The history of Eighth Air Force begins on 2 January 1942 with its activation at Savannah Air Base, Georgia. In quick order, on 5 January, Major General Carl Spaatz assumed command of HQ Eighth Air Force at Bolling Field, Washington, DC. On 8 January the order activating the “U.S. Air Forces in the British Isles” (USAFBI) was announced. On 12 May, the first contingent of USAAF personnel arrived in England to join the Eighth Air Force. On 15 June, Spaatz arrived in England to establish the Headquarters of Eighth Air Force at Bushy Park, 15 miles (24 km) WSW of London.

Eighth Air Force

Eighth Air Force

Established on 22 February 1944 by the redesignation of VIII Bomber Command at High Wycombe Airdrome, England, 8 AF was a United States Army Air Forces combat air force in the European Theater of World War II, engaging in operations primarily in the Northern Europe AOR; carrying out strategic bombing of enemy targets in France, the Low countries, and Germany and engaging in air to air fighter combat against enemy aircraft until the German Capitulation in May 1945. It was the largest of the deployed combat Army Air Forces in numbers of personnel, aircraft, and equipment.

Spaatz and Doolittle’s plan was to use the US Strategic Air Forces in a series of co-ordinated raids, code-named Operation ‘Argument’ and supported by RAF night bombing, on the German aircraft industry at the earliest possible date. World War II proved what the proponents of air power had been championing for the previous two decades—the great value of strategic forces in bombing an enemy’s industrial complex and of tactical forces in controlling the skies above a battlefield. As a result, Eighth Air Force was incorporated into the new Strategic Air Command (SAC).

Srecko Bradic