Chapter 19: Training of Ground Technicians and Service Personnel
DURING the war the AAF required four technical specialists for every man who flew. The ratio of total ground personnel to flying personnel was nearly seven to one, and for every man actually committed to air combat there were sixteen individuals who served within the AAF on some noncombat assignment.1 Individual training of technical specialists was the responsibility of the Technical Training Command (TTC) from its establishment in March 1941 until July 1943, when its successor, the Training Command, inherited the job. In addition, the Air Service Command provided individual training for many of the specialists required for its own activities,* and the four continental air forces found it necessary to operate schools for special training of personnel of other arms and services on assignment with the AAF (ASWAAF). In this last category, however, the men were frequently assigned to the branch of origin – for example, the Signal Corps or the Chemical Warfare Service – for individual training and return to the AAF. Unit training, and such combined training of combat and maintenance organizations as might be necessary, was conducted by the continental air forces or by the ASC.
In the early days of the Air Service, practically all enlisted technicians, whether or not they were concerned directly with the maintenance of aircraft, had been known as airplane mechanics. But as the work of technicians became more and more specialized, the term “airplane mechanic” was gradually restricted to men who maintained
* See above, pp. 505-8.
airframes, aircraft engines, and accessories integral to the plane; these accessories included such equipment as propellers, hydraulic and electrical systems, carburetors, and generators. Technicians who specialized in such equipment as armament, cameras, and radio devices – equipment not considered strictly as parts of the aircraft – came to be known by special names and were trained in separate programs. The primary responsibility for aircraft maintenance in the AAF during the war belonged to teams of enlisted mechanics, each team working under the direction of a noncommissioned officer called a crew chief. Before the war it had been customary for each pilot to supervise the maintenance of his own airplane, but after 1941 this responsibility was assumed by a nonflying squadron engineering officer. Maintenance activities in the squadron were limited to the first and second echelon, that is to say, to regular servicing of aircraft, routine inspections and adjustments, and minor repairs. For the more difficult jobs, including periodic overhauls, the squadron depended upon depots and subdepots serving the needs of more than one combat unit for what was officially designated third and fourth echelon maintenance.* Though the distinction between these several levels of service depended in no small part upon a difference in equipment, some of the depot work required more highly trained specialists.
During the year 1938–39 fewer than 900 men had been graduated from the basic mechanics course of the Air Corps Technical School at Chanute Field. Between July 1939 and August 1945 graduates of courses in maintenance given by or for the AAF totaled more than 700,000.2 Although this number includes many who graduated from more than one course, it serves to suggest the staggering proportions of the maintenance training that had to be provided. In the earlier stages of this great expansion the AAF depended upon three major types of schools: its own technical schools for basic airplane and engine mechanics courses, and for some advanced training; civilian mechanics schools, which provided basic instruction as well as training in third and fourth echelon maintenance for depot specialists; and factory schools, which gave training on the equipment of particular manufacturers. When it became apparent in the spring of 1943 that the initial demand for mechanics was nearly satisfied and
* See above, p. 388n.
that casualties among ground crews were proving extremely light, the number of trainees was drastically curtailed. Accordingly, after June 1943 students were no longer entered in civilian mechanics schools, and the number of factory schools and AAF technical schools was reduced.3
Individual Training in Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering
The basic airplane mechanics course, which trained men to perform first and second echelon maintenance, required thirty-eight weeks as taught before 1939. In order to accelerate training during the emergency period, the length of the course was progressively shortened; by July 1943 the standard course lasted 112 days, less than half the time required before 1939. After many variations, the course of training had by then become relatively stable. It included preliminary instruction in the use of tools, followed by practical study of airplane structures, operating systems, instruments, engines, and propellers. After the student had become familiar with the aircraft and its accessories, special attention was given to the procedure for engine changes, preflight and daily inspections, and the more thorough-going periodic inspections. Near the end of the course, about a week of maintenance practice and testing, under simulated field conditions, was required.4
Before the war all basic mechanic training had been general in character, but in the latter part of 1942 it was decided that the technical schools should concentrate their instruction upon particular airplanes. Thereafter, one school specialized on the B-17 and one on the B-24; others restricted themselves to aircraft of a certain type, such as medium bombers or transports. This arrangement promised a speedier provision of men skilled in their particular jobs, but experience demonstrated the need for a more flexible system. Accordingly, in October 1944 the curriculum was divided into a general course of seventy-six days and a specialized supplementary course of thirty-six days. The total training time remained unchanged, and the subjects taught were the same as in the single 112-day curriculum, but the new plan made it possible to provide specialized training on any airplane without the necessity of maintaining an extended course of instruction for each. It had the further advantage of permitting a man qualified on one aircraft to transition quickly to another type
by taking the appropriate short course. In May 1945 a basic maintenance course devoted exclusively to the B-29 was established. But otherwise the policy adopted in 1944 remained in force to the end of the war.5
Beginning early in 1942 it became general policy to send basic mechanic graduates to factory schools for additional instruction. When the graduates had received only generalized training in their basic course, the factories provided specialization on the airplanes produced by the particular manufacturer. After the basic mechanics schools began to specialize, the factories continued to supplement their work by giving training on aircraft which were omitted from regular AAF courses and by advanced instruction on the others. Although most of the factory training was on the level of first and second echelon maintenance, some third echelon work was included in the engine courses. Manufacturers of aircraft accessories, such as instruments, also provided advanced training, usually including fourth echelon work, on particular items of equipment. The chief problems in factory training were the need for coordination of factory curricula with those of AAF schools and the differences in maintenance techniques between factory personnel and AAF maintenance experts. In most cases these differences were easily ironed out.6
In addition to advanced training in general aircraft maintenance, the AAF provided a number of specialized mechanics courses. The electrical course, for example, prepared students to maintain aircraft electrical systems through third echelon repair. It required sixty days and included a review of elementary electrical theory and practice as a preliminary to the study of generator and starter systems; auxiliary electrical units, such as lighting circuits and warning systems; electronic turbo-supercharger control systems; and ignition systems. The final phase of this course included practical maintenance problems and electrical system inspections.7
The instrument course trained men in first, second, and third echelon maintenance. The training period was extended from forty to sixty-six days as the variety and complexity of aircraft instruments increased. By 1944 the first phase of the course included constructional features, operating principles, and methods of making minor repairs on mechanically operated’ instruments, such as the altimeter, vertical and airspeed indicators, tachometer, and optical devices.
Electrically operated instruments, including the thermometer and fuel-mixture indicators, were taught in the second phase; and gyro-operated equipment, such as the artificial horizon and the automatic pilot, were given in a third phase. The complicated flux-gate compass was treated as a separate phase of instruction. Short sub-courses, each one limited to a specific kind of equipment, were offered to mechanics who did not need training in the complete instrument course. This provision was common to the various programs of specialized maintenance during the war.8
Instruction in airplane hydraulic systems started in the summer of 1943 and was of forty-two days’ duration. As reorganized in 1944 the course embraced three phases: familiarization with hydraulic principles and appropriate AAF technical orders; operation and maintenance of the hydraulic systems of fighter- and attack-type aircraft; and operation and maintenance of hydraulic systems of bombardment types. Instruction was conducted chiefly through work projects, such as removal, disassembly, cleaning, repairing, and reinstalling of hydraulically operated units. Training in propeller maintenance, which required about forty days, was conducted as a separate advanced program. This program was divided into four sub-courses, one for each major type of propeller used by the AAF. Trainees were enrolled in those phases which met the needs of their service assignment. All instruction was centered around practical exercises performed in the shop.9
One of the most important of the advanced courses was the power-plant course, which aimed to develop engine specialists. By the fall of 1944 this training required seventy-two days. All work, together with brief oral explanations, was conducted in shops. It included maintenance, through the third echelon level, of standard radial and in-line airplane engines and their accessories, such as superchargers, carburetors, generators, and starters.10
Special advanced programs were established for new types of aircraft. Maintenance training on helicopters began in November 1944, when two courses were established. One covered first and second echelon procedures only and treated the principles of helicopter operation; the structures, controls, and assembly of the main and tail rotors; instruments; electrical system; power plant; power transmission; and inspection techniques. The second course carried maintenance through the fourth echelon. In the late spring of 1945 a
training course was started for maintenance of the newly developed, jet-propulsion P-80 airplane. The thirty-day curriculum stressed practical work in removal, installation, and repair of the various units and assemblies.11
Graduates of the advanced maintenance courses described above were normally qualified for third echelon work in be shops and subdepots. Other courses were required for the training of personnel to perform major overhauls in service depots. Since the Air Service Command had primary responsibility for this kind of maintenance, the training was in large part under its control. Some instruction was provided on the job in the depots themselves, but most of the trainees were assigned to civilian mechanics schools, with costs paid by the government. A jurisdictional conflict developed between the Air Service Command and the Technical Training Command over the schools outside the service depots; although the TTC won out in June 1942, the ASC continued to exercise varying degrees of control over the program through its right to prescribe standards for the schools. Both civilians and enlisted men were assigned to the civilian mechanics schools until June 1943, when the contracts were allowed to drop.12
While this depot program lasted, it consisted of two fifteen-week courses, one for airframes and one for airplane engines. Following an. explanation of AAF maintenance systems and exercises in the use of tools, the student in the airframe curriculum studied the airplane’s principal structural elements, including wing panels, control surfaces, tail assemblies, fuselage, and landing gear. Instruction was then given on such special features as the instrument and propeller systems. Procedures for complete engine change, as well as drill in the various periodic aircraft inspections, were also included in the course. In the airplane engine curriculum, the student studied the principles of internal-combustion engines and the construction and operation of air- and liquid-cooled airplane engines; he then received instruction in the disassembly and assembly of engines, on the fuel, oil, and electrical systems, and on procedures for inspection and change of engines.13
In addition to the standard basic and advanced maintenance courses, several auxiliary specialist programs were conducted. In one such program, aircraft machinists, sheet-metal workers, and welders received common instruction in the AAF maintenance system, in the
reading of blueprints, in mechanical and freehand drawing, in the use of hand, power, and measuring tools, and in heat treatment of metals used by the AAF. After this preliminary indoctrination, the machinist trainees were taught how to use lathes, shapers, drill presses, grinding machines, and similar equipment; sheet-metal trainees specialized in practicing aircraft repairs involving soldering, riveting, splicing, contouring, and related techniques; and students in training to become welders were taught both gas and electric welding, with particular attention to the welding of aircraft parts, such as oil and fuel tanks. Each of the courses in the metal specialist group required from 90 to 120 days of training. Toward the close of the war many combat returnees sought to enter these programs as a means of learning a trade for postwar employment.14
Various other auxiliary specialist courses were conducted by the AAF. Among these were programs for training parachute riggers and repairmen, and experts in the operation and maintenance of portable oxygen generators. Of unusual interest was the six-week arctic training course. Four weeks were devoted to operation and maintenance of various types of ground and airplane heaters and to the operation under arctic conditions of portable power plants, “snow buggies,” and other equipment. Special attention was given to cold-weather lubrication, fuel-induction and electrical systems, and general maintenance of aircraft and engines in intensely cold weather. The final two weeks of the course were spent in actual frigid conditions; students lived in the open and learned how to construct emergency shelters, to travel in deep snow, and generally to protect themselves from the elements. This phase of the training was at first conducted at Camp Echo Lake, Colorado, high in the Rocky Mountains, but was later removed to Great Falls, Montana, which had a more severe climate.15
Most of the students in training to become engineering officers were enrolled as aviation cadets in a special twenty-three-week program. The course was taught at Chanute Field until December 1942, when it was transferred to Yale University; in August 1944 the pro-gram reverted to its original home. The purpose of the course was to qualify officers for over-all supervision of maintenance and engineering activities in a squadron or at a base. The students received thorough instruction in the subject matter of all phases of aircraft maintenance and related specialties, and combined this training with
military instruction appropriate to their future status as commissioned officers. In addition to the comprehensive course for cadets, a parallel course was offered to selected enlisted mechanics who, having completed the basic mechanics course, were put through the advanced course in about eight weeks; on its completion, these men were commissioned and sent to the six-week indoctrination course at the Officer Training School at Miami Beach. In August 1944 the courses for aviation cadets and selected enlisted mechanics were superseded by a program open only to pilots returned from combat. The curriculum was accordingly modified; maintenance fundamentals were omitted and cruise-control and test-pilot procedures were added. Advanced courses, open to men already qualified as maintenance engineering officers, were established early in 1945 for B-29 and other specializations.16
Some of the most effective maintenance instruction given during the war was conducted, not in schools or shops, but by mobile training units (MTU’s). Since assigned mechanics, both in the United States and overseas, were unable to keep abreast of the frequent and sometimes radical modifications of aircraft, and since they could seldom be released for refresher training at fixed establishments, these mobile units, each of which was to give training in a particular type of aircraft, were designed to bring the school to the student. The MTU program was begun in July 1942, and although it developed slowly at first, by the end of the war twenty-four units were on duty outside the continental United States, five were en route overseas, twelve were being prepared for shipment, and more than a hundred were operating in the United States.17
The complement of an MTU varied in size from six to fifteen men, depending on the type of equipment carried. The liaison officer who headed the unit supervised the crew, determined the instructional needs of each organization visited, and established a curricular schedule appropriate to those needs. Another key member of an MTU was the crew chief, who supervised the work of the enlisted instructors; the instructors themselves were carefully selected and trained for this special assignment. In addition to the military personnel, most crews carried one or two civilian representatives of the manufacturers of the particular airplane or its accessories. These civilians, who returned frequently to the factory schools to learn
latest aircraft developments and maintenance techniques, were qualified to instruct in all phases of maintenance and repair.
This MTU program was so adaptable that an individual unit could give instruction varying in content from basic courses for inexperienced men to courses for experienced mechanics in improved maintenance techniques and in procedures for handling new equipment. Although serious difficulties arose in getting equipment for the first MTU’s, the units eventually procured were models of efficiency. They contained tool kits, charts, motion-picture apparatus, and operational mock-ups of the principal aircraft assemblies and parts. By far the largest number of men to receive MTU training consisted of maintenance personnel, but aircrew members were also given instruction in order to encourage proper operation of aircraft and engines. The general reaction of all personnel to this form of training was highly favorable.
Individual Training in Communications
As communications equipment became increasingly specialized, the AAF found it necessary to establish more and more courses of training in the operation and maintenance of radio and radar devices. In 1944 some men were being trained solely as radio mechanics, some as radio operators, and still others as radio operator-mechanics (ROM’s). A considerable number of the ROM’s who met the physical requirements for combat flying were also given gunnery instruction and assigned to aircrews; the remainder performed their duties on the ground. In addition to the personnel undergoing basic radio training, a number of men received advanced instruction in the maintenance of equipment for ground-controlled radio interception, radio ranges, radio direction finding, and instrument landing. Another special course was given for control tower operators, and several programs were in effect for the training of nonflying air communications officers, who supervised maintenance and operation of radio equipment.18
Prior to late 1940 all radio training had been concentrated at Chanute Field, but when the Air Corps’ expansion program got under way and it was decided to reserve the facilities of Chanute for airplane-mechanic instruction, radio training was transferred to Scott Field, Illinois. As the establishment of new radio schools became necessary to meet the rising demand for communications technicians,
administrative and instructional cadres were provided from Scott Field. The number of students and schools declined rapidly after 1944; the total number of graduates from radio courses given by AAF training commands during the period July 1939 to V-J Day was well over 200,000. In addition, the Air Service Command trained a considerable number of civilians in radio maintenance.19
The ROM course was the most important of the various communications programs. Students who demonstrated proficiency in either radio operation or maintenance, but failed in the other phase, were graduated as either radio mechanics or radio operators, but experience proved that it was better to train men in both phases than in one of the specialties alone. The ROM course in 1940 was of twenty-two weeks’ duration; its objective was to train men to operate an aircraft radio station at a speed of sixteen words a minute and to perform first and second echelon maintenance of all equipment. Throughout the course, half the time was given to radio operation, which included instruction and practice in Morse code until the desired speed was attained. The other half of the training day was devoted to the fundamentals of radio equipment. Instruction consisted of demonstrations, laboratory work, inspection, and maintenance practice on types of radio sets in current use. A brief allotment of time was made, primarily for the benefit of students qualified for aircrew duty, to training under simulated flying conditions, and when aircraft were available, one actual flight was made by such students.20 Soon after Pearl Harbor the ROM curriculum was reduced to eighteen weeks, but after July 1943 this trend was reversed, and by July 1944 the length of training had been extended to twenty-six weeks.
The code characters, representing letters and numbers, were taught chiefly by mechanical means. Sending machines, activated by premarked code tapes, transmitted the signals to the students’ headsets. Each tape contained a small number of characters arranged in repetitive sequences; the machines could send the signals at any de-sired speed. As the student received the code signals through his headset, he printed the corresponding characters on a sheet of paper before him. In the latter part of 1942 a successful modification of this system was introduced. Called the “quacking” or “dit-dah” method, it encouraged students to think of the code signals not as “dots” and “dashes” but as “dits” and “dabs,” sounds which approximate
those of the short and long code signals and thus provided an aural, rather than a visual, identification for each character. This method substantially reduced the amount of time required to master the code, but many individuals continued to have difficulty and complained of the monotony of code instruction.21
Some men were trained solely in radio operation. Entrants in this course were usually those who did not show sufficient aptitude as mechanics but who had shown high aptitude for sending and receiving code. Training in radio maintenance, exclusive of operation, was also open to men of mechanical aptitude who could not attain the required code speed. The instruction received by these students was more advanced than the maintenance portion of the standard ROM course and was followed by specialized training, through third and fourth echelons, in the maintenance of ground-controlled radio-interception equipment, radio-range, direction-finding, or instrument landing devices. Most of the graduates from these specialized courses were assigned to the Army Airways Communications System. Students who failed to meet minimum requirements in either radio operation or maintenance were the principal source of entrants into the control tower operator course. These men were trained to assist in the control of air traffic in the vicinity of a landing field through established procedures of ground-to-air communication.22
Officer training in radio communications, originally located at Chanute Field, was transferred to Yale University in 1943. The standard course for cadets there in 1944 lasted twenty weeks; it paralleled the enlisted ROM curriculum but included additional material on the administrative duties of a communications officer. At the end of 1944 the program was removed from Yale to Scott Field, pilot officers were entered in place of aviation cadets, and the curriculum was accordingly modified.23
The radar training programs were marked by much more specialization. The term “radar,” a word coined from “radio detection and ranging,” was almost as new to the AAF as it was to the general public. Following plans made in the summer of 1941, a limited number of officers were detailed to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for training in the use of radio detection equipment; the first radar course to be given by the AAF was started in November of that year at Scott Field. The number of courses and students increased steadily until January 1945* Although enrollment gradually
declined thereafter, at war’s end the radar program was still operating on a substantial scale. Between Pearl Harbor and V-J Day over 85,000 men graduated from radar courses – the majority of them trained for ground technical duties.24
Frequent modifications in radar equipment, the early shift from defensive to offensive use of radar, and the experimental nature of radar itself produced repeated changes of curriculum for the instruction of radar mechanics. Not until late 1944 was relative stability achieved. After that date graduates of a special radio-mechanic course at Truax Field, Wisconsin, normally took a six-week course in electronic fundamentals at Chanute Field, after which they took a thirty-day general radar-mechanic course at Boca Raton Army Air Field, Florida. Graduates from this series of courses were then entered into one of the many advanced curricula taught at Boca Raton. In the advanced mechanics courses, which ranged in length from twelve to sixty-four days, the men specialized in radar equipment common to a particular type of unit or assignment. One course, for example, taught maintenance of night fighter radar devices; another taught maintenance of bombing-through-overcast equipment; and still another was concerned with radar navigation instruments.25
The majority of officers receiving radar instruction were flyers, but many nonflying officers were also given training. The ground officers had to be graduates of the radio communications course, and most of them were entered in a twenty-week program for qualification as electronics officers. The curriculum consisted of training in the maintenance of all important types of radar equipment, as well as in procedures for general supervision of squadron radar operations. Some students followed an alternate pattern: after twenty-eight weeks of electronics training at Harvard University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they went to Boca Raton for an abbreviated eight-week course similar to the standard radar officer curriculum. In October 1944. a radar program for intelligence officers was started at Langley Field, Virginia. It consisted of four weeks of study of radar principles, scope interpretation, radar navigation and bombing, target analysis, and mission planning. Graduates, classified as radar intelligence officers, had the job of planning missions for radar-equipped aircraft and briefing and interrogating their crews.26
Communications training included, in addition to radio and radar, several courses in teletype transmission and cryptography. Courses lasting from twenty-five to forty-eight days gave specialized instruction in maintenance and operation of teletype equipment at Chanute Field during most of the war. Separate cryptographic schools were conducted for enlisted men and officers. Students were chosen with special care for the four-week course; officer and en-listed curricula were similar in scope, except that the officer course included problems of administration and supervision. The location of this training was changed several times, and in June 1945 both schools were moved from Chanute to Scott Field.27
Individual Training in Aircraft Armament
The combat airplane was far more than a flying machine. It carried an array of complicated lethal machinery: machine guns, cannon, and bombs, as well as the necessary equipment for their operation and control, such as gun turrets, bombsights, and its companion piece, the automatic pilot. All such equipment was designated aircraft armament; closely allied to aircraft armament were the spray tanks and other containers with which planes were fitted for the conduct of chemical warfare should it be required.
Since the general airplane mechanic was not qualified to care for this highly specialized equipment, it became necessary to train thousands of experts in armament maintenance – more than 160,000 all told.28 Before Pearl Harbor the airplane armament course given at Lowry Field, Colorado, lasted fifteen weeks and included instruction on both fighter and bomber armament. As the war progressed, the curriculum changed frequently, and the number of subjects included were steadily increased. The major curricular problem was that of general versus specialized training. With the aim of shortening the training period and thereby speeding the production of graduates, separate fighter and bomber courses, each nine weeks long, were established in September 1942. Such a program, however, introduced an element of inflexibility into the problem of assignment, and after shifting back and forth between the dual and the combined program, the Training Command in March 1949 achieved a compromise solution. A streamlined seven-week course was divided into two parts: students received twenty days of general armament instruction, followed by twenty-two days of specialization on the
B-17, B-24, or medium bomber types; fighter armament training was discontinued altogether. In November 1944 a specialized course in B-29 armament was added. Only students qualified for aircrew gunnery were admitted to the new program since by that time a surplus of ground armorers was in sight. In April 1945 all specialized armament courses were ended. Demands for heavy and medium bomber armorers had been met, and it had been found that B-29 gunners were so occupied with operation of their weapons that they had no time to perform maintenance. With the pressing requirements for speedy training removed, the AAF returned to a unified, comprehensive course. A reorganized twenty-week curriculum was placed in effect at Lowry Field in the summer of 1945. The contents of the various armament curricula were generally similar, differing only in emphasis and in the specific equipment studied. Principal subjects included were explosives and ammunition, bomb racks, electrical armament controls, aircraft machine guns and cannon, installation and harmonization of weapons, gun sights and cameras, and power turrets.29
Since the general aircraft armament course could do little more than introduce the student to the special problems involved in the maintenance of power-operated turrets, specialists had to be trained for the work. At Lowry Field, a course on first and second echelon maintenance of the main types of turrets and computing sights was reduced from twelve to eight weeks in length early in 1942. Shorter courses, limited to the equipment of a particular manufacturer, were given by various factory schools as supplements to the instruction at Lowry Field. When the B-29, with its unique system of central fire control, came into operation, a sixteen-week course for maintenance of the new type of armament equipment was inaugurated at Lowry. Entrants into this program had to be graduates of the standard turret course.30
Probably the most intricate of the devices carried by a combat aircraft was the bombsight, which required an expert for its maintenance. Training of bombsight mechanics, involving elementary electricity, theory of sighting, and principles of gyroscopes, as well as the construction and disassembly of the device itself, lasted from twelve to twenty weeks. Beginning in 1943 it was possible to re-quire graduates of the course to spend an additional eight-week
period performing on-the-line bombsight maintenance at bombardier schools before assignment to combat units.31
While the Technical Training Command was arranging and providing the necessary instruction for first and second echelon armament maintenance, the Air Service Command took steps to train enlisted men for depot overhaul work. In June 1942 it established the Armament Training School at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis. Courses were taught in the repair of turrets, bomb-sights, and central fire-control equipment; students were civilian employees of the depots or graduates of first and second echelon armament programs. In February 1944 the Indianapolis school was closed, and the courses were moved to Lowry Field.32
Admission to training for assignment as squadron armament and chemical officer, an officer charged with supervision of bomb-loading and armament maintenance, was limited shortly after Pearl Harbor to eliminated aviation cadets who showed mechanical aptitude. The course was given first at Lowry Field, but was transferred in January 1943 to Yale University, where it remained until June 1944. The course was then removed to Buckley Field, Colorado, and was restricted to pilot officers returned from combat. The curriculum was steadily expanded during the war to include all subjects in the field of armament and related equipment, as well as chemical warfare and administration. Instruction in this diversified program required eighteen weeks. For a brief period, when the demand for armament officers was very pressing, selected instructors and graduates of the enlisted armament courses were given a special six-week course which led to commissioning.33
Individual Training in Aerial Photography
During the war great strides were made in the art of aerial photography, and this means of reconnaissance became indispensable to planning, executing, and appraising a wide variety of military operations. Having a large share of the responsibility for training personnel in this work, the AAF developed, in addition to aerial photographers, such specialists as camera repairmen, laboratory technicians, and cinematographers. Between 1939 and August 1945 more than 17,000 men graduated from AAF photographic courses.34
The central problem in training photographic personnel, as in the case of most other technicians, was determining how much instruction
should be general and how much specialized. As the demand arose for an increasing variety of photographic experts, continual adjustments in the curricula had to be made. The main courses were repeatedly combined, subdivided, separated, and recombined.
The two major photographic courses were for laboratory and camera technicians. In the early part of 1944 they were recombined after a considerable period of separation. All personnel entering this combined program took the ten-week laboratory-technician phase, at the end of which the enlisted men in the course entered a ten-week camera-technician phase, and enlisted WAC’s entered a six-week photographic mosaic course. The laboratory-technician phase included such subjects as general photographic principles, optics, photographic chemistry, printing, copying, vectography, and operation of photographic units. In the camera-technician phase students were taught how to install, maintain, and repair aerial cameras. In July 1944 a program was instituted to train aerial photographers and aerial photographer gunners; this was accomplished by providing an additional phase, which was taken at the end of the regular laboratory-camera-technician course by students qualified for aircrew duty. The extra two-week period was taken up with instruction in photographic-mission planning, loading and unloading the various types of cameras, and actual experience in flying photographic missions. As combat conditions demanded, various other short courses were set up from time to time. In the spring of 1945, for example, a brief program in radarscope photography was established to teach the fundamentals of radar and photography, the use of radar equipment and cameras, and the processing of films. Courses were also given at various times for photo-topographers and aerial motion-picture photographers.35
The aviation cadet photographic course, or the laboratory commander course as it was often called, was begun at Lowry Field be-fore the United States entered the war. The development of photographic officer training closely paralleled that of courses for armament cadets. Instruction was in both instances transferred to Yale University during the war, and the full-length cadet course was supplemented by abbreviated officer courses for selected graduates and instructors of the standard enlisted programs. The laboratory commander course, as taught in the twelve-week curriculum, consisted of the fundamentals of laboratory and camera work, in addition
to administrative functions. After early graduates had shown deficiencies in performing their administrative and supervisory duties as laboratory commanders, special emphasis was placed on this phase of their work.36
Individual Training in Weather
Weather affects all flying, and its importance to military flying can be crucial. In order to get the weather information essential to its operations, the AAF maintained in the AAF Weather Service a world-wide chain of weather stations for observation and forecasting of atmospheric conditions. Routine observation and recording of weather data were performed by enlisted personnel of the lower grades, and the analysis of weather maps and the preparation of forecasts were made by commissioned officers and enlisted personnel of the higher grades.
The training of meteorological personnel was first undertaken by the Air Corps on a very small scale in 1937, when the Army transferred responsibility for weather information from the Signal Corps to the air arm. The program was concentrated at Chanute Field in 1940, at which time courses in observing and forecasting were being taught to enlisted men; toward the close of the year a meteorology program for aviation cadets was being developed in a number of cooperating colleges and universities. As the weather program expanded, it was found necessary to supplement existing facilities by creating a Weather Training Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Instruction was carried on there for only a short period, however, because the properties leased for this purpose had to be relinquished during October 1943. Shortly thereafter, as the demand for weather personnel abruptly declined, the major training courses were suspended. Most of the programs for both enlisted men and officers were resumed on a limited basis, however, before the end of the war. During the period from July 1939 to September 1945 more than 20,000 students graduated from the various weather courses.37
One of the basic courses was for weather observers. Graduates of this training were normally assigned to weather stations, and their duties consisted of noting meteorological data such as temperature, dew point, atmospheric pressure, force and direction of wind, visibility, and type and amount of clouds. The observer at each station recorded his data, transmitted it to other stations, and received
similar reports in return. Nearly half of the observer-training course was devoted to practical exercises in decoding weather reports and entering the data on weather maps. The curriculum included also the care and repair of weather instruments and the taking of surface observations. Background instruction in elementary meteorology gave students some theoretical knowledge as a basis for the performance of their everyday duties.38
While the ten-week observer course stressed practical exercises, the enlisted weather forecaster curriculum was concerned largely with theoretical concepts. After Pearl Harbor the forecaster course, one of the most difficult of the Air Corps’ technical programs, was reduced to twenty-two weeks in length. A considerable portion of the curriculum was devoted to background subjects, such as algebra, trigonometry, calculus, vector analysis, electricity, and heat. This preparation was followed by meteorological subjects: radiation, atmospheric pressure, temperature distribution, circulation, air mass and frontal analysis, and mathematical formulae pertinent to forecasting. Subjects from the weather observer course were included until late 1942, when it became possible to restrict entrance in the course to graduates of the standard weather observer program. Using current weather data, students prepared weather maps and charts and made forecasts on the basis of their work. Increasing availability of weather officers altered the objectives and content of the enlisted forecaster course early in 1943. Until that time the enlisted forecasters had usually served as the key personnel at weather stations, but thereafter the weather officers assumed the responsible forecasting activities, and enlisted forecasters served as their assistants. The enlisted curriculum was revised to place more emphasis upon the preparation and use of forecasting aids and less on theoretical meteorology.39
The need for weather officers with advanced educational back-ground and complete meteorological training had been recognized when the Air Corps began its wartime expansion in 1939. To pro-vide qualified commissioned personnel for its growing number of weather stations, the Air Corps decided to enroll selected men as aviation cadets in graduate meteorology courses at five universities; prerequisites for the course were a college degree in science or engineering and age not over twenty-six years. Recruiting of students began during the summer of 1940, and instruction began at
each of the chosen universities in the fall. Although each succeeding cadet class was larger than its predecessor, production of weather officers did not equal anticipated requirements during 1941 and 1942. In order to secure more students, educational prerequisites were lowered to the completion of two years of college, with courses in mathematics and physics; in addition, a premeteorology program was established in selected colleges early in 1943. Students with only a high school education or one year of college were recruited and put into this program as enlisted men. But it soon became evident that requirements had been overestimated. In the summer of 1943 the meteorology program was so far curtailed that only one class of premeteorology graduates entered the cadet phase.40
Training of meteorology cadets was halted after June 1944. A similar course was started early in 1945 at Chanute Field, but entrance was restricted to commissioned flying personnel with the requisite educational qualifications.41 At about the same time a special program for training weather reconnaissance officers was launched. In areas where weather reports were unavailable, the only way of securing data was through reconnaissance flights; the aerial observer obtained the desired information both visually and through operation of airborne weather instruments. Photographic reconnaissance pilots were first given the necessary training, but the program was later opened to other types of pilots, navigators, and graduate weather officers. The fifteen-week course, suspended in June 1945, gave a general meteorological indoctrination, but it placed special stress upon the physical appearance of weather phenomena.42
A number of specialized courses for trained meteorological personnel were offered during part or all of the war. Some enlisted observers and forecasters were taught to operate the important radiosonde. This equipment was attached to a free balloon, which ascended to a height of ten to twelve miles; at that altitude the balloon burst because of reduced atmospheric pressure, and the radiosonde descended on a small parachute. During its flight up and down, the radio device automatically transmitted signals, indicating temperature, pressure, and humidity aloft. Instruction of operators required nine to ten weeks. Other special courses for selected weather forecasters and weather officers included maritime meteorology, tropical meteorology, operation of weather radio equipment, and micrometeorology, which was related to chemical warfare operations. These programs ranged in length from three to eight weeks.43
Individual Training in Arms and Services Specialties
Although the greater part of the AAF was composed of its own personnel, the troop basis authorized by the War Department for the AAF included large numbers of men from other branches of the Army as well. In April 1943, for example, enlisted personnel from the other arms and services who were assigned to the AAF made up one-quarter of the total enlisted strength of the air arm. In November of that year the AAF was authorized to integrate arms and services personnel into the AAF proper, but the transfer was subject to numerous restrictions and progressed slowly. ASWAAF personnel performed duties which had been traditionally outside the sphere of Air Corps functions, such as those belonging to the Medical, Ordnance, and Finance Departments, the Signal, Engineer, Quartermaster, and Military Police Corps, and the Chemical Warfare Service. Most of the enlisted personnel of these branches were classified as nonspecialists and did not attend service schools. Appropriate training for specialists was provided partly by the AAF and partly by the particular branches concerned, but in keeping with the move toward integration of arms and services personnel, the AAF assumed increasing control over their training.44 If enlisted men, they were usually sent to AAF basic training centers before assignment to units or schools, and after 1943 distinctions in treatment between AAF and ASWAAF personnel were less and less apparent.45
Personnel of the Medical Department who required specialized instruction generally received it at the medical establishments of the Army Service Forces. But there were special medical problems related to the flying of airplanes, and the School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field had become a center, well before 1939, for special training of flight surgeons and their technical assistants. There medical officers received a basic course of three to four months’ duration which qualified them as aviation medical examiners; after a minimum of one year’s active duty as examiners, the officers were normally given the rating of flight surgeon. A considerable number of medical officers, in addition to those enrolled at Randolph Field, took the basic program by means of a longer extension course.46
The wartime curriculum for enlisted assistants to flight surgeons was six weeks long. Subjects included were the care and operation
of examining apparatus, aircrew physical requirements and measurements, laboratory analysis procedures, hospital administration, sanitation, and tropical medicine. Late in 1944. the School of Aviation Medicine assumed control of a special course in air evacuation of the sick and wounded, a course which 1 Troop Carrier Command had originated in June 1943 at Bowman Field, Kentucky. Stu-dents were taught the professional, technical, administrative, and tactical procedures of air evacuation. Another function transferred from Bowman Field to the School of Aviation Medicine was the specialized training of Army nurses assigned to the AAF. Instruction of WAC medical technicians was conducted during the war at selected hospitals of the AAF Training Command.47
Of special interest was the AAF Medical Service Training School, established in November 1943 at Warner Robins Air Depot, Macon, Georgia. This instruction was an outgrowth of a course previously given at Warner Robins to personnel of the Air Service Command. Although the school was placed under ASC’s administrative jurisdiction, it served the AAF as a whole. The aim of the program was to prepare medical personnel for field assignments. Enlisted men who came to the school as hospital-trained specialists were oriented to the problems presented by combat conditions and the techniques for dealing with them. They studied and practiced heavy tent-pitching, map reading, chemical warfare, field sanitation and emergency medical care, defensive measures, and bivouac procedures. A comparable course, also six weeks in length, was given to Medical Department officers. The school also conducted unit training for AAF medical dispensaries and medical supply platoons.48
Specialized training of Quartermaster personnel, such as cooks and bakers, mess inspectors, and supply clerks, was provided almost entirely by Quartermaster schools. Although officers of the Chap-lain Corps received their specialized indoctrination at the Army Chaplain School at Harvard University, brief supplementary courses were frequently provided by the A. In 1944, for example, a school for chaplains and their assistants was established at the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center. Signal Corps personnel were generally given individual training in regular schools of that branch, but some AAF communications courses, chiefly those for radio operators, were open to Signal personnel. A considerable amount of specialist instruction was also given at AAF signal aviation unit training centers.49
During the war the Chemical Warfare Service gave most of the individual training required by personnel of that branch, although some courses were given by the Air Service Command. Late in 1944 an AAF center for chemical warfare training was activated at Barksdale Field, Louisiana; in the spring of 1945, in keeping with an over-all plan to concentrate AAF service training activities at Buckley Field, Colorado, the center was moved from Barksdale to Buckley and from the jurisdiction of the Third Air Force to that of the Training Command. The program taught at Buckley included a chemical munitions and materiel course and courses for chemical technicians, decontamination-equipment operators, and toxic-gas handlers. These curricula were intended to provide instruction for all chemical specialists needed by the AAF.50
A Military Police School was established in June 1943 at Camp Ripley, Minnesota, under ASC’s supervision. The courses, open to both AAF and ASWAAF personnel, were designed to train individuals and units for guard duty at AAF installations. The school moved several times, eventually becoming the first organization to function at the proposed service training center at Buckley Field. Courses offered there, other than unit training, included separate AAF Guard Courses for officers and for enlisted men, and a program for training provost marshals and military police commanders.51
Also established at Buckley Field in 1945 was a post engineer course. Officers selected to take this eight-week curriculum had to be college graduates in engineering or have equivalent experience. Camouflage instruction, which had been started by the AAF early in 1942 at Hamilton Field, was moved to Buckley; a number of officers from the AAF, as well as from the Corps of Engineers, were enrolled in this course. The principal responsibility for all individual engineer instruction remained, however, with the Corps of Engineers.52
The Finance Department maintained a training center at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, and the Army Finance School at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. These institutions provided most of the individual training required, but in April 1945 the AAF took steps to establish its own finance school for enlisted personnel at Maxwell Field, Alabama. AAF finance training was transferred to Lowry Field in October 1945, in keeping with the general plan to concentrate such activities at or near Buckley Field.53
Throughout the war the greater part of individual ordnance training for the AAF, particularly that of third and fourth echelon specialists, was conducted by the Ordnance Department. In order to supplement the graduates of the service schools and to provide sufficient numbers of technical personnel for operational training units, the First Air Force instituted its own ordnance training in February 1943. The First Air Force program, taught at two schools, consisted of instruction and practice in ordnance supply procedures, automotive maintenance and operation, small arms, and ammunition supply and issue. Graduates of the course were usually absorbed into ordnance sections of the operational training squadrons. After the middle of 1944 the ordnance program of the First Air Force, being no longer needed, was terminated.54
Training Procedures and Problems
Although hundreds of specific courses were taught in the individual technical and service training programs, the basic instructional methods used were similar almost throughout. Primary responsibility for developing educational policies rested with the AAF Training Command (and its predecessor, the Technical Training Command), which conducted the bulk of individual technical instruction.
During the first year of war the shortage of teachers and equipment overshadowed all other problems. As a result, graduates of technical courses showed serious deficiencies on the job. Lack of up-to-date training equipment made it necessary to devote a disproportionate share of time to lectures and theory; General Arnold himself, after a personal inspection, deplored the amount of theoretical data included in technical courses and directed that instruction be made pragmatic. Arnold’s criticisms of technical training in August 1942 prompted the commanding general of the Technical Training Command, Maj. Gen. Walter R. Weaver, to issue a series of orders aimed at achieving a drastic shift toward practical methods. Some of these directives were carried out fully and some only partly; others proved totally impossible of execution.55
The first of the Weaver directives, issued in September 1942, placed all TTC schools on a twenty-four-hour day, seven-day week basis. This innovation was intended primarily to allow maximum employment of available instructional equipment; moreover, by dividing classes into three or four shifts, instead of the existing two,
each shift would have fewer students and therefore a lower ratio of students to equipment. More radical changes were ordered in October, when it was directed that lectures be abolished and that the demonstration and practice technique be substituted. The standard plan of instruction contemplated small groups of students gathered around workbenches, observing their teachers perform the actual operations to be learned. The instructor would explain as he proceeded, and students would ask questions. Following the demonstration, the students would themselves perform the same operations on the equipment, while the instructor supervised their work, corrected errors, and answered questions. As a means of discouraging any surviving inclination on the part of teachers to lecture, blackboards and chairs were later ordered removed from all classrooms.56 Abolition of written examinations was directed concurrently with the order to eliminate lectures. It was believed that the existing system of written tests fostered a false objective by tempting instructors to teach students to pass an examination rather than to perform the duties for which they were being trained. In place of grading by written tests, it was directed that instructors give each student a daily grade based upon daily performance and an over-all grade for each major phase of a course. The final step in this effort to make instruction practical and realistic was a directive of April 1943, which required students to perform theater-of-operations duties. In order to simulate theater conditions, fixed sites for this phase of training were prohibited, so as to give students experience in setting up necessary installations.57
Although the Weaver directives were generally sound in principle, the insistence upon immediate compliance proved disruptive to the training program. Gradual adoption of the prescribed methods, with allowance for variation in specific instances, might have been both practicable and desirable. But the new orders were couched as imperatives; they were to be followed strictly, without consideration of what was reasonable or possible. The change to a twenty-four-hour day, seven-day week schedule was opposed on the ground that it would require additional instructors and higher operating costs; some of the civilian contract schools never adopted the schedule, and others abandoned it early in 1943. The elimination of lectures was not fully accomplished, because it was not possible to secure the requisite number of instructors or the necessary quantity
of equipment. In courses such as weather forecasting, which required understanding of theoretical concepts, it was inadvisable to eliminate lectures altogether, even if all needed equipment were available. It was apparent that the lecture-discussion technique was the most efficient method of communicating some types of necessary knowledge.
Probably the least successful of all the new directives was the order to abolish written examinations. Although the nature of written tests was modified, some form of this traditional measuring device was continued in most schools. Since grading, and elimination based on grading, were still required, the instructors had to have some reliable means of evaluating the work of their students.58
Soon after the TTC was merged into the AAF Training Command under Maj. Gen. Barton K. Yount, the “practical” program was modified. The basic principles of the new methodology were retained, but the schools were allowed greater flexibility in applying them. Classroom lectures were allowed when other methods proved inappropriate; their use was discouraged, however, and informal discussions were urged in their place. The modified policy, promulgated in October 1943, also permitted limited use of written tests.
In order to help implement the new program, which was built upon the practical, problem-solving approach, the Training Command directed that project sheets be prepared to outline each practical problem in the various technical courses. Instruction was to be arranged in blocks, so that teachers could specialize in one portion of a course and students could take just the phase of training which their duties might require. The modified system proved generally successful; this result was due to the greater reasonableness of the directives, the relaxation of demands for technical graduates, and the augmentation of equipment and teaching personnel. During 1945 several experiments contributed to further improvement of instructional methods. One of those worked out, applicable to most technical courses, was a model phase technique which comprised a planned sequence of lectures, demonstrations, and student performance of the operations involved.59
The instructors were, of course, the primary instruments in carrying out the training program. With the emphasis upon direct, practical instruction in 1942, strenuous efforts were made to reduce the student-instructor ratio to about six to one. Exceptions were made for teaching code, typing, and other subjects where it was efficient to
work with larger groups of students. In some cases the attempt to accelerate expansion of instructional staffs brought about the assignment of unqualified individuals, and it was not until 1945, as a consequence of declining enrollments, that satisfactory student-instructor ratios were achieved in most programs.
In order to secure technical instructors, several sources of man-power had to be utilized. Officers were rarely assigned to these duties; enlisted men and civilians made up the bulk of the force. In June 1942, as a means of making the maximum number of trained military personnel available for combat, the AAF directed that all enlisted instructors be replaced by civilians. The principal obstacle to fulfillment of this objective was the fact that there were relatively few qualified civilians who were not subject to military induction through the Selective Service System. Although the contract schools and colleges employed civilians exclusively, replacement of enlisted instructors at the military schools did not prove feasible. This was tacitly recognized in January 1943, when the policy was reversed. Increased emphasis was placed, however, on supplanting general-service men with limited-service personnel. Notwithstanding these efforts, it became necessary during 1943 to retain as instructors many general-service graduates of technical courses. This measure was approved as an expedient in order to meet the rising demands for technical specialists; by late 1944 combat returnees provided the necessary replacements.60
The majority of technical instructors lacked thorough knowledge of their subjects, practical experience in performing the duties which they taught to students, and professional training in the art of teaching. Many instructors, furthermore, did not desire their assignments, and the relatively low rank available to them as teachers discouraged initiative. This situation made constant supervision and training of instructors imperative even after they had been teaching for some time. Newly assigned instructors were generally enrolled in special classes taught by the more experienced teachers; both subject matter and teaching methods were reviewed. In addition to this form of indoctrination, the new teachers usually spent several days observing regular classes. Continuation training, consisting chiefly of advanced subject matter and re-emphasis upon instructional methods, was prescribed and conducted for all teachers. The “in-service” courses were rarely
satisfactory, and most of the experienced teachers resented what they considered to be an unnecessary inroad upon their off-duty hours. Efforts to increase the competence of instructors took other forms as well. From time to time, as student enrollment permitted, teachers were detached for temporary duty with mobile or operational training units within the continental United States. This practice, while limited, gave instructors a better appreciation of the practice of technical skills in the field, and at the same time improved the instructors’ morale.61
For a number of years before Pearl Harbor a high school education had been required for entry into Air Corps technical training, but as the demand for technicians increased, it became necessary to lower standards and to make them more flexible. In November 1940 the general requirement for entrants in technical courses was a score of too or above on the Army general classification test, and a designated minimum score on the aptitude test for a given specialty. By February 1943 the technical schools were permitted to enroll men having an AGCT score as low as 85, and less than 85 if in the opinion of classification officers such men had enough background or experience to qualify them for a given specialty. In April 1944 the minimum AGCT score requirement ranged from 70 for assignment to Cooks and Bakers School, to 120 for cryptographic technician training. Because of the preferential treatment given the AAF, the other arms and services got more than their share of the less intelligent recruits.* Since personnel assigned from other branches for duty with the AAF normally represented a cross section of their branch of origin, ASWAAF personnel sent to AAF schools tended to lower the average of the students’ performance.62
The elimination rates fluctuated for the various specialized courses and reflected for any given period the entrance qualifications of the students enrolled. In AAF schools the weather courses generally showed the highest rate of failures-in 1943 almost 30 per cent were eliminated. In contrast, a relatively low number of clerical trainees were eliminated, averaging about 5 per cent during most of the war. Most of the failing students in technical courses had relatively low general aptitude scores. In radio operator training, for example, nearly half of the entrants having AGCT scores below too were eliminated.
* See above, pp. 540-42.
Consequently, when the demand for students was most critical and minimum entrance qualifications were waived in particular programs, the rate of failure mounted sharply. Standard practice during the war was to dispose of eliminees in the following manner: unassigned personnel were enrolled in other courses or reported available for general assignment, while assigned personnel were returned to the organizations from which they came. Graduates, if not retained as instructors, were normally transferred to appropriate units for operational training.63
Several persistent causes lowered the morale of students in technical and service courses. Although a great number of these men, probably the majority, adjusted themselves satisfactorily to the training they were getting, others were unable to do so. The underlying difficulty was the necessity of assigning men to training contrary to their choice; indeed, it was equally true that many were in the Army against their will. If more time had been available and if the demand for individual specialists had conformed more closely to the training desires of the men, more satisfactory assignments could have been made. In the pressure of events, however, classification and assignment were frequently guided more by the need to fill specific school quotas than by the aptitude and predilection of the men. Malassignments, some avoidable and some unavoidable, naturally resulted in discontent.
Student dissatisfaction was aggravated by conditions in the schools themselves. Daily schedules were extremely crowded, especially during 1942 and 1943, and the three-shift system then in operation reduced the amount of sleep obtained by many students. Furloughs were generally not permitted while students were in a training status, and this policy proved especially irksome to men who might be in a training sequence for six or seven months. Furthermore, when demands for graduates were especially heavy, furloughs to which men were normally entitled before proceeding to their next assignment were canceled. The particular groups of trainees whose adjustment proved most difficult were former permanent party enlisted men who were taken from their assigned organizations in order to fill school quotas, eliminated aircrew trainees who disdained any form of ground duty, and combat returnees who generally resented the personal restrictions imposed by school regulations.64
Training of Ground Echelons of Combat Groups
The individually trained specialists who were assigned to combat or maintenance organizations required additional instruction before they were ready to work effectively. As with flying personnel, it was necessary to mold these individuals, along with nonspecialized personnel, into functioning teams. Such unit training was achieved largely through on-the-job learning and practice, but it frequently involved more formal types of instruction. In any case, the most successful pro-grams were guided by carefully planned and coordinated schedules.
The bulk of ground technicians and service personnel was assigned to maintenance organizations, but many thousands were required for manning the ground echelons of combat groups. The continental air forces and the 1 Troop Carrier Command were primarily responsible for training these ground units, and the program was carried on in conjunction with crew and unit training of the flight echelons. When operational training units were being created and prepared for action, cadres of technicians, as well as administrative and flight personnel, were selected and given appropriate instruction or experience. Some were sent to specialist schools, either in the AAF or in another branch, while the remainder learned on the job. Following this training, the cadre was expanded until the full strength of a combat group was reached.
Instruction of the ground echelon, from the time of activation of the group, was normally divided into two phases. The first, or developmental, phase usually lasted three months. During this time basic military training was given to men who had not previously received it, personnel were assigned to sections according to their classification and experience, and individuals requiring additional specialized instruction were sent to appropriate technical schools or training assignments. Unit and combined training were emphasized during the second phase, which was also about three months long. Individuals became working members of functioning sections, while the sections and squadrons became integrated parts of the combat group. The ground echelon of a group, except for a few individuals, was assigned to the constituent squadrons. Enlisted personnel were placed and trained in appropriate squadron sections, such as armament, ordnance, photo, technical supply, communications, chemical, medical, mess, and transportation. Although assigned to individual squadrons, ground
personnel served the group as a whole; they performed all the necessary housekeeping functions and first and second echelon supply and maintenance.65
In order that all elements of a group might arrive at a theater destination at approximately the same time, the ground echelon was usually ordered overseas about six weeks in advance of the air echelon. This arrangement, however, created a new difficulty by depriving the combat crews of the services of their own maintenance personnel during the final period of flight training. Normally, this problem was solved by assigning to an operational base – ahead of its air echelon – the ground echelon of a newly activated group. The new unit served the dangling air echelon of an older group until the latter moved on toward its combat destination; at that time the air echelon of the new group moved in, and integrated operational training was begun.66
In the course of overseas operations it was not unusual for the air and ground echelons of a combat group to become separated; this occurred most frequently in the Pacific theaters when leapfrog, or island-hopping, campaigns were under way. In order to provide for such situations, the AAF authorized creation of special maintenance units, called airdrome squadrons. These units performed the same function as the ground echelons of regular squadrons and were substituted for them when a high degree of mobility was desired of the combat groups. Advance airdromes were prepared and occupied by the special squadrons, thus permitting air echelons to hop forward without being limited by the slower movement of their supporting elements. Training of these units, which included some ASWAAF as well as AAF personnel, was delegated primarily to the domestic air forces. The period of instruction was two months, during which basic military, technical, and unit field training were given under supervision of the squadron’s officers.67
Unit Training of Arms and Services Personnel
While the ground echelons of combat groups were indispensable to air operations, equally important were the activities of attached units and of service and depot groups. The bulk of arms and services units, though performing more or less independent functions, became integral parts of service and depot groups. Before ASWAAF units were ordered into action, either as attached organizations or as elements of a group, it was necessary to give them appropriate unit instruction.
This training was conducted in some instances by the Army Service Forces or the continental air forces, but chiefly by the Air Service Command. The final combined training received by all elements of service and depot groups was the province of the ASC alone.68
The mission of the Chemical Warfare Service in the AAF was to provide for defense against chemical attack; advise and make recommendations on the offensive use of chemicals; and to supply all chemical equipment, munitions, and agents. To accomplish these objectives, chemical officers were assigned to headquarters staff positions from air force down to the wing level; below that echelon either officers or NCO’s were given additional duty as unit gas officers. For the actual handling, supply, and maintenance of chemical materiel, specialized units were activated and trained. The most important of these, after 1942, were the chemical air operations company, the chemical depot company (aviation), and the chemical maintenance company (aviation). The first of these had the function of filling and decontaminating airplane spray tanks, the second operated chemical ammunition depots, and the third was responsible for major repair and salvage of chemical equipment.
The various chemical units in training were scattered throughout the land, under jurisdiction of the domestic air forces, until June 1942. They were then transferred to the ASC, which shortly thereafter concentrated all chemical unit training in three centers, This concentration of troops made possible more efficient use of the meager equipment available. By agreement between AAF Headquarters and the chief of CWS, newly activated chemical units at Macon, Georgia, were given initial training at the CWS Unit Training Center, Camp Sibert, Alabama. Arrangements were also made between the ASC and other AAF activities for unit exercises in cooperation with operational groups.69 In keeping with the belief that greater instructional efficiency could be achieved by further concentration of each type of activity, the AAF established a Chemical Training Center at Barksdale Field, Louisiana, in August 1944, to which all unit training was transferred. The center, moved to Buckley Field in 1945, emphasized simulation of combat conditions during all stages of instruction.70
Of much greater importance to AAF operations as they developed during the war were the services of the combat engineers, whose mission was the construction, maintenance, and camouflage of forward air bases. The basic construction unit for this type of work was
the engineer aviation battalion, a working and fighting force of approximately 800 officers and men fitted out with about 175 pieces of heavy construction equipment. Other important units were also trained by the AAF for airborne operations, camouflage duties, topographical work, and firefighting. General-service engineers, who performed required engineering in the rear areas and in the United States, were not trained by the AAF.
The training of engineer units in problems peculiar to air operations was practically nonexistent before the spring of 1941. At that time the First Air Force was given control of the 2 1 St Engineer Regiment and soon afterwards commenced the training of engineer aviation battalions at Westover Field, Massachusetts. Training battalions were subsequently activated under the other continental air forces for the purpose of producing additional units; from the battalions, engineer aviation unit training centers were developed. By V-E Day only two centers remained – at Geiger Field, Washington, and MacDill Field, Florida. The early combat battalions were formed of selected enlisted personnel who had received excellent basic instruction at engineer replacement training centers; their unit training consisted largely of on-the-job experience while engaged in constructing or repairing run-ways at domestic airfields. General supervision of unit training was exercised by the engineer section of the responsible air force headquarters, while officers of the Corps of Engineers visited the battalions for the purpose of training certain specialists. After the fall of 1943, when the flow of personnel from engineer replacement centers ceased, the AAF centers had to assume responsibility for basic and specialist instruction, in addition to unit indoctrination.71
These increased responsibilities resulted in the formal constitution of a series of specialist schools which had actually been operating in the centers for some time. Officer instructors at these schools were usually graduates of one or more Army service schools, and the enlisted teachers were generally selected from graduating classes at the center itself. The entire course of training for engineer aviation battalions usually took about twenty-four weeks, divided roughly into five weeks of basic military instruction; eight weeks of advanced training, according to individual needs; and eleven weeks of unit indoctrination. The special subjects taught, in addition to basic military matters, included airdrome maintenance and patching, repair of bomb damage, rehabilitation of captured and battered airfields, reconstruction of
landing mats, methods of airdrome demolition, and construction of defensive field fortifications. The final phase involved site-surveying, draining, clearing and grubbing, mat-laying, road-building, and erection of airdrome installations. During this phase the vital teamwork of all components was emphasized and practiced.72 Though never so highly publicized as their Navy counterparts, the Seabees, AAF engineers performed with distinction the world over. The training of airborne engineer battalions began in the fall of 1942 after considerable experimentation by the Air Engineer. These units, with equipment designed especially for cargo transport, were formed for the purpose of accelerating the preparation of advanced landing strips. Instruction was similar to that of the regular battalions although a somewhat longer period was required for specialist training. The airborne battalions also required extensive combined exercises, which were con-ducted under direction of 1 Troop Carrier Command and included maneuvers with the Airborne Command of the Army Ground Forces.73
Another engineer activity important to the AAF was camouflage training. It was accomplished through engineer camouflage schools in several of the continental air forces and by means of special battalions indoctrinated in camouflage techniques. These battalions were assigned successively to the various air commands of the Zone of Interior; in the course of each assignment companies or detachments of the battalions were dispatched to dispersed airfields for demonstration and instructional purposes. In the latter part of 1944 all formal camouflage training in the AAF was concentrated at March Field, California, although the domestic air forces and the ASC continued to support special programs for the dissemination of camouflage doctrine. In the spring of 1945 the camouflage center was moved from March Field to Buckley Field, Colorado.74
Other types of engineering units were also being prepared to meet the specialized demands of air warfare. Among these a small number of aviation engineer topographical companies were trained by the AAF. The typical unit consisted of three platoons, each of which specialized in one of the following: geodetic control, photographic mapping, or map reproduction. Most of the instructional time of these platoons was given to practical exercises in their specialty. The most numerous, although the smallest, of all engineer units developed by the air arm were the fire-fighting and utilities platoons. The fire
fighters were organized to operate the special flame-choking equipment of an airdrome, and the utilities platoons assumed base engineering functions. Beginning in 1944, in the interest of greater efficiency, the separate units were supplanted by larger, combined fire-fighting and utilities platoons.75
Although separate units of finance personnel were not activated for service with AAF organizations, it was necessary for the AAF to train finance sections for group headquarters and headquarters squadrons. The finance sections were small, including but two officers and ten to fifteen enlisted men. This service included disbursement of public funds to military and civilian personnel for services rendered, supervision and maintenance of fiscal records, preparation of all types of payment vouchers, and in some theaters responsibility for the audit of military property accounts. In the early days of the war no qualified finance personnel were available within the ASC, and the ASF training center at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, was requested to assign finance complements to the command. By 1943 a sufficient number of qualified finance personnel was available at ASC bases to meet the requirements of new groups. After receiving the necessary individual training, such personnel were assigned to groups for on-the-job experience as working finance sections.76
There were only two military police units in which the AAF was interested: guard squadrons and aviation military police companies. The former were trained to perform interior guard, traffic control, riot control, and vice control duties at continental installations; the latter performed the same functions overseas. Personnel for the units, most of whom had already received individual police training, were drawn from the AAF as well as other arms and services. Before 1943 the guard organizations received their unit indoctrination at air force and command bases throughout the United States. They were trained sometimes as separate organizations, sometimes as parts of station complements; standardization of control and method was lacking. In May 1943 a Military Police Training Center (Aviation) was activated at Camp Riley, Minnesota, under ASC’s administrative supervision. The center, which was moved several times afterwards, was finally located at Buckley Field, under jurisdiction of the Training Command. The center provided, in addition to individual instruction, cadre training for all guard squadrons and aviation military police companies required by the AAF. Emphasis in these units was placed upon basic
military indoctrination, marksmanship, and defensive combat. On-the-job experience, such as patrol of towns in the vicinity of the Military Police Center, was part of the training program.77
In addition to the ordnance personnel assigned to the ground elements of combat groups, several types of units were trained for third and fourth echelon ordnance activities. As part of a move to concentrate responsibility for all third and fourth echelon supply and maintenance, in June 1942 the ASC was given jurisdiction over all AAF ordnance units in the continental United States. An extensive ordnance training program was established within the command, but it was handicapped by the dispersal of the units over a wide area. Shortage of qualified commissioned personnel to staff ordnance units was a further difficulty; in order to overcome these problems, ASC made full use of facilities offered by the Ordnance Department. Units were sent whenever possible to the Ordnance unit-training centers at Flora, Mississippi, and Arcadia, California. After completing their unit indoctrination, those organizations which were to form parts of service and depot groups were returned to ASC for combined training and other organizations were normally sent direct to ports of embarkation.78
The problems in training quartermaster units were similar to those of ordnance, except that no centralized unit-training center was ever established for quartermaster activities either by ASF or AAF. The units, the majority of which were under ASC’s jurisdiction, were stationed on bases throughout the United States. Most important of the numerous types of units trained were the quartermaster truck companies, service group companies, and air depot group platoons. These units, after four to six weeks of technical training under the various domestic air forces and commands, were assigned to the ASC for combined training as components of maintenance groups. Units which remained in the domestic air forces to perform base services were, chiefly, quartermaster truck companies and quartermaster transportation platoons. Cadres for these organizations were generally selected from graduates of AAF motor vehicle-operator schools and were then assigned to a base for on-the-job unit training and duty.79
Signal Corps units performed a wide variety of tasks for the air arm. They were responsible for the supply, installation, maintenance, and salvage of Signal Corps equipment; in addition, signal units constructed and repaired the long lines of wire communications between
air installations. A considerable number of special-purpose organizations were trained by the First, Third, and Fourth Air Forces; but since most AAF signal units were ultimately incorporated into service or depot groups, signal unit training was primarily ASC’s responsibility. In January 1944 the ASC concentrated its signal instruction at three unit-training centers, located at Warner Robins, Georgia; Fresno, California; and San Antonio, Texas. In training signal companies for service or depot groups, a distinction was made between technical and nontechnical personnel. The latter, who included clerks, message center and supply personnel, as well as telephone, teletype, and motor vehicle operators, were trained almost entirely by ASC. The technical personnel, with specialties peculiar to the Signal Corps, were graduates of the Signal Corps schools, factory schools, or other special courses of instruction. During the unit-training period the signal companies were divided into technical and nontechnical sections and given individual refresher instruction as well as section and company training. The final indoctrination phases were not scheduled until after the companies joined their groups for combined exercises.80
The principal communications project of the First Air Force was the organization and training of signal construction battalions. The Eastern Signal Aviation Unit Training Center was organized at Langley Field, Virginia, for the purpose of conducting the program; it functioned during 1943 and produced eleven battalions, composed of Negro enlisted personnel. These units were trained to erect all types of wire lines, including open wire circuits, heavy pole lines, under-ground cables, and field wires. Instruction was divided into four phases: basic military, specialist, administrative, and unit operations. The time needed to complete these phases, fifteen to twenty-four weeks, depended upon the training state of the personnel in each organization. In addition to the signal construction battalions, the First Air Force trained a considerable number of special-purpose communications squadrons and signal aircraft warning units for domestic and overseas assignment.81
The responsibility for the training of aircraft warning units, how-ever, belonged chiefly to the Third Air Force’s Aircraft Warning Unit Training Center (AWUTC) at Drew Field, Florida. The primary mission of the Center was to organize, train, equip, and prepare aircraft warning units for service in combat theaters. During
the first sixteen months of the war the AWUTC attempted to train men in practically every kind of specialty used by aircraft warning units. Thereafter, by direction of AAF Headquarters all specialty courses at the Center common to other types of units, with the exception of those for radio operators, were discontinued and the AWUTC concentrated its efforts toward training those specialists for which it was the sole source of supply: radar operators; military ground observers; aircraft warning draftsmen; and information center personnel, which included plotters, tellers, filterers, and raid clerks. Training efficiency was greatly improved by a reorganization in July 1943, under which the system of training by stages or phases was dissolved and training battalion commanders were made responsible for given units from activation to shipment. During its three years of existence, the AWUTC shipped out 190 aircraft warning units, which included approximately 2,400 officers and 42,000 enlisted men; in addition, many thousands of individuals were shipped as casuals.82
Extensive training of signal personnel was conducted also by the Fourth Air Force, which set up a center at Camp Pinedale, Fresno, California. In March 1943 the establishment was redesignated the Western Signal Aviation Unit Training Center, and by the end of the war it had absorbed practically all signal unit-training activities in the continental United States. Thirty different types of signal and communications units were trained at Fresno during the war period. The organization of the center changed frequently. Eventually, however, it was stabilized by division into two parts: one conducted specialist schools, and the other was responsible for organizing, training, and equipping signal aviation units. There was, of course, close cooperation between the two divisions, because most of the personnel attending specialist schools were subsequently assigned to units. The unit phase consisted of team and section training at the center, field practice in the vicinity, and final exercises in isolated spots of the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains.83
The Fourth Air Force also gave special attention to the training of radio intelligence and fighter control units. Signal radio intelligence companies or mobile radio squadrons were assigned one to an air force; their function was to intercept and analyze enemy radio traffic, operate radio direction finders, and monitor friendly traffic. Training
normally required about thirteen weeks, divided between the team and refresher phase and the simulated combat phase. Since the units performed a large number of highly specialized tasks, a great variety of preliminary individual instruction, embracing administration and tactics as well as technical subjects, was necessary during the first phase. After the component teams completed the first phase of the program, they were combined into a company or squadron, which undertook a simulated field problem.84
Until April 1944, when IV Fighter Command with its component air defense wings and squadrons was deactivated, fighter control training was a function of the operating control units, which provided cadres for newly activated squadrons and supervised their training. Qualified technicians were procured from the AAF Fighter Command School at Orlando, Florida, and from radio schools of the Technical Training Command. The squadrons established schools for individual refresher training of their specialists, but most learning was a product of on-the-job experience. With the disbandment of IV Fighter Command, responsibility for training fighter control units was given to the Western Signal Aviation Unit Training Center. Indoctrination thereafter consisted almost exclusively of field operational exercises, in which fighter control squadrons joined with other units in defending specific installations against mock air raids. Each squadron was required to engage in such maneuvers for a period of at least six weeks. Beginning in the spring of 1945, when fighter control units were augmented to include radar teams, supplementary instruction on electronic equipment was also provided at the signal center.85
There is no doubt that AAF officers sometimes showed bias in dealing with the other arms and services under their command. Discrimination did not apply to such basic personal needs as food, housing, recreation, or mail, but it was present in the allocation of personnel and equipment. Resentment in service units was a natural reaction to such treatment, and the feeling was aggravated by the fact that training schedules were unpredictable and AAF supervisory personnel frequently lacked understanding of the policies and problems peculiar to a given arm or service. By the year 1944 many of the difficulties were smoothed out, and in spite of all handicaps the ASWAAF units effectively performed their duties at home and overseas.86
Service and Depot Group Training
The bulk of service units in the AAF were incorporated into service and depot groups for performance of supply and maintenance duties. The groups operated under a unified logistical system, placed in effect by the AAF after long experimentation and planning. The logistical system was outlined in AAF Regulation 65–1, dated 14 August 1942, and remained in force until the closing days of the war. Under the regulation, combat groups were considered self-supporting units, and as such were responsible for first and second echelons of supply and maintenance. The training of the ground elements of combat groups and of airdrome squadrons has already been discussed. Third echelon supply and maintenance were delegated to the service group, including its associated arms and services; the function of the service group was to furnish supplies directly to squadron airdromes and to perform repair and salvage operations beyond the capabilities of the second echelon. Fourth echelon activities were reserved for the air depot group, which operated in the rear of and in support of one or more service groups. While training and work on the first and second echelon levels were under supervision of the numbered air forces, service and depot groups were placed under the Air Service Command or its equivalent overseas.87
The major problem faced by the ASC in carrying out its training function was the conflict with its other responsibilities. The command was charged with providing supply and maintenance, as well as training, and its leaders were inclined to regard the former as their primary obligation. In the depots and subdepots actual repair work, or production, was normally given priority over the training of maintenance units. The problem was aggravated by the fact that the majority of service units, especially third echelon units, were compelled to train at bases under jurisdiction of the continental air forces. This was necessary because the service units had no aircraft of their own, and they consequently were forced to locate on air force bases in order to have aircraft and equipment with which to work. Air force commanders were even less concerned with the training of maintenance personnel than were ASC leaders. Interested primarily in their own flying training programs and demanding the maximum number of serviceable airplanes at all times, the air force commanders wanted the most efficient service possible – an attitude not compatible
with giving any substantial portion of work to trainee maintenance units.
Only on one condition would the air forces allow groups in training to perform their repair work, and that condition was the establishment of parent groups as permanent parties at air force stations, and from 1942 to 1945 this parent system was the basis for training service groups.
Ordinarily a parent group, made up of skilled personnel, was stationed at an air force base to service an operational training unit engaged in flying maneuvers; a trainee group was stationed at the same base from one to three months to observe the activities of the permanent unit. Many ASC officers considered this arrangement wasteful of manpower and lacking in unified responsibility for training, and they thought it would have been more economical to establish small training teams to direct and supervise the instruction of trainee service groups. Various plans and efforts to modify the parent system were unsuccessful until the early months of 1945. At that time the proposed training teams supplanted the parent system, and shortly thereafter the Air Technical Service Command, successor to ASC, turned over to the air forces complete responsibility for training all third echelon units, including the service groups. The problem of instructing air depot groups was somewhat different. Because of the nature of fourth-echelon work, the depot groups could not be trained at air force bases; they had to be trained almost exclusively at air depots. Essentially, the problem was administrative, one of arranging for special schools and courses, and utilizing equipment in such a manner as to cause the least interference with operational commitments of the depots.88
Soon after Maj. Gen. Walter H. Frank assumed control of ASC in November 1942, a broad administrative reorganization was initiated. On 1 February 1943 the four air service area commands, each of which had exercised considerable latitude in governing its own training activities, were supplanted by eleven air depot control areas. With this increase in the number of subordinate jurisdictions, it became more than ever necessary to develop a unified training program which would standardize procedures throughout the ASC. The development of a comprehensive plan for such standardization was largely the work of Col. Dwight B. Schannep, chief of the ASC Training and Operations Section; this plan, after approval by General Arnold, was
published as a directive to all area commanders on 1 June 1943. It provided for three phases of instruction, each located at a specified station, for both service and depot groups.89
Although details of the schedule for training differed for service and depot groups, the general outline was similar. The conventional schedule for a service group during 1944 may therefore be considered as typical of both types of units. The time allowed for the training of a service group from 0-day until the organization was shipped to a port of embarkation was about six months. 0-day for any group was the date when a stipulated percentage – which fluctuated from 85 to 115 per cent – of its T/O strength was reached. The six-month period did not include instruction received between A-day, the date of unit activation, and 0-day; neither did it include preactivation training of cadres. The time between A-day and 0-day depended upon how rapidly the unit received its personnel; the period of cadre training varied from thirty to ninety days.
During the first phase, or activation period, the principal operations of the unit were receiving, processing, and assigning personnel. These activities were directed by the cadre, which also planned and supervised the basic and technical instruction required by the incoming men in order to qualify them for duties in the various sections of the group. After 0-day the second phase, unit training, was started for the squadrons which were already attached to the group headquarters. These units were the headquarters and headquarters squadron and two service squadrons. The ASWAAF units were trained separately and did not usually join the group until the third phase, when combined training began. ASWAAF elements included one aviation quartermaster company service group, two aviation quartermaster truck companies, two aviation ordnance supply and maintenance companies, and one signal company service group. The total strength of the service group was over 1,000 officers and men. While the unit training of AAF elements of the group lasted two months, combined training required about four months. During this time, under surveillance of a parent group, the component units were molded into a functioning, integrated organization. Toward the end of this stage, the trainee group acted as much as possible on its own, operating under simulated combat conditions and preparing for overseas movement.90
Although the general plan for training service and depot groups called for the accomplishment of certain instructional phases at given
stages of the schedule, there was actually a great deal of overlapping.91 Basic military training, for example, was not restricted to the early stages. Nearly all enlisted personnel assigned to the groups had received previous instruction of this type at Army reception centers or at AAF basic training centers, but it was necessary for ASC to provide additional training where deficiencies were discovered and for the purpose of maintaining proficiency. Because of the nature of the work to be performed by ASC units overseas, many aspects of basic training received less emphasis than in other elements of the air or ground forces. Extended order drill, hand-to-hand fighting, and jungle warfare, for example, were given slight attention; on the other hand, subjects such as camouflage, safeguarding information, desert operations, and operations in extreme cold were covered in detail.
Individual technical training was the foundation of the air service unit program. Normally, the individual received basic technical instruction before assignment to the unit, but the instruction might have to be completed after this. Some advanced technical training was provided by means of sending individuals to specialized schools of the AAF or other branches and to factory and contract schools. Since, however, quotas for schools were relatively small, most advanced technical instruction was received by individuals in the course of unit and combined training. In some cases this instruction was conducted in shops and schools of the air depots where the trainees were given on-the-job practice, supplemented by classroom work.
Time was so short that theoretical instruction was generally held to a minimum, and cross-training in related subjects was deferred until the latter portion of the program. Technical instruction within the units was usually accomplished by dividing the classes according to the members’ occupational specialties. In some cases the more experienced trainees served as instructors for each class; wherever possible, the courses were supervised by officers or high-ranking enlisted men. After individuals were considered proficient in their particular specialty, they were trained in as many related skills as time would permit. This practice made for greater flexibility within the unit and, incidentally, for higher morale among the men.
Individual instruction was continued as a part of unit training, but the objective of this phase was the welding of individuals into a working team. Fulfillment of this aim necessitated explanation of the organization
and functions of the group and its interrelated components, training in administrative and supply procedures, practice in unit security and defense against various forms of attack, and instruction in movement operations. Combined training, considered the final phase in preparing a new group for action, was often started in conjunction with unit training; the two phases were closely meshed. The purpose of combined training was to weld the component units, including ASWAAF elements, into a functioning group. Such instruction was conducted preferably at locations where repairs on aircraft could be accomplished simultaneously with simulated field maneuvers. During this last stage the group operated under the supervision of key personnel from a parent unit, after a considerable period of observing the activities of the parent group.
The most persistent difficulty in connection with combined training, as noted previously, was finding repair work for the new group to perform. In some instances the activity amounted to little more than a dry run, a sham exercise in which personnel went through the motions but received no actual practice. General Frank protested to AAF Headquarters in February 1943 on the inability of the domestic air forces to establish and maintain operational programs which afforded proper training to service groups under field conditions. Some improvement in the situation was brought about by organizational changes, but the problem was never completely solved.
Some modifications of the over-all training program for service units were brought about by the development in 1944 of a new-type service group to replace the established old-type unit. The old-style group was designed to operate a service center overseas in close support of two combat groups; the squadrons composing the service group were usually dispersed as a precaution against enemy attack. This type of organization originated in the early period of the war when the Allied forces were on the defensive and the enemy enjoyed air superiority. But as the situation changed during the war, the necessity of dispersing aircraft and installations gradually disappeared. Field experience, moreover, had demonstrated by 199.4 that the service groups based on the same fields as combat groups should be able to provide regular be services so that combat units could concentrate upon their primary mission. Because of these considerations, which applied with special force to B-29 units, the new-type service group was developed. It was designed to provide third echelon supply and
maintenance for one combat group and in addition to supply fire-fighting and other station-complement services. The new groups were also streamlined internally in order to improve administrative efficiency; members of other arms and services were absorbed with AAF personnel in the three squadrons which composed the group: headquarters and base services (administrative), materiel (supply), and engineering (maintenance). The new type consisted of 41 officers and 617 enlisted men, compared with 68 officers and 1,113 enlisted men in the T/O of the old-type group. The new unit was designed to service only one, instead of two, combat groups, but it also performed important base services. Individual and unit training of ASWAAF personnel were not affected by the organizational change; when those units joined the AAF elements of the new-type group for combined training, they were simply incorporated as appropriate sections of the three component squadrons.92
The final significant change affecting service groups occurred in May 1945, when responsibility for their training was transferred from the Air Technical Service Command to the Continental Air Forces. The CAF, which included the four domestic air forces and I Troop Carrier Command, was not prepared to assume this responsibility at the time the change was directed, but steps were taken at once to transfer needed personnel and equipment to CAF from ATSC. The shift of responsibility was in conformity with the trend toward integration of combat and service units in the AAF. In view of the impediments to training which had arisen from dual command during the war, it became clear that combat and service units could be trained as a team most successfully under single command responsibility. The training of air depot groups remained a function of the ATSC.93
A large number of special units were trained in the course of the war, over and above the production of regular service organizations. One of the most interesting was the floating aircraft maintenance unit, which was developed as a part of the Army aircraft repair ship project. This project was conceived as an answer to the peculiar geographical conditions of the Pacific. Since repair facilities could seldom be moved forward quickly in that area by means of conventional land transportation, the AAF desired floating repair facilities which could be moved easily during campaigns and which could provide maintenance to combat aircraft until the arrival of land-based
service groups. The project involved the conversion of six 10,000-ton Liberty vessels for service as repair ships, as well as eighteen smaller auxiliary vessels. Each ship, furnished with modern equipment and highly trained personnel, could support several combat groups, and each auxiliary was capable of servicing one group. Almost every type of repair except complete engine overhaul was performed in the shops of these vessels. The training of personnel for the floating units, which was conducted during 1943 and 1944, differed considerably from standard service-group instruction. Individuals had to be prepared to perform more than one specialty in order to insure maximum usefulness of these organizations. Final unit training was carried on in mock-ups which were replicas of shops on board the repair ships; the last stage of preparation involved a month of marine training on the vessels themselves. The floating unit program, in which the Navy and other branches of the Army cooperated, was under jurisdiction of the Mobile Air Depot, Air Service Command.94