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Alpha 101: U.S. Air Force
By AlphaNews
5/12/2015 9:50:00 AM
US Air Force

In our second Armed Forces Week installment we take a closer look at the U.S. Air Force. In 1907, three years after the Wright brothers flew the first powered airplane, the U.S. Army formed the Aeronautical Division. This division, which initially focused on utilizing balloons for aerial observation, would develop into the modern day Air Force. For nearly one hundred years, the U.S. Air Force has broken barriers in technology and the scope of military aviation missions, focusing on global mobility and precision engagement. 

B-15 Bomber JacketThe service dress and flight clothing worn by the members of the Air Force changed over the years. When it came to flight clothing two of the biggest jackets that were worn were the A-2 leather jacket and the B-15 flight jacket.  The A-2 leather bomber was only allowed to be worn during flight duty and could not be worn off the camp or post.  The B-15 jacket was first introduced in 1944 to replace the B-10. It was used throughout the late 40's by the U.S. Air Force pilots and air crews. Designed for cold temperatures, the jacket had a Mouton fur collar and 100% wool knit waistband and cuffs. It also featured a tab to hold the pilot's oxygen mask as well as a second one to keep the headset wires in place.

Here are some interesting facts about the U.S. Air Force:
  • The Air Force acts on three main values: "integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do."
  • The roundel was an insignia put on military airfcraft to symbolize their affiliation. The first U.S. Air Crops roundel was established in 1917 and since then their have been 7 iterations. Take a look at them all:
    US Air Force Roundels
  • During WWII the Army Air Corp reached a peak strength of 80,000 aircraft and 2.4 million personnel organized into major commands, numbered air forces, air divisions, groups and squadrons.
  • Air crew and ground crew personnel associated with black flying units of the Army Air Forces (AAF) during World War II are known as the Tuskegee Airmen. In January 1941, Secretary of the Army Henry L. Stimson authorized the formation of a black pursuit squadron. The 99th Pursuit (later Fighter) Squadron was activated in March 1941 and began training in separate facilities at Tuskegee, Alabama.
  • Army Air Forces won its independence as a full partner with the Army and the Navy on September 18, 1947. Stuart Symington became the first Secretary of the Air Force, and Gen. Carl A. Spaatz its first Chief of Staff. 
  • On Oct. 14, 1947, Capt. Charles E. Yeager in the Bell X-1 rocket-propelled experimental aircraft was the first man to exceed the speed of sound in level flight, crossing with little trouble an invisible threshold thought to be an impediment to aircraft development and to contemporary aircraft structures. Yeager's milestone flight demonstrated that the U.S. AIr Force could play a very meaningful role in experimental flight research.
  • The Memphis Belle, a B-17F (serial number 41-24485) assigned to the 324th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 91st Bombardment Group, was the plane flown by Lt. Robert Morgan when he and nine others became the first aircrew to complete twenty-five missions from an airbase in England.
  • In addition to the A-2 leather jacket and the B-15 flight jacket, Air Force servicemen also wore a lightweight jacket known as the "tanker jacket" that had a wool knit collar instead of the mouton and was less confining.
  • Deborah Lee James is the current Secretary of the Air Force, Washington, D.C. She is the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force and is responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, including the organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its more than 690,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and their families.
  • The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio. It collects, researches, conserves, interprets and presents the Air Force's history, heritage and traditions, as well as today's mission to fly, fight and win.

Tags: Air Force, US Air Force, Army Air Corps, Armed Forces Week
Categories: Military History
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