Five Important Events in U.S Air Force History

P-47 Thunderbolts

The fascinating U.S Air Force had a turbulent history in the beginning stages of its life.

The United States Air Force is the youngest branch of the United States military. Born after World War II, the USAF can trace its roots to the U.S Army during the opening stages of air power. Listed below are five things selected as the most influential events and some are before or after the inception of the U.S Air Force. They are:

  • two atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities
  • the Revolt of the Admirals
  • the U.S Air Force enters Jet Age
  • the U.S Air Force modernizes during World War II
  • U.S Aircrafts carry nuclear weapons

Two Atomic Bombs Dropped on Japanese Cities

The atom bombs, two of the most destructive weapons ever created, officially ended World War II when Imperial Japan decided to surrender. On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb called “Little Boy” was dropped by a Boeing B-29 Superfortress named Enola Gay. Enola Gay was piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets of the 393d Bombardment Squadron. Then on August 9, 1945, another atomic bomb, known as “Fat Boy,” was dropped. The B-29 Superfortress named Bockscar was piloted by Major Charles Sweeney, also of the 393d Bombardment Squadron.

The Revolt of the Admirals

Taking place just after World War II, the Revolt of the Admirals was a heated issue involving the U.S military establishment concerning the role of strategic bombing, nuclear weapons and the unification of military command. The U.S Air Force generals battled the U.S Navy admirals over the respected wartime roles of their armed force division. The U.S Army Air Force fought via strategic bombing; meanwhile, the U.S Navy fought via super carrier aviation. In the end, the fallout would cause demotions, congressional hearings and even retirements.

The U.S Air Force Enters Jet Age

With the U.S moving into the Atomic Age, it was not surprising that the U.S found itself in a battle against the ideas of communism. Nazi Germany was the first nation with jets and understood jet power very well. Communist Russia would be the second nation to experiment with such technology. The United States of America would not sit easily knowing that Russia contained an upper hand in the battle of air superiority. So, the United States would create the landmark Sabre 86, the first American jet to counter the Russian Mig. This ushered the United States into the Jet Age.

The U.S Air Force Modernizes During World War II

During the First World War, the United States trailed European nations in the Age of Airplanes. France, Germany and England had the finest air forces. During the opening stages of the Second World War, the United States still trailed the European nations.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, things changed. The U.S modernized the U.S Army Air Service in order to combat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. The German Focke Wulf 190 and the Japanese Zero were two of the finest military airplanes before the U.S Army Air Service came up with the P-38 and the P-51. In addition to that, the U.S Marines put together the F-4 U Corsair and the F-6 Hellcat which turned the tide of the War in the Pacific against the Imperial Japanese Air Force.

U.S Aircrafts Carry Nuclear Missiles

Due to the National Security Act being passed in 1947, changes to the Army Air Services eventually created the U.S Air force. This was, however, not taken lightly by several Navy admirals and some high ranking officials in the U.S federal government. The U.S Air force generals quarreled with the U.S Navy generals over doctrine, strategy and the implementation of nuclear weapons in the event of a possible nuclear war. The U.S Navy lost. The Age of the Super Bomber prevailed over the Age of the Aircraft Carrier. But even the super bomber became obsolete due to missile technology improvement such as ICBM systems.


  1. Wayne J. Boyne. Beyond the Wild Blue: A History of the U.S. Air Force, 1947-2007 [Hardcover]. Thomas Dunne Books; 2nd edition (June 26, 2007). ISBN-10: 0312358113