Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

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USAF Established

An Independent Air Force


On July 26, 1947, President Harry S. Truman used this pen to sign the National Security Act of 1947 while aboard the Douglas VC-54C Sacred Cow, the first dedicated presidential aircraft. This act officially established the United States Air Force as a separate and co-equal branch of the United States Armed Forces.


The U.S. Air Force’s quest for independence was a long and often contentious struggle between air-minded officers and the entrenched Army and Navy bureaucracy. The creation of an independent air arm, crucial to national defense, had been championed for decades by a succession of Army Air Corps and Army Air Forces senior leaders. American air dominance in World War II and careful post-war organizational planning by Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold demonstrated to America’s political leaders the effectiveness of air power in the atomic age and the need for an independent Air Force.


President Truman, by signing this act into law, validated the hard work and sacrifice of thousands of dedicated Airmen who worked to create the most powerful air force in the world.


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Find Out More
Related Fact Sheets
Douglas VC-54C Sacred Cow
National Security Act of 1947
Other Resources
The Struggle for Air Force Independence, 1943-1947 (Provided by AFHSO)
Toward Independence: The Emergence of the U.S. Air Force, 1943-1947 (Provided by AFHSO)