United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe

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United States Strategic and Tactical Air Forces (in Europe)
Usstaf-emblem.jpg
United States Strategic and Tactical Air Forces emblem
Active

28 January 1942 – 22 February 1944 (as Eighth Air Force)

22 February 1944 – 7 August 1945
Country United States of America
Branch United States Army Air Forces (1944–1945)
Role Command and Control
Garrison/HQ Bushy Park, England
February 1942–September 1944
St Germain-en-Laye, France
September 1944–August 1945
Engagements World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg  European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg
World War II Victory Medal
European Campaign (1944–1945)
Commanders
Notable
commanders
General Carl Spaatz
Area of operations, United States Strategic and Tactical Air Forces 1944–1945

The US Eighth Air Force in World War II, later designated the United States Strategic and Tactical Air Forces (USSTAF) was the first and became the overall command and control authority of the United States Army Air Forces against the European Axis members (and as the Eighth Air Force, responsible in and for the Northern Europe Theater) during World War II, where it had started as a complementary command to that of the smaller theater organized Ninth Air Force, Twelfth Air Force, and Fifteenth Air Forces. As the oldest command, initially beginning the earliest American operations in Europe as VIII Bomber Command, the Eighth had provided British liaison and strategic tasking guidance over each of those younger organizations throughout the war, whereas each had different command and control areas and responsibilities including those of the Mediterranean region air force operations.

With the in-depth Allied contacts and overall responsibility directly affecting the strategic bombing of industrial regions of Germany the Eighth's planning and intelligence staffs were the natural best choice to assert overall coordinated control with the D-Day pre-invasion needs of the Allies, under General Dwight D. Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander. Subsequently, the strategic bombing effort's intelligence, targeting and planning, co-ordination, including mission designation command and control were separated—not without controversy and opposition—from actual operations commands in direct control of air forces on 23 February 1944. The new command was organized on the large nucleus of Eighth Air Force planning staff members, thereby creating the USSTAF—at which time the USSTAF was also given mission planning control over other US Air Forces opposing Germany and Italy, and shrinking the man-power assigned to the Eighth Air Force in WWII.

The USSTAF was established with the redesignation of the former VIII Bomber Command as the Eighth Air Force on 22 February 1944. The strategic planning command staff of what had formerly been the Eight AF became a higher echelon command coordinating with the British in the target prioritization of the strategic bombing of the Axis. In this expanded role, USSTAF exercised operational control of the reorganized Eighth Air Force, the Ninth Air Force in the European Theater of Operations, and to an extent, the operations of Twelfth and Fifteenth Air Forces in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations—all of which had theretofore exercised their own strategic planning. USSTAF was the functional equivalent in Europe of U.S. Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific.

Formation of USAFE[edit]

For more details on this topic, see United States Air Forces in Europe.
Usafe-patch-1946.jpg

Shortly after VE-Day, the United States Army and Army Air Forces began to demobilze in Europe. In May 1945, USSTAF consisted of about 17,000 aircraft and about 500,000 personnel. In Europe the aim was to maintain a small USAAF organization, exclusively for communication and transport purposes. On 7 August 1945, the United States Strategic and Tactical Air Forces (USSTAF) was redesignated as the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) and headquarters USAFE was relocated to Wiesbaden, Germany, on 28 September 1945.

USAFE was planned to be a small organization in Europe, exclusively for communication and transport purposes. By the end of 1946, the American Air Force in Europe was reduced drastically, to around 75,000 personnel and less than 2,000 aircraft.

See also[edit]

References[edit]