The United States Air Force is instrumental in the protection of the nation. It provides unparalleled air defense in the form of manned and unmanned aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. The United States Air Force is also the newest branch of the military, having been formed in 1947.

Army Signal Corps

Though the Air Force wasn't officially created until after World War II, its roots date to before World War I. In 1907, the United States created an aeronautical division under the Army Signal Corps. To improve flight capabilities for the United States military, the government created the aviation section of the Army Signal Corps in 1914, as the aeronautical division was initially more interested in balloons rather than airplanes. During this time, Europe entered into World War I, and by the time the United States was dragged into it, United States aircraft were extremely inferior to the aircraft developed by Europeans.

Army Air Service

President Woodrow Wilson created the Army Air Service in 1918 to improve aircraft capabilities. The Army Air Service was directly under the control of the War Department. Initially, the Air Service grew to more than 19,000 officers, but demobilization after the war ended caused the number of servicemen and aircraft to decrease quickly. To train better pilots during World War I, the United States sent airmen to Europe to use the superior European aircraft.

Army Air Forces

In 1926, the Army Air Service officially became the Army Air Corps. There was not much advancement during peacetime, as funding to the Air Corps was low. The Army Air Forces was created in 1941 by the Department of War on the eve of World War II. The Army Air Forces grew quickly after the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. At its peak during the war, the Army Air Forces had more than 2.4 million personnel and 80,000 aircraft at its disposal.

United States Air Force

The United States Air Force became a separate entity from the United States Army on September 18, 1947. The Air Force was given its own branch, because United States government leaders saw the Army Air Force’s wartime achievements and understood the potential growth of having a branch dedicated to aviation and aeronautical warfare. Stuart Symington served as the first Secretary of the Air Force while Gen. Carl A. Spaatz served as the first Air Force Chief of Staff.

Development of the Air Force

The United States Air Force grew even faster during the Cold War, because military leaders saw the importance of air defense against the Soviet Union. The need for long-range bombers became apparent after the Soviet Union developed the atomic bomb. The increased amount of funding given to the Air Force helped accelerate the development of advanced jet fighters and ballistic missiles. The Air Force has developed into what it is today through these chain of events.