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Continental Air Forces

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Continental Air Forces

Continental Air Forces (CAF) was a Air Defense Command (ADC was headquartered at CAF's Mitchel Field instead of the CAF HQ at Bolling Field.) On 21 March 1946, CAF headquarters personnel and facilities at Bolling Field, along with 1 of the 4 CAF Air Forces (2nd—which had its HQ inactivated on 30 March[1]) became Strategic Air Command. US Strategic Air Forces of WWII, e.g., Eighth Air Force and Fifteenth Air Force, transferred later to SAC. Most of the CAF airfields that had not been distributed to other commands when SAC activated were subsequently transferred to Air Defense Command (to which CAF's 1st & 4th Air Forces were assigned on 21 March), Tactical Air Command (3rd Air Force), and Air Materiel Command from 23 March 1946 to 16 March 1947 before the USAF was activated in September 1947.[2]

Background

CONUS WWII air defense was initially under the command of four Air Districts--Western and Eastern Technical Training Commands. The air defense districts were redesignated on 26 March 1941 as the 1st Air Force, 2nd Air Force, 3rd Air Force, & 4th Air Force[3] (the Technical Training Command was established on the same date and had similarly numbered CONUS training districts in 1942-- First "(with headquarters at Raleigh, N. C.)," Second (St. Louis), Third (Tulsa), & Fourth (Denver)—for aircraft mechanics, inspectors, etc.)[4] A plan "for developing Andrews Field as the headquarters of the Continental Air Forces" for September 1944 was enacted.[4]:164 (CAF HQ eventually transferred from Andrews to Bolling Field).

Activation

CAF was "activated 12 December 1944"[5] at Andrews Field with "Brigadier General Eugene H. Beebe in command"[6] and the "4 continental air forces" as components (1st Air Force through 4th Air Force)[3] which consolidated the CONUS air defense mission under 1 command.[7] In August 1945 CAF was assigned the AAF Radar Bomb Scoring mission for bomber training/evaluation when Mitchel Field's 63rd Army Air Force Base Unit transferred to CAF.[8] CAF's air defense mission was documented "in AAF Regulation 20-1, dated 15 September 1945."[7]

Post-war radar network planning
After a June 1945 meeting with AAF headquarters about air defense, CAF recommended "research and development be undertaken on radar and allied equipment for an air defense system [for] the future threat", e.g., a "radar [with] range of 1,000 miles, [to detect] at an altitude of 200 miles, and at a speed of 1,000 miles per hour";[9] but the [12] (At "the Watson Laboratories in New Jersey",[13] AMC's Electronics Subdivision held a "Manufacturers Conference" on 26–28 June 1946 for planning the "Improved Search Radar"[14])

Planning to reorganize for a separate USAF had begun by fall 1945 Air Transport Command and the supporting Air Technical Service Command, Air Training Command, the Air University, and the Air Force Center."[15]

Reorganization

The Continental Air Forces reorganization began by 31 January 1946 when Abilene Army Airfield was closed.[16][2] On 16 October 1945 CAF's Muroc Field was transferred from CAF to Air Technical Service Command. Moody Army Airfield transferred to AAF Training Command on 1 November 1945. CAF's Bolling Field was assigned control of Andrews Field on 3 January 1946 and also Richmond Army Air Base on 2 February 1946.

Tyndall Field transferred quickly to Continental Air Forces on 28 Feb 46, then TAC, and the Air University (15 May 1946).[2] [17] CAF had 13 bombardment groups transferred to its numbered air forces just before it was disestablished, e.g., 40th, 44th (2 AF), the 93rd, 444th, 448th (became 92nd), 449th, 467th (effectively became 301st), 485th, and 498th (became 307th). There was also the 58th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy;[18] and also active was the 73rd Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy.

Interceptor and radar network plans at CAF HQ were passed on to ADC.[7] CAF installations reassigned on 21 March 1946 included Grandview transferred to the Army Division Engineers, Mitchel Field to ADC, and both Tyndall Field and Army Air Base, Knob Knoster, to TAC.[2] Despite the HQ transfer to SAC on 21 March, numerous CAF airfields transferred to TAC, ADC, and AMC from 23 March 1946 to 16 March 1947:[2]

References

  1. ^ Dated 21 March tbd--declassified 11 October 1991.
  2. ^ a b c d e
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ quotation from Grant p. 1, which cites "ltr, Hq AAF to CG CAF, subj: Directive, 14 Dec 44, in Hist CAF, 15 Dec 44-21 Mar 46, doc 47"
  6. ^ http://www.wartimepress.com/archives.asp?TID=Military%20Air%20Fields,%20Camps,%20Forts%20and%20Stations&MID=United%20States&q=281&FID=3
  7. ^ a b c
  8. ^
  9. ^ quotation from Grant, which cites: "Ltr, Hq CAF to CG AAF, subj: Defensive Communications and Electronics in the Postwar Period, 21 Jul 45, in Case Hist AC&W System, doc 4."
  10. ^ quotation from Grant Ch. V--citation 31 cites "1st Ind (ltr, Hq CAF to CG AAF, subj: Defensive Communications and Electronics in the Postwar Period, 21 Jul 45), Hq AAF to CG CAF, 30 Aug 45, in Case Hist AC&W System, doc 4."
  11. ^ the quotation from Grant Ch. V used citation 32 to cite a letter to "Guided Missile Br [in the] AC/AS-4 R&E Div" and a Hq CAF letter: R&R AC/AS-3, Guided Missiles Div to AC/AS-4 R&E Div, attn: Guided Missiles Br, subj: Military Characteristics of an Air Defense System, 23 Jan 46, in DRB War Plans Miscellaneous National Defense 1946-47, v2; ltr, Hq CAF to CG AAF, subj: Radar Defense Report for Continental United States, 28 Jan 46 in Case Hist AC&W System, doc 9." NOTE: Grant's text & citation indicate the Guided Missile Branch was in the HQ AAF Plans organization (Air Materiel Command had not yet been activated from its predecessors.)
  12. ^ Grant Ch. V citation 33
  13. ^ Grant's p. 8 citation 60 (also used in Ch. V citation 34) cites "AMC “Short Range Air Defense,” Project Description as presented at Electronics Subdivision Manufacturers' Conference, 26-28 Jun 46, in Air University Library, Maxwell AFB, M-31353-S no. 4.07."
  14. ^ Grant Ch. V citation 34 cites "AMC, Improved Search Radar, Project Description as presented at Electronics Subdivision Manufacturers' Conference, 26–28 June 1946, in AUL M-31353-S, no 4.02; AMC, Short Range Air Defense, Project Description as presented to Electronics Subdivision Manufacturers' Conference, 26–28 June 1946, in AUL M-31353-S, no 4.07.
  15. ^ a b
  16. ^ Grant p. 76 cites "ADS HS-9, Organization and Responsibility for Air Defense, March 1946-September 1955"
  17. ^
  18. ^
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