Chapter 15: Procurement at Flood Tide
ON THE eve of Pearl Harbor AAF leaders were giving close attention to the policies which had theretofore guided recruitment. For the procurement of aviation cadets, chief dependence had been placed upon appeals to the youth of the country, with two years of college training as a minimum requirement for admission to the flying training program. For bombardiers and navigators the AAF had relied mainly upon eliminees from flying training, partly as a means of salvaging men in whom the Air Corps already had an investment. The same source supplied most of those trained as engineering officers and for other ground-duty assignments, though many of the eliminees failed to meet the higher educational tests established for admission to these programs. Volunteers, which is to say men who chose service in the AAF in preference to a draft call for duty in some other part of the Army, had proved sufficient to meet the need for enlisted men in the technical schools. But it was becoming all too evident that drastic adjustments of policy would be required if the greatly expanded objectives of the 84-group program were to be met. Those objectives, it will be recalled, had been set at an annual rate of 30,000 pilots, 5,590 bombardiers, 4,888 navigators, and 110,000 enlisted technicians.*
Renewal of the draft act in August 1941 had provided assurance that a sufficient number of apt young men could be procured for technical training. But two years of college as a prerequisite for admission to pilot training, it was becoming evident, imposed too rigid a restriction on the area of choice. Experience also suggested that the whole plan for training navigators and bombardiers needed review. These, especially the former, were subjects of anxious concern
* See above, p. 485.
to AAF Headquarters when war came. Outside that headquarters, the Air Service Command was struggling with its own peculiar personnel problem: the recruitment and training of a civilian staff to man its rapidly expanding depot system. And in the training schools it was becoming increasingly clear that the problem of procuring and keeping qualified instructors could become acute.
More Liberal Standards for Pilot Training
It had been recognized for some time that in the event of war it would be necessary to adopt less rigorous standards for the selection of pilot trainees. The requirement of two years of college had been a rule, easy to apply, that facilitated the rapid recruitment of men having a desirable background and capacity for flight training. But the number of college-trained men available, in view of the physical and other qualifications that were required, was too small to meet the schedules set by the 84-group program, and thus even before the opening of hostilities attention had to be given to lowering standards.
Training experts had for some time been convinced that high school graduates screened by special tests would probably provide better material for training as bombardiers and navigators than were the eliminees from flight training.1 As a result, the Air Corps Technical Training Command had been directed in May 1941 to undertake the preliminary studies necessary for setting up an adequate system for bombardier and navigator selection.* For some time, too, flight surgeons at the School of Aviation Medicine had been conducting scientific studies of the physical and psychological characteristics desired in candidates selected for pilot training. In the spring of 1941 these officers requested and got a grant of $600,000 to be used in the development of aptitude tests that would indicate an applicant’s general potentialities, practical judgment, and capacity to absorb instruction. The Medical Division of the OCAC was then authorized to recruit a “practical psychologist” and “suitable personnel” to staff this research program in pilot selection.2 A project office for the purpose was established in the Medical Division on 14 June.† By the fall of 1941 it was obvious that the problem of pilot selection was but one of several interrelated questions, and the
* See below, pp. 546-47.
† For fuller discussion see below, pp. 545ff.
Medical Division recommended on 19 November that responsibility for all phases of research and test development in connection with the selection and classification of flying personnel be lodged in its office.3
Four days earlier, Brig. Gen. Carl Spaatz, Chief of the Air Staff, had expressed his own conviction that the AAF would have to adopt a revised testing program. Labeling the existing system of educational requirements as “archaic” because it placed “too much emphasis on formal education which may mean nothing and ... no emphasis on native intelligence which may mean everything,” General Spaatz directed the AAF’s A-1 to make a thorough renovation of the regulations governing the requirements for selecting flying cadets. This should be accomplished, he continued, by reconstructing the examination for flying cadet training so as to tap “such youth of the country as may not have had a full two years of formal education at college but whose intelligence and background (training, experience and otherwise) indicate that they can meet the requirements of a pilot officer in the Air Forces.”4
The task of revising the regulations in compliance with Spaatz’s directive was undertaken by the three OCAC divisions directly concerned – Personnel, Training and Operations, and Medical. At a series of conferences held between 28 November and 3 December 1941, agreement was reached on a new system for the selection and classification of applicants for flying training.5 It was recommended that thereafter all applicants, on passing an aviation cadet qualifying examination to be prepared by the Medical Division, should be qualified simply as aviation cadets (aircrew), without designation as to specific training assignments. Specific assignments for those thus qualified would then be determined by special classification tests administered to all aviation cadets after they had been received at one of the three training centers. These tests were to be designed to measure the aptitude which each trainee had for pilot, bombardier, and navigator training, and would serve as one means of determining his type of training assignment. In order to put this second change into effect, a recommendation was made to the Chief of the Air Corps that the research project concerned with the selection of bombardier and navigator trainees be transferred to the Medical Division and combined with the pilot-selection project.6
Whatever doubts may have existed as to the action that would be
taken by the Chief of the Air Corps on these proposals were removed by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A change in procedure was no longer a matter for prolonged study – a decision was mandatory. General Arnold’s reported injunction to Col. David N. W. Grant, chief of the Medical Division, on 8 December 1941: “You will have to start your processing right away,” left no doubt that the new, more liberalized system for the selection and classification of aviation cadets would be instituted.7
On 10 December 1941 it was decided in conference between General Arnold and Brig. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, Acting Chief of the Air Corps, that the following changes in recruiting and selection of aviation cadets would be made as soon as possible: 1) increase the number of aviation cadet examining boards; 2) give wide publicity to the recruitment program; 3) decentralize power to accept or reject aviation cadet applicants by relegating it to examining boards and authorizing them to enlist qualified applicants immediately upon acceptance; 4) authorize, as a substitute for the college requirements, use by the examining boards of an examination designed to test intelligence and ability to absorb training center instructions; 5) remove the ban on married applicants for aviation cadet appointment; 6) enlist all successful applicants as aviation cadets and assign them to aircrew training; 7) decide the type of training to be given to each individual after his arrival at an Air Corps replacement training center.8 Some of these changes were instituted at once; others needed more time to effect. It was not until 15 January 1942, for instance, that the revision of the aviation cadet qualifying examination was officially approved by a special board appointed by General Arnold. Meantime, the new examination had been administered experimentally to approximately 1,000 aviation cadets by the psychological research unit at Maxwell Field during the early part of January 1942.9
For a period of about four months after the war began recruitment of aviation cadets was confused and uncertain. The sudden junking of most prewar procedures made it impossible for the OCAC to exercise over student flow the control which it had previously maintained by virtue of the fact that appointment to cadet status was made by The Adjutant General only after OCAC had reviewed all of the applicant’s papers and had made a favorable recommendation to TAG. The new procedures authorized the examining boards
to take final action in most cases,* to enlist qualified applicants immediately as aviation cadets in the Army of the United States, and after enlistment, either to order the applicant immediately to an Air Corps replacement center, or to grant a furlough not to exceed thirty days, at the expiration of which the recruit would have to report at a designated training center. Another cause for the considerable confusion in the training centers was the apparent suspension of recruiting quotas for a short period after the war began.10 Examining boards appear to have enlisted all applicants who could qualify, with the result that during the first three months of 1942 the influx of recruits for aircrew training was so great that Maxwell and Kelly Fields were swamped, and even the Santa Ana Army Air Base, construction of which had barely begun when the war came, began to receive trainees. At all three installations it was impossible for new construction to keep pace with the demands that the constantly increasing student population made upon the housing, messing, and training facilities. Each training center was forced to “farm out” to nearby airfields those aviation cadets whom it could not jam into its existing buildings or to house them in sprawling “tent cities” hastily erected to get men under cover.11 When the training centers sought to have the flow stopped until such time as their facilities would permit them to cope with the increased load, one high authority at Washington warned on 23 January 1942: “Don’t ever say you have a quota for aviation cadets.”12
Steps to correct this situation were taken on 5 March 1942. As one means of getting an even flow of trainees, TAG directed the corps areas to restore a quota system on aviation cadet recruitment. But the overcrowding of the training centers was not the only problem for which TAG now had to seek a solution. The examining boards had also accepted and appointed as aviation cadets many qualified candidates who, because of the inability of the training centers to receive them, had been granted furloughs in accordance with the post-Pearl Harbor instructions. Under existing regulations, aviation cadets as soon as they received their appointments were entitled to receive $75 a month, plus a daily ration allowance of $1.00. Since no immediate services were being performed by cadets on a furlough
* The exceptions included applications from 1) colored men, 2) those who had been citizens for less than ten years, and 3) those who might need review by higher authority.
status, such a costly procedure could not long be justified. In an attempt to reduce this needless expense, TAG directed that aviation cadet recruiting officials adhere to the following procedure: either 1) assign aviation cadets immediately to training, or 2) have them sign an agreement to serve temporarily as Air Corps enlisted men, or 3) place them on furlough as privates. Furloughed men, when called to active duty, reported at assembly points designated by corps area commanders. There, before shipment, they were appointed as aviation cadets. This procedure reduced the expense and gave a measure of control over flow that was formerly lacking. By this time, too, a better system of coordination had been worked out between the AAF and the corps areas. Now, the training centers submitted requisitions to AAF Headquarters, the AAF then informed TAG of the number of cadets to be procured, and TAG allotted quotas to the corps areas. The corps areas, in turn, were instructed to send the application and allied papers of each cadet to the training center where the man was assigned. Previous to this change many cadets who arrived at the training centers could not be processed because their papers had been sent to Washington. These men had to “sweat it out” until their papers caught up with them.13
These various measures brought some order into the picture, but they did not solve the AAF’s procurement problem. The relaxation of standards and the easing of rules and regulations governing aviation cadet appointment which were authorized after Pearl Harbor all aimed at maximum procurement. The AAF would need hundreds of thousands of applicants, and anything which discouraged men from applying, or complicated and confused the even flow of these men into training, would jeopardize the meeting of training goals. During 1942 and 1943 these goals were to be progressively increased. The 30,000-pilot training program had already been augmented by approximately 25 per cent since the outbreak of war, and the training centers had been notified that they were to step up trainee flow so as to produce 50,000 pilots per year, this rate to be attained before 1 October 1942. In January 1942 the pilot goal was raised to 70,000 per year, the schedule calling for sufficient entries into primary schools to attain this rate in March 1943. In October 1942 the planners were to set their sights on a figure of 102,000 pilots per year. Proportionate increases were to be made in the bombardier- and navigator-production goals.14 The success of these training ventures
would depend, in the final analysis, upon the degree to which recruiting officials were able to keep up and increase the pace set in the early weeks of the war.
After 15 January 1942 TAG authorized corps area commanders and other commanding officers appointed by TAG to establish aviation cadet examining boards wherever they were needed and wherever facilities for their establishment could be made readily avail-able. There were between two and three hundred of these boards functioning throughout the country by the summer of 1942. The number of traveling aviation cadet examining boards was also increased, and TAG authorized them to use large vans emblazoned with aviation cadet advertising. These units were an excellent advertising medium and, because they were highly mobile, could visit remote sections of the country. All trailers were equipped to give both the mental screening test and the physical examination.15
Other steps to increase the procurement potential included the lowering of the age limit for cadet training from twenty to eighteen years, a move authorized on 5 January 1942. This made available for flying training an age bracket which was not liable to the draft. Recruitment for aircrew training from the ranks of the Army, although limited to military personnel stationed in the United States, was also substantially increased after the war broke out.16 The most important step taken to increase the procurement of aviation cadets, however, was granting authority to establish the Air Corps Enlisted Reserve.
The Air Corps Enlisted Reserve
The creation of a backlog of duly qualified applicants for aviation cadet training had been a paramount objective of the Air Corps since September 1940, when the Selective Service Act became law. The operation of the draft, plus the increased recruiting activity of the Navy and of industry, had put the Air Corps in a position where it feared serious competition for the type of young men that met its high physical and mental standards. The most practical way to insure against the loss of this potential aviation cadet personnel was to enlist qualified candidates in a reserve aviation cadet grade and place them on inactive status until such time as they would be called to active duty to fill training school quotas.
Two attempts were made in the prewar period to obtain permission for the creation of such a grade in an enlisted reserve corps, but
in each instance the request was disapproved. The opposition came principally from the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, who argued that the Air Corps would lay itself open to a charge of fostering a method of draft evasion, and from TAG, who argued that procurement was proceeding at a satisfactory rate and that the creation of such a grade would require long study within the War Department and the establishment of appropriate administrative machinery in each corps area. The fact that as late as 17 September 1941 the Air Corps had not yet appointed as aviation cadets a total of 6,500 qualified candidates who were on its list of eligibles undoubtedly militated against the proposal to create an additional personnel pool. Within two months, however, after the enlarged training facilities for the 30,000-pilot training program had become available, the qualified candidates were being absorbed in the training classes at a rate faster than recruiting officials could replenish the supply, a fact which prompted the decision to abandon the long-standing college requirement. After Pearl Harbor, when the stops were all pulled on recruiting, the number of men who applied and were accepted for aircrew training was so great that the Air Corps could not accommodate them, even at its expanded training centers. But training rates at the same time were being raised much higher, and the very confusion which attended current efforts to recruit and “store” the thousands of men who would be needed strengthened the argument for an enlisted reserve. Consequently, the request was made for the third time, and this time successfully. The Air Corps’ contention that an arrangement of this nature was required in order to control the flow into training no longer needed to be argued, and approval was given to establish the Air Corps Enlisted Reserve (ACER) as of April 1942. The recently reinstituted quota system was promptly abandoned and aviation cadet examining boards were expected to recruit enough men to insure a constant pool of 54,000 qualified applicants.17
Until mid-December 1942 all civilian applicants who could qualify for aviation cadet training were enlisted in the ACER pending a call to active duty. The plan was sufficiently flexible to appeal to men both in and out of school or college. To those between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six who could pass the physical and mental examinations for aviation cadet training, three courses of action were now open. Each applicant who qualified could elect:
1) to enlist for active duty as a private in the Army Air Corps (unassigned), earmarked for aviation cadet appointment and training as facilities became available; 2) to enlist in the ACER and remain at his civilian job until called to active duty, at which time he would receive appointment to aviation cadet status; or 3) if enrolled full time in an accredited college, enlist as a private in the ACER and continue in college until graduation or withdrawal, but with the understanding that the deferment could be terminated at any time by the Secretary of War.18
Because the colleges had long been the prime “hunting ground” for aviation cadet recruiting, the AAF lost no time in bringing the ACER plan to the attention of college groups. An intensive campaign was organized in the spring of 1942 which aimed especially at 150 colleges and universities throughout the country. All aspects of the recruiting drive were carefully worked out. A total of thirty-two special aviation cadet examining boards were appointed by the three training centers and the First and Second Air Forces, each board consisting of a senior air officer and a lieutenant who had recently completed his training. The presidents of the boards were all brought in to AAF Headquarters, where they were given an indoctrination course and briefed on how to achieve coordination with TAG and the recruiting activities of the corps areas. Letters went out to the college presidents asking their cooperation and inquiring as to the most convenient dates for the special boards to visit each campus. Details of the program were widely publicized in newspapers and college publications by means of advertising prepared by the firm of Geyer, Cornell, and Newell, which also compiled the portfolio of instructions used by the special boards. The campaign got under way on 24 April and continued until 30 May 1942. Two visits to each campus were made by a special board. The first visit was a promotional one, at which time talks were given, literature and pamphlets distributed, and a special aviation cadet training film shown at a mass meeting held on the campus. Actual recruiting was accomplished on a second visit which followed a week or two later. A report of the results of this special procurement drive, made on 15 July 1942, estimated that the mass meetings had attracted about 85,000 college students, that about 12,000 had shown interest in the program, and that 5,000 had already been enrolled, with many more candidates expected to make application during the summer months. In spite of the small initial signup, the campaign, it was felt, had succeeded in
establishing rapport with college students and college newspapers.19 By autumn of that year so many of the colleges had established some plan for faculty advice to students on questions involving military service as to provide regular channels through which the opportunities offered by ACER could be kept before college men. The high schools and preparatory schools often provided similar advisory services for their students.
The goal of the AAF – a pool of over 50,000 enlisted reservists – was reached in the fall of 1942. Of this number about 10,000 had enlisted on the understanding that they would enjoy some period of deferment, usually until the end of the school term or year, although such deferment could not be guaranteed. In addition, there were about 20,000 enlisted men in the Army awaiting a call to aircrew training. The number of men being accepted each month for appointment as aviation cadets totaled 13,000, and since only 10,000 were being assigned to training, the pool of qualified candidates was growing at a rate of about 3,000 per month. The AAF defended this accumulation in the face of mounting criticism. Convinced that it must maintain at least a six-month supply of candidates to meet expected expansion schedules, the specter of losing men through the draft persuaded the AAF to continue a vigorous recruiting policy while simultaneously holding a large supply of qualified men in the ACER, some of whom were impatiently awaiting assignment. Reports of disaffection on the part of those who had left schools and jobs expecting an immediate call to duty were frequent. Thereupon public relations officers gave wide publicity to the fact that men might not be called for six months after enlistment, and candidates were cautioned not to leave their jobs or quit school until they received a call to duty. At the same time, assurances were given that the AAF would eventually have great need for the services of all men who had qualified for the ACER. Actually, within a period of less than six months an innovation in the training program and a tightening of the national manpower market resulted in the calling up of all men in the ACER pool.20
Recruitment for Technical Specialties
Because procurement goals for men to fill the aviation cadet ground-duty programs were small by comparison with those for the aircrew training programs, the AAF was confronted, fairly early in the war period, with a glut of men who had qualified, or who were
expected to be utilized, for ground-duty programs. In this particular instance, the creation of an unwieldy backlog was caused by a failure of aviation cadet examining boards to follow directives. As explained in an earlier chapter,* the educational qualifications for admission to the various ground-duty programs – armament, communications, engineering, meteorology, and photography – were higher than those for flying training programs, and the method used to check the adequacy of the applicant’s background for a ground-duty training assignment had served as one means of controlling recruitment. In the prewar period all the papers of an applicant were carefully examined by the OCAC before the applicant was authorized to appear before an aviation cadet examining board. After the applicant had been accepted by an examining board, his papers were returned to Washington for a final decision. Under this system the Aviation Cadet Branch had a double check on candidates. The revised wartime regulations, which authorized aviation cadet examining boards to enlist aviation cadets immediately on approval by the boards without first sending their papers to Washington, were intended to facilitate the recruitment of aircrew candidates and specifically stated that ground-duty cadets were not to be so enlisted. Papers of ground-duty applicants were still to be sent to Washington for examination by the Aviation Cadet Branch, after which a request for enlistment of qualified applicants would be made to TAG. Despite these instructions, aviation cadet examining boards appear to have enlisted ground-duty cadets until 1 June 1942, at which time a new directive from TAG spelled out for the boards the specific procedure for enlisting qualified candidates for ground-duty training.21
By the fall of 1942 the results of overzealous recruiting had created a definite surplus of accepted ground-duty candidates awaiting training. The Aviation Cadet Branch reported in November that it had on hand an eight-month supply of engineering, a twelve-month supply of armament, a twenty-four-month supply of communications, and a twelve-month supply of photography candidates. The taking of applications for armament and photography training had already been stopped on 21 September 1942. Only in the meteorology and engineering programs was there a need for more candidates. After the termination of voluntary enlistments in December 1942, there was a search among enlisted personnel in the Air Corps
* See above, pp. 447-48.
for men who might be qualified for engineering and meteorology training. By May 1943 the need for these specialties had been more than amply supplied, and there was so large a backlog of candidates in all fields that all applications were being rejected. Thereafter, except for the temporary reopening of procurement in engineering and communications late in 1943, such applications as were accepted came mainly from top-ranking graduates of the enlisted men’s courses in AAF technical schools. Procurement for aviation cadet ground-duty training ended officially on 29 March 1944, at which time it was announced that all existing quotas were filled.22
Candidates were procured for the aviation cadet ground-duty program from four sources. Eliminees from flying schools, the principal source in the prewar period, constituted only about 4 per cent of all ground-duty cadets. After the war began, eliminees found it more and more difficult to continue as aviation cadets for ground duty. Many did not have the requisite higher educational qualifications for ground-duty training assignments. Others were frustrated in the reassignment process when, through administrative bungling, their papers were lost. The general tightening up of applications for ground duty which came with the overlarge backlog in the fall of 1942 dimmed their chances still more, and the full quotas for training classes in the spring of 1943 virtually froze them out.23
Enlisted men in the AAF and in the ground and service forces of the Army constituted a second source of supply, and one which provided about half of the total number of candidates, but the bulk of these men did not enter the program until 1943 and 1944. The failure of the procurement system to make this training readily available to more enlisted men in the years before 1943 was the result of an unfortunate, but understandable, circumstance. Enlisted men who could qualify for aviation cadet training were discouraged from applying for appointment because their commanders did not want to lose them. The situation was brought to General Arnold’s attention in May 1942, and he directed that high-quality men in the AAF should not only be recommended when they applied; they should also be encouraged to apply. This had the desired effect in the AAF, but in other branches of the service enlisted men who were qualified for ground-duty training continued to find it difficult to transfer to the air arm. As late as June 1943 it was necessary for TAG to direct that any enlisted man could apply to the local aviation
cadet examining board through his commanding officer, or if there were no board at his station, the application was to be sent to the commanding general of the local service command and thence to the board nearest the applicant’s station. Having to go through channels was at times an effective hurdle used by other branches to prevent the AAF from raiding their enlisted ranks, and undoubtedly limited the number of men who might otherwise have requested and received transfers to the Air Corps.24
After the termination of voluntary enlistments in December 1942, recruitment of men for ground-duty cadet programs had to come almost entirely from enlisted men already in the service. The most fertile area for such recruitment in the AAF was among the graduates of the enlisted men’s technical schools; during the first half of 1943 men were selected from the top 20 per cent of the graduates of certain courses. Once selected, local examining boards were authorized to accept the certification of commanding officers in lieu of the usual procedure of certification of educational requirements by the Aviation Cadet Branch.25
Despite the difficulties enumerated above, about half of the men who went into aviation cadet ground-duty training came from the enlisted men in the three branches of the Army. The other half came largely from the civilian population. The aviation cadet ground-duty program was also open to officers training in grade, but to a very limited degree. After war broke out, rated officers could apply only if they had been disqualified from flying duty for physical reasons. Officers from other branches of the service were a small though steady source of supply. After May 1943, because of full training quotas, few applications were accepted.26
By the time procurement ended early in 1944, a total of 29,321 men had been admitted to ground-duty training, 717 being officers training in grade. The number graduated from the various courses was 21,823, there were 4,577 more still in training, and 2,921 had left the courses either through elimination or transfer to some other field.27 Three of the five ground-duty training programs – communications, engineering, and meteorology – had claimed approximately four-fifths of the total number of men assigned to classes. The ground-duty training programs, unlike aircrew training, had few eliminees. Elimination from a training course, when it did occur, was normally caused by lack of preparation, lack of interest, or personality difficulties.28
Recruitment of Civilian Personnel for Air Depots
In addition to the procurement of hundreds of thousands of men to fill its flying and technical training school quotas, the AAF had a special procurement problem as one of the nation’s large wartime users of civilian labor. This was particularly true at the vastly expanded network of air depots, which at peak employment in August 1943 required a staff of upwards of 300,000 civilians. The use of civilian labor at air depots was not a wartime innovation. During the depression years laborers of the type required in aircraft maintenance and supply had been plentiful and cheap; many men had been glad to work for salaries of $1,220, $1,660, and $1,800 a year. Such training as was needed was accomplished on the job. After the Air Corps’ expansion began in 1939, however, and as the depots began to hire in ever larger numbers, the depots found it advisable to establish apprenticeship training programs to speed up the training of new civilian maintenance personnel.29 Such personnel were procured through civil service channels, and before 1941 only the top men of those who had passed the civil service apprenticeship examination were hired by the depots. By 1941, however, the depots faced a constantly dwindling stock of eligibles who could be procured from this source. Competition from aircraft factories, which were able to pay twice the salaries to junior mechanics that the depots could pay apprentices, doomed the program, and it was discontinued in October 1941.30
Meantime, starting in mid-summer of 1941, the depots had begun to avail themselves of funds appropriated by Congress for the vocational education of defense workers. These funds, administered by the United States Office of Education, permitted the depots to raise the training rate of civilian recruit employees in several ways: 1) by the establishment of a vocational school for use by a depot; 2) by the conversion of an existing public school in part or in full for depot use; 3) by the introduction of a new course or courses in a public or private school already in use by a depot; or 4) by the rental of space for the setting up of a new school or the expansion of an existing one. The depots procured the students, determined the content of the courses, and assisted the school in finding qualified instructors.31
The four older air depots – those at Fairfield, Ohio; San Antonio, Texas; Sacramento, California; and Middletown, Pennsylvania
doubled the number of their civilian employees during 1940 and made further large increases in their procurement of civilians during 1941, when depot maintenance and supply activities quickened to keep pace with the 54-group and 84-group programs. By the end of November 1941 civilian personnel at these four installations totaled 25,999; a month later the figure was 31,292; at the end of January 1942 it stood at 38,526. Two new air depots, one at Ogden, Utah, the other at Mobile, Alabama, had also begun to recruit civilian workers.32 On the eve of the war the Air Service Command likewise had fifty-seven subdepots in operation, each of which had an average of thirty civilian laborers.33
With the start of the war the Air Service Command began a vast expansion in the number of its air depot facilities, and since the War Department insisted that the command use civilian labor to the utmost, there was established a goal of 190,000 civilians to be procured for the depot program by the end of 1942.34 The goal was achieved,* but procurement officials were hard pressed to fill their quotas. Hiring averaged 16,500 employees monthly during the first eight months of 1942, but the ASC found it increasingly difficult to compete with private industry and other government agencies. The majority of the air depots were located in areas from which war industry recruited heavily, and the labor market could not continue to supply trained workers in the numbers required. The depot program sought thousands of mechanics who could do airplane-engine repairing; subdepots alone, for example, each required a complement of approximately 200 general mechanics capable of doing third echelon maintenance; and workers were needed in large numbers for such jobs as parachute rigging, the storage and distribution of supplies, and the keeping of clerical records and correspondence. It has been estimated that approximately 60 per cent of those hired needed some training, and the rate of turnover was high.35
After the curtailment of production in the automobile industry, skilled mechanics became available for employment in limited numbers and in a few areas. With the rationing of gasoline, the more skilled service station attendants were sought as junior aircraft mechanics, aircraft engine mechanics, electricians, and sheet-metal
* Civilian employee figures for the ASC show the rate of growth to have been as follows: 40,432 employed on 31 December 1941, 81,105 on 31 March 1942, 135,568 on 30 June 1942, 164,496 on 15 August 1942, and 212,000 on 1 January 1943.
workers. But the numbers in these categories were far too few to meet the need, and by the summer of 1942 the depots were up against it: there was no choice but to use large numbers of female workers.
As early as January 1942 the Air Service Command had foreseen this necessity, but proposals for the employment of women in the depot program had run headlong into the opposition of those who considered women qualified only for clerical and certain administrative jobs. Responsible officers feared it would create jealousy if women were used on jobs traditionally held by men; they said that women in slacks would be an object of curiosity, that women would attempt to use their wiles to get out of doing unpleasant jobs, and that women were not mechanically minded; they contended that men would refuse to work under women supervisors; and they ex-pressed a fear that women would show a tendency to leave jobs after the novelty of the work wore off. By the early summer of 1942, however, the ASC became insistent on compliance with directives listing fifty-one different positions, many of them requiring mechanical or other special skills, which women could fill as well as men. As a result, the employment of women increased rapidly during the second half of 1942.36
Reports from some of the depots soon belied the fears that had been expressed by those who opposed the use of women. At the Spokane Air Depot over 3,000 women had already been hired by June of 1942, and depot officials were considering the creation of a post analogous to that of a dean of women in a university to help with morale problems peculiar to women – an idea later adopted throughout the ASC. The Mobile Air Depot reported that it found a fair proportion of the women it employed to have definite mechanical aptitude and that for certain jobs women were better qualified than men because their fingers were more nimble. In spite of initial prejudices, the number of women workers had increased very rapidly by the end of the year. ASC employment figures as of 31 January 1943 showed that 77,780, or 35.7 per cent of the total civilian personnel of 218,149 in domestic installations, were women.37
Use of female labor became even more significant at the depot facilities during 1943 and 1944 as the armed services made increased inroads on the nation’s supply of men. The high point for ASC was reached in June of 1944 when 45.8 per cent of its total civilian labor
force consisted of women. At no time during the war years, how-ever, did any of the area commands reach the goal of 60 per cent women employees which ASC headquarters had suggested in April 1943. Only in two depots, at Spokane and at San Bernardino, did women ever amount to as much as 50 per cent of the total labor force.
On the question of their competence in jobs which previously had been done exclusively by men, the evidence, though it can hardly be viewed as free from bias, is nonetheless suggestive. Women proved themselves very adept at machine work of all types; exceptionally proficient in precise and delicate work on small parts where manual dexterity was involved; generally quicker and less easily tired in repetitive operations than men; more eager to learn; and diligent to apply themselves to the job at hand. Contrariwise, official reports affirm, women demonstrated that they were not as capable as men at benchwork; were slower at learning to use a hammer and chisel skillfully; were not as competent as men in analyzing situations, such as the procedure necessary in repairs; did not have as much initiative as men – when finished with one task, they would wait idly until assigned another. Women also had a higher absentee rate because of sickness.38
Physically handicapped persons by late 1943 were also being employed in large numbers.39 The initial use of handicapped individuals had been made on an experimental basis by the Mobile Air Depot in July 1942. So quickly did this small group of workers prove its ability that orders were issued to hire more and more of them. The range of employable persons at this and other depots was gradually increased as it became clear that many previous beliefs as to the limitations imposed by physical handicaps were not valid. By June 1944 those afflicted with the following handicaps were being given an opportunity for work at a wide variety of tasks appropriate to their particular abilities: blindness and defective vision, deafness, physical deformities, cardiac conditions, rheumatism, arthritis, amputated limbs, arrested and active tuberculosis, and venereal disease.
In assignment to a job it was necessary, of course, to treat each handicapped person on an individual basis in order to insure that the worker was placed on a job in which the effect of his handicap would be minimized. Deaf persons, it was found, could be placed in almost any job where there were no traffic hazards, and they were
used as shop repairmen, carpenters, painters, laborers, storekeepers, and engine-installation mechanics. Benchwork was given to the majority of persons with lower-limb disabilities. Those with amputation or limited use of one hand or arm became radio operators, messengers, time-lock repairmen, motion-picture-projector operators, and mechanics in certain departments. Individuals who wore a hook were placed in warehouses as storekeepers and handlers of materials. Clerical and semi-clerical jobs were given to cardiac cases, and persons afflicted with rheumatism and arthritis received jobs selected with regard to the degree of limitation imposed by the handicap. In the placement of tubercular cases there were three restrictions imposed: no heavy work, no night work, and no work where the air was polluted by dust or fumes. In addition, every tubercular employee was required to report regularly to a clinic. If it was found that the employee was endangering either himself or his fellows, his services were immediately terminated. Venereal-disease cases were required to show evidence that they were noninfectious and to bring periodic reports of continued treatment. The blind, after being given special training based on aptitude tests for mechanical ability, proved to be satisfactory in such jobs as that of sorter, starter and generator mechanic, storekeeper, packer of small parts, carpenter, airplane-engine mechanic, dictaphone operator, inspector of ball bearings, painter and inspector of machines.
Neither the use of female labor nor the employment of handicapped persons, however, could come anywhere near supplying the ASC with a sufficient number of skilled workers for the maintenance departments of the air depots. The obvious remedy was to recruit the unskilled and train them for these jobs, and in the weeks just before Pearl Harbor the air depots had sought authorization to establish training programs of this nature. One plan, authorized by the Civilian Personnel Division of the War Department on 30 October 1941, provided for training junior mechanic learners in the engineering sections of air depots at a salary of $600 a year. The other approach to the procurement problem, approved by the Secretary of War on 14 November 1941, called for the temporary establishment of a position as student trainee at a pay of $360 per annum. Whether these salaries would have sufficed to attract trainees in any appreciable number is open to question. But the advent of war brought the problem into sharp focus, and by February 1942 a uniform policy
had been established for all depots. The ASC was now authorized to hire mechanic learners at $900 per annum and train them for periods up to six months at any educational facility that was avail-able and suitable. Some depots reported continuing difficulty in recruiting student trainees at the salary authorized, and by 31 August 1942 the depots had been authorized to fix the salary for mechanic learners on a range from $900 to $1,200 per year. Some depots also adopted the practice of granting a $6 per diem for the first thirty and $3 for the next ninety days of the training period, when the training was done at schools located some distance from the depot. The legality of paying preservice trainees a per diem was soon questioned, however, and this practice was discontinued in January 1943, except for time spent in travel at the beginning and end of the training period.40
The preservice training carried on by the Air Service Command for its depots was accomplished for the most part at three different types of schools: off-reservation, contract, and post schools. Peak enrollment was reached in August 1942 when there were 13,442 enrollees receiving training. During this year the bulk of such training was done at off-reservation and contract schools, but late in 1942 there began a marked trend to close out these facilities and expand the mechanic learner training at post schools. A year later, after procurement had been slowed down by a freeze on civilian strength ordered on 31 August 1943, there was only a small number of off-reservation and contract schools left in operation and most preservice training was given in the post schools.41 Since there were marked differences in these three types of schools, a brief statement about each is in order.42
Off-reservation schools, used almost exclusively for training in basic maintenance work, could be either public or private vocational schools, taken over in whole or in part for depot training, or set up for such training by a state board for vocational education. Since the schools were financed by federal training funds, and were directed, supervised, and controlled by a local or state board, the arrangements for inaugurating an off-reservation school were drawn up in the form of an agreement, rather than a contract, between the board and a specific depot and its subdepots. The depot provided the curriculum and training aids, determined the number of employees to be trained by periods of time, selected and assigned the trainees,
could dismiss or withdraw paid trainees from the school, and lent equipment, materials, and parts that might be needed in the training program. Off-reservation schools had certain advantages over other types of schools that offered this training. Most of them were staffed with experienced vocational school instructors, and since their funds were not encumbered by War Department red tape, off-reservation schools could procure additional instructors when needed because they were able to pay them well.
In the case of contract schools, the arrangement was similar to that employed by the Technical Training Command. A contract was drawn up by an AAF agency with a private institution, such as the Chicago School of Aeronautics, whereby the AAF agreed to assign a stipulated number of students per week for a course of instruction that ran for 15 weeks, or for 600 hours. The tuition for each student, paid out of AAF funds, amounted to $231. In the case of eliminees, the contractor received 381 cents per hour of actual instruction. Each depot was allotted a weekly quota of students who were to be recruited in the depot area and sent to the contract school for training. The depot placed such students on its own payroll, and after graduation the trainee returned to the depot of origin for employment. Contract schools were authorized to recruit students on their own responsibility whenever the depots failed to send enough students to fill training classes that were scheduled. In such instances the trainee, who was carried on the Fairfield Air Depot payroll while in school, was required to sign an agreement that he would serve at any depot in the United States after graduation.
A post school was one located on a military reservation and administered by the training department of a depot. It gave instruction in those types of training which could not conveniently be given elsewhere. Supply training, for example, was quicker and more efficient when given in actual warehouses where the trainee could become familiar with real stock and stock procedures. Likewise, advanced maintenance training – which required recently developed, or depot-fabricated and still comparatively rare equipment – could best be done right at the depot. Post schools encountered more difficulty than others in procuring instructors, since depot salary scales could not match those paid by off-reservation and factory schools. The only recourse in such instances was to set up instructor-training courses at a depot. This practice had its advantages, since the
shops were accessible for the learning of special skills, and the instructor trainee could receive an orientation course in depot practices and procedures in conjunction with his instruction in teaching methods and skills.
Depot personnel were also sent to a fourth type of school for training – the factory school. A factory school was one originally set up and operated by a manufacturing plant principally for the training of its own employees, and the ASC on occasion found it advisable to send some of its employees to such a school for training in the maintenance of specific equipment. The use of a factory school for such instruction might occur whenever it was determined: 1) that the depots had inadequate facilities and lacked instructors; 2) that such a limited number of personnel were involved that it would make training at a depot uneconomical; or 3) the equipment was new or secret and only factory personnel were qualified to offer instruction. Because factory school graduates would return to a depot to give instruction to other personnel, these trainees were carefully selected maintenance personnel with previously demonstrated proficiency in their particular line of work.
The measure of success which the ASC achieved in supplying its civilian personnel needs through resort to the mechanic learner program can most conveniently be expressed in terms of the number of students trained. In the period from January 1942 through December 1944 a total of 137,200 inexperienced men and women passed through these programs and were at least partly qualified for work in ASC shops, warehouses, and offices.43 Thus by adapting its procurement policies to take advantage of those sources of labor – women, the handicapped, and the unskilled – that were not in such short supply, the Air Service Command was enabled to meet its procurement quotas.
Perhaps no personnel problem which faced the AAF during the war years caused more difficulties than that of instructors for its schools. With flying training, which necessarily was largely individual, the difficulty mainly was one of supply. To meet the growing demand for qualified instructors in an enormous expansion of the training program, while meeting the no less imperious demand for experienced personnel to man the many new combat units, was not easy, but flying
instruction was on the whole satisfactory. In contrast, group instruction – particularly in such ground-school subjects as navigation and aircraft recognition – left much to be desired. The idea that teaching required special qualifications and its corollary, that not everybody could teach, were not generally understood in the AAF, and the problem of procuring qualified instructors for the training program never received proper attention. The difficulty was primarily due to long-established military usages. Traditionally, any officer by definition was a qualified instructor, an impractical assumption at best and one that could be hazardous. Traditionally, too, the student carried the main responsibility for mastering the subject taught in ground school after formal presentation in the classroom, however imperfect the presentation might be.44
So long as it continued to be possible to assign experienced flying officers to ground instruction, there had been some advantage in the older methods of assignment. Flying officers viewed their function as ground-school instructors in the light of their own flying experience, and when the instructor had any of the gifts of a teacher, his presentation of the subject matter was effectively related to actual conditions encountered in flying. But the sharp rise in the number of flying schools now made it necessary to tap other sources to augment the ranks of ground-school instructional staffs. Some, though by no means all, ground-school courses were taught by enlisted men and eliminated cadets, most of whom were not qualified as teachers. The AAF turned also to the employment of civilians on civil service lists to teach certain subjects in the ground-school curriculum. Many of those employed had been teachers, but some of them were marginal teachers at best or were men who, having failed at teaching, had gone into other occupations. With the possible exception of those hired to teach mathematics and physics, these civilians lacked knowledge of the subjects to be taught, and they had little or no understanding of flying.45 Although such individuals could and did “bone up” on aviation matters, they did not thereby necessarily become better teachers, and the training centers worried along until well into 1942 before concerted efforts were made to recruit a large staff of professional teachers, men possessed of high educational backgrounds and skilled in the art of teaching.
As soon as war began, the supply of instructors in all categories decreased. Flying instructors in particular were in short supply at all
levels. Primary schools relied exclusively, and basic flying schools to a more limited degree, on civilian flying instructors.* Some of the key personnel at the primary schools held reserve commissions, and contractors were warned as early as 22 December 1941 that reservists could expect calls to active duty by 15 March 1942. Partly in the hope of avoiding too serious a disruption of primary training schedules, procurement of civilians with extensive aeronautical backgrounds was begun in March 1942 in accordance with an agreement reached between the Civil Service Commission and the War Department whereby such men would be hired as pilots at $3,600 per year. These men would then be sent to an AAF central instructors school where they would be trained and observed for qualifications as military pilots and officers and, if found qualified, be commissioned directly in the Army of the United States with ratings as service pilots. Experience soon demonstrated that only 40 per cent of the men so hired could qualify for commissions; these officers were then assigned to basic flying schools, or to duty as utility pilots. The 60 per cent who failed to receive commissions were offered employment as flying instructors at primary schools or at glider schools. By the fall of 1942, however, procurement had slowed down because men who could qualify for service pilot commissions were already either in the service or in some other war activity in the aviation field. Thereafter, the training centers concentrated their recruiting efforts on civilian employees at primary schools. Commissions as captains were given to the more experienced flying instructors at the contract schools, and they were then assigned either to basic schools or reassigned to primary schools as Air Corps supervisors. Replacements for personnel lost by the primary schools through this policy were to be obtained through the Civil Aeronautics Administration which had agreed in April 1942 to qualify 2,000 flying instructors for the three training centers.46
Primary schools also faced the constant threat of losing their civilian instructors either to the draft or to the Navy. Despite repeated assurances by the Director of Selective Service that deferments would be granted to key personnel, local draft boards continued to pull men out of the primary schools all during 1942. When the AAF suggested, as a means of protecting the contract schools, that instructors be granted direct commissions, the Secretary of War refused on the
* Many civilians were reluctant to instruct in military aircraft at basic schools because of nonavailability of life insurance.
ground that such a policy would vitiate the plan to put everybody who aspired to commissioned status through officer candidate school. The contract schools likewise suffered from constant Navy proselyting of instructors, an action that the AAF considered as a violation of an agreement made on 12 June 1942 not to engage in personnel raids. But there was a loophole in the stipulation that the ban applied only to personnel under contract, and primary school contractors showed reluctance to put very many of their civilian instructors under contract for fear of being saddled with employees who might become surplus at any moment. The reasons for this were obvious, since the government had reserved the right to terminate contract flight training on twenty-four hours’ notice, and Army supervisors could demand the release of any contractor’s employee for suitable reason. As the Navy had no contract schools, it was in a position to bargain with impunity and seldom failed to obtain an instructor it set out to entice. The War Department, in a belated move to aid the civilian school contractors, on 8 September 1942 authorized the enlistment of civilian flying instructors in the Air Corps Enlisted Reserve. The purported theory behind this policy was that enlistment would obviate the necessity to get and keep a draft deferment. The instructors were blandly assured that the step would not prevent a reservist from applying for a commission at any time that a contractor agreed to release him. Only about a third of the civilian flying instructors, however, accepted this offer. The studied refusal of the Secretary of War to relax his position on direct commissions for instructional personnel at the contract schools pleased only the Navy, and that service continued to find the primary schools a lucrative field in which to recruit good prospects for direct Navy commissions.47
As the experience of the primary schools would suggest, the AAF’s own training schools found flying instructors in short supply. Even though the vacancies could be filled by the expedient of assigning recent graduates to a tour of duty as instructors, the training centers were hard put to stay within the maximum advisable ratio of instructors to students because of the constant removal of rated personnel to fill combat-crew requirements. The preferred instructor-student ratio in various flying categories was as follows:
Basic training: 1 instructor to 5 students.
Advanced single-engine training: 1 instructor to 5 students.
Advanced twin-engine training: 1 instructor to 2.5 students.
Flexible gunnery schools: 1 instructor to 6.7 students.
Since the instructor rode with the student until the latter either learned the flying techniques of a particular maneuver or was eliminated, the best results were achieved when these ratios were not exceeded.48
Efforts to recruit ground-school instructors in the numbers and quality desired began early in 1942 and continued at an accelerated pace until mid-1943. The training centers now did what they had failed to do earlier – they set out to recruit “highly trained pedagogues.” College and university faculties over the nation were combed for men of draft age who would agree to accept temporary appointments as civilian instructors in the ground schools, on the implied assumption that such employment in an essential job might qualify them for possible draft deferment, and with the idea that this connection with the Army would smooth the way to a possible commission. During the spring and summer of 1942 many of these men, if over thirty years of age, did receive direct commissions, were sent to officer training school for six weeks, and then returned to their teaching assignments. For those under thirty, the Southeast Air Corps Training Center made arrangements with the IV Service Command in the fall of 1942 whereby civilian instructors were enlisted at Maxwell Field, then sent to officer candidate school where after a few days the enlistee appeared before a board and was commissioned. Before the other training centers could take advantage of this short cut, the practice was stopped late in December 1942, but not before fifty instructors from Maxwell Field had got through.49
The Gulf Coast Air Corps Training Center used an even more direct approach to obtain professional educators. It sought and obtained authorization to commission college professors as ground-school instructors “in grades consistent with their qualifications and civilian income.”50 As a result, this training center established the so-called Snyder Board,* which canvassed the colleges and universities of the central states and appointed approximately 500 men as first and second lieutenants between May and September 1942. When it was ascertained in the fall of that year that an additional 335 instructors would be needed to meet the requirements of the 75,000-pilot training program, this training center received authority from Robert Lovett, Assistant Secretary of War, to continue this procurement.
Before the second Snyder Board had actually begun its recruitment,
* Its members consisted of Lt. Col. Alva W. Snyder, U. Col. Jergen B. Olson, and Maj. Gaylord Johnson, all of Ellington Field.
however, the Secretary of War authorized General Arnold on 3 November 1942 to establish a procurement objective of 1,000 officers (400 first lieutenants and 600 second lieutenants), with the limitation that appointments were to be given only to persons qualified as instructors in AAF training schools in one or more of twelve listed subjects.* Each of the three training centers was allotted 333 instructors and cautioned by the commanding general of the Flying Training Command that no nominations should be forwarded unless the applicant was already employed in a ground school, or in an accredited college or university, and was at least thirty years old.51
Each training center proceeded to appoint an officer procurement team which toured the colleges and universities in its respective geographical area during the months of November and December 1942, interviewing, investigating, and selecting qualified applicants for commissions. It is evident that these procurement teams, particularly the second Snyder Board, made some unjustified, not to say unethical, promises to faculty men during their conversations on the various campuses. The number of those commissioned under this particular procurement authority as first lieutenants fell short of the 400 authorized. Moreover, all ground-school officers whose duty assignments put them into the classroom soon discovered that they were at the very end of the promotion list with little or no hope of advancement. The result was great frustration and morale problems detrimental to the welfare of both the men concerned and of the ground schools where they were assigned.52
In the West Coast Training Center efforts to commission approximately 300 civilian ground-school instructors who were employed at the Santa Ana Army Base preflight school and at certain primary schools ran into one snag after another during the fall of 1942. Most of these men had applications for commissions pending when orders from Washington put a stop to the processing of the applications. Since many of these instructors had only temporary draft deferments, it was obvious that the training center stood to lose an increasing number of these men to the draft unless they were brought into the AAF. The plan ultimately adopted provided for enlistment of all instructors with draft classifications below 3-A and immediate promotion of these enlisted instructors to ratings as noncommissioned officers. Thereafter, applications for direct commissions were to be prepared
* Mathematics, physics, meteorology, radio, navigation, history, maps and charts, photography, cryptography, and automotive, electrical, and mechanical engineering.
and processed for a small number of those enlisted who were over thirty-four years of age, the appointments to be charged to the training center’s allotment under the 1,000-instructor procurement goal. Most of the instructors who were enlisted in November 1942, however, were under thirty, and these men were required to go to officer candidate school. They were sent in groups during the period from December 1942 to June 1943. Of the total of 242 instructors sent to Miami Beach by the West Coast Training Center, only 200 were returned, the balance being assigned to duty at other training centers.53
By 1943 the bulk of the ground-school instructional personnel in all three training centers had been put into uniform. The Flying Training Command now decided that the time had come to standardize instruction in the ground-school programs, which had begun to vary between training centers and even between individual schools within a training center. Each training center had been attempting, in one form or another during 1942, to provide some kind of indoctrination and in-service training for its instructors, some of whom had had very little military training because of the great need to keep them in the classroom. Many more were teaching subjects such as navigation, meteorology, theory of bombing, and aeronautical engineering, for which their educational background and experience had not prepared them. The method of solving this problem was the establishment of a ground-school curriculum in the central instructors school at Randolph Field. Each training center was allotted a quota for classes that were to be entered every eight weeks starting in March 1943 Ground-school instructors assigned to the central instructors school were to major in weather, navigation, armament, and bombing courses, with supplementary training in aeronautical equipment, identification, teaching techniques, radio code, and military procedures.
At its inception the central instructors school appeared to be the answer to the problem of instructor training. Graduates of the school, it was expected, would become multipurpose instructors who could be assigned to teach in any field where teacher shortages suddenly developed. The major trouble was that the program came too late. Moreover, many instructors were thoroughly disgusted with the training they received there. Instructors who were assigned to the early classes quickly spread the word about the nature of the training they received, with the result that many stations contrived to assign
only their weaker instructors when called on by the training center to nominate men for these central instructors school quotas. In time the training centers themselves began to stress in-service training at the school level as being more practical and economical. The Western Flying Training Command, for example, advised its stations in Au-gust 1943 that during periods of light loads, instructors should be assigned to one or more of the following duties: 1) training in another ground-school subject; 2) further study in the subject or subjects presently instructing; 3) study of intelligence material which might be incorporated into their instruction; 4) review and improvement of daily lectures; and 5) the development of training aids.54
Although enlisted men were used in various schools of the Flying Training Command to instruct in such subjects as radio code, most enlisted instructors in the AAF were in the schools of the Technical Training Command. The instructor problems at these schools, aside from procurement, revolved around two things – tenure and promotion – with their attendant effect upon morale.55 Procurement of enlisted instructors was accomplished in most instances by the expedient of selecting men from the graduates of technical training school classes, and often this was done without regard to whether the enlisted man wanted such assignment. Normally, those selected were chosen because their records indicated a good educational background or because they had scored high on the Army general classification or mechanical aptitude tests. Unless pressure to meet training quotas dictated that they begin to instruct immediately, men selected for duty as instructors were given a special course in teaching techniques before assignment to the classroom.
Many civilian instructors were also employed at the technical schools. Procurement of civilians with appropriate professional and technical skills was accomplished through civil service channels as long as this was practical; when this source failed to produce enough qualified candidates, resort was had to training and up-grading of the less skilled. Losses to the draft, to the Navy, and to other agencies, was a constant threat, and some schools lost as much as 50 per cent of their civilian instructors from these causes. Moreover, use of civilian instructors in the same program where enlisted men were also teaching was a source of friction. Enlisted personnel, especially when not promoted, were jealous of the higher wages received by civilians, and they resented the civilians’ draft exemptions.
The Manpower Crisis of 1943
Late in the autumn of 1942, as the nation began to feel the full impact of the drain which the war was making on its manpower, the President and the Congress made two moves that posed a serious threat to aviation cadet procurement. Both actions were necessary in order to enlarge the pool of military manpower and to insure that all branches of the armed forces would continue to get a fair share of the available supply. Neither move was aimed at the AAF’s cadet program, but both actions turned out to be “direct hits.” The first blow fell on 13 November 1942, when the Congress lowered the draft age to include eighteen- and nineteen-year-old men. Since February the AAF had been focusing much of its recruiting publicity on this age group, into which the draft would now cut deeply. The second blow came on 5 December when the President by executive order terminated all voluntary enlistments, effective after 15 December 1942. After that date, unless an applicant for flying training was already in the Army, he could be reached only through selective service procedures.
The AAF had good cause to be concerned over the effect of these policies.56 Its cadet-procurement goals for 1943 already had been set.* Quotas were now established for the various arms, and it became necessary for the AAF to draw its aviation cadets from the over-all manpower quota allotted to the AAF each month. Under the quota system the AAF was to receive a total of 9,000 aircrew trainees in February, 44,000 in March, and thereafter it was to receive 18,702 monthly to meet the increased training goals planned for the summer of 1943. By 1 April it had become apparent that these monthly procurement quotas were not being met, and two months later the AAF was facing an accumulated deficit of 40,317 aviation cadets considered necessary to meet the current training program. Means to promote the flow of recruits into aircrew training from both civilian and military sources had to be found.
The ACER provided a cushion of over 90,000 men at the end of 1942, and one effect of the new developments with reference to man
* As early as 12 October 1942 the Flying Training Command had been directed to increase pilot production to an annual rate of 102,000 by 31 December 1944 and to train annually a total of 12,000 bombardiers and 19,000 navigators. Subsequently, the pilot-training goal was lowered on 10 April 1943 to a figure of 80,000 annually but once again raised that summer to 93,000.
power was a decision in January 1943 to call up these recruits for a college program that was viewed as a preliminary to an early assignment to training.* Simultaneously, it was decided to offset the lowering of the draft age to eighteen by extending the ACER program to permit the recruitment of seventeen-year-old youths.57 Orders to report for active duty, according to the plan, would be issued to such reservists within six months after their eighteenth birthday. The proposal was approved and became effective on 16 January 1943.
It was not long, however, before the War Manpower Commission stepped in and challenged the necessity to recruit seventeen-year-old youth for the ACER. The commission stated on 7 May 1943 that it disapproved of the policy and that recruitment of such youth should not be allowed in any area. General Arnold took issue with this ruling in a letter to Paul V. McNutt, chairman of the commission. Arnold reminded McNutt that the aircrew training program was voluntary, that those accepted for enlistment had to meet high physical and mental standards, and that the sources for such recruits were limited. He also pointed out that the armed forces could supply only one-half of the required number of aviation cadets and that the quality of the men left in the eighteen-to-twenty-six age bracket was steadily decreasing. Both the caliber and the size of the pool of seventeen-year-olds were emphasized. The dispute was resolved by James F. Byrnes, Director of War Mobilization, who informed the Army and the Navy on 22 June 1943 that they might continue to enlist men under eighteen as aviation cadets.
Although the AAF had counted on obtaining a considerable number of applicants through the extension of the ACER program to the seventeen-year-old group, the results were disappointingly small. It had been estimated that of the some 90,000 men who reached that age each month, 10,000 could be expected to enroll for aviation cadet training. By the end of June 1943, however, the AAF had got not 60,000 as expected, but only 16,438. The reason for the miscalculation was not difficult to locate. The Navy was doing a better job of interesting the seventeen-year-olds; it had conducted a vigorous campaign to familiarize high school students with the advantages of its program and was able to offer enlistment in the Naval Reserve and an immediate assignment to its V-12 college program as apprentice seamen. When action was sought from Army authorities to correct
* See below, p. 562.
this situation, it was discovered that legislative restrictions contained in the National Defense Act, as amended on 14 May 1940, permitted the enlistment by the Army of men under eighteen years of age only if they were enlisted on an inactive status. Moreover, the War Department was opposed to asking Congress for authority to extend the pay and allowances and the government insurance provisions of the Aviation Cadet Act to encompass the seventeen-year-olds. Not until the fall of 1943, when the Civil Air Patrol became an auxiliary of the AAF, was a partial solution to this problem reached. Thereafter, such reservists as desired to avail themselves of the opportunity could take pretraining aviation courses given by the Civil Air Patrol.
Another source for aviation cadet procurement after the ending of voluntary enlistments was that of the voluntary induction of civilians.58 Selective service procedures permitted a man to apply for voluntary induction into some branch of the service but gave no guarantee that the inductee would necessarily be assigned to the service of his choice. It was a gamble worth taking, however, since his chances were better than if he waited to be drafted. The method of obtaining men in this category was worked out by TAG during the month of February 1943. Registrants were informed by newspaper advertisements that they could apply for aviation cadet training at their local aviation cadet examining boards. If the applicant passed the mental screening test, the physical examination, and was qualified as an aviation cadet for training as a pilot, bombardier, or navigator, he was to be furnished with a letter to the commanding officer of the local armed forces induction station. The registrant then applied for voluntary induction at his local draft board and was ordered to report for induction in the same manner as any other volunteer.
Two features of this procurement policy soon needed adjustment. For one thing, it was discovered that most applicants who had passed the mental screening test were being referred to Army air bases for their physical examinations because by 1943 flight surgeons were in such short supply that many examining boards were without them. Applicants had to pay their own travel expense to reach an Army air base, and this was another instance where the Navy had a decided advantage in recruiting. The Navy had long paid not only the examination travel costs of candidates who were qualified for naval aviation training but food and lodging charges as well. A change in Army regulations removed this discrepancy on 3 April 1943, and thereafter
civilian applicants qualified for aircrew training could be transported at government expense to receive physical examinations. The other revision in the voluntary induction system reduced the interval between a candidate’s qualification by an examining board and his induction for training. As originally planned by the War Department, a voluntary inductee was to be allowed a maximum of ninety days after being qualified before offering himself for induction. This did not prove satisfactory, and in the fall of 1943 the War Department agreed to reduce the length of time that an applicant had at his own disposal before induction to forty-five days. Agreement was also reached with selective service officials that they would encourage local boards to speed up their induction of qualified aviation cadet applicants.
During 1943 men recruited from the Army for aviation cadet training were an important supplement to the number recruited from civilian life through the ACER and by means of voluntary induction.59 Aviation cadet training, of course, had always been open to men in the service provided that they met the qualifications for such training. But no unit commander relished the loss of the type of men who could qualify for aircrew appointment, and enforcement of instructions for their encouragement to apply proved difficult. Many of the enlisted men did not know how to determine eligibility for flying training nor how to apply for it. Even more hampering by 1943 was the fact that enlisted men who volunteered for flying training lost their dependency allowances and, in certain cases, suffered material reductions in pay. Thus in spite of the urgent need for more recruits from military sources, aviation cadet training had become progressively less attractive to large numbers of enlisted men. Corrective measures were taken in July 1943. Enlisted men thereafter could train in grade and remain eligible for dependency allowances while taking aircrew training.
In the spring of 1943 the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, proposed that applicants for flying training be assigned to the AAF directly from Army reception centers. This proposal had merit; it would minimize one of the major causes of tension between the AAF and other branches of the service. There was no denying the fact that many units had suffered severe losses through the assignment to aviation cadet training of their trained and qualified enlisted personnel. The logic of the recommendation was compelling and the proposal received early approval. On 15 May 1943 TAG was directed to outline
the new policy to the commanding generals of the service commands. Instructions were issued in June making the reception centers a source for aviation cadets.60 After 1 August 1943 those men processed at reception centers who expressed a desire to fly and who met the established requirements were to be assigned to AAF basic training centers as part of the quotas allotted to aviation cadet training. To be eligible, a recruit had to be a native-born American, score 100 or better on the Army general classification test, and meet necessary physical qualifications. All men who were accepted were warned that the selection was only tentative; that before being sent into aircrew training, it would be necessary to pass further physical, mental, and psychological tests; and that assignment also depended upon vacancies under existing quotas.
A “joker” in this plan became evident shortly after the new procedure went into effect. Because there was no provision at the reception centers to screen these volunteers to determine their qualifications for aircrew training, the basic training centers were finding that 65 per cent of the men received from this source could not qualify when put through the regular aviation cadet screening process. Meantime, all of these volunteers had been charged to the aviation cadet monthly quotas, with the result that procurement schedules of fully qualified men to fill training commitments were not being met. A solution to this difficulty, suggested by Brig. Gen. R. B. Reynolds of the Military Personnel Division of Army Service Forces and concurred in by G-1 and G-3 of the War Department General Staff, was issued on 6 October 1943 in the form of a directive from TAG to the commanding generals of all service commands. The directive stated that effective on 15 October 1943 Army reception centers were to administer the aviation cadet qualifying examination to all enlisted men who otherwise qualified; who volunteered for flying training; who made a standard score of 100 or better on either the Army general classification test or the mechanical aptitude test; and who, after a thorough physical examination by a representative of the Air Surgeon, appeared physically qualified for flight training as aviation cadets. Two days before the effective date of the directive, revised instructions were issued ordering each service command to establish special aviation cadet examining boards at the reception centers. This action brought procurement at the reception centers into line with recruitment procedures used to enroll aviation cadets from other sources. The existence of special examining boards at reception centers
assured the AAF basic training centers that the qualifications of volunteers for flying training would be on a par with the qualifications of applicants received from other sources of supply.
By October 1943 the procurement crisis of the preceding six months had subsided. The flow of qualified candidates for aircrew training now exceeded the requirements under existing training directives and the AAF had a long waiting list. Since reductions in the annual pilot-training objective were contemplated, procurement officials were confronted with a situation completely the reverse of that which they had experienced earlier. Their problem was no longer one of stimulating the flow of recruits; their job was now to curb the flow in order to forestall the growth of an unwieldy backlog. As a first step to curb the flow, it was decided on 18 November 1943 to cut back the number of men procured for aviation cadet training so as not to exceed the annual training rate during 1944 of approximately 50,000 or 60,000 pilots a year. Such a rate would permit a reduction in procurement after 1 January 1944 to a figure of about 10,000 to 12,000 per month. The existence of the backlog, however, necessitated tightening the physical and mental qualifications for flying training. The passing mark on the aviation cadet qualifying examination was raised, the change to be effective on 10 February 1944; and in December it was decided that after 1 March 1944 only those candidates were to be accepted who met the physical standards as they had existed before August 1943. These changes, it was expected, would help adjust the supply to the demand. One group affected by the cutback was the officer corps. Because of the oversupply of aircrew candidates, drastic limitations were placed on the number of officers assigned monthly to take aircrew training in grade, a category that would have a backlog of 5,500 by 1 December 1943 and of 9,000 by January 1944. On 30 November 1943 action was initiated to reduce the monthly quotas to 200 by March 1949. It was directed that officers training in grade be required to take the aviation cadet qualifying examination, and the passing score on this test was to be adjusted to secure the desired reduction in numbers.61
Early in January 1944 the Requirements and Resources Branch of the Military Personnel Division reported that the backlog of potential aircrew trainees was great enough to permit suspension of procurement until December 1944. On 22 February 1944 TAG accordingly directed all service commands to suspend procurement of aviation cadets from the Army Ground and Service Forces and to disallow
any further applications from officers and enlisted men for transfer to the AAF for aircrew training; the following week this latter ruling was extended to include AAF personnel. Late in March 1944 recruiting of draft-age civilians (voluntary inductees) was stopped and even enrollment of seventeen-year-old Air Corps enlisted reservists was temporarily halted.62 The severity of these cutbacks may be gauged by comparing the total number of men tested at all psychological examining units during March (30,914) with those in April (16,511) and in May (9,369).63
In April 1944 General Arnold approved a plan to reduce the rate of pilot training to 40,000 a year, the cutback to be made in four stages, the final one coming with the class entering primary on 7 August 1944. The Training Command reassessed its pilot-training school needs at thirty primary, seventeen basic, eight advanced single-engine, and twelve advanced twin-engine schools. In September 1944 it was decided to extend by five weeks the training period of all students in individual pilot-training courses, effective 16 October 1944, while cutting the number of pilots trained to 20,000 a year. Despite a resumption of preflight enrollment on 30 November 1944, it soon became evident that the AAF had enough potential pilot graduates to finish the European phase of the war and supply the needs of the AAF in the Pacific until well into 1946. Consequently, the Training Command proposed in January 1945 that the backlog of accepted candidates be dissipated before resuming, on 15 November 1945, the flow of new aircrew trainees at a rate of 12,600 per month. Headquarters, AAF accepted this plan but it was never implemented. After V-E Day pilot production was ordered reduced to 1,000 per year or 100 per class, effective 30 June 1945 with the entry of class 46-A into primary.64
As compared with the pilot-training program, the programs for navigators and bombardiers had lagged, the former reaching its peak of 25,600 per year in August 1944, the latter a peak of 18,500 that September. Reductions were now aimed at stabilizing the bombardier program at 9,100 annually by April 1945, and the navigator program at 11,000 annually. In addition, the course of instruction was to be lengthened for both specialties, and provision was to be made for retraining experienced personnel. These actions reduced the opportunities open to preflight graduates. Then, on 19 February 1945, the entrance rate of the navigation schools was cut from 280 weekly to 70.65
Although War Department policy from the beginning of the Army’s expansion in 1939 required that all arms and services receive Negro troops in numbers proportionate to the percentage of Negroes among the total manpower of military age,66 the Army Air Forces at no time included such a proportion. Based, in effect, on the percentage of Negroes among draft registrants, the proper proportion had been set in October 1940 at 10.6 per cent.67 But the largest number of Negroes serving with the AAF at any one time was the 145,327, or 6.1 per cent, listed for November 1943, when the total strength of the AAF stood at 2,383,370. No official figures are available before August 1942, at which time 27,154, or only 2.8 per cent, of the total of 986,338 officers and men in the AAF were Negroes. In the closing month of the war there were 139,559, or 6.2 per cent, Negroes in the AAF – its total strength was then 2,253,182.68
Army general classification test scores limited the number of Negroes who could qualify for AAF technical and flying schools. From June 1941 to February 1942, 77.8 per cent of the colored inductees into the Army were in AGCT groups IV and V,* as compared with 29.1 per cent for the whites; in the latter half of 1943 the percentages were 79.4 for the Negro inductees and 24.7 for the others. In the AAF 79.1 per cent of Negro airmen scored in groups IV and V in contrast to 14.6 per cent for the others.69 Like the rest of the Army, the AAF followed a policy of employing Negroes in segregated units, commanded “wherever possible” by Negro officers. This policy, while affording opportunities for the promotion of a few Negro personnel to command responsibilities, tended also to restrict the assignments of all Negroes, regardless of their educational qualifications, because the general level of competence naturally influenced the disposition of Negro troops, and it was contrary to policy to place Negro officers over white troops. In August 1942 the some 27,000 Negroes in the AAF included a mere 78 commissioned officers; in November 1943 there were 1,280 officers among the total of 145,000 Negroes; in August 1945, of the 139,000 Negroes, 1,533 had commissions.70 As these figures indicate, it had not always been considered necessary to place Negro troops under Negro officers.
A very small percentage of Negro airmen received flying training.
* These two groups, in order, included those scoring 60–89 and 59 or lower. The highest possible score was 163. OCS candidates had to score at least 110.
Pilot training for Negroes was begun in November 1941 at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, where the 99th Fighter Squadron was trained prior to its commitment in 1943 to MTO, there to be assigned in 1944 to the 332nd Fighter Group commanded by Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. The 477th Bombardment Group (M), activated on 15 January 1944 and subsequently reorganized as a composite group under Colonel Davis’ command, had not been committed to combat when the war ended.71 The peak figure for Negro troops deployed by the AAF overseas was 74,273 in the month of July 1945, of which number 347 were commissioned officers; at that time, the total of Negroes stationed within the United States was 67,126. Not until May 1945 did the total of Negroes overseas exceed the number stationed at home. Over-all figures for AAF deployment show a larger percentage of the total force overseas by January 1945.72
Whether at home or overseas, most Negroes were assigned to some kind of supporting or service unit, and many of them were carried as ASWAAF’s. They were to be found in such units as quartermaster truck companies, chemical depot companies, air cargo resupply squadrons, and aviation squadrons, which might as well have been designated as labor battalions, for they were largely concerned with the physical effort required for the upkeep and maintenance of air bases.73 Only two all-Negro service groups were organized during the war: the 96th and the 387th. The first of these experienced many difficulties of training and leadership before its commitment to over-seas service in 1944. under white officers. The second, whose ranking officers were white from the beginning, included so many airmen with high AGCT scores as to suggest that educational qualifications counted more than any other single factor in the quality of unit achievement.74
The Personnel Distribution Command
Because AAF units were among the first to be committed to battle, their personnel quickly became experienced combat veterans, and when their services could be spared, some were rotated home for assignments in training and other capacities. Later, as the air war accelerated, various theaters adopted rotation policies by which combat personnel became eligible for return to the United States, policies usually based on a more or less specifically defined number of combat missions. By the spring of 1943 it was anticipated that approximately
5,000 veterans per month would be returning by that August, and the number thereafter would increase rapidly. Returnees had been assigned directly to appropriate Zone of Interior commands, but they had not been screened to determine the disposition of hospitalized, fatigued, or incompetent men. On 7 August 1943 the AAF Redistribution Center was established as an exempted activity under AC/AS, Personnel for this purpose. This agency was redesignated on 1 June 1944 as the AAF Personnel Distribution Command (PDC) and was given broader functions.75
Three redistribution stations were established – Atlantic City, New Jersey; Miami Beach, Florida; and Santa Monica, California – where resort hotels and beaches offered facilities for recreation. Later, three additional redistribution stations were activated – at Greensboro, North Carolina; at Santa Ana Army Air Base, Santa Ana, California; and at San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, San Antonio, Texas, where facilities of Training Command installations had become surplus by 1944.76
The three original redistribution stations worked out a schedule for receiving and processing returnees. The returnee was first given an orientation lecture and was then put through a unit personnel check, with particular attention to pay problems, legal affairs, and allotments. This was followed by a thorough physical examination and a careful check for emotional stability which included interviews and, where necessary, hospitalization and psychiatric study. After a re-examination of the returnee’s record, he was classified for future assignment. The original processing schedule of a week for the normal case was later shortened to five days. Thereafter, the returnee was free to engage in recreational activities or his personal affairs.77
With the increased flow of returnees in 1944 some refinements in this routine were made. Beginning in October 1944 the Training Command sent liaison units to assist with assignment problems. In November psychological research units were established at redistribution stations to administer tests for the more efficient reassignment of personnel. By the end of the war, plans for even more elaborate testing and research projects had been developed.78 After 15 February 1945 some 95 per cent of returnee aircrew personnel and a substantial proportion of ground crew members were being assigned to the Training Command.79
Special policies had to be established for those combat returnees who needed rehabilitation because of physical or emotional difficulties.
These persons, after a twenty-one-day leave, returned to the redistribution stations for a more leisurely process of reassignment. An effort was made to dispense with the traditional atmosphere of a normal military post by placing great stress on a full schedule of various types of entertainment and recreation.80
Special treatment was accorded all former prisoners of war, escapees, evaders, and internees, and separate projects were set up for the various groups. Officers below the grade of colonel and enlisted men below the grade of master sergeant were promoted one grade above that held at the time of surrender, and they were given a ninety-day period of temporary duty for rehabilitation, recuperation, and recovery. Thereafter, they were given a choice of available assignments, with preliminary training if necessary.81 During 1945 the hotel-type stations began to assume the status of convalescent homes, with an ever-increasing number of occupants.
However, on 12 June this leisurely type of processing was ordered discontinued because impending demobilization policies demanded the use of the stations and medical officers for the separation program. By August facilities at redistribution stations were still being used chiefly for repatriated personnel, but with an emphasis now on the personal affairs sections of the processing machinery. Personal affairs experts worked closely with the various federal employment agencies and with the Veterans Administration to make the return to civilian life smoother.82