America was just beginning to explore the world of aviation when World War II began. The aircraft manufacturers, such as Boeing, Consolidated and Martin, were quick to respond to the demand for quicker and more powerful planes. Bombers played a big role in the victory over the Axis Powers. The following will illustrate and describe how they accomplished this goal.
World War II began in 1939 with the invasion of Poland, the bombing of its major cities, and the immediate destruction of the Polish Air Forces by the German Air Force. In 1940 the defeat of Norway, Holland, Belgium, and France was effected partly through air support. The Battle of Britain, in 1940, concluded with RAF fighting off the German air force. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the army air forces had only one thousand one hundred combat-ready planes. Such attacks quickly destroyed most American land-based combat aircraft in the Pacific.
No one could have imagined then that within the next four years the AAF would become the mighty weapon commemorated in the following pages, or that it would have the scope to engage in what its commander Gen. Henry Hap Arnold described a global mission. Nevertheless, by 1944 the AAF had grown into 16 separate air forces stationed around the world, and its 1,100 planes had grown to nearly 80,000.
Supplying the crews and aircraft of this far-flung organization was a major American achievement. The number of separate items required to arm, service and repair the aircraft""everything from time bomb-release buttons to 500-gallon fuel tanks""mounted steadily. Approximately 80,000 items were listed in 1940; by 1944 they came to 500,000. Between January 1942 and August 1945, some 19 million measurement tons, or 760 million cubic feet, of supplies were conveyed overseas by ship. To assure...