Real War Photos
Fly on bombing runs in the 'Flying Fortress'
of the United States Air Force during WWII
by way of Real War Photos!
Click here to go to the new Real War Photos Galleries to view, purchase
and download photos.
The likelihood of U.S. participation in World War II prompted the most radical reorganization of the aviation branch in its history, developing a structure that gave it total autonomy by March 1942. On June 20, 1941, under a revision by the United States Department of War of Army Regulation 95-5, Major General Henry H. Arnold, then Chief of the Air Corps, assumed the title of Chief of Army Air Forces, creating an echelon of command over all military aviation components. The AAF was directly under the orders of the Chief of Staff of the Army, General George C. Marshall.
Arnold and Marshall agreed that the AAF would enjoy autonomy within the War Department until the end of the war, while its commanders would cease lobbying for independence. Marshall, a strong proponent of airpower, left understood that the Air Force would likely achieve its independence after the war. Soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, in recognition of importance of the role of the Army Air Forces, Arnold was given a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the planning staff that served as the focal point of American strategic planning during the war, so that the United States would have an air representative in staff talks with their British counterparts on the Combined Chiefs, and in effect gained equality with Marshall. While this step was never officially recognized by the United States Navy, and was bitterly disputed behind the scenes at every opportunity, it nevertheless succeeded as a pragmatic foundation for the future separation of the Air Force.
GHQ Air Force was replaced by the Air Force Combat Command, and its four geographical districts were converted in January 1941 into numbered air forces, with a subordinate organization of 54 groups. Organizationally, the Army Air Forces was created as a higher commend echelon encompassing both Air Force Combat Command and the Army Air Corps, thus bringing all of the air arm under a centralized command for the first time. Yet these reforms were only temporary, lasting just nine months as the air arm streamlined in preparation for war, with a goal of centralized planning and decentralized execution of operations.Executive Order 9082 changed Arnold's title to "Commanding General, Army Air Forces" on March 9, 1942, making him co-equal with the commanding generals of the new Army Ground Forces and Services of Supply, the other two parts of the Army of the United States. War Department Circular No. 59 reorganized the Army Air Forces, disbanding the Combat Command (formerly GHQAF) and changing the Air Corps to a non-organizational combat arm, eliminating their layer of command. Replacing them were eleven numbered air forces (later raised to sixteen) and six major commands (which became eight in January 1943: Flying Training, Technical Training, Troop Carrier, Air Transport, Materiel, Air Service, Proving Ground, and Anti-Submarine Commands). In July 1943 Flying Training and Technical Training Commands merged into a single Training Command.
As a result of its exponential growth during World War II, the Army Air Forces became the world's largest and most powerful air force. The expansion from the Air Corps of 1939, with 20,000 men and 2,320 planes (a limit set in 1934), to the autonomous AAF of 1944, with almost 2.4 million personnel and 80,000 aircraft, was a remarkable feat. Robert A. Lovett, the Assistant Secretary of War for Air, together with Arnold, presided over an increase of personnel and equipment greater than for either the ground Army or the Navy, while at the same time dispatching combat air forces to theaters of war all over the globe.
To purchase catalogs go to PayPal. Click here to go to the new Real War Photos Galleries to view, purchase and download photos.
AF1260 9th Air Force - Sgt. E.P. McSwain, mechanic of York, South Carolina, and T/Sgt. Neal C. Colbert, crew chief from Lakeland, Florida, clean the glass enclosure of the Northrop P-61 Black Widow "WABASH Cannon 0- Ball IV", night fighter, France. 27 Sept, 1944. Photo courtesy of NARA.
AF1264 WWII B-24 "Flying Crusader" in flight, side view. Photo courtesy of NARA.
AF1413 8th Air Force - Lead crew on bombing mission to Kleinostheim Germany, in front of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, 354th Bomb Sqd, 303rd Bomb Group, England. 11/10/44. Photo courtesy of NARA.
AF1423 8th Air Force/324th Bomb Sqd, 91st - Lt. T.C. Martin and crew of the 324th Bomb Sqd., 91st Bomb Group beside and Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Rhapsody in Red", England. Photo courtesy of NARA.
Call, write or email uswith your area of interest or special request and we'll forward via U.S. Mail a free custom catalog complete with 'thumbnail- sized' photos to see what you are ordering, plus descriptions, dates and an order form.