar to the infantry, armor, or artillery) until abolished by reorganization provisions of the National Security Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 495), 26 July 1947.

Creation of the Air Corps

The Air Service
United States Army Air Service
The Air Service, United States Army was a forerunner of the United States Air Force during and after World War I. It was established as an independent but temporary wartime branch of the War Department by two executive orders of President Woodrow Wilson: on May 24, 1918, replacing the Aviation...

 had a brief but turbulent history. Created during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 by executive order, it gained permanent legislative authority in 1920 as a combatant arm of the line of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

. There followed a six-year struggle between adherents of airpower and the supporters of the traditional military services about the value of an independent Air Force, intensified by struggles for funds caused by skimpy budgets, as much an impetus for independence as any other factor.

The Lassiter Board, a group of General Staff
General Staff
A military staff, often referred to as General Staff, Army Staff, Navy Staff or Air Staff within the individual services, is a group of officers and enlisted personnel that provides a bi-directional flow of information between a commanding officer and subordinate military units...

 officers, recommended in 1923 that the Air Service be augmented by an offensive force of bombardment and pursuit units under the command of Army general headquarters in time of war, and many of its recommendations became Army regulations. The War Department desired to implement the Lassiter Board's recommendations, but the administration of President Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

 chose instead to economize by radically cutting military budgets, particularly the Army's.The Coolidge administration boasted of cutting the War Department's budget by 75%. The Lampert Committee of the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 in December 1925 proposed a unified air force independent of the Army and Navy, plus a department of defense to coordinate the three armed services. However another board, headed by Dwight Morrow
Dwight Morrow
Dwight Whitney Morrow was an American businessman, politician, and diplomat.-Life:Born in Huntington, West Virginia, he moved with his parents, James E. and Clara Morrow to Allegheny, Pennsylvania in 1875. His father James, was principal of Marshall College, which is now Marshall University...

, was appointed in September 1925 by Coolidge ostensibly to study the "best means of developing and applying aircraft in national defense" but in actuality to minimize the political impact of the pending court-martial of Billy Mitchell (and to preempt the findings of the Lampert Committee). It declared that no threat of air attack was likely to exist to the United States, rejected the idea of a department of defense and a separate department of air, and recommended only minor reforms that included renaming the Air Service to allow it more prestige.

In early 1926 the Military Affairs Committee of the Congress rejected all bills set forth before it on both sides of the issue. They fashioned a compromise in which the findings of the Morrow Board were enacted as law, while providing the air arm a "five-year plan" for expansion and development. Maj. Gen. Mason Patrick
Mason Patrick
Mason Mathews Patrick was a U.S. Army general and air power advocate.Patrick was born in Lewisburg, West Virginia and graduated from West Point in 1886. For three years he was at the Engineer School of Application, Willets Point, New York, graduating in 1889...

, the Chief of Air Service, had proposed that it be made a semi-independent service within the War Department along the lines of the Marine Corps within the Navy Department, but this was rejected; only the cosmetic name change was accepted.Gen. Patrick's proposal of an Air Corps equivalent to the Marine Corps was characterized by Brig. Gen. Fox Conner
Fox Conner
Fox Conner was a major general of the United States Army. He served as operations officer for the American Expeditionary Force during World War I, but is best remembered as "the man who made Eisenhower".-Early career:...

 (and not for the first nor last time by General Staff opponents of Air Corps independence) as a "promotion scheme".
The legislation changed the name of the Air Service to the Air Corps, "thereby strengthening the conception of military aviation as an offensive, striking arm rather than an auxiliary service."
The Air Corps Act (44 Stat. 780) became law on 2 July 1926. In accordance with the Morrow Board's recommendations, the act created an additional Assistant Secretary of War
United States Assistant Secretary of War
The United States Assistant Secretary of War was the second-ranking official within the American Department of War from 1861 to 1867, from 1882 to 1883, and from 1890 to 1940...

 to "help foster military aeronautics", and established an air section in each division of the General Staff for a period of three years. Two additional brigadier generals would serve as assistant chiefs of the Air Corps. Previous provisions of the National Defense Act of 1920 that all flying units be commanded only by rated personnel and that flight pay be awarded were continued. The Air Corps also retained the "Prop and Wings
Prop and Wings
The Prop and Wings is a military insignia used to identify various aviation-related units in the United States military. The Prop and Wings originated as branch insignia of the United States Army Air Service in 1920, and remained such from 1926 to 1947 for the successor United States Army Air Corps...

" as its branch insignia through its disestablishment in 1947. Patrick became Chief of the Air Corps and Brig. Gen. James E. Fechet continued as his first assistant chief. On 17 July 1926, two lieutenant colonels were promoted to brigadier general
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 for four-year terms as assistant chiefs of Air Corps: Frank P. Lahm, to command the new Air Corps Training Center
Air Training Command
Air Training Command is a former major command of the United States Army Air Forces and United States Air Force. ATC came into being as a redesignation of the Army Air Forces Training Command on July 1, 1946...

, and William E. Gillmore, in command of the Materiel Division
Air Force Logistics Command
Air Force Logistics Command was a United States Air Force command. Its headquarters was located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio...

.Both Lahm and Gillmore served only a single tour. Of the three assistant chiefs, Fechet succeeded Patrick in December 1927, Gillmore retired on 30 June 1930, and Lahm reverted back to his permanent rank on 16 July 1930.

Of the new law and organization, Wesley F. Craven and James L. Cate wrote in the official history of the United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces 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 bill which was finally enacted purported to be a compromise, but it leaned heavily on the Morrow recommendations. The Air Corps Act of 2 July 1926 effected no fundamental innovation. The change in designation meant no change in status: the Air Corps was still a combatant branch of the Army with less prestige than the Infantry.


The position of the air arm within the Department of War remained essentially the same as before, that is, the flying units were under the operational control of the various ground forces corps area
Corps area
A Corps area was a geographically-based organizational structure of the United States Army used to accomplish domestic administrative, training and tactical tasks from 1920 to 1942. Each corps area included divisions of the Regular Army, Organized Reserve and National Guard of the United States...

 commands and not the Air Corps, which remained responsible only for procurement of aircraft, maintenance of bases, supply, and training. Because of a lack of legally specified duties and responsibilities, the new position of Assistant Secretary of War for Air, held by F. Trubee Davison
F. Trubee Davison
Frederick Trubee Davison , usually known as F. Trubee Davison, or Trubee Davison, was an American World War I aviator, Assistant US Secretary of War, Director of Personnel for the Central Intelligence Agency, and President of the American Museum of Natural History.Davison was the brother-in-law of...

 from July 1926 to March 1933, proved of little help in promoting autonomy for the air arm.

Five-year expansion program

The Air Corps Act gave authorization to carry out a five-year expansion program. However, the lack of funding caused the beginning of the five-year expansion program to be delayed until 1 July 1927. Gen. Patrick proposed an increase to 63 tactical squadrons (from an existing 32) to maintain the program of the Lassiter Board already in effect, but Chief of Staff Gen. John Hines
John L. Hines
John Leonard Hines was an American soldier who served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 1924 to 1926.-Biography:...

 rejected the recommendation in favor of a plan drawn up by ground force Brig. Gen. Hugh Drum that proposed 52 squadrons.The General Staff viewed the "five-year plan" as an opponent of the Army in general and fought it bitterly, citing it as a destructive force at every opportunity. General Drum also chaired the 1933 Drum Board, created specifically to oppose (and revise) plans and appropriation requests submitted by Chief of Air Corps Foulois that were not to the General Staff's liking. The act authorized expansion to 1,800 airplanes, 1,650 officers, and 15,000 enlisted men, to be reached in regular increments over a five-year period. None of the goals were reached by the end of five years, and neither of the modest increases in airplanes or officers was reached until 1938, because adequate funds were never appropriated in the budget, and the coming of the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 forced reductions in pay and modernization across the board in the Army. Organizationally the Air Corps doubled from seven to fifteen groups, but all were seriously understrength in aircraft and pilots. (Origin of first seven groups shown here)

Air Corps groups added 1927–1937
Group Station Date activated Aircraft type
18th Pursuit Group
18th Operations Group
The 18th Operations Group is the operational flying component of the United States Air Force 18th Wing, stationed at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan....

Wheeler Field, Hawaii 20 January 1927 PW-9
7th Bombardment Group
7th Operations Group
The 7th Operations Group is the operational flying component of the United States Air Force 7th Bomb Wing, stationed at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas...

Rockwell Field
Rockwell Field
Rockwell Field was an Army air base located in Coronado, California, near San Diego. It shared the area known as North Island with Naval Air Station North Island from 1912 to 1935. Its functions were eventually moved to March Field so that the naval air station could take over the whole area...

, California
1 June 1928 LB-7
Keystone LB-6
|-See also:-References:* John Andrade. U.S.Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909, p.135. Midland Counties Publications, 1979. ISBN 0-904597-22-9....

, B-3A
12th Observation Group
12th Observation Group
The 12th Observation Group is an inactive United States Army unit. It was last assigned to the Eighth Corps Area, United States Army, stationed at Brooks Field, Texas. It was disbanded on 30 June 1937....

¹
Brooks Field, Texas 1 Oct 1930 O-19
Thomas-Morse O-19
|-See also:-References:* John Andrade, U.S.Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909, Midland Counties Publications, 1979, ISBN 0-904597-22-9...

20th Pursuit Group
20th Operations Group
The 20th Operations Group is a component of the 20th Fighter Wing, assigned to the United States Air Force Air Combat Command. The group is stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina....

Mather Field
Mather Air Force Base
Mather Air Force Base is a closed United States Air Force Base located east of Sacramento at Rancho Cordova, California on the south side of U.S. Route 50....

, California
15 November 1930 P-12
Boeing P-12
The Boeing P-12 or F4B was an American pursuit aircraft that was operated by the United States Army Air Corps and United States Navy.-Design and development:...

8th Pursuit Group
8th Operations Group
The 8th Operations Group is the operational flying component of the United States Air Force 8th Fighter Wing. It is stationed at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, and is a part of Pacific Air Forces ....

Langley Field, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

1 April 1931 P-6
17th Pursuit Group² March Field, California 1 July 1931 P-12
19th Bomb Group Rockwell Field
Rockwell Field
Rockwell Field was an Army air base located in Coronado, California, near San Diego. It shared the area known as North Island with Naval Air Station North Island from 1912 to 1935. Its functions were eventually moved to March Field so that the naval air station could take over the whole area...

, California
24 June 1932 B-10
Martin B-10
The Martin B-10 was the first all-metal monoplane bomber to go into regular use by the United States Army Air Corps, entering service in June 1934...

16th Pursuit Group Albrook Field, Canal Zone
Albrook Air Force Base
Albrook Air Force Station is a former United States Air Force facility in Panama. It was closed on 30 September 1997 as a result of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties which specified that United States military facilities in the former Panama Canal Zone be closed and the facilities be turned over to the...

1 December 1932 P-12
10th Transport Group Patterson Field
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base in Greene and Montgomery counties in the state of Ohio. It includes both Wright and Patterson Fields, which were originally Wilbur Wright Field and Fairfield Aviation General Supply Depot. Patterson Field is located approximately...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

20 May 1937 C-27
Bellanca Aircruiser
The Bellanca Aircruiser and Airbus were high-wing, single engine aircraft built by Bellanca Aircraft Corporation of New Castle, Delaware. The aircraft was built as a "workhorse" intended for use as a passenger or cargo aircraft. It was available as land, sea or ski plane. The aircraft was powered...

 C-33
Douglas DC-2
The Douglas DC-2 was a 14-seat, twin-engine airliner produced by the American company Douglas Aircraft Corporation starting in 1934. It competed with the Boeing 247...


¹Disbanded on 20 May 1937

²Redesignated 17th Attack Group (1935), 17th Bomb Group (1939)


As units of the Air Corps increased in number, so did higher command echelons. The 2nd Wing
2d Bombardment Wing (World War II)
The 2d Bombardment Wing is an inactive organization of the United States Army Air Forces. Its last assignment was with the Continental Air Forces, based at McChord Field, Washington. It was inactivated on 7 November 1945....

, activated in 1922 as part of the Air Service, remained the only wing organization in the new Air Corps until 1929, when it was redesignated the 2nd Bombardment Wing in anticipation of the activation of the 1st Bombardment Wing
1st Bombardment Wing (World War II)
The 1st Bombardment Wing is an inactive United States Army Air Force unit. It was the first wing formed in the reorganized United States Army Air Service, created in August 1919 to control three groups patrolling the border with Mexico after revolution broke out there. Its last assignment was with...

to provide a bombardment wing on each coast. The 1st Bomb Wing was activated in 1931, followed by the 3rd Attack Wing
98th Bombardment Wing (World War II)
The 98th Bombardment Wing is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the United States Air Force Reserve, based at Bedford Field, Massachusetts...

in 1932 to protect the Mexican border, at which time the 1st became the 1st Pursuit Wing. The three wings became the foundation of General Headquarters Air Force upon its activation in 1935.

Aircraft and personnel 1926–1935

In 1927 the Air Corps adopted a new color scheme for painting its aircraft, heretofore painted olive drab. The wings and tails of aircraft were painted chrome yellow
Chrome yellow
Chrome Yellow is a natural yellow pigment made of lead chromate . It was first extracted from the mineral crocoite by the French chemist Louis Vauquelin in 1809...

, with the words "U.S. ARMY" displayed in large black lettering on the undersurface of the lower wings. Tail rudders were painted with a vertical dark blue band at the rudder hinge and 13 alternating red-and-white horizontal stripes trailing. In the early 1930s the painting of fuselages olive drab was changed to blue, and this motif continued until late 1937, when all new aircraft (now all-metal) were left unpainted except for national markings.

Most pursuit fighters before 1935 were of the Curtiss P-1 Hawk
P-1 Hawk
The P-1 Hawk was a 1920s open-cockpit biplane fighter aircraft of the United States Army Air Corps. An earlier variant of the same aircraft had been designated PW-8 prior to 1925.-PW-8:thumb|alt=PW-8|PW-8...

 (1926–1930) and Boeing P-12
Boeing P-12
The Boeing P-12 or F4B was an American pursuit aircraft that was operated by the United States Army Air Corps and United States Navy.-Design and development:...

 (1929–1935) families, and before the 1934 introduction of the all-metal monoplane, most front-line bombers were canvas-and-wood variants of the radial engine
Radial engine
The radial engine is a reciprocating type internal combustion engine configuration in which the cylinders point outward from a central crankshaft like the spokes on a wheel...

d Keystone LB-6
Keystone LB-6
|-See also:-References:* John Andrade. U.S.Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909, p.135. Midland Counties Publications, 1979. ISBN 0-904597-22-9....

 (60 LB-5A, LB-6 and LB-7 bombers) and B-3A (127 B-3A, B-4A, B-5, and B-6A bombers) designs.The primary difference between the types is the twin-finned tail of the former, and the single vertical stabilizer of the latter design, which gave it marginally superior performance. Between 1927 and 1934, the Curtiss O-1
Curtiss Falcon
The Curtiss Falcon is a family of military biplane aircraft built by the United States aircraft manufacturer Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company during the 1920s. Most saw service as part of the United States Army Air Corps as observation aircraft with the designations O-1 and O-11, or as the...

 was the most numerous of the 19 different types and series of observation craft and its A-3 variant the most numerous of the attack planes that fulfilled the observation/close support role designated by the General Staff as the primary mission of the Air Corps.

Transport aircraft of the first ten years of the Air Corps were of largely trimotor
Trimotor
A trimotor is an aircraft powered by three piston engines.Trimotor designs were relatively common in the early days of aviation, as engines were less powerful and less reliable.-Notable types:* Armstrong Whitworth Argosy...

 design, such as the Atlantic-Fokker C-2
Fokker F.VII
The Fokker F.VII, also known as the Fokker Trimotor, was an airliner produced in the 1920s by the Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker, Fokker's American subsidiary Atlantic Aircraft Corporation, and other companies under licence....

 and the Ford C-3
Ford Trimotor
The Ford Trimotor was an American three-engined transport plane that was first produced in 1925 by the companies of Henry Ford and that continued to be produced until June 7, 1933. Throughout its time in production, a total of 199 Ford Trimotors were produced...

, and were procured in such small numbers (66 total) that they were doled out one airplane to a base. As their numbers and utility declined, they were replaced by a series of 50 twin-engine and single-engine small transports, and used for staff duties. Pilot training was conducted between 1927 and 1937 in the Consolidated PT-3
Consolidated PT-3
-References:...

 trainer, followed by the Stearman PT-13 and variants after 1937.

By 1933 the Air Corps expanded to a tactical strength of 50 squadrons: 21 pursuit, 13 observation, 12 bombardment, and 4 attack. All were understrength in aircraft and men, particularly officers, which resulted in most being commanded by junior officers (commonly first lieutenants)An example is Ralph F. Stearley
Ralph Francis Stearley
Ralph Francis Stearley was a United States Army and Air Force officer. He is best known as a general in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Stearly was born at Brazil, Indiana, in 1898...

, who commanded the 13th Attack Squadron for four years as a 1st Lieutenant.
instead of by majors as authorized. The last open-cockpit fighter used by the USAAC, the P-26
P-26 Peashooter
The American Boeing P-26 Peashooter, was the first all-metal production fighter aircraft and the first pursuit monoplane used by the United States Army Air Corps...

, came into service in 1933 and bridged the gap between the biplane and more modern fighters.

The Air Corps was called upon in early 1934 to deliver the mail in the wake of the Air Mail scandal
Air Mail Scandal
The Air Mail scandal, also known as the Air Mail fiasco, is the name that the American press gave to the political scandal resulting from a congressional investigation of a 1930 meeting , between Postmaster General Walter Folger Brown and the executives of the top airlines, and to the disastrous...

, involving the postmaster general
United States Postmaster General
The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...

 and heads of the airlines. Despite an embarrassing performance that resulted in a number of crashes and 12 fatalities, the investigating boards that followed recommended organizational and modernization changes that again set the Air Corps on the path to autonomy and eventual separation from the Army. A force of 2,320 aircraft was recommended by one board,The Drum Board, which derived the figure as the number necessary to maintain 2,072 "serviceable" planes for its worst-case scenario, War Plan Red-Orange
United States Color-coded War Plans
During the 1920s and 1930s, the United States military Joint Army and Navy Board developed a number of color-coded war plans to outline potential U.S. strategies for a variety of hypothetical war scenarios...

. War plans involving Great Britain ("Red") as an opponent were not officially excluded from United States war planning until January 1938.
and authorized by Congress in June 1936, but appropriations to build up the force were denied by the administration until 1939, when the probability of war became apparent. Instead, the Air Corps inventory actually declined to 855 total aircraft in 1936, a year after the creation of GHQ Air Force, which by itself was recommended to have a strength of 980.

Strategic bombardment in roles and missions

"The Naval Air Force will be based on the fleet and move with it as an important element in solving the primary missions confronting the fleet. The Army Air Forces will be land-based and employed as an essential element to the Army in the performance of its mission to defend the coasts at home and in our overseas possessions, thus assuring the fleet absolute freedom of action without any responsibility for coast defense."
Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Adm. William V. Pratt, 7 January 1931


In March 1928, commenting on the lack of survivability in combat of his unit's Keystone LB-7 and Martin NBS-1 bombers, Lt. Col. Hugh J. Knerr
Hugh J. Knerr
Hugh Johnston Knerr was a Major General in the United States Air Force.-Biography:Knerr was born on May 30, 1887 in Fairfield, Iowa. He passed away on October 26, 1971 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.-Career:...

, commander of the 2nd Bombardment Group
2d Operations Group
The 2d Operations Group is the flying component of the United States Air Force 2d Bomb Wing, assigned to the Air Combat Command Eighth Air Force. The group is stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana....

 at Langley Field, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, recommended that the Air Corps adopt two types of all-metal monoplane bombers, a short-range day bomber and a long-range night bomber. Instructors at the Air Corps Tactical School
Air Corps Tactical School
The Air Corps Tactical School, also known as ACTS and "the Tactical School", was a military professional development school for officers of the United States Army Air Service and United States Army Air Corps, the first such school in the world. Created in 1920 at Langley Field, Virginia, it...

, also then at Langley, took the concept one step further in March 1930 by recommending that the types instead be light and heavy, the latter capable of long range carrying a heavy bomb load.

The Air Corps in January 1931 "got its foot in the door" for developing a mission for which only it would have capability, while at the same time creating a need for technological advancement of its equipment. Chief of Naval Operations
Chief of Naval Operations
The Chief of Naval Operations is a statutory office held by a four-star admiral in the United States Navy, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Navy. The office is a military adviser and deputy to the Secretary of the Navy...

 Admiral William V. Pratt was desirous of having general assent to his proposition that all naval aviation including land-based aircraft was by definition tied to carrier-based fleet operations. Pratt reached an agreement with new Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 that the Air Corps would assume responsibility for coastal defense (traditionally a primary function of the Army but only a secondary, war-time function of the Navy) beyond the range of the Army's Coast Artillery guns, ending the Navy's apparent duplication of effort in coastal air operations. The agreement never had authority other than personal agreement between the two heads of service. Though the Navy repudiated the statement when Adm. Pratt retired in 1934, the Air Corps clung to the mission, and provided itself with the basis for development of long range bombers and creating new doctrine to employ them.

The formulation of theories of strategic bombing
Strategic bombing
Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in a total war with the goal of defeating an enemy nation-state by destroying its economic ability and public will to wage war rather than destroying its land or naval forces...

 gave new impetus to the argument for an independent air force. Strategic or long-range bombardment was intended to destroy an enemy nation's industry and war-making potential, and only an independent service would have a free hand to do so. But despite what it perceived as "obstruction" from the War Department, much of which was attributable to a shortage of funds, the Air Corps made great strides during the 1930s. A doctrine emerged that stressed precision bombing of industrial targets by heavily armed long-range aircraft.

This doctrine resulted because of several factors. The Air Corps Tactical School moved in July 1931 to Maxwell Field
Maxwell Air Force Base
Maxwell Air Force Base , officially known as Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, is a United States Air Force installation under the Air Education and Training Command . The installation is located in Montgomery, Alabama, US. It was named in honor of Second Lieutenant William C...

, Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, where it taught a 36-week course for junior and mid-career officers that included military aviation theory. The Bombardment Section, under the direction of its chief, Major Harold L. George
Harold L. George
Harold Lee George was an American aviation pioneer who helped shape and promote the concept of daylight precision bombing...

, became influential in the development of doctrine and its dissemination throughout the Air Corps. Nine of its instructors became known throughout the Air Corps as the "Bomber Mafia
Bomber Mafia
The Bomber Mafia were a close-knit group of American military men who believed that long-range heavy bomber aircraft in large numbers were able to win a war...

", eight of whom (including George) went on to be generals during World War II. Conversely, pursuit tacticians, primarily Capt. Claire Chennault, Chief of the school's Pursuit Section, found their influence waning because of repeated performance failures of pursuit aviation. Finally, the doctrine represented the Air Corps' attempt to develop autonomy from the General Staff, which enforced subordination of the air arm by limiting it to support of ground forces and defense of United States territory.

Technological advances in bombers

New bomber types under development clearly outperformed new pursuit types, particularly in speed and altitude. In both 1932 and 1933, large-scale maneuvers found fighters unable to climb to altitude quickly enough to intercept attacking Y1B-9
Boeing Y1B-9
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Baugher, Joe. Encyclopedia of American Aircraft, 10 September 2002. Retrieved: 7 July 2010.* Bowers, Peter M. Boeing Aircraft since 1916. London: Putnam, 1989. ISBN 0-85177-804-6....

 and B-10
Martin B-10
The Martin B-10 was the first all-metal monoplane bomber to go into regular use by the United States Army Air Corps, entering service in June 1934...

 prototypes, a failure so complete that Brig. Gen. Oscar Westover
Oscar Westover
Oscar M. Westover was a major general and fourth chief of the United States Army Air Corps.-Biography:He was born in Bay City, Michigan and enlisted in the Army when he was 18. He began his service as a private in 1901 before being appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point...

, following the 1933 maneuvers, actually proposed elimination of pursuits altogether.

The successful development of the Martin B-10
Martin B-10
The Martin B-10 was the first all-metal monoplane bomber to go into regular use by the United States Army Air Corps, entering service in June 1934...

 and subsequent orders after 1935 for more than 150 (including its B-12 variant) continued the hegemony of the bomber within the AAC. The B-10 featured innovations that became standard for the next decade: an all-metal monoplane, closed cockpits, rotating gun turrets, retractable landing gear, internal bomb bay, and full engine cowlings.

The superiority of bombers resulted in a 1934 feasibility study for a 35-ton 4-engined bomber (the Boeing XB-15
Boeing XB-15
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Boniface, Patrick. "Boeing's Forgotten Monster: XB-15 a Giant in Search of a Cause." Air Enthusiast, 79 January–February 1999....

) that, while found to be unsuitable for combat because of inadequate engine size, led to the design of the Model 299, later to become the B-17 Flying Fortress, whose first flight was in July 1935. In June 1936 the Air Corps requested 11 B-15s and 50 B-17s for reinforcing hemispheric defense forces in Hawaii, Alaska, and Panama. The request was rejected on the basis that there were no strategic requirements for aircraft of such capabilities.

Official resistance to Air Corps doctrine

The Army and Navy, both cognizant of the growing movement within the Air Corps for independence, cooperated to resist it. On 11 September 1935, the Joint Board, at the behest of the Navy and the concurrence of Gen. MacArthur, issued a "Joint Action Statement" that reasserted the limited role of the Air Corps as merely an auxiliary to the "mobile Army" in all its missions, including coastal defense. The edict was issued with the intent of shoving an upstart Air Corps back into its place. However, the bomber advocates interpreted its language to mean that the Air Corps could conduct long range reconnaissance, attack approaching fleets, reinforce distant bases, and attack enemy air bases, all in furtherance of its mission to prevent an air attack on America. The lack of inter-service cooperation on coastal defense fostered by the Joint Action Statement continued until culminating in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.As late as October 14, 1941, CNO Adm. Harold Stark was insisting that the "proper" role of Army aviation in coastal defense was support of Navy operations.

A month later (15 October 1935), the General Staff sought to mitigate criticism of the statement by releasing a revision of Training Regulation TR 440-15 Employment of the Air Forces of the Army,Since 1923 Army doctrine had been stated in Field Service Regulations, which were general in character, and Training Regulations, which stated combat principles for each combatant arm. TR 440-15 had been first issued on 26 January 1926 as Fundamental Principles for the Employment of the Air Service. Coincidentally, Col. William L. Mitchell resigned from the service the day following its issuance. which served as the doctrinal guide for the Air Corps prior to the replacement of training regulations by Army field manual
Field Manual
__FORCETOC__Field Manual is the second solo album by Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla, released on January 29, 2008 on Barsuk Records. The album is Walla's first under his own name...

s beginning in 1939. In 1934 Chief of Staff MacArthur ordered a revision of TR 440-15 to restate "the Air Corps's place in the scheme of national defense and...(to do away with)...misconceptions and interbranch prejudices." While calling the revision a "compromise" with airpower advocates, the General Staff reiterated the conclusions of the Baker and Drum Boards,The Drum Board was a panel of five generals formed in August 1933 by the General Staff to oppose recommendations by Air Corps planners for development and expansion to meet defense needs (Tate (1998) pp. 138–139), while the Baker Board was formed after the Air Mail scandal and had as its military members (who controlled the agenda) the five generals of the Drum Board (Tate pp. 143–145). and reasserted its long-held position (and that of the Secretary of War George H. Dern
George Dern
George Henry Dern was an American politician, mining man, and businessman. He is probably best remembered for co-inventing the Holt–Dern ore roasting process, as well as for his tenure as United States Secretary of War from 1933 to his death in 1936. He also served as the sixth Governor of Utah...

)Secretary Dern's characterization in February 1934 of the Air Corps' role as: "subordinated like all other elements, to whatever team it happens to accompany," leaves no doubt as to the Army's position about its purpose. that auxiliary support of the ground forces was the primary mission of the Air Corps. TR 440-15 did acknowledge some doctrinal principles asserted by the ACTS (including the necessity of destroying an enemy's air forces and concentrating air forces against primary objectives) and recognized that future wars would probably entail some missions "beyond the sphere of influence of the Ground Forces" (strategic bombardment), but it also completely ignored prioritization of such targets, weakening its effectiveness as doctrine. The Air Corps in general assented to the changes, as it did to other compromises of the period, as acceptable for the moment. TR 440-15 remained the doctrinal position of the Air Corps until it was superseded by the first Air Corps Field Manual, FM 1–5 Employment of Aviation of the Army, on 15 April 1940.In March 1939 the Secretary of War created an "Air Board" chaired by Arnold and instructed it to submit a recommendation for organization and doctrine of the Air Corps. Its report, submitted to Chief of Staff Marshall on 1 September 1939, represented an Army-wide perspective. It became the basis for FM 1–5, and recognized that the United States was then on the strategic defensive. Its view was conservative and "a considerable attenuation of air doctrine" as espoused by the ACTS. However it did correct the omissions of TR 440-15 and reasserted that centralized control by an airman in any combat role was essential for efficiency. Ironically, Gen. Andrews had by then become Army G-3 and reported to Marshall that the manual "did not endorse the radical theory of air employment". FM 1–5 was followed by supplemental doctrine manuals FM 1–15 Tactics and Technique of Air Fighting (pursuit) on 9 September 1940, FM 1–10 Tactics and Technique of Air Attack (bombardment) on 20 November 1940, FM 1–20 Tactics and Technique of Air Reconnaissance and Observation on 10 February 1941, FM 1–35 Aviation in Support of Ground Forces on 9 April 1942, and FM 1–75 Combat Orders on 16 June 1942. FM 1–5 was itself superseded after just three years by FM 100-20 Command and Employment of Air Power (Field Service Regulations) on 21 July 1943.

In the fall of 1937 the Army War College course on the use of airpower reiterated the General Staff position and taught that airpower was of limited value when employed independently. Using attaché reports from both Spain
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 and Ethiopia
Second Italo-Abyssinian War
The Second Italo–Abyssinian War was a colonial war that started in October 1935 and ended in May 1936. The war was fought between the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy and the armed forces of the Ethiopian Empire...

, and endorsed by a senior Air Corps instructor, Col. Byron Q. Jones (who would shortly transfer back to the Cavalry), the course declared that the Flying Fortress concept had "died in Spain", and that airpower was useful mainly as "long range artillery." Air Corps officers in the G-3 Department of the General Staff pointed out that Jones' conclusions were inconsistent with the revised TR 440-15, but their views were dismissed by the Deputy Chief of Staff with the comment: "No doctrine is sacrosanct, and of all military doctrines, that of the Air Corps should be the last to be so regarded."Former War Plans Division chief Maj. Gen. Stanley Embick was the driving force in cutting back R&D, squelching long range bombers, and referring doctrinal disputes to the Joint Army-Navy Board for resolution. His influence ended the next year when he was replaced as Deputy Chief of Staff by George C. Marshall.

The War Department, seeking to stifle procurement of the B-17, decided that it would develop and order only twin-engined "medium" bombers in fiscal years 1939 and 1940, and refused funding for further experimental development of a very long range (VLR) bomber. In collaboration with the Navy, it placed a moratorium on the long range bomber program in June 1938 by issuing a Joint Board ruling that it could foresee no use for a long range bomber in future conflict. However the moratorium would last only a year, as it went against not only the trends of technological development, but against the geopolitical realities of coming war.

Between 1930 and 1938 the Air Corps had obtained a mission in coastal defense that justified both the creation of a centralized strike force and the development of four-engined bombers, and was lobbying
Lobbying
Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by various people or groups, from private-sector individuals or corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or...

 for another mission, strategic bombardment, with which it could persuasively argue for independence from the Army.

GHQ Air Force

A major step toward creation of a separate air force occurred on 1 March 1935 with the activation of a centralized, air force-level command headed by an aviator answering directly to the Army Chief of Staff
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
The Chief of Staff of the Army is a statutory office held by a four-star general in the United States Army, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, and as such is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the Secretary of the Army; and is in...

. Called the General Headquarters Air Force, the organization had existed in Army planning since 1924 as a subordinate element of Army General Headquarters, which would be activated to control all Army units in case of war mobilization. In anticipation of military intervention Cuba in 1933,A coup styled "the revolt of the sergeants" seized the Cuban military and replaced a provisional government sponsored by the Roosevelt Administration with a junta. Although Roosevelt was disposed to intervention only as a last resort, warnings that he intended to intervene under the Treaty of 1903 were made to the revolutionaries. the headquarters had been created on 1 October but not staffed.Four ground force field army headquarters were established at the same time.

Among the recommendations of the Baker Board, established in the wake of the Air Mail scandal, was that the Air Corps be increased to the 2,320 aircraft-strength proposed by the Drum Board in 1933 and that GHQ Air Force be set up as a permanent peacetime tactical organization, both to ameliorate the pressures for a separate air force and to exploit emerging capabilities in airpower. In the absence of a general headquarters (i.e. peacetime), GHQ Air Force would report to the General Staff. The War Plans Division of the Army reacted to the recommendations of the Baker Board by insisting that men and modern equipment for seven army divisions be procured before any increase in the Air Corps was begun, and opposed any immediate attempt to bring the Air Corps up to the 1,800 plane-strength first authorized in 1926, for fear of antagonizing the Navy.Brig. Gen. Charles E. Kilbourne
Charles E. Kilbourne
Charles Evans Kilbourne was an officer in the United States Army who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Philippine–American War.-Biography:...

, who had been at the core of the General Staff's disputes with the Air Corps and supervised the revision of TR 440-15, authored these suggestions. He also freely espoused his opinion that expansion of the Air Corps was primarily a "selfish" means of promotion for aviators at the expense of the rest of the Army. The authorized strength of 1,800 aircraft had never been reached because of General Staff resistance to the "five-year plan", but was deemed "acceptable" by the War Plans Division for implementation of War Plan Red-Orange. The Air Corps, based on studies of joint exercises held at Key West
Key West, Florida
Key West is a city in Monroe County, Florida, United States. The city encompasses the island of Key West, the part of Stock Island north of U.S. 1 , Sigsbee Park , Fleming Key , and Sunset Key...

, Florida, found the number dangerously inadequate, concluding that 4,459 aircraft was the minimum needed to defend the United States against air attack in the event of War Plan Red-Orange.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 approved an open-ended program to increase strength to 2,320 aircraft (albeit without any proviso for funding) in August 1934, and Secretary Dern approved the activation of GHQ Air Force in December 1934.

GHQ Air Force took control of all combat air units in the United States from the jurisdiction of corps area
Corps area
A Corps area was a geographically-based organizational structure of the United States Army used to accomplish domestic administrative, training and tactical tasks from 1920 to 1942. Each corps area included divisions of the Regular Army, Organized Reserve and National Guard of the United States...

 commanders, where it had resided since 1920, and organized them operationally into a strike force of three wings. The GHQ Air Force remained small in comparison to European air forces. On its first day of existence, the command consisted of 60 bombers, 42 attack aircraft, 146 pursuits, and 24 transports, only 40% of strength in the tables of organization. Administratively it organized the forces into four geographical districts (that later became the first four numbered air forces) that paralleled the four field army headquarters created in 1933.

The General Staff perceived its creation as a means of lessening Air Corps autonomy, not increasing it, however, and GHQ Air Force was a "coordinate component" equal to the Air Corps, not subject to its control. The organizations reported separately to the Chief of Staff, the Air Corps as the service element of the air arm, and GHQAF as the tactical element. However all GHQ Air Force's members, along with members of units stationed overseas and under the control of local ground commanders, remained part of the Air Corps. This dual status and division of authority hampered the development of Air Corps for the next six years, as it had the Air Service during World War I, and was not overcome until the necessity of expanding the force occurred with the onset of World War II. The commanding general of GHQ Air Force, Maj. Gen. Frank M. Andrews
Frank Maxwell Andrews
Frank Maxwell Andrews was a general officer in the United States Army and one of the founding fathers of the United States Air Force. In leadership positions within the Army Air Corps, he succeeded in advancing progress toward a separate and independent Air Force where predecessors and allies...

, clashed philosophically with Westover, who became Chief of Air Corps on 22 December 1935, over the direction in which the air arm was heading, adding to the difficulties, with Andrews in favor of autonomy and Westover espousing subordination to the Army chain of command.Andrews and Westover were both 1906 graduates of West Point, with Andrews graduating one position higher in class standings. Andrews had originally been a cavalryman, and had married into the inner circles in Washington, while Westover, a former infantry officer with the unfortunate nickname of "Tubby," had pursued his career with bulldog-like determination. He had not learned to fly until he was 40 years of age and was a reluctant participant in Washington's social environs, usually depending on his assistant Hap Arnold to fulfill the protocol role. As early as 5 May 1919, in a memo to Director of Air Service Charles Menoher for whom he was assistant executive officer, Westover had demonstrated a loyalty to subordination, urging the relief of Billy Mitchell from his position as Third Assistant Executive (S-3) of the Air Service—along with his division heads—if their advocacy of positions not conforming to Army policy did not cease.

Lines of authority were also difficult as GHQ Air Force controlled only combat flying units within the continental United States. The Air Corps was responsible for training, aircraft development, doctrine, and supply, while the ground forces corps area commanders still controlled installations and the personnel manning them. An example of the difficulties this arrangement imposed on commanders was that while the commander of GHQ Air Force was responsible for the discipline of his command, he had no court martial authority over his personnel, which was retained by the corps area commander. Base commanders of Air Corps installations reported to as many as four different higher echelons.The base commander of Selfridge Field was responsible for various aspects of administration to the CG of GHQAF, the Chief of the Air Corps, the commander of the Sixth Corps Area, and the Chief of the Air Materiel Division.

In January 1936, the AAC contracted with Boeing
Boeing
The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois since 2001...

 for thirteen Y1B-17 Flying Fortress prototypes, enough to equip one squadron for operational testing and a thirteenth aircraft for stress testing, with deliveries made from January to August 1937. The cost of the aircraft disturbed War Department Secretary Harry Woodring, who denied requests for further purchases, so that although the air arm embraced strategic bombing as its primary doctrine after the creation of GHQ Air Force, by 1938 there were still only thirteen on hand. On 18 March 1938 Secretary Woodring approved a plan that included the purchase of 144 additional heavy bombers, but approval was reversed in July following the moratorium against the long-range bomber program issued by the Joint Board.The Woodring Plan (based on the "Balanced Air Corps Program" developed after a two-year War Department study) was another "five-year plan" that called for adding 1,094 aircraft: 144 four-engined bombers, 266 two-engined bombers, 259 attack aircraft, and 425 pursuits, to begin in FY 1940 (July 1939). It was supported by both Andrews and Westover. The purchase of 67 B-17s (five squadrons) in FY 1940 as part of the Woodring program, using carryover funds, was cancelled by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Malin Craig
Malin Craig
Malin Craig was a United States Army general.-Biography:Malin Craig was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, on August 5, 1875; Graduated from the United States Military Academy, 1898; was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the 4th Infantry, April 1898;-Spanish American War:Served with the...

.
The moratorium also resulted from the enmity of the Navy incurred by the Air Corps on 12 May 1938 when it widely publicized the interception of the Italian ocean liner Rex
Interception of the Rex
The interception of the Rex was a training exercise and military aviation achievement of the United States Army Air Corps prior to World War II. The tracking and location of an ocean going vessel by B-17 Flying Fortresses in May 1938 was a major event in the development of a doctrine that led to a...

 by three B-17s while it was 620 miles off-shore of New York City.The distance is commonly stated in error as 725 miles. The Rex was actually that distance offshore on her last position report as the B-17s were taxiing for takeoff. Possibly under pressure from the Navy, General Craig placed a 100-mile limit on all future off-shore flights by the Army, and the services together issued a joint statement reasserting that the mission of the Air Corps in coastal defense was only for supporting the Navy if called upon to do so. Westover, who stridently opposed cancellation of the Woodring program, was killed in an air crash on 21 September 1938 and was succeeded by Maj. Gen. Henry H. Arnold
Henry H. Arnold
Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold was an American general officer holding the grades of General of the Army and later General of the Air Force. Arnold was an aviation pioneer, Chief of the Air Corps , Commanding General of the U.S...

.

Even with the doctrine of strategic bombardment as its priority, the Air Corps belatedly sought to modernize its tactical combat force under GHQ Air Force, bringing into service the Northrop A-17
Northrop A-17
The Northrop A-17, a development of the Northrop Gamma 2F was a two seat, single engine, monoplane, attack bomber built in 1935 by the Northrop Corporation for the US Army Air Corps.-Development and design:...

 and Douglas B-18 Bolo in 1936, the Seversky P-35
Seversky P-35
The Seversky P-35 was a fighter aircraft built in the United States by the Seversky Aircraft Company in the late 1930s. A contemporary of the Hawker Hurricane and Messerschmitt Bf 109, the P-35 was the first single-seat fighter in U.S...

 in 1937, and the Curtiss P-36 in 1938. However all of these aircraft were obsolete by the time they came into service, and development of more modern airplanes continued. By October 1940, over a year before the United States was drawn into the war, every type of piston-driven single-engine fighter eventually used by the USAAF during World War II was in flight test except the P-47. However, the press of the enormous tasks confronting the Air Corps and the primacy of strategic bombing doctrine meant that development of a long-range capability for these new single-engined fighters was not undertaken until combat losses to bombers forced the issue.

Problems with unity of command

General Arnold, at the direction of President Roosevelt in January 1939, oversaw an expansion of the Air Corps that saw it double in size from 15 to 30 groups by the end of 1940. The separation of the combat organization (GHQ Air Force) from the logistic organization (Air Corps) created serious problems of coordination nearly identical to the Division of Military Aeronautics/Bureau of Aircraft Production dual-authority mess of World War I. In March 1939, with the replacement of Gen. Andrews as commander of GHQ Air Force by Maj. Gen. Delos C. Emmons, Arnold was also nominally assigned to "supervise" the tactical force, but divisions were not entirely resolved. On 5 October 1940, Arnold drew up a proposal for creating an air staff, unifying the air arm under one commander, and giving it autonomy with the ground and supply forces—a plan which was eventually adopted in March 1942—and submitted it to Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, but it was immediately opposed by the General Staff in all respects.

Instead, the two organizations were separated again by a directive from Marshall on 19 November 1940. Army GHQ was activated (over five years after the activation of GHQ Air Force) and GHQ AF placed under it. Its logistical and training structure remained under direct control of the chief of staff and its airfields under corps commanders. However Arnold had joined the General Staff
General Staff
A military staff, often referred to as General Staff, Army Staff, Navy Staff or Air Staff within the individual services, is a group of officers and enlisted personnel that provides a bi-directional flow of information between a commanding officer and subordinate military units...

 as acting "Deputy Chief of Staff for Air" on 11 November 1940, a position that enabled him to coordinate the two sections of the air arm until the organizational problems were repaired. Even so, Maj. Gen. George H. Brett
George Brett (military)
George Howard Brett was a United States Army Air Forces General during World War II. An Early Bird of Aviation, Brett served as a staff officer in World War I...

, acting Chief of Air Corps in Arnold's absence, denounced the plan as "disastrous in war".

The problems of lack of unity of command were further exacerbated by the assignment of GHQ Air Force to Army GHQ. General Emmons, who had begun his tour junior to Arnold, was promoted to lieutenant general
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 to make him equal to the commanders of the field armies also controlled by Army GHQ. This forced him to report to and act under an inferior in rank (both Arnold and Brett were major general
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

s). On 20 June 1941, in an attempt to end the divisions, the War Department revised Army Regulation 95-5 to create the Army Air Forces with the Air Corps and GHQAF (the latter redesignated as Combat Command) as its major components, authorized an Air Staff to manage planning and execution of expansion of the air arm, and named Arnold as Chief of the Army Air Forces. It did not, however, end the dual chain of command, as air units of Combat Command still reported to Army GHQ as well as Headquarters AAF.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the role of the Air Corps changed again. On 9 March 1942, War Department Circular 59 abolished Army GHQ and organized the Army into three autonomous components: the Army Air Forces, the Army Ground Forces
Army Ground Forces
The Army Ground Forces were one of the three autonomous components of the Army of the United States during World War II, the others being the Army Air Forces and Army Service Forces. Throughout their existence, Army Ground Forces were the largest training organization ever established in the United...

, and the Services of Supply
Services of Supply
The Services Of Supply or "SOS" branch of the Army of the USA was created on 28 February 1942 by Executive Order Number 9082 "Reorganizing the Army and the War Department" and War Department Circular No. 59, dated 2 March 1942. Services of Supply became one of the three autonomous components of the...

, each with a commanding general reporting to the Chief of Staff. The office of Chief of Air Corps was abolished as well (as was Air Force Combat Command) and the functions of the Air Corps transferred to the AAF, reducing it to a branch (Infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 and the other combatant arms of the line also had their chiefs abolished and functions transferred to the Army Ground Forces). The Congress did not disestablish the Army Air Corps until 26 July 1947, with the passage of the National Security Act of 1947 (61 Stat. 502).

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

New aircraft

The Air Corps tested and employed a profusion of pursuit, observation, and bomber aircraft during its 15-year history. The advent of the all-metal monoplane, enclosed cockpits, retractable landing gear, enclosed bomb bays, and the emergence of strategic bombardment doctrine led to many designs in the mid and late 1930s that were still in use when the United States entered World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Among the key technology items developed were oxygen and cabin pressurization systems, engine supercharger
Supercharger
A supercharger is an air compressor used for forced induction of an internal combustion engine.The greater mass flow-rate provides more oxygen to support combustion than would be available in a naturally aspirated engine, which allows more fuel to be burned and more work to be done per cycle,...

s (systems essential for high-altitude combat), advanced radio communication systems, such as VHF radios, and the Norden bombsight
Norden bombsight
The Norden bombsight was a tachometric bombsight used by the United States Army Air Forces and the United States Navy during World War II, and the United States Air Force in the Korean and the Vietnam Wars to aid the crew of bomber aircraft in dropping bombs accurately...

.

As a further consequence of the Air Mail scandal, the Baker Board reviewed the performance of Air Corps aircraft and recognized that civilian aircraft were far superior to planes developed solely to Air Corps specifications. Following up on its recommendation, the Air Corps purchased and tested a Douglas DC-2
Douglas DC-2
The Douglas DC-2 was a 14-seat, twin-engine airliner produced by the American company Douglas Aircraft Corporation starting in 1934. It competed with the Boeing 247...

 as the XC-32, which subsequently became the flying headquarters of Gen. Andrews. The XC-32 so exceeded Air Corps specifications that 17 were purchased to equip the first operational transport unit, the 10th Transport Group, activated in June 1937 at Patterson Field
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base in Greene and Montgomery counties in the state of Ohio. It includes both Wright and Patterson Fields, which were originally Wilbur Wright Field and Fairfield Aviation General Supply Depot. Patterson Field is located approximately...

 in Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

. In 1939 the Air Corps recognized the importance of modern air transports and purchased 35 DC-2/DC-3
Douglas DC-3
The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft whose speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made...

 hybrids, designated the C-39, the forerunner of the tens of thousands of C-47 Skytrain
C-47 Skytrain
The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota is a military transport aircraft that was developed from the Douglas DC-3 airliner. It was used extensively by the Allies during World War II and remained in front line operations through the 1950s with a few remaining in operation to this day.-Design and...

s that served in World War II.

Notable fighters developed during the late 1930s and early 1940s were the P-39 Airacobra (first flown April 1938), P-40 Tomahawk (October 1938), P-38 Lightning
P-38 Lightning
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was a World War II American fighter aircraft built by Lockheed. Developed to a United States Army Air Corps requirement, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a single, central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament...

 (January 1939), P-51 Mustang
P-51 Mustang
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and in several other conflicts...

 (October 1940), and P-47 Thunderbolt
P-47 Thunderbolt
Republic Aviation's P-47 Thunderbolt, also known as the "Jug", was the largest, heaviest, and most expensive fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single reciprocating engine. It was heavily armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to...

 (May 1941). Bombers developed during this period were the A-20 Havoc (first flown October 1938), B-25 Mitchell
B-25 Mitchell
The North American B-25 Mitchell was an American twin-engined medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation. It was used by many Allied air forces, in every theater of World War II, as well as many other air forces after the war ended, and saw service across four decades.The B-25 was named...

 (January 1939), B-24 Liberator
B-24 Liberator
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and a small number of early models were sold under the name LB-30, for Land Bomber...

 (December 1939), and B-26 Marauder
B-26 Marauder
The Martin B-26 Marauder was a World War II twin-engine medium bomber built by the Glenn L. Martin Company. First used in the Pacific Theater in early 1942, it was also used in the Mediterranean Theater and in Western Europe....

 (November 1940). Except for the B-24, P-47, and P-51, all of these had production deliveries that began before June 1941. Three other long-range bombers began development during this period, though only mock-ups were produced before World War II: B-29 Superfortress
B-29 Superfortress
The B-29 Superfortress is a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber designed by Boeing that was flown primarily by the United States Air Forces in late-World War II and through the Korean War. The B-29 was one of the largest aircraft to see service during World War II...

 (study begun in 1938), B-32 Dominator
B-32 Dominator
The Consolidated B-32 Dominator was a heavy bomber made for United States Army Air Forces during World War II, and has the distinction of being the last Allied aircraft to be engaged in combat during World War II. It was developed in parallel with the Boeing B-29 Superfortress as a fallback design...

 (June 1940), and B-36 Peacemaker (April 1941).

Expansion of the Air Corps

In a special message to Congress on 12 January 1939, President Roosevelt advised that the threat of a new war made the recommendations of the Baker Board inadequate for American defense and requested approval of a "minimum 3,000-plane increase" for the Air Corps.Arnold called this speech the "Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

 of airpower".
Roosevelt's plans were more far-reaching than the speech indicates. At a confidential and historic conference in the White House, Roosevelt met with Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau
Henry Morgenthau
Henry Morgenthau may refer to:* Henry Morgenthau, Sr. , United States diplomat* Henry Morgenthau, Jr. , United States Secretary of the Treasury* Henry Morgenthau, III , author and television producer...

; WPA Chief Harry L. Hopkins; Solicitor General Robert H. Jackson
Robert H. Jackson
Robert Houghwout Jackson was United States Attorney General and an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court . He was also the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials...

; Secretary of War Woodring; Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison
Charles Edison
Charles Edison was son of Thomas Edison to Mina, businessman, Assistant and then United States Secretary of the Navy, and served as the 42nd Governor of New Jersey.-Biography:...

; General Counsel of the Treasury Herman Oliphant
Herman Oliphant
Herman Oliphant was a professor of law. He started at the University of Chicago, going to Columbia University in 1922. Shortly after arriving there, he wrote to the university's president, Nicholas Murray Butler, outlining some plans he had for reorganizing the curriculum of the law school...

; Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Harold R. Stark; Gen. Craig; Gen. Marshall; and Gen. Arnold. He outlined a vigorous and singular call for 10,000 aircraft, but was persuaded by advisers to cut back the number for political reasons. The date of this conference is in dispute. Arnold, from the notes he made on a manila envelope, stated in Global Mission (p. 177, with which Coffey agrees) that it took place on 28 September 1938, while Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

 was preparing to return to Germany to complete the Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

. Other historians, including Gen. John W. Huston, editor of American Airpower Comes of Age: General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold's World War II Diaries, date the meeting as November 14. Huston asserts that the Navy was pointedly excluded from the conference and argues that a number of White House "crisis" conferences were held in October and November, most without written record, and that Arnold confused them, inserting the date (in pencil on an otherwise ink record) in his notes after-the-fact (Huston, Vol. I, pp. 120–121, note 216). Coffey argues that beginning with Roosevelt's weekly press conference of 14 October, the president issued public and private statements that indicated his Air Corps expansion plans were already well underway. William Goss, in his summary for Army Air Forces in World War II, uses 14 November, but concedes that expansion plans were well under way before November, and that Arnold was possibly correct. Because both dates are marked by notable events involving Nazi Germany (the U.S. broke diplomatic relations with Germany on 14 November), the actual date remains unresolved.
On 3 April 1939, Congress allocated the $300 million requested by Roosevelt for expansion of the Air Corps, half of which was dedicated to purchasing planes to raise the inventory from 2,500 to 5,500 airplanes, and the other half for new personnel, training facilities, and bases. In June the Kilner BoardThe Kilner Board, appointed by Arnold, was chaired by Assistant Chief of the Air Corps Brig. Gen. Walter G. "Mike" Kilner, a veteran pursuit pilot and proponent of an independent Air Force. recommended several types of bombers needed to fulfill the Air Corps mission that included aircraft having tactical radii of both 3,000 miles (modified in 1940 to 4,000) and 2,000 miles. Chief of Staff Gen. Craig, long an impediment to Air Corps ambitions but nearing retirement, came around to the Air Corps viewpoint after Roosevelt's views became public. Likewise, the War Department General Staff reversed itself and concurred in the requirements, ending the brief moratorium on bomber development and paving the way for work on the B-29.

Over the winter of 1938–1939, General Arnold transferred a group of experienced officers to his headquarters as an unofficial air staff to lay out a plan that would increase the Air Corps to 50,000 men by June 1941. The expansion program of the Air Corps was characterized by repeated upward revision of goals for increasing the numbers of combat units, aircraft production, training new personnel, and constructing new bases. New combat groups were created by detaching cadres from existing groups to provide the core of the new units, with the older groups providing the basis for an average of three new groups.

The initial 25-Group Program for air defense of the hemisphere, developed in April 1939, called for 50,000 men. Its ten new combat groups were activated on 1 February 1940. Following the successful German invasion of France and the Low Countries
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

 in May 1940, a 54-Group Program was approved on 12 July,Under a program called the First Aviation Objective, the plan called for 4006 combat aircraft, including 498 long range bombers in 14 groups, as well as a substantial increase in pursuit planes and units. although funding approval could not keep pace and an inclusive 41-Group Program was actually implemented, with the additional groups activated on 15 January 1941. An 84-Group Program, with an eventual goal of 400,000 men by 30 June 1942, was approved on 14 March 1941, although not publicly announced until 23 October 1941.The original goals of the Second Aviation Objective were 84 combat groups; 7,799 tactical aircraft; 30,000 new pilots annually; and 100,000 new technical personnel annually.

When war broke out in September 1939 the plan was already halfway to its goal in manpower, but with only 800 first-line combat aircraft. Two-thirds of its officers were second lieutenants whose only flying experience was their flight training. The Air Corps had 17 major installations and four depots, and most of its 76 airfields were co-located at civil airports or were small fields on Army posts.The 21 major bases were Barksdale
Barksdale Air Force Base
Barksdale Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately east-southeast of Bossier City, Louisiana.The host unit at Barksdale is the 2d Bomb Wing , the oldest Bomb Wing in the Air Force. It is assigned to the Air Force Global Strike Command's Eighth Air Force...

, Bolling
Bolling Air Force Base
Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling is a military installation, located in Southeast Washington, D.C., established on 1 October 2010 in accordance with congressional legislation implementing the recommendations of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission...

, Brooks, Chanute
Chanute Air Force Base
Chanute Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force base located south of and adjacent to Rantoul, Illinois, about south of Chicago. Its primary mission throughout its existence was Air Force technical training....

, Hamilton
Hamilton Air Force Base
Hamilton Air Force Base was a United States Air Force base located along the western shore of San Pablo Bay, south of Novato, California.-History:...

, Kelly
Kelly Air Force Base
Kelly Field Annex and is a former United States Air Force facility located in San Antonio, Texas. In 2001, the runway and land west of the runway became "Kelly Field Annex" and control of it was transferred to the adjacent Lackland Air Force Base, part of Joint Base San Antonio...

, Langley, Lowry
Lowry Air Force Base
Lowry Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force base located in the cities of Aurora and Denver, Colorado. Its primary mission throughout its existence was Air Force technical training and was heavily involved with the training of United States Army Air Forces bomber crews during World...

, March, Maxwell
Maxwell Air Force Base
Maxwell Air Force Base , officially known as Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, is a United States Air Force installation under the Air Education and Training Command . The installation is located in Montgomery, Alabama, US. It was named in honor of Second Lieutenant William C...

, McChord, Mitchel, Moffett, Randolph
Randolph Air Force Base
Randolph Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located east-northeast of San Antonio, Texas. The base is under the jurisdiction of the 902d Mission Support Group, Air Education and Training Command ....

, Scott
Scott Air Force Base
Scott Air Force Base is a base of the United States Air Force in St. Clair County, Illinois, near Belleville.-Overview:The base is named after Corporal Frank S. Scott, the first enlisted person to be killed in an aviation crash...

, Selfridge, and Wright Fields
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base in Greene and Montgomery counties in the state of Ohio. It includes both Wright and Patterson Fields, which were originally Wilbur Wright Field and Fairfield Aviation General Supply Depot. Patterson Field is located approximately...

, and the Fairfield
Fairborn, Ohio
Fairborn is a city in Greene County, Ohio, United States, near Dayton and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The population was 32,352 at the 2010 census...

, Middletown
Olmsted Air Force Base
Harrisburg Air National Guard Base is a United States Air Force base, located at Harrisburg International Airport, Pennsylvania. It is located west-southwest of Middletown, Pennsylvania....

, Sacramento
McClellan Air Force Base
McClellan Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force base located in the North Highlands area of Sacramento County, northeast of Sacramento, California...

, and San Antonio Air Depots.
The acceleration of the expansion programs resulted in an Air Corps of 156 airfields and nearly 100,000 men by the end of 1940. Twenty civilian flight schools and eight technical training schools were contracted to provide additional training facilities, and on 10 August 1940, Pan American Airways was contracted to provide meteorological and navigation training at Coral Gables
Coral Gables, Florida
Coral Gables is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, southwest of Downtown Miami, in the United States. The city is home to the University of Miami....

, Florida, until military schools could be established.

Procurement of aircraft remained a significant problem for the Air Corps until the eve of war, because of diversion of production to the Allies. On 16 May 1940, with the fall of France imminent, President Roosevelt delivered an address to Congress calling for a supplemental appropriation of nearly a billion dollars and the manufacture of 50,000 aircraft a year for the armed forces (36,500 of them for the Air Corps). 18 months later the AAF still had only 3,304 combat aircraft (only 1,024 overseas), and 7,024 non-combat aircraft, of which 6,594 were trainers. Its command staff increased in October 1940 to 23 with the addition of 15 new general officer billets.The 15 general officer billets consisted of a lieutenant general, four major generals, and ten brigadier generals.

At this stage, public opinion support of airpower reached unprecedented highs, but General Arnold made a decision to postpone any attempts to exploit the opportunity to push for an independent Air Force. Assured of a free hand by Marshall, Arnold thought that it would "be a serious mistake to change the existing setup" in the midst of the crucial expansion effort.

Army Air Corps, 1 March 1935

SOURCES: Maurer Maurer, Aviation in the U.S. Army, 1919–1939 (Appendix 5), and Air Force Combat Units of World War II, both USAF Historical Research Center

Except for the addition of reconnaissance (formerly observation) squadrons to the three bombardment groups in September 1936, and the May 1937 exchange of the 12th Observation Group (disbanded) for the 10th Transport Group
10th Troop Carrier Group
The 10th Troop Carrier Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the Troop Carrier Command, based at Alliance Army Airfield, Nebraska. It was inactivated on 14 April 1944....

 (activated), the organization of the Air Corps shown here remained essentially unchanged until activation of the first expansion groups on 1 February 1940.

General Headquarters Air Force

(Maj. Gen. Frank M. Andrews, Langley Field, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

)
21st Airship Group, Scott Field
Scott Air Force Base
Scott Air Force Base is a base of the United States Air Force in St. Clair County, Illinois, near Belleville.-Overview:The base is named after Corporal Frank S. Scott, the first enlisted person to be killed in an aviation crash...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

9th Airship Squadron, Scott Field
19th Airship Squadron, Langley Field

1st Wing
1st Bombardment Wing (World War II)
The 1st Bombardment Wing is an inactive United States Army Air Force unit. It was the first wing formed in the reorganized United States Army Air Service, created in August 1919 to control three groups patrolling the border with Mexico after revolution broke out there. Its last assignment was with...


(Brig. Gen. Henry H. Arnold
Henry H. Arnold
Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold was an American general officer holding the grades of General of the Army and later General of the Air Force. Arnold was an aviation pioneer, Chief of the Air Corps , Commanding General of the U.S...

, March Field, California)
7th Bombardment Group, Hamilton Field
Hamilton Air Force Base
Hamilton Air Force Base was a United States Air Force base located along the western shore of San Pablo Bay, south of Novato, California.-History:...

, California
9th
9th Bomb Squadron
The 9th Bomb Squadron is part of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. It operates B-1 Lancer aircraft providing strategic bombing capability...

, 11th
11th Bomb Squadron
The 11th Bomb Squadron is part of the 2d Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. It operates B-52 Stratofortress aircraft providing strategic bombing capability.-Mission:...

, & 31st Bombardment Squadrons
31st Test and Evaluation Squadron
The 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron is a United States Air Force unit, assigned to the 53d Test and Evaluation Group, 53d Wing, Air Combat Command.. It is stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, California....

17th Attack Group
17th Training Group
The 17th Training Group is a component organization of the 17th Training Wing assigned to the United States Air Force Air Education and Training Command. The group is stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas....

, March Field, California
34th
34th Bomb Squadron
The 34th Bomb Squadron is part of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. It operates B-1 Lancer aircraft providing strategic bombing capability.-Mission:...

, 73rd
73d Special Operations Squadron
The 73d Special Operations Squadron is part of the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. It operates MC-130W Dragon Spear aircraft in support of special operations.-History:...

, & 95th Attack Squadrons
95th Reconnaissance Squadron
The 95th Reconnaissance Squadron is a United States Air Force reconnaissance unit based at Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, Nebraska...

19th Bombardment Group, March Field, California
23rd
23d Bomb Squadron
The 23d Bomb Squadron is a United States Air Force unit, assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing. It is stationed at Minot AFB, North Dakota. The mission of the 23BS is to fly the Boeing B-52H Stratofortress long range bomber...

, 30th
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds are the air demonstration squadron of the U.S. Air Force , based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. The squadron tours the United States and much of the world, performing aerobatic formation and solo flying in specially marked USAF jet aircraft...

, 32nd
32d Air Refueling Squadron
The 32d Air Refueling Squadron is part of the 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. It operates the KC-10 Extender aircraft conducting aerial refueling missions.-History:...

, & 72d Bombardment Squadrons (23rd & 72nd BS based in Hawaii)

2nd Wing
2d Bombardment Wing (World War II)
The 2d Bombardment Wing is an inactive organization of the United States Army Air Forces. Its last assignment was with the Continental Air Forces, based at McChord Field, Washington. It was inactivated on 7 November 1945....


(Brig. Gen. H. Conger Pratt, Langley Field, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

)
37th Attack Squadron
37th Bomb Squadron
The 37th Bomb Squadron is part of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. It operates B-1 Lancer aircraft providing strategic bombing capability.-History:...

 (attached to 8th Pursuit Group)
1st Pursuit Group
1st Operations Group
The 1st Operations Group is the flying component of the 1st Fighter Wing, assigned to the USAF Air Combat Command. The group is stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. The 1st Operations Group is the oldest major air combat unit in the United States Air Force, being a successor organization...

, Selfridge Field
Selfridge Field
Selfridge Air National Guard Base or Selfridge ANGB is an Air National Guard installation located in Harrison Township, Michigan, near Mount Clemens.-Units and organizations:...

, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

17th
17th Weapons Squadron
The 17th Weapons Squadron is a United States Air Force unit, assigned to the USAF Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nevada.The squadron traces its lineage to the United States Army Air Service 17th Aero Squadron. The 17th Aero Squadron was activated in August 1917 and earned 13 Campaign Streamers in...

, 27th
27th Fighter Squadron
The 27th Fighter Squadron ' is a United States Air Force unit. It is assigned to the 1st Operations Group and stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia....

 & 94th Pursuit Squadrons
94th Fighter Squadron
The 94th Fighter Squadron ' is a United States Air Force unit. It is assigned to the 1st Operations Group and stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia....

2nd Bombardment Group
2d Operations Group
The 2d Operations Group is the flying component of the United States Air Force 2d Bomb Wing, assigned to the Air Combat Command Eighth Air Force. The group is stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana....

, Langley Field, Virginia
20th
20th Bomb Squadron
The 20th Bomb Squadron is part of the 2d Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. It operates B-52 Stratofortress aircraft providing strategic bombing capability.-Mission:...

, 49th
49th Test and Evaluation Squadron
The 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron is an active United States Air Force unit. Its current assignment is with the 53d Wing, based at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.-Mission:...

, 54th, and 96th Bombardment Squadrons
96th Bomb Squadron
The 96th Bomb Squadron is part of the 2d Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. It operates B-52 Stratofortress aircraft providing strategic bombing capability.-History:...

 (54th detached to Air Corps Tactical School)
8th Pursuit Group, Langley Field, Virginia
33rd
33d Special Operations Squadron
The 33d Special Operations Squadron flies MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned aerial vehicles and is currently stationed at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico. The 33 SOS is under the command of the Air Force Special Operations Command...

, 35th
35th Fighter Squadron
The 35th Fighter Squadron is part of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea.-History:The 35th Fighter Squadron heritage dates back to 12 June 1917, when the unit activated as the 35th Aero Squadron. Originally an aircraft maintenance squadron, the unit served in France from...

 & 36th Pursuit Squadrons
36th Fighter Squadron
The 36th Fighter Squadron is part of the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base, South Korea. It operates the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting air superiority missions.-Mission:...

 (37th Attack Squadron
37th Bomb Squadron
The 37th Bomb Squadron is part of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. It operates B-1 Lancer aircraft providing strategic bombing capability.-History:...

 attached)
9th Bombardment Group, Mitchel Field, New York
1st
1st Reconnaissance Squadron
The 1st Reconnaissance Squadron is a United States Air Force reconnaissance training unit based at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville, California. It is the oldest squadron in the Air Force, and the first organization to be established as a U.S. military flying unit...

, 5th
5th Reconnaissance Squadron
The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron is part of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, California but is geographically separated.-Mission:The 5th Reconnaissance Squadron conducts operations from Osan Air Base, South Korea...

, 14th
14th Bombardment Squadron
The 14th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. The 14th Bomb Squadron fought in the Battle of the Philippines , much of its aircraft being destroyed in combat against the Japanese...

 & 99th Bombardment Squadrons
99th Reconnaissance Squadron
The 99th Reconnaissance Squadron is part of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, California. It operates U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft flying reconnaissance missions around the world.-Mission:...


3rd Wing
98th Bombardment Wing (World War II)
The 98th Bombardment Wing is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the United States Air Force Reserve, based at Bedford Field, Massachusetts...


(Col. Gerald C. Brant, Barksdale Field
Barksdale Air Force Base
Barksdale Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately east-southeast of Bossier City, Louisiana.The host unit at Barksdale is the 2d Bomb Wing , the oldest Bomb Wing in the Air Force. It is assigned to the Air Force Global Strike Command's Eighth Air Force...

, Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

)
3rd Attack Group
3d Wing
The 3d Wing is a unit of the United States Air Force, assigned to the Pacific Air Forces Eleventh Air Force. It is stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska....

, Barksdale Field, Louisiana
8th
8th Special Operations Squadron
The 8th Special Operations Squadron is part of the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida. It operates CV-22 Osprey in support of special operations.-Mission:...

, 13th
13th Bomb Squadron
The 13th Bomb Squadron is an active United States Air Force organization assigned to the 509th Operations Group, stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri...

, & 90th Attack Squadrons
90th Fighter Squadron
The 90th Fighter Squadron is part of the 3d Wing at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. It operates the F-22 Raptor aircraft conducting air superiority missions.-Mission:...

 (51st Attack Squadron detached to Air Corps Tactical School)
20th Pursuit Group, Barksdale Field, Louisiana
55th
55th Fighter Squadron
The 55th Fighter Squadron is part of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. It operates the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting air superiority missions.-World War I:...

, 77th
77th Fighter Squadron
The 77th Fighter Squadron is a squadron of the United States Air Force, and is one of the oldest fighter squadrons in the United States military....

 & 79th Pursuit Squadrons
79th Fighter Squadron
The 79th Fighter Squadron is part of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. It operates the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting air superiority missions.-History:...

 (87th Pursuit Squadron
87th Flying Training Squadron
The 87th Flying Training Squadron is part of the 47th Flying Training Wing based at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. It operates T-38 Talon aircraft conducting flight training.-History:...

 detached to Air Corps Tactical School)


Other flying units

Primary Flying School, Randolph Field
Randolph Air Force Base
Randolph Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located east-northeast of San Antonio, Texas. The base is under the jurisdiction of the 902d Mission Support Group, Air Education and Training Command ....

, Texas
46th, 47th, 52nd, and 53rd School Squadrons

Advanced Flying School, Kelly Field
Kelly Air Force Base
Kelly Field Annex and is a former United States Air Force facility located in San Antonio, Texas. In 2001, the runway and land west of the runway became "Kelly Field Annex" and control of it was transferred to the adjacent Lackland Air Force Base, part of Joint Base San Antonio...

, Texas
40th Attack, 41st Observation
429th Bombardment Squadron
The 429th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the 2d Bombardment Wing, based at Hunter Air Force Base, Georgia. It was inactivated on 1 January 1962.-History:...

, 42nd Bombardment
42d Attack Squadron
The 42d Attack Squadron of the United States Air Force flies MQ-9 Reaper UAVs and is currently based out of Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada. The 42d will oversee the training and combat deployment of aerial vehicle and sensor operators assigned to the new MQ-9 Reaper...

, 43d Pursuit Squadrons
43d Fighter Squadron
The 43d Fighter Squadron is part of the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. It conducts advanced fighter training for F-22 Raptor pilots.-Mission:...

These four squadrons were inactivated on 1 September 1936 and replaced by the 61st through 64th School Squadrons inclusive.
39th School Squadron

Air Corps Technical School, Chanute Field
Chanute Air Force Base
Chanute Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force base located south of and adjacent to Rantoul, Illinois, about south of Chicago. Its primary mission throughout its existence was Air Force technical training....

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

48th Pursuit Squadron
48th Flying Training Squadron
The 48th Flying Training Squadron is part of the 14th Flying Training Wing based at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. It operates T-1 Jayhawk aircraft conducting flight training.-History:...


Air Corps Tactical School
Air Corps Tactical School
The Air Corps Tactical School, also known as ACTS and "the Tactical School", was a military professional development school for officers of the United States Army Air Service and United States Army Air Corps, the first such school in the world. Created in 1920 at Langley Field, Virginia, it...

, Maxwell Field
Maxwell Air Force Base
Maxwell Air Force Base , officially known as Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, is a United States Air Force installation under the Air Education and Training Command . The installation is located in Montgomery, Alabama, US. It was named in honor of Second Lieutenant William C...

, Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

51st Attack, 54th Bombardment, 86th Observation
43d Electronic Combat Squadron
The 43d Electronic Combat Squadron is a component of the United States Air Force 355th Operations Group, stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.-Overview:...

, 87th Pursuit Squadrons
87th Flying Training Squadron
The 87th Flying Training Squadron is part of the 47th Flying Training Wing based at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. It operates T-38 Talon aircraft conducting flight training.-History:...


Rockwell Air Depot, Rockwell Field
Rockwell Field
Rockwell Field was an Army air base located in Coronado, California, near San Diego. It shared the area known as North Island with Naval Air Station North Island from 1912 to 1935. Its functions were eventually moved to March Field so that the naval air station could take over the whole area...

, California
4th Transport Squadron (Activated 8 July 1935)

Second Corps Area, United States Army, Mitchel Field, New York
97th Observation Squadron

Sixth Corps Area, United States Army, Scott Field
Scott Air Force Base
Scott Air Force Base is a base of the United States Air Force in St. Clair County, Illinois, near Belleville.-Overview:The base is named after Corporal Frank S. Scott, the first enlisted person to be killed in an aviation crash...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

15th Observation Squadron (Attached)

Eighth Corps Area, United States Army, Fort Sam Houston
Fort Sam Houston
Fort Sam Houston is a U.S. Army post in San Antonio, Texas.Known colloquially as "Fort Sam," it is named for the first President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston....

, Texas
12th Observation Group
12th Observation Group
The 12th Observation Group is an inactive United States Army unit. It was last assigned to the Eighth Corps Area, United States Army, stationed at Brooks Field, Texas. It was disbanded on 30 June 1937....

, Brooks Field
Brooks Field
Brooks Field may refer to:* Brooks City-Base, formerly Brooks Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas, USA.* Brooks Field , a football stadium in Golden, Colorado, USA....

, Texas
12th Observation Squadron
22d Observation Squadron
88th Observation Squadron

Ninth Corps Area, United States Army, Crissy Field
Crissy Field
Crissy Field is a former airfield, now a part of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in San Francisco, California, United States. Historically a part of the Presidio of San Francisco, Crissy Field was closed as an airfield and eventually the National Park Service took control over it...

, California
91st Observation Squadron


Overseas units

4th Composite Group, Clark Field, Luzon
Luzon
Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines. It is located in the northernmost region of the archipelago, and is also the name for one of the three primary island groups in the country centered on the Island of Luzon...

2nd Observation
2d Air Refueling Squadron
The 2d Air Refueling Squadron is a unit of the United States Air Force. It is part of the 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. It operates the KC-10 Extender aircraft conducting aerial refueling missions....

, 3d Pursuit
3d Flying Training Squadron
The 3d Fighter Training Squadron is part of the 71st Operations Group under the 71st Flying Training Wing. It operates the T-38 Talon aircraft conducting flight training.-Mission:...

 & 28th Bombardment Squadrons
28th Bomb Squadron
The 28th Bomb Squadron is part of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. It operates B-1 Lancer aircraft providing strategic bombing capability...


18th Composite Wing
(Lt. Col. Delos Emmons, Fort Shafter
Fort Shafter
Fort Shafter is in Honolulu CDP, City and County of Honolulu, Hawai‘i, extending up the interfluve between Kalihi and Moanalua valleys, as well as onto the coastal plain at Māpunapuna. Fort Shafter is the headquarters of the United States Army Pacific Command, the MACOM of U.S. Army forces in...

, Hawaii)
5th Composite Group, Luke Field
Ford Island
Ford Island is located in the middle of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It is connected to the main island by the Ford Island Bridge. Before the bridge was built, Ford Island could only be reached by a ferry boat which ran at hourly intervals for cars and foot passengers. The island houses several naval...

, Hawaii
26th Attack
26th Space Aggressor Squadron
The 26th Space Aggressor Squadron is a unit of the United States Air Force located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. It is part of the 926th Group and is the Reserve Associate of the 527th Space Aggressor Squadron....

, 4th
394th Combat Training Squadron
The 394th Combat Training Squadron is a United States Air Force unit, assigned to the 509th Operations Group. It is stationed at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. The mission of the squadron is to train B-2 Spirit Aircrews.-History:...

 & 50th Observation Squadron
50th Education Squadron
The 50th Education Squadron is a training squadron of the United States Air Force. It is currently stationed at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado.-World War I :...

s (23d
23d Bomb Squadron
The 23d Bomb Squadron is a United States Air Force unit, assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing. It is stationed at Minot AFB, North Dakota. The mission of the 23BS is to fly the Boeing B-52H Stratofortress long range bomber...

, 72d BS
72d Test and Evaluation Squadron
The 72d Test and Evaluation Squadron is part of the 53d Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The squadron is geographically separated but operated from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri...

 attached)
18th Pursuit Group
18th Wing
The United States Air Force's 18th Wing is the host wing for Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan and is the Air Force’s largest combat wing. It is the largest and principal organization in the Pacific Air Forces Fifth Air Force....

, Wheeler Field, Hawaii
6th
6th Night Fighter Squadron
The 6th Night Fighter Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with Seventh Air Force, being inactivated at Wheeler Field, Hawaii on February 20, 1947....

, 19th Pursuit Squadrons
19th Fighter Squadron
The 19th Fighter Squadron is part of the 15th Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.-Mission:The 19th FS operates the F-22 Raptor aircraft conducting strategic attack, interdiction, offensive counterair , suppression of enemy air defenses, as well as offensive and defensive counterair ...


19th Composite Wing
(Lt. Col. William C. McChord, Albrook Field
Albrook Air Force Base
Albrook Air Force Station is a former United States Air Force facility in Panama. It was closed on 30 September 1997 as a result of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties which specified that United States military facilities in the former Panama Canal Zone be closed and the facilities be turned over to the...

, Panama Canal Zone
Panama Canal Zone
The Panama Canal Zone was a unorganized U.S. territory located within the Republic of Panama, consisting of the Panama Canal and an area generally extending 5 miles on each side of the centerline, but excluding Panama City and Colón, which otherwise would have been partly within the limits of...

)
6th Composite Group, Albrook Field, Canal Zone
25th Bombardment
25th Space Range Squadron
The United States Air Force's 25th Space Range Squadron is a space control unit located at Schriever AFB, Colorado. 25 SRS operates the Space Test and Training Range .-Mission:...

, 7th
397th Bombardment Squadron
The 397th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the VI Bomber Command, based at Rio Hato Army Air Base, Panama. It was inactivated on 1 November 1946.-Heraldry:...

 & 44th Observation Squadrons
430th Bombardment Squadron
The 430th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the 502d Bombardment Group, based at Northwest Field, Guam. It was inactivated on 15 April 1946.-History:...

16th Pursuit Group, Albrook Field, Canal Zone
24th
24th Fighter Squadron
The 24th Fighter Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the 6th Fighter Wing, based at France Field, Canal Zone...

, 29th
29th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
The 29th Training Systems Squadron is an active United States Air Force unit. Its assignment is with the 53d Test Management Group, based at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.-Overview:...

, 74th
74th Bombardment Squadron
The 74th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the 106th Bombardment Wing, based at March Air Force Base, California...

 & 78th Pursuit Squadrons
78th Reconnaissance Squadron
The 78th Reconnaissance Squadron is part of the Tenth Air Force, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. The 78 RS conducts operations from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada in conjunction with their active-duty associates in the Air Force Warfare Center.-Mission:The mission of the...


Annual strength

Strength as of 30 June of each year
Year Strength Year Strength Year Strength
1927 9,979 1932 14,650 1937 18,572
1928 10,518 1933 14,817 1938 20,196
1929 12,080 1934 15,621 1939 22,387
1930 13,305 1935 15,945 1940 51,185
1931 14,485 1936 16,863 1941 152,125

Chiefs of Air Corps

  • Maj. Gen. Mason M. Patrick
    Mason Patrick
    Mason Mathews Patrick was a U.S. Army general and air power advocate.Patrick was born in Lewisburg, West Virginia and graduated from West Point in 1886. For three years he was at the Engineer School of Application, Willets Point, New York, graduating in 1889...

    , 2 July 1926 – 13 December 1927
  • Maj. Gen. James E. Fechet, 14 December 1927 – 19 December 1931
  • Maj. Gen. Benjamin D. Foulois
    Benjamin Foulois
    Benjamin Delahauf Foulois , was a United States Army general who learned to fly the first military planes purchased from the Wright Brothers. He became the first military aviator as an airship pilot, and achieved numerous other military aviation "firsts"...

    , 20 December 1931 – 21 December 1935
  • Maj. Gen. Oscar M. Westover
    Oscar Westover
    Oscar M. Westover was a major general and fourth chief of the United States Army Air Corps.-Biography:He was born in Bay City, Michigan and enlisted in the Army when he was 18. He began his service as a private in 1901 before being appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point...

    , 22 December 1935 – 21 September 1938
  • Maj. Gen. Henry H. Arnold
    Henry H. Arnold
    Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold was an American general officer holding the grades of General of the Army and later General of the Air Force. Arnold was an aviation pioneer, Chief of the Air Corps , Commanding General of the U.S...

    , 29 September 1938 – 20 June 1941
  • Maj. Gen. George H. Brett
    George Brett (military)
    George Howard Brett was a United States Army Air Forces General during World War II. An Early Bird of Aviation, Brett served as a staff officer in World War I...

    , 20 June 1941 – 9 March 1942

See also

  • Air Corps Tactical School
    Air Corps Tactical School
    The Air Corps Tactical School, also known as ACTS and "the Tactical School", was a military professional development school for officers of the United States Army Air Service and United States Army Air Corps, the first such school in the world. Created in 1920 at Langley Field, Virginia, it...

  • List of military aircraft of the United States
  • United States Army Air Service
    United States Army Air Service
    The Air Service, United States Army was a forerunner of the United States Air Force during and after World War I. It was established as an independent but temporary wartime branch of the War Department by two executive orders of President Woodrow Wilson: on May 24, 1918, replacing the Aviation...

  • United States Army Air Forces
    United States Army Air Forces
    The United States Army Air Forces 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....

  • Bird of Paradise (aircraft)
    Bird of Paradise (aircraft)
    The Bird of Paradise was a military airplane used by the United States Army Air Corps in 1926-1927 to experiment with air navigation by the use of radio beacon aids. On June 28–29, 1927, the Bird of Paradise, crewed by 1st Lt. Lester J. Maitland and 1st Lt. Albert F...

  • Question Mark (aircraft)
    Question Mark (aircraft)
    The Question Mark was a modified Atlantic-Fokker C-2A airplane flown by aviators of the United States Army Air Corps to experiment with aerial refueling in 1929. It was used to establish new world records in aviation for sustained flight , refueled flight, sustained flight , and distance...

  • Interception of the Rex
    Interception of the Rex
    The interception of the Rex was a training exercise and military aviation achievement of the United States Army Air Corps prior to World War II. The tracking and location of an ocean going vessel by B-17 Flying Fortresses in May 1938 was a major event in the development of a doctrine that led to a...

  • United States Army Aviation Branch
    United States Army Aviation Branch
    The Aviation Branch of the United States Army is the administrative organization within the Army responsible for doctrine, manning and configuration for all aviation units....

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