Foreword to the New Imprint
In March 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote to the Director of the Bureau of the Budget ordering each war agency to prepare “an accurate and objective account” of that agency’s war experience. Soon after, the Army Air Forces began hiring professional historians so that its history could, in the words of Brigadier General Laurence Kuter, “be recorded while it is hot and that personnel be selected and an agency set up for a clear historian’s job without axe to grind to defense to prepare.” An Historical Division was established in Headquarters Army Air Forces under Air Intelligence, in September 1942, and the modern Air Force historical program began.
With the end of the war, Headquarters approved a plan for writing and publishing a seven-volume history. In December 1945, Lieutenant General Ira C. Eaker, Deputy Commander of Army Air Forces, asked the Chancellor of the University of Chicago to “assume the responsibility for the publication” of the history, stressing that it must “meet the highest academic standards.” Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Frank Craven of New York University and Major James Lea Cate of the University of Chicago, both of whom had been assigned to the historical program, were selected to be editors of the volumes. Between 1948 and 1958 seven were published. With publication of the last, the editors wrote that the Air Force had “filled in letter and spirit” the promise of access to documents and complete freedom of historical interpretation. Like all history, The Army Air Forces in World War II reflects the era when it was conceived, researched, and written. The strategic bombing campaigns received the primary emphasis, not only because of a widely-shared belief in bombardment’s contribution
to victory, but also because of its importance in establishing the United States Air Force as a military service independent of the Army. The huge investment of men and machines and the effectiveness of the combined Anglo-American bomber offensive against Germany had not been subjected to the critical scrutiny they have since received. Nor, given the personalities involved and the immediacy of the events, did the authors question some of the command arrangements. In the tactical area, to give another example, the authors did not doubt the effect of aerial interdiction both the German withdrawal from Sicily and the allied landings at Anzio.
Editors Craven and Cate insisted that the volumes present the war through the eyes of the major commanders, and be based on information available to them as important decisions were made. At the time, secrecy still shrouded the Allied code-breaking effort. While the link between decoded message traffic and combat actions occasionally emerges from these, the authors lacked the knowledge to portray adequately the intelligence aspects of many operations, such as the interdiction in 1943 of Axis supply lines to Tunisia and the systematic bombardment, beginning in 1944, of the German oil industry.
All historical works a generation old suffer such limitations. New information and altered perspective inevitably change the emphasis of an historical account. Some accounts in these volumes will be superseded in the future. However, these books met the highest of contemporary professional standards of quality and comprehensives. They contain information and experience that are of great value to the Air Force today and to the public. Together they are the comprehensive discussion of Army Air Forces activity in the largest air war this nation has ever waged. Until we summon the resources to take a fresh, comprehensive look at the Army Air Forces’ experience in World War I, these seven volumes will continue to serve us as well for the next quarter century as they have for the last.
Richard H. Kohn
Chief, Office of Air Force History
Foreword to the original edition
It has become a truism that no war in history was so well reported as that which the United States entered on 7 December 1941. The reference is, of course, to the legion of correspondents, radio broadcasters, and feature writers who chronicled its daily progress. With equal appropriateness, the judgment might be referred to less widely publicized efforts to provide a more permanent historical record. Surely no such concerted effort has ever been made by the historical profession in America as that which was carried out under the auspices of the various armed services and of civilian governmental agencies during the war years.
Of the appropriateness of such an effort the editors of this history, whether as professional historians or as citizens, can have little doubt. Twice within a single generation the country has been forced into a world conflict; in each case the major enemy was the same, but, as the second war opened, no adequate record of the experiences of the first had as yet been provided for either official or public use. The need for a history has seemed especially urgent in the case of the Army Air Forces. Younger than the other military arms, it had 41 barely outlived its growing pains. It had no tradition of historical scholarship within or without the service – no Mahan or Freeman. Much of what had been written about the Air Service in World War had been episodic, personalized, apologetic. Authors who popularized the idea of air power were not trained historians; between the wars they wrote of the future; during the recent conflict they had no choice but to draw their conclusions from incomplete evidence. Today a considerable portion of the American public is air-minded, but amid discussion of the role of air power in plans for national security there exists no balanced synthesis of available knowledge of modern aerial warfare to which that public can turn. It is in an attempt to satisfy this want that the present work has been undertaken.
One of the better histories of the Air service, AEF, is prefaced with the statement that “the primary purpose of this book is to
demonstrate the necessity of a preparedness program for our air force.”1 The present history has no such dogmatic aim. Its authors believe with one of the wisest military leaders of our generation that “in our democracy where the government is truly an agent of the popular will, military policy is dependent on public opinion” and that the historian can render “the most essential service in determining the public policy relating to National Defense.” But they have taken to heart also his warning that historians “have been inclined to record victories and gloss over the mistakes and wasteful sacrifices” and that “it is very important that the true facts, the causes and consequences that make our military history, should be matters of common knowledge.”2 The present authors make no claims to have succeeded in following this counsel of perfection, but have tried to set down as they have understood it the story of the Army air arm for the people to whom that arm belongs.
This book, then, may be considered as a final report to the American public on the activities of the AAF in World War II. It is not an official report in the ordinary sense of that term – one to which the Air Staff necessarily subscribes in all details and final conclusions. Rather it is the report of a group of professionally trained historians who during the war enjoyed an unusual opportunity for access to the files of the AAF while those files were still active, and who since the termination of hostilities have received the cooperation of Headquarters, United States Air Force, in plans to provide for the American public a comprehensive account of their findings. it is pertinent, therefore, to include here a brief account of the historical program of which this history is an end product and to tell something about the background of the book and its authors.
After the United States entered World War II, the Army Air Forces was among the first organizations to display an active interest in maintaining a historical record. The first hectic months after Pearl Harbor left little time in a military headquarters for consideration of anything beyond the ways and means of meeting each successive emergency call. But in June 1942 the Chief of the Air Staff directed that a professional historian be secured for the preparation of “a running
account of Army Air Forces participation in all military actions in all theaters.” The implementing directive contained the judgment of a young Air Corps general: “It is important that our history be recorded while it is hot and that personnel be selected and an agency set up for a clear historian’s job without axe to grind or defense to prepare.”3
This action was followed in July a directive from the War Department calling for the appointment by AAF Headquarters of a historian in accordance with the President’s express desire for an administrative history of all war agencies. To the Historical Division, established during the summer in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence, there consequently was assigned a twofold responsibility for the preparation of an organizational and an operational history of the Army Air Forces.
Responsibility for decisions involving professional questions fell initially, and indeed throughout the war, chiefly on Col. Clanton W. Williams,4 who reported in September 1942 for duty with the Historical Division on military leave from the University of Alabama. Under Col. Clarence B. Lover as military chief until January 1944, and from the spring of 1945 under Col. Wilfred J. Paul, Colonel Williams served in a capacity at first officially described as that of Professional Executive, later of Chief, and still later of AAF Historian. Whatever the official designation, he rightly saw his job to be that of interpreting professional needs and standards for the guidance of his military superiors in order to assure continuing and intelligent support for a type of operation that fell into no familiar category of military functions. In the academic world he would have been called a dean, for he undertook to build a f of professionally qualified men and to provide for them conditions favorable to work that would meet the highest professional requirements. And though, like most deans, he found little time for scholarly work of his own, to his administrative skill and courage the accomplishment of the AAF Historical Program must be largely credited.
At the time of Colonel Williams’ assignment to the Historical Division, Maj. Harold J. Bingham was already engaged in the organization of a program for the coverage of AAF activities within the Zone of
the Interior. The Administrative History Branch, which he headed throughout the war, would retain in its title the emphasis fixed by the President’s directive for the preparation of administrative histories by war agencies, but the responsibility of the branch actually included comprehensive study of all phases of the AAF’s continental, as distinct from its overseas, activities. It was Colonel Williams’ hope that he might himself assume the major responsibility for coverage of overseas operations, and in the fall of 1942 he spent two months in temporary duty in England, where, in addition to studying the practical problems to be met in covering an overseas air force, he drew heavily upon the experience of the well-established historical, section of the British Air Ministry. To Mr. J.C. Nerney on this and other occasions, and as well to historical officers of the Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force, with whom AAF historical personnel were associated in the study of combined air operations, there is due an acknowledgment of a variety of courtesies extended. After returning to Headquarters at the close of 1942, Colonel Williams found the pressure of a growing administrative burden such that in the fall of 1943 he turned over to a newly established Operational history Branch, headed by Lt. Col. Wesley F. Craven, much of the responsibility for coverage of overseas operations. In August 1945 the Historical Division was removed from Intelligence and given the status of a special staff office.
The proportions of the task which had been assigned to it were staggering. By the close of 1942 there were already twelve air forces, eight of them engaged in widely scattered overseas operations, while in this country the training and service commands alone dwarfed most organization therefore known to American military history. Eventually there would be sixteen separate air forces whose several operations extended literally around the world, not to mention the Air Transport Command, which pioneered in the development of the first world-wide system of air transport. The rapidly accumulating records of this varied activity were not only massive; they were also scattered. The basic problem was to devise some scheme of selection that would permit the assembly in usable form of that part of the record which had clear historical significance and at the same time, paradoxically, to supplement the record by capturing and recording experiences that otherwise would be lost. Basic also was the factor of
time. The job had to be accomplished within the limits of an indeterminate number of months or years. No one could predict the actual duration of the war, but it was clear that at its end, or soon thereafter, the historian must be prepared to bring to a close at least the preliminary selection and arrangement of his materials. It was hoped, to be sure, that he would have an opportunity after the termination of hostilities for more intensive study. But there was no escape from the practical necessity of distinguishing between a war and a postwar phase of the effort, and unavoidably the emphasis during first phase fell on the selection and collection of the materials themselves.
It being difficult to lay down principles of selection that were universally applicable, the decision was made to rely principally on the judgment of professionally trained historians strategically placed at key points of command. The first of those points, of course, was AAF Headquarters itself. Though the Army Air Forces legally was no more than a training and service organization operating within the limits of this country, its headquarters, as will be demonstrated later, was actually the nerve center controlling in large measure the entire war effort in the air. And so, personnel of the Historical Office undertook, each historian working in his own area of specialization and by research initially in Headquarters files, to draw together as comprehensive a record of the air effort as was physically possible within the time limits operating and, while condensing this record into some readily usable form, to treat it with a breadth of view appropriate to the highest echelon of command. At the same time,, and for the purpose of supplementing Headquarters files with a selection from records of action available only in the area of that action, an attempt was made to secure the assignment of qualified historical personnel to the headquarters staff of each air force and command. The responsibility of the historian so assigned was twofold: to act, first, as the historian of his command for the purpose of recording its activities from the point of view of its own headquarters and, second, to provide such professional guidance as he could for those officers and enlisted men of the various units comprising the command who, in addition to their other duties, were charged with the preparation of the unit history. The unit history had long been required by Army regulations, and the effort of the Historical Office in that particular was directed chiefly to the establishment of standards that would lend to it greater historical value. Thus the policy became essentially that of placing professionally
qualified historians at those points in the chain of command at which the record tended to find a natural consolidation and through their services to raise the standard of already established procedures of historical reporting.
In the establishment of its own procedures the Historical Office came to rely chiefly on the preparation of a historical narrative or monograph, depending upon the nature of the subject, and the attachment thereto of copies of documents of outstanding importance. The latter practice was usually dispensed with in the office itself, where the documents used presumably would be available again in conveniently accessible files and exact citation in the study, with an occasional appendix, would provide the assistance needed by a historian having reason to go back over the ground. But, in developing a system of historical reporting from other headquarters, the “supporting documents” received an emphasis equal, generally speaking to that placed on the narrative itself. The narrative was designed to serve as a means for supplementing the record and at the same time as a device for reducing it to some readily usable form. It was also regarded as serving the purpose of a guide to the larger record from which it had been drawn. And, until an opportunity for fuller study was offered, it would serve as an interim history. The term “first narrative,” borrowed from the RAF, was frequently used to describe it.
It will be evident from the foregoing that the Historical Office interpreted its wartime assignment to be that not so much of preparing a history in the proper sense as rather of selecting, assembling, and organizing for immediate and subsequent use a comprehensive but physically manageable historical record. Vital to the fulfillment of its mission, therefore, was the organization of its own historical files as a central depository for the narratives, monographs, unit histories, and other documentary materials forwarded through channels by the several headquarters. Under the supervision of Lt. Col. Bayrd Still as chief of the Sources and Editorial Branch, the files became with the passing of time an increasingly rich collection for study of the air war. Its organization presented a problem of peculiar difficulty, for the materials in order to serve their purpose had to be put to immediate use by researchers and writers. As the flow of historical reports form the theaters and subordinate commands increased, studies prepared by the Historical Office itself were marked by an increasing balance and completeness of coverage. Of these AAF Historical Studies, for the
final form and production of which the Sources and Editorial Branch also assumed responsibility, approximately ninety had been completed by the summer of 1946. And since that time the Office of Air Force History has continued to prepare, under the direction of Dr. Albert F. Simpson as Air Force Historian, narratives and monographs designed ultimately to round out the many-sided story of the AAF.
During the later stages of the war the Historical Office enjoyed the assistance of a special advisory committee, consisting of Professors Richard A. Newhall of Williams College (chairman), Joseph R. Strayer of Princeton University, and John A. Krout of Columbia University. This committee offered helpful advice and counsel that proved to be of special value in the planning of this history.
Any brief account of the sort here attempted unavoidably reduces the problem to simpler terms than it actually presented to those who first faced it. The task was a new one and had to be undertaken without the benefit of any established tradition either in the Army Air Forces or in the other armed services as to the kind of history desired; necessarily the job was learned in the doing of it. Necessarily, too, the project was carried forward with by no means the highest priority in the hurried atmosphere of a military headquarters, and it depended for its support upon men who had a war to win before they could devote much time to the recording of it. degree of interest shown naturally tended to vary as between one commanding general and another, a difference inevitably reflected in the accomplishments of the historical officer, but fortunately the Air Staff in Washington set for other commands a most helpful standard of policy. Two principles received its consistent support throughout the war: (1) that the job should be entrusted only to professionally qualified personnel and (2) that this personnel should have full access to all AAF records necessary to the accomplishment of its task. The historian was thus given a challenging opportunity, and in return he welcomed the increasing number of instances in which he had occasion to demonstrate the practical value of a well-ordered historical record to the immediate needs of the staff.
The procurement and assignment of qualified personnel was in itself a problem of no mean proportions. In keeping with established military usage, the preparation of each command’s history became a command responsibility. The AAF Historical Office was limited, therefore, in the control it could exercise over historical activity in
other headquarters, and this was especially true of the overseas organizations, where the chain of command normally ran from the commanding general of the local air force through theater headquarters to the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army. The Historical Office could use its influence to secure from the War Department authorization of vacancies for the job in tables of organization, it could offer its assistance in the procurement of qualified personnel for the vacancies so established, and it could make suggestions regarding desirable objectives and standards. But the final choice remained with the commanding general, who in some instances moved in advance of promptings from Washington to provide his own historical officer, and who in other instances elected to fill the vacancies established by selection from his own staff. In most cases, however, the offer of professional assistance from AAF Headquarters was welcomed, though occasionally official request for such aid came late. The first historians selected by the Historical Office for overseas service reached their stations only in late 1943, and with most of them the time of arrival fell in 1944. Within the Zone of the Interior, where the chain of command ran down from General Arnold, the establishment of historical sections had proved to be a less time-consuming effort. Even so, there were limits arising from the old and generally sound principle of command that a superior officer gives his subordinate a job to do but leaves it to him in large part to determine how best it can be done.
The finding of available personnel possessed of the desired qualifications was still another matter. Though civilians were heavily relied upon in the Historical Office and at points elsewhere in the Zone of the Interior, most of the key assignments required use of military personnel. Opportunities for commissioning historians direct from civilian life being limited and at an early date entirely eliminated, it was necessary to rely upon qualified personnel already in the Army; and, since other branches had use for their own historians, the choice actually came to be limited to the rosters of the AAF. Fortunately, a considerable number of men possessed of advanced training in history or closely related fields had volunteered at an early stage of the war effort for service with the Army Air Forces, and they had played an especially significant part in the development of the AAF training program. As that program passed its peak in 1943, an increasing number of those men became available for assignment to the historical program. Being of military age, they were for the most part young
men whose professional training or career had been interrupted by the war. What some of them may have lacked in the way of professional experience or polish found compensation in their energy and the substantive knowledge acquired during their previous AAF assignments. It is hoped that the following history may prove to be of a quality in keeping with the contribution they have already made to it.
It was not within the power of the Historical Office to assure for each and all of them the full access to records and the freedom of interpretation that are fundamental to the proper exercise of the historian’s function. But the degree of cooperation received by historical officers was on the whole encouraging, and authority was secured at the close of hostilities to bring into AAF Headquarters certain of the field personnel for the purpose of completing their assignments in as close an association with the personnel of the Historical Office as was possible. This authority included provision for the temporary transfer to Headquarters of such documents and files as the historian considered necessary for the completion of his task. At this stage of the project it also proved possible to enlist the aid of several key operational and intelligence officers whose firsthand knowledge of major operations provided a valuable supplement to the documentary record.
Many adjustments to practical necessity had to be made in the original plan. For completeness of coverage it was necessary in the case of overseas operations to depend chiefly upon narratives prepared in the Historical Office itself for the first two years of the war and, conversely principally upon the work of the overseas historical officers for the story of later operations. But, when with the summer of 1946 the bulk of the historical personnel had returned to their normal civilian activities, there existed in the files of the Historical Office some narrative account or organized documentary record covering all periods and areas of the AAF’s overseas operations and its major activities within the Zone of the Interior. Inevitably there were subjects requiring more intensive study, narratives in need of revision in the light of new evidence, and a multitude of monographic topics for which there had been no time. But a balanced history of the AAF in World War II, drawn from the more pertinent records, had been brought within reach.
Unavoidably the chief concern of the AAF Historian in the early months had been to build his organization, select his men, and get them into the field that they might begin the steady flow of materials homeward.
But from an early date the Historical Office gave increasing consideration to the definition of its ultimate objectives. Among these, first place was given to the preparation of a comprehensive history of the AAF’s war activities, to be written when victory would release security controls. In the winter of 1943–44 the conviction was reached that this history should not be conceived as the sum of the histories of separate air forces and other major components bound only by the physical format of a single work but rather as the story of our national effort exerted through the Army air arm against determined foes in widely scattered regions. it should be scholarly in tone, should be addressed to those readers who have a serious interest in the study of the air war, and should be of a length appropriate to the magnitude and complexity of the subject but should not overlook certain human limitations presumably would govern both the author and the reader. Such, at any rate, was the decision ultimately reached, and seven volumes more or less arbitrarily came to be settled upon as a practical compromise.
In intervals of relief from assignments of more immediate urgency the office worked at an outline, which, though always tentative in nature, began to take definite shape as the war in Europe drew to a close. in September 1945 both the proposal and the suggested outline were approved in principle by the civilian Advisory Committee and soon thereafter by the Air Staff. Since V-J Day the project, under the weighty title of “The Seven Volume History,” had enjoyed a No. 1 priority in the Historical Office. But there remained the practical problem of translating the plans into actuality.
The importance of the story to be told and the wealth of archival materials available suggested that a mature historian of outstanding abilities be invited to undertake the task; informal caucusing for a possible “Mahan of air power” became a favorite lunchtime occupation. But it was realized that, even in the unlikely event a distinguished scholar could be lured from his own special interests, a seven-volume history would constitute a lifetime assignment – the RAF’s history of World War I, done in similar fashion and on a comparable scale, had been finished only in 1937. It was eventually accepted that a seven-volume could be completed within a reasonable length of time only as a cooperative venture. And it was not inappropriate that the final product should be a group enterprise. Inevitably the history must bear the stamp of the field historians and of the legion of men who,
as additional duty and without so much as the conventional reward of a “without-whose-aid” acknowledgment, had labored over a unit history. In a very real sense it would be the work of a busy adjutant of a fighter group in Italy or of a Pfc sweating out the war in an AACS station in the sub-Himalayas as well as of the authors who provided the final interpretation.
At the suggestion of the Advisory Committee, the Historical Office invited the present editors to assume responsibility for securing such a history as had been envisaged. This offer, after some hesitation which was far from being mere formal demur, they accepted: reluctance to extend an already overlong absence from their respective scholarly interests was outweighed by the challenge of the opportunity and the desire to see the program carried through to fruition. The acceptance was under condition that the editors, after their return to civilian status, be allowed to produce the book in their own way, with such material assistance as the Historical Office could render. That condition, accepted alike by the office and the Air Staff, has been lived up to in letter and in spirit.
Further study of ways and means for the accomplishment of the task indicated that, of the AAF historical personnel who were willing to make an additional commitment of their time, all except a few planned a prompt return to their academic posts. It seemed an appropriate and helpful step, therefore, to seek sponsorship for the project from some academic institution which would assume the heavy responsibility for guaranteeing publication of the finished work. In December 1945 the editors, with the sanction of the Air Staff, opened negotiations with the Chancellor of the University of Chicago. The University, expressing interest in a military history “written without suppression or distortion of significant facts,” agreed to sponsor the project on the understanding that the authors would be given access to all pertinent documents and would enjoy perfect freedom of interpretation. These conditions – without which indeed neither authors nor editors would have undertaken the assignment – had obtained in the Historical Office during the war in respect to studies done for the Air Staff itself and bearing a high security classification. The editors have felt a certain degree of organizational pride that the Air Staff accepted, and has scrupulously observed, the principle that this custom be extended to a work designed for public circulation.
Further, it has been agreed that no royalties will be paid to the
editors or to the contributors to this and succeeding volumes and that the sum thus saved will be used to reduce the sale cost of each volume.
And now a few words the authors. For obvious reasons they were chosen from the staff which had been engaged in the program during the war. They bring to their respective assignments, then, a familiarity with the problems, the personalities, and the sources gained in several years of research, often at the headquarters most intimately concerned. Several were civilian employees of the Historical Office in Washington, but for the most part they were officers who had served in the Air Staff there, in a Zone of the Interior command, or in a theater of operations. It would be naive to suppose that their interpretation have been unaffected by their military experiences. But the authors, like most members of the wartime Army, were civilians in uniform rather than professional soldiers. In all cases the period of academic training and practice exceeded in length that of military indoctrination and service; the authors were citizens and taxpayers before, and after, their tour of military duty, and they have felt called on to write no official apologia. Service loyalties they undoubtedly carried with them in returning to their academic posts, but not to the degree that their critical faculties have been submerged. They have written as present scholars rather than as former Air Corps officers.
Of the individual contributors to this volume, the following biographical facts are pertinent. Maj. James L. Cate, as a member of the staff of the Historical Office, devoted his attention chiefly to the problems of strategic bombardment and after June 1944 served as historical officer of the Twentieth Air Force. Miss Kathleen Williams’ research and writing, done under the immediate direction of the chief of the Operational History Branch, ranged over varied fields of AAF organization and operation according to the immediate need of the moment. Maj. Richard L. Watson for three years carried the main responsibility in the office for the Southwest Pacific; Maj. Kramer J. Rohfleisch held a similar responsibility for the remainder of the Pacific; and Maj. Herbert Weaver bore the responsibility for the China–Burma–India theater. Capt. William A. Goss served as historian with the Fourth Air Force and was subsequently brought into AAF Headquarters for study of continental air defenses. Lt. Arthur B. Ferguson divided his attention between antisubmarine operations and the Combined Bomber Offensive. Capt. John D. Carter served first as historian of the South Atlantic Wing, Air Transport Command, and after that at Headquarters,
ATC. Capt. Alfred Goldberg, after working on the histories of the VIII Air Force Service Command and Air Service Command, USSTAF, was assigned to Headquarters, USSTAF.
Finally there remains something to be told about the history itself. The title is descriptive of its scope. It is not a complete history of the Army air arm, since it covers in detail only a four-year period. Nor is it a complete history of those war years, since it deals as exclusively as possible with activities of the AAF. This is through no childish fancy that the AAF won the war single-handed. Victory was possible only through the combined efforts of the several arms of the associated powers and of the civilians behind those arms. But to tell the story of the AAF’s share in the air war is itself a heavy assignment, and the as have dealt with the operations of other services and nations only as they impinged directly upon those of the Army Air Forces.
This volume constitutes, according to present plans, the first of seven. It deals first with the Army air arm before 7 December 1941 and more intensively with its fortunes during the first eight or ten months of the war. For that period of defeat, retreat, small-scale operations, and frenzied preparation, it has been found convenient to describe under a single cover AAF activities in every theater. With the beginning of the offensive in late 1942, limited at first but swelling in intensity as men and material were made available, the story becomes in effect that of two large-scale wars waged simultaneously, intimately connected by highest strategy and the allocation of forces but tactically independent. Hence it has been thought best to avoid a strictly chronological account, treating the air war against Germany and Italy in Volumes II and III, against Japan in IV and V. Throughout, an effort has been made to relate operations in the several theaters through discussion of pertinent strategical and logistical plans developed by the Joint and Combined Chiefs of Staff. Similarly, problems of the Zone of the Interior – organization, production,, training, transportation, and the like – have been treated briefly wherever necessary for an understanding of combat operations. But these problems have seemed so important – indeed to the degree that one may find the main clue to our victory in American manpower and production – that the whole of Volume VI will be devoted to activities on the home front. The final volume will include an account of the world-wide services of the Army Air Forces, such as the Air Transport Command and Army Airways Communications System, and of the handling of problems which
were common to all theaters – health, morale, etc. Thus, though the seven volumes are planned as a unified whole, certain volumes or combinations of volumes are to a certain degree discrete segments – as I, II, and III, or I, IV, and V, or VI by itself.
Certain matters of form require brief explanation. Considerations of space have kept the detail of footnote citations, which appear at the end of the volume, to a minimum. Except where the file number of other evidence of physical location is an indispensable part of the citation, no attempt is made to locate the document. Similarly, the subject in letters, memoranda, and other forms of military correspondence usually has been omitted. In view of the multitude of documents that must be cited, the very limited number of them that for some time will be available for use of scholars outside official agencies, and the fluid state in which official files are kept, it has seemed that documentation for the purpose primarily of indicating the authority for statements made would serve as a practical and useful compromise. The work is based chiefly on the files of the United States Air Force and especially on materials now filed with the Office of Air Force History. Scholars accredited for research in official papers will find additional assistance by reference to the fully documented AAF Historical Studies.
The problem of providing maps for a text of this sort has presented its own peculiar difficulties. AAF operations were literally world-wide in their scale and hardly less so in the early than in the later stages of the war; even when some smaller segment of the story is presented, such is the range of an airplane that the cartographer’s task becomes chiefly that of showing relative positions and distances within areas of vast extent rather than depicting the few hundred square yards so frequently pertinent to an immediate situation in ground operations. Moreover, the variety of air force combat operations, not to mention other activities on the ground and in the air, multiplies greatly the place names mentioned in the text. The choice tends, therefore, to become one between a reference map, which by its very lack of emphasis serves little or no illustrative purpose, and a map that is frankly illustrative in character. In facing such a dilemma, the editors have felt that there was no choice but to use maps designed primarily for illustration of the text, and, where additional detail would diminish or destroy the illustrative value of the map, they have not hesitated to leave it out. The reader will find any standard atlas a useful supplement to the text, but the editors have not felt called upon to provide still
another atlas. The end sheets provide a general map of the world. Within any given geographic area, the several maps scattered through the text complement one another.
In most matters of style this volume follows War Department usage. Dates, unless in quotation, are given thus: 7 December 1941. Time is by the twenty-four-hour system (i.e., 1300 for 1:00 P.M.) and is zone (local) time unless otherwise indicated. Military rank is normally given as of the period concerned. The AAF, like the other military arms, has developed its own language – a compound, formidable to the uninitiated, of technical terms, code words, abstruse abbreviations, slang. administrative jargon, and clichés. Because this book is written in the hope of reaching as wide an audience as possible, some effort has been made to translate that language into a more widely used tongue. Perhaps the clichés are hardest to eradicate; it is a pity that too much of The Adjutant General’s phrasing has crept in and too much of the saltier idiom of the hangar line has been deleted. Technical language has been avoided where possible, but there is no exact synonym for “intervalometer,” and the best short expression for a P-47N is P-47N. Code names are used freely, and alphabetical symbols, because the save time and are less likely to clutter up a sentence that are the originals. In theory, at least, both code words and abbreviations are explained on first usage, but for convenience a glossary is appended.
In conclusion, the editors wish to acknowledge their heavy indebtedness to Col. Wilfred J. Paul and Dr. Albert F. Simpson of the Office of Air Force History, Headquarters, United States Air Force. Colonel Paul has at all times placed at our disposal a mature experience and technical knowledge derived from his service with the Air Corps and the Army Air Forces. He has prepared the way for our approach to other officers whose special experience promised an answer to troublesome questions. his office has served as the coordinating agency through which editors, authors, and publisher have found it possible to overcome many of the disadvantages inherent in a collaborative effort. And of even greater importance, he has offered the consistent encouragement of a keen and understanding interest in the history and the historian’s own peculiar problems. To his unfailing assistance must be credited in large part the opportunity to carry through the project as planned. Dr. Simpson, who will appear as one of the contributors to later volumes, has stood by to provide the answers to unanticipated questions and to render aid in all other possible ways. The
editors have repeatedly drawn upon his counsel and special knowledge. In shaping the current studies of his staff with a view in part to the needs of this history, he has provided additional assurance of its completion in accordance with objectives set.
Individual acknowledgment is also due other members of the staff of the Office of Air Force History: Mrs. Estelle Cornette, Mr. P. Alan Bliss, Maj. Arthur J. Larsen, Capt. William A. Bennett, Capt. John W. Miller, Dr. Chauncey E. Sanders, Miss Juliette Abington, Lt. Col. Garth C. Cobb, and especially Mrs. Juanita S. Riner, Miss Fanita Lanier, and Mrs. Wilhelmine Burch. Mrs. Riner has supervised the typing, proofreading, and checking of the manuscript, tasks which are particularly troublesome in a cooperative history. Miss Lanier, who prepared the maps, end sheets, and dust jacket, has placed at our command technical knowledge and artistic imagination. Mrs. Burch has rendered valuable assistance in the attempt to bring the manuscript on questions of style and usage into consistency with both military and scholarly requirements. She has also taken the responsibility for reading the printer’s proofs and preparing the index.
Of special value also has been the assistance provided by historians charged with responsibility for the history of other arms and services., Particular acknowledgment is due the Historical Division, War Department Special Staff, with which the relations of the Office of Air Force History have been both close and unique. At all times its military personnel, and especially Brig. Gen. Harry J. Maloney, Col. Allen F. Clark, Jr., and Col. John M. Kemper, have stood ready to lend their support when needed, while leaving the connection between the two officers on a basis entirely consistent with the peculiar position occupied by the Army Air Forces. Dr. Kent Roberts Greenfield, chief historian of the War Department, has been generous both of his own time and that of his staff in providing a detailed and critical estimate of the text. For his suggestions, which have saved the editors from more than one error, grateful acknowledgment is made. Acknowledgment is also extended to Mr. Joel D. Thacker, historian, chief of Research, Archives, and Library, historical Section, U.S. Marine Corps, for his courtesy and cooperation on repeated occasions.
Wesley Frank Craven
James Lea Cate
5 December 1947