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AAF Established

Boeing B-17Bs at Marshall Field, Calif., prior to Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Boeing B-17Bs at Marshall Field, Calif., prior to Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Air Force photo)

P-39Cs on the ramp at a civilian airfield. (U.S. Air Force photo)

P-39Cs on the ramp at a civilian airfield. (U.S. Air Force photo)

With the expansion of the Army's air arm, it became increasingly evident that there was an urgent need for closer cooperation between its two independent elements, the Air Corps (responsible for materiel and training functions) and the Air Force Combat Command (responsible for operational functions), formerly the GHQ Air Force. As a result, the Army Air Forces was created on June 20, 1941, to provide a unity of command over the Air Corps and Air Force Combat Command. Maj. Gen. H.H. "Hap" Arnold was designated its chief.

By December 1941, the AAF had grown to 354,000 men (of whom 9,000 were pilots) as compared to 26,000 men (of whom 2,000 were pilots) in September 1939. However, it had but 2,846 airplanes, of which only 1,157 were considered suitable for combat. The situation of April 1917 was being repeated -- U.S. flyers were soon to be called upon to combat enemy flyers having superior weapons, either in quantity or quality, or both.

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Related Fact Sheets
General Headquarters Air Force
Gen. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold
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