U.S. Military History: The Formation of the U.S. Air Force

The United States Air Force became its own branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on September 18, 1947, when the National Security Act of 1947 was implemented. However, the history of the Air Force dates back to 40 years earlier. On August 1, 1907, the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps was founded and represented the first United States Military group that involved and included aircraft. 

The Aeronautical Division “took charge of all matters pertaining to military air ballooning, air machines and all kindred subjects.” The Signal Corps tested their first airplane on August 20, 1908. Over the following years, the Aeronautical Division continued to develop and test aircraft. In 1914, the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps picked up where the Aeronautical Division left off. After the 4-day establishment and dissolution of the Division of Military Aeronautics in May 1918 during World War I, the Air Service, U.S. Army was established as a temporary branch of the United States War Department. 

After WWI ended, the Army Reorganization Act of 1920 placed the Air Service back as an arm of the Army. The 1920’s were a largely uneventful period for what would become the Air Force, aside from the Air Corps Act of 1926 changing the name from the Air Service to the Air Corps where it remained under the authority of the Army. By 1938, the Air Corps consisted of 15 groups and three wings. Those numbers doubled by the end of 1940 under President Roosevelt’s direction.

In 1941, in an effort to allow for easier growth and expansion, the Army Air Forces was created. The Air Forces proved to be a crucial and significant piece of the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII. The Army Air Force numbers skyrocketed from 400,000 in June 1942 to more than 2,253,000 in 1945. At the conclusion of the war, it was acknowledged that it was time to let the Army Air Force obtain the independence it often demonstrated throughout WWII. Therefore, when the National Security Act of 1947 became law, it officially established the Air Force as a separate branch of the American military. The Air Force has operated independently since then, and most recently, was directed to be the overseeing branch of the newly created Space Force. 

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Posted on September 14 2020 in Blog

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