The 8th Army Air Force ( 8th A.A.F. ) was established as VIII Bomber Command on January 19th, 1942, and activated at Langley Field ( Virginia, United States ) on February 1st. It was reassigned to Savannah Army Air Base ( Georgia, United States ) on February 10th, 1942.
An advanced detachment of VIII Bomber Command was established at R.A.F. Daws Hill ( near High Wycombe and Flackwell Heath, Buckinghamshire, England ), near R.A.F. Bomber Command Headquarters, on February 23rd, in preparation for its units to arrive in the United Kingdom from the United States. The first combat group of VIII Bomber Command to arrive in the United Kingdom was the ground echelon of the 97th Bombardment Group, which arrived at R.A.F. Polebrook and R.A.F. Grafton Underwood ( both located in Northamptonshire, England ) on June 9th, 1942.
The VIII Bomber Command launched its first raid in Northwestern Europe on July 4th, 1942, when A - 20 Bostons from the 15th Bombardment Squadron attacked several airfields in the Netherlands. Regular combat operations by the VIII Bomber Command began on August 17th, 1942, when the 340th Bombardment Squadron( 97th Bombardment Group ) flew twelve B - 17Ds led by Paul W. Tibbets Jr. ( 1915 - 2007 ), attacking the Rouen - Sotteville marshalling yards ( Normandy, France ). Known as " The Mighty Eighth ", the 8th A.A.F. carried out daytime strategic bombing operations in Western Europe from airfields in eastern England.
On February 22nd, 1944, a massive reorganisation of American airpower took place in Europe. VIII Bomber Command, redesignated as the 8th A.A.F., and the 9th A.A.F. were assigned to the United States Strategic Air Forces ( U.S.S.T.A.F. ). During the last week of February 1944, " Operation Argument " ( known as " Big Week " ) was launched in order to attack aircraft factories ( mostly fighter aircraft plants ) in Nazi Germany. Less than a week after, the 8th A.A.F. made its first attack on the Reich's capital, Berlin. This was the first major daylight bombing raid on the city. On May 13th, 1944, the 8th A.A.F. started to strike at oil industry targets.
On D - Day ( June 6th, 1944 ), over 2,300 sorties were flown by the 8th A.A.F. heavy bombers in the Normandy and Cherbourg invasion areas, all aimed at neutralising enemy coastal defenses and front - line troops. On April 25th, 1945, the 8th A.A.F. flew its last full - scale mission of the European War. B - 17s hit the Škoda armaments factory at Pilsen ( Plzeň, formerly in Czechoslovakia, now in Czech Republic ), while B - 24s bombed rail complexes in Bad Reichenhall and Freilassing, surrounding Adolf Hitler's mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden ( Bavaria, Germany ).
Following the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, plans were made to transfer some of the B - 17 / B - 24 Heavy Bomber Groups of the 8th A.A.F. to the Pacific Theatre of Operations and upgrade them to B - 29 Superfortress Very Heavy ( V.H. ) Bomb Groups. The atomic bombings of Japan led to the Japanese surrender before " The Mighty Eighth " saw action. The 8th A.A.F. remained in Okinawa ( Japan ) until June 7th, 1946.
During the following decades, the new 8th Air Force ( A.F. ) took part in the Korean War ( 1950 - 1953 ), the Vietnam War ( 1965 - 1975, the United States involvement ), several key operations ( 1980s ) and the Gulf War ( 1991 ).
Under Air Force Global Strike Command ( A.F.G.S.C. ) since February 1st, 2010, the 8th A.F. controls strategic bomber forces throughout the United States and overseas locations. The 8th A.F. carries out its warfighting missions under United States Strategic Command ( U.S.STRAT.COM. ) and the air component commands of the other regional Unified Combatant Commands ( C.C.M.D. ).
( source : Wikipedia )