U.S.A.A.F. Enlisted Men's Peaked Cap
The roots of the Army Air Forces arose in the formulation of theories of strategic bombing at the Air Corps Tactical School that gave new impetus to arguments for an independent air force, beginning with those espoused by Brigadier General William L. " Billy " Mitchell ( 1879 - 1936 ) that led to his later court - martial ( 1925 ).
A major step toward a separate air force came in March 1935, when command of all combat air units within the Continental United States ( C.O.N.U.S. ) was centralised under a single organisation called the " General Headquarters Air Force ". Activation of G.H.Q. Air Force represented a compromise between strategic airpower advocates and ground force commanders who demanded that the Air Corps mission remain tied to that of the land forces.
From a study made by Major General Henry H. " Hap " Arnold ( Chief of the Air Corps, 1886 - 1950 ), a proposal was made - on October 5th, 1940 - for creation of an air staff, unification of the air arm under one commander, and equality with the ground and supply forces. It was immediately opposed by the General Staff. G.H.Q. Air Force instead was assigned to the control of Army General Headquarters, although the latter was a training and not an operational component, when it was activated in November 1940.
On June 20th, 1941, the War Department revised the Army Regulation governing the organisation of Army Aviation : AR 95 - 5. The Army Air Forces ( A.A.F. ) gained the formal " Air Staff " long opposed by the General Staff, and a single air commander, but still did not have equal status with the Army ground forces. Soon after the surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor ( Hawaii, United States ) on December 7th, 1941, " Hap " Arnold was given a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff ( J.C.S. ).
The A.A.F. consisted of three major components : Headquarters A.A.F., Air Force Combat Command and the Air Corps. Despite further reorganisations, the wartime structure remained essentially unchanged for the remainder of hostilities. When the war broke out ( September 1st, 1939 ), the Air Corps still had only 800 first - line combat aircraft and 76 bases, including 21 major installations and depots. American fighter aircraft were inferior to their British and German counterparts, until the introduction of the P - 47 Thunderbolt, the P - 38 Lightning and the P - 51 Mustang. During the war, the A.A.F. launched a strategic bombing offensive in support of the R.A.F. against Germany, supported the ground forces in the Mediterranean and European theatres, supported the aircraft carriers across the Central Pacific, assisted Allied forces in Burma and China, and dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
At the end of the war, the A.A.F. had 63,715 aircraft ( all types ), around 783 home airfields ( wartime peak in 1943 ), 634 overseas airfields and 1,377 installations. The military personnel strength rose to 2,253,182, and more than 420,000 civilian personnel were employed by the A.A.F.
The U.S.A.A.F. became an independent force in September 1947, known as the United States Air Force ( U.S.A.F. ).
( source : Wikipedia )