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    This is a collection of articles covering events and people from the World War II era.


    By Rebecca Grant
    The legendary airman accomplished a signature achievement in the skies over Europe.       
     
    Roosevelt Builds the Arsenal
    By John T. Correll
    FDR was the guiding force for wartime mobilization. He was also part of the problem.   
     
    Tinian’s Atomic Bombers
    Photos via Warren E. Thompson
    The supersecret mission required preparation and practice runs.  
      
    War Over the Fjords
    By Phillip S. Meilinger
    The 1940 Norway campaign showed how modern warfare would require airpower and joint operations.
       

    The Mustangs of Iwo
    By Barrett Tillman
    The P-51 pilots out of Iwo Jima had to fly 1,500 miles over water to protect B-29s over Japan for less than an hour.

    The Condor Legion
    By John T. Correll
    In the Spanish Civil War, the Luftwaffe practiced for World War II.

    Air Dominance From Normandy to the Bulge
    By Richard P. Hallion
    With control of the skies, the Army Air Forces relentlessly pounded the Germans.

    Churchill’s Southern Strategy
    By John T. Correll
    The D-Day invasion was forced on a reluctant Churchill by the Americans.

    The Forgotten Fifteenth
    By Barrett Tillman
    The goal was to take advantage of good weather and proximity to the Romanian oil fields. Fifteenth Air Force found the going tougher than expected.

    The Muddled Legend of Yalta
    By John T. Correll
    The ill-fated Big Three summit is bigger in symbolic meaning than it was in actual achievement.

    The Winter War
    By Richard P. Hallion
    “So many Russians! Where will we bury them all?”

    The Moon Squadrons
    By John T. Correll
    Under cover of darkness, British Lysanders flew Allied agents into and out of occupied France.

    Early Atomic Air
    By Phillip S. Meilinger
    The airmen charged with delivering nuclear weapons were often kept in the dark about the revolutionary weapons.

    The B-29’s Battle of Kansas
    By Walter J. Boyne
    Boeing and the Air Force struggled to build B-29s and train their crews in time for the planned offensive against Japan.

    The B-52 Gunners
    By Peter Grier
    Few know it now, but enlisted gunners protected B-52 bombers through the 1991 Gulf War.

    How Bombers Defeated Japan
    By Phillip S. Meilinger
    The Strategic Bombing Survey authoritatively determined that the B-29 campaign played a decisive role in Japan’s surrender.

    The USSBS’ Eye on Europe
    By Phillip S. Meilinger
    The US Strategic Bombing Survey chronicled a cascading, cata­clysmic failure throughout the German economy. This spelled doom for the Nazi war effort.

    Milton’s Climb
    By Walter J. Boyne
    In 1933, T. R. Milton enlisted as an Army private. Ten years later, the future four-star general was leading daring bombing raids against some of the toughest targets in Germany.

    Near Failure at Nagasaki
    By John T. Correll
    The first atomic mission was executed perfectly. On the second one, almost everything went wrong.

    The Prescient Planners of AWPD-1
    By Phillip S. Meilinger
    In nine days during July 1941, air war planners on Hap Arnold’s staff put together a bold plan for the defeat of Germany.

    The High Intensity Life of Patrick Fleming
    By Walter J. Boyne
    By the time he died at 38 in the very first B-52 crash, Fleming had served impressive careers in both the Air Force and Navy.

    The Battle of Midway
    By Barrett Tillman
    World War II sea power required airpower. At Midway, the US sent four Japanese carriers to the bottom of the Pacific.

    The Real Twelve O’Clock High
    By John T. Correll
    The classic motion picture is not as fictional as you might think.

    The Last of the Dive-bombers
    By Walter J. Boyne
    The Army Air Forces turned to dive-bombers for accuracy, but the A-24 Banshee found itself in the wrong places at the wrong times.

    One-Man Air Force
    By Rebecca Grant
    For 30 minutes, James H. Howard single-handedly fought off marauding German fighters to defend the B-17s of 401st Bomb Group. For that, he received the Medal of Honor.
       


    Atomic Mission
    By John T. Correll
    The crew of the Enola Gay guessed—but had not been told—what the weapon in its bomb bay was.

    Omar Bradley's View of Airpower
    By Rebecca Grant
    The commander of the 12th Army Group didn’t need wild declarations about how airpower helped win the war in Europe. The results spoke for themselves.

    Weyland’s Wars
    By Walter J. Boyne
    In Europe and Korea, Gen. Otto Weyland showed how airpower should support the ground forces.

    Penny Packets, Then and Now
    By Rebecca Grant
    Breaking up airpower into smaller, ground-controlled units was a bad idea in World War II. It hasn’t gotten better with age.

    The Question of What to Target
    By Phillip S. Meilinger
    In the quandaries of World War II, one finds the origins of Operations Research.

    The Longest Mission
    By Charles A. Jones
    The crew of the B-29 Double Trouble had some odd moments on a flight fraught with dangers.

    The Cost of Schweinfurt
    By John T. Correll
    One of every five B-17s that set out from England was lost.

    Commander and Chief
    By Herman S. Wolk
    FDR and Hap Arnold frequently clashed, but their partnership brought about the mighty Army Air Forces.

    Silver Bullet Blunder
    By Walter J. Boyne
    Imperial Japan committed a startling number of airpower stupidities.

    The Air Invasion of Burma
    By John T. Correll
    The task for the US air commandos was to insert Orde Wingate and his Chindits far behind enemy lines and support them against Japanese forces.

    Over the Hump to China
    By John T. Correll
    Every bomb, bullet, and gallon of gas—to say nothing of Army mules and at least one piano—had to be flown over the Himalayas from India.

    But What About the Air Corps?
    By John T. Correll
    The nation’s air arm in World War II was the Army Air Forces. However, there’s more to the story.

    The Invasion That Didn’t Happen
    By John T. Correll
    Before the atomic bombs brought an end to the war, US troops were set for massive amphibious landings in the Japanese home islands.

    Doolittle’s Raid
    By John T. Correll
    The aircraft came from Shangri-La, or so the President said.

    The Matterhorn Missions
    By John T. Correll
    The B-29 was rushed into production and sent to India to strike at Japan through staging bases in China.

    Making the H-Bomb
    By Herman S. Wolk
    The nation was divided about the thermonuclear weapon, but Truman concluded, “We have no choice.”

    Forceful “Argument”
    By Walter J. Boyne
    In the famous “Big Week” bombing campaign, America’s crushing advantage was leadership.

    Goering’s Big Bungle
    By Walter J. Boyne
    The Luftwaffe chief must take the blame for the momentous Me 262 screwup.

    Daylight Precision Bombing
    By John T. Correll
    A basic belief of the Army Air Forces was severely tested in the skies over Germany and Japan.

    The Stuka Terror
    By Rebecca Grant
    Germany’s shrieking Ju 87 dive bomber lingered in the mind as a truly dreaded air weapon.

    GHQ Air Force
    By John T. Correll
    This strange arrangement in 1935 split the Air Corps into two camps—but it led the way to an independent Air Force.

    How the Luftwaffe Lost the Battle of Britain
    By John T. Correll
    British courage and capability might not have been enough to win; German mistakes were also key.

    The Big B
    By Rebecca Grant
    Berlin was the prize. The Allies paid a fearful price to pulverize the Nazi capital.

    Caught on the Ground
    By John T. Correll
    The Air Force was taken by surprise in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Nine hours later, it happened again in the Philippines.

    Tidal Wave
    By Walter J. Boyne
    It took sheer courage, and lots of it, for each bomber crew to press on into a huge cloud of flak at Ploesti.

    The Air Force on the Eve of World War II
    John T. Correll
    The United States was well down the list of the world’s military powers, but it had strengths that were not fully apparent.

    The Eagle Squadrons
    By Tamar A. Mehuron
    In World War II, a handful of American fliers answered Britain’s call for help.

    Up From Kasserine Pass
    By Rebecca Grant
    US airpower was ready for its independence. The North African debacle kicked away the last obstacles.

    The War on the Rails
    By Rebecca Grant
    Rommel could not be allowed to mass his forces at Normandy. Eisenhower took a gamble—and won.

    A Brave Man at the Right Time
    By John T. Correll
    The phosphorous bomb was loose inside the airplane, burning at 1,300 degrees. SSgt. Red Erwin seized it in his bare hands and fought his way to the copilot’s window.

    Twenty Missions in Hell
    By Rebecca Grant
    The Leuna Werke, Germany’s key synthetic fuel plant, was a diabolical target for US airmen sent to bomb it.

    Operation Gomorrah
    By Rebecca Grant
    The devastating 1943 bombing of Hamburg shook the Nazi regime as never before.

    Cat Against the Sun
    By Rebecca Grant
    In the great Pacific sea battles of World War II, the F6F Hellcat made a big difference.

    Soldier for Airpower
    By Herman S. Wolk
    Gen. George C. Marshall helped clear the path for development of a powerful US air arm.

    The Flying Tigers
    By John T. Correll
    Their combat run was only seven months, but that was enough to establish their legend.

    Magic and Lightning
    By Rebecca Grant
    For US pilots, Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto was a “high-value” target but also a fleeting one.

    The Ground Observer Corps
    By Bruce D. Callander
    Some 800,000 volunteers at 16,000 observation posts scanned the sky for hostile aircraft.

    Eaker's Way
    By Rebecca Grant
    Gen. Ira Eaker was a blend of operational talent, leadership, shrewdness, and salesmanship.

    Gabreski
    By Walter J. Boyne
    He came perilously close to washing out as a pilot. Then, he became one of the greatest aces of all time.

    Airman in the Shadows
    By Herman S. Wolk
    Gen. Lauris Norstad worked well behind the scenes, and his quiet actions had a decisive impact on US defense.

    From Air to Ground
    By Bruce D. Callander
    In World War II, troops came on parachutes and in gliders, and the pathfinders helped them get there.

    Operation Lusty
    By Robert L. Young
    Harold Watson’s “Whizzers” went hunting for German jets—and came back with several jewels.

    Bomber Harris
    By Rebecca Grant
    He built Bomber Command into a mighty force, but his reputation has suffered.

    Knerr the Crusader
    Herman S. Wolk
    To quote Hugh Knerr, “Sometimes it is necessary to violently rock the boat to dislodge the rats.”

    The Dresden Legend
    By Rebecca Grant
    To antiwar activists, the 1945 attack was a war crime. The real story was very different.

    The Twentieth Against Japan
    By Herman S. Wolk
    Hap Arnold’s unique B-29 force brought Japan to its knees and helped make the case for an independent Air Force.

    Trenchard at the Creation
    By Rebecca Grant
    The father of the RAF was one of the first to grasp that aviation would radically change warfare.

    Quesada the Conqueror
    By Rebecca Grant
    The tactical genius of Pete Quesada was critical to the Normandy invasion and the march across Europe.

    Decision at Casablanca
    By Herman S. Wolk
    The daytime vs. nighttime bombing debate carried the highest stakes--the outcome of the war against Germany.

    Tex
    By Walter J. Boyne
    Sixty years ago, Flying Tiger David Hill was a hero. He still is.

    Pantelleria, 1943
    By Herman S. Wolk
    Airpower won its first victory over a land force. The Tuskegee Airmen saw their first combat. Not bad for one battle.

    The Genius of George Kenney
    By Herman S. Wolk
    He was a superb leader and organizer. He also knew how to get along with MacArthur.

    Flying Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    By Rebecca Grant
    Irascible, opinionated, and underappreciated, Chennault was the champion of innovative fighter tactics.

    The Influence of Frank Andrews
    By H.O. Malone
    Along with Arnold, he prepared the way for the rise of airpower in World War II.

    When Arnold Bucked FDR
    By Herman S. Wolk
    On the eve of Pearl Harbor, the White House wanted to send large numbers of aircraft, sorely needed by the AAF, to the Allies.

    The WASPs
    By Bruce D. Callander
    They flew military airplanes in the 1940s, but many years went by before they were recognized as veterans.

    Spaatz
    By Richard Davis
    He graduated from West Point with three things that stuck: a nickname, a desire to fly, and a reputation for honesty.

    The All-American Airman
    By Walter J. Boyne
    John Alison shot down two--or perhaps three--enemy aircraft in his first aerial combat, and went on from there.

    Eisenhower, Master of Airpower
    By Rebecca Grant
    Long before D-Day, he had seen his faith in airpower borne out in combat.

    Before the Flying Tigers
    By Robert E. van Patten
    Throughout the 1930s, American airmen fought the Imperial Japanese Army in China.

    Troop Carriers of World War II
    By C.V. Glines
    Troop carrier airmen entered enemy airspace unarmed to deliver men and supplies.

    Blood Chit
    C. V. Glines
    In many languages and various forms—jacket patches, cards, letters—they were official IOUs to those who helped downed fliers.

    LeMay
    By Walter J. Boyne
    Doolittle and Eaker said he was the greatest air commander of all time.

    Hap
    By Walter J. Boyne
    H.H. Arnold, one of the nation's first military aviators, went on to become the founding father of the US Air Force.

    Benjamin Davis, American
    By Col. Alan L. Gropman, USAF (Ret.)
    Barred initially from flight training because of color, the leader of the Tuskegee Airmen became a major force for full integration in the Air Force.

    Victory in the Bismarck Sea
    By C.V. Glines
    Landbased airplanes sank every ship in the Japanese convoy. So supplies or reinforcements got through to New Guinea.

    Tuskegee Airmen
    By Col. Alan L. Gropman, USAF (Ret.)
    They did more than fight the enemy. They blew open the door to the Air Force for African-Americans.

    World War II Scrapbook
    Compiled by John T. Correll and Erica Milkovich
    These fifty-year-old snapshots from the albums of Air Force Association members recall personal dimensions of an epic time.

    The Decision That Launched the Enola Gay
    By John T. Correll
    In April 1945, the new President learned the most closely held secret of the war.

    An American Hero
    By C.V. Glines
    Few ever took larger gambles, with higher payoffs or with more spectacular success, than Jimmy Doolittle, a one-of-a-kind aviation pioneer.

    Against Regensburg and Schweinfurt
    By Alfred Price
    In the summer and fall of 1943, Eighth Air Force threw a heavy punch at Hitler’s Germany.

    Shot Down at Pearl Harbor
    By Ernest L. Reid
    Fifteen hours out of California, their B-17 became the first US airplane downed by the enemy during World War II.

    Flying the Hump
    By C.V. Glines
    When the Japanese closed the Burma Road, the route to China was over the Himalayas by air.

    Bombardier
    By Bruce D. Callander
    The strategic airpower concept hinged on putting one man over the target.

    The Lessons of North Africa
    By John L. Frisbee
    In 1943, tactical airpower finally broke loose from local ground control. Even Patton agreed eventually.

    Their Finest Hour
    By C.V. Glines
    In the Battle of Britain, the fate of the nation hung on victory in the air.

    Nitemare's Secret Score
    By Jack Samson
    A lone B-24, using a novel radar bombing technique, sank a Japanese cruiser at night.

    The Skyhook
    By C. V. Glines
    In 1945, the military helicopter was still a novelty, and rescue methods were primitive by today's standards. Still, supported by engineers, tree-cutters, and earth-movers, the YR-4 got its man out of the Burmese jungle.

    America's Headhunter Allies
    By C. V. Glines
    In World War II, Japanese invaders ran into an additional enemy in Burma—Naga tribesmen whose methods of warfare included ambush and decapitation.

    Eaker of the Eighth
    By Gen. T. R. Milton, USAF (Ret.)
    It was hard to believe that Ira Eaker had retired. It is even harder now to believe that he is gone.

    The Other Founding Father
    By Herman S. Wolk
    George Kenney took command in the Southwest Pacific and demonstrated what airmen and airpower—well led and properly employed—could do.

    The Coming of the German Jets
    By Lt. Col. Donald R. Baucom, USAF
    The first German jets entered combat in 1944. The Allies were well behind in fielding jets of their own, and they had limited success in impeding German production of the Me-262. This forced the AAF to look to tactics for possible solutions.

    The Fabulous Fortress
    By C.V. Glines
    Fifty years ago this month, the B-17 rolled out of the factory and into history.

    The GHQ Air Force
    By John L. Frisbee
    In its short life, the Air Corps’s GHQ Air Force broke the pattern of fragmented airpower and fostered the development of a centrally controlled, offensive force that was to be decisive in World War II.

    The Pioneer Plan for Air War
    By DeWitt S. Copp
    World War II was coming. Hal George was determined that strategic airpower requirements not be lost in ground-based thinking. Racing the clock, he and his team produced AWPD-1.

    The Target Was Marienburg
    By Maj. Gen. Dale O. Smith, USAF (Ret.)
    April 1944 and the air war over Europe was at a crescendo, with great armadas of four-engine bombers striking deep into Germany.
    Designing the P-47 Thunderbolt
    By George C. Larson
    Although it came into being only eight months after contract, the P-47 had its beginnings in earlier aircraft. The result was one of World War II’s most successful and durable aircraft.

    Precision Bombing Pays Off
    By Dino A. Brugioni
    When precise bombing was needed to neutralize a potential naval threat to the invasion of Southern France, the medium bomb wing with the best accuracy record was called upon. The result: a battleship, cruiser, and submarine taken out of the picture.

    D-Day: June 6, 1944
    By Gen. Laurence S. Kuter, USAF (Ret.)
    Thirty-five years ago, the greatest amphibious assault in history was launched against Nazi-occupied Europe. The author, who participated in D-Day air operations, describes preparations.

    Maj. Gen. Orvil A. Anderson
    By Lt. Col. John H. Scrivner, USAF (Ret.)
    A lighter-than-air pioneer and pilot of the record-setting Explorer II balloon ascent, he became a leading WWII strategic planner, Deputy Commander for Operations of Eighth Air Force, and head of the USSBS military advisory group.

    The Forts Come Home
    Illustrated by Cliff Prine
    A look back, to the Schweinfurt mission of October 1943 twenty years ago.

    The Air Commando Tradition
    By James Warner Bellah
    Today's Air Commandos are in the tradition of the World War II unit that, in March 1944, made a daring airborne strike far behind Japanese lines in central Burma. The story holds lessons for today.

    Flying Tigers
    General Chennault led the ace-making Flying Tigers.

    Caught With Our Planes Down
    By Lt. Col. Franklin Hibel
    Fifteen years after Pearl Harbor, an eyewitness looks back.