Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics
|Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics|
|Active||27 October 1942 – 8 March 1946|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Army Air Forces|
|Type||Professional Military Education|
|Garrison/HQ||Orlando Army Air Base, Florida|
Operational Airfields in Florida
|Brig Gen Hume Peabody|
The Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics (known as AAFSAT) was a major command of the United States Army Air Forces. It was merged with Army Air Forces Proving Ground Command on 8 March 1946 at Orlando Army Air Base, Florida.
The Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics was a major command and military training organization of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Its function was to train cadres from newly formed units in combat operations under simulated field conditions as the cores around which new combat groups would be formed.
The lack of a true tactical training center and the closure of the Air Corps Tactical School in 1940, coupled with the impracticality of further splitting of existing combat groups into cadre for new groups, made AAFSAT a necessity. The Commandant of AAFSAT was Brigadier General Hume Peabody, formerly assistant commandant of the ACTS.
In addition to its training function, the school also developed as a tactical doctrine development center, assuming the functions formerly assigned the ACTS. In this function it also became known as the Army Air Forces Tactical Center (AAFTAC).
At the entry of the United States into World War II on 7 December 1941, the USAAF had expanded to 67 groups from a pre-1939 total of 15, but approximately half were paper units just forming. The entry into the war meant an immediate significant increase in the numbers of new combat groups, expanding to 269 groups by the end of 1943.
The training establishment then in place was inadequate to train units wholesale, and the concept of training cadres who in turn would direct the training of their assigned units was adopted. AAFSAT was established 9 October 1942, to provide this training. The first group receiving AAFSAT training to deploy overseas was the 390th Bomb Group (Heavy) in July 1943, based in England with the Eighth Air Force.
Headquarters USAAF originally intended that four tactical schools be developed across the United States, one for each of the four major military aviation functions. However "to save administrative costs and physical outlay" (Army Air Forces Historical Study 13) and to facilitate coordination between the schools, all four would be consolidated at a single location. Orlando was chosen 1 November 1942, primarily because it was already the location of Fighter Command School, which would be subordinated to AAFSAT, and because of its large geographical area. The school officially opened 12 November 1942. Between November 1942 and September 1945, AAFSAT trained 54,000 personnel and the cadres of 44 bombardment groups.
In addition to training cadre, AAFSAT also became a tactics development center, testing new tactics and disseminating their conclusions and procedures to combat theaters around the world. That role had been formerly held by the Air Corps Tactical School, but it had been a professional development school for future air commanders and had never developed into a true tactical center. Its suspension of classes in June 1940 and dissolution in the summer of 1941 had left a void in the promulgation, testing, articulation, and dissemination of doctrine and tactics, which AAFSAT was tasked to fill.
- Established as Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics on 27 October 1942'
- Re-designated: Army Air Forces Tactical Center on 16 October 1943
- Re-designated: Army Air Forces Center on 1 June 1945
- Re-designated: Army Air Forces Proving Ground Command on 8 March 1946
- United States Army Air Forces, 27 October 1942
- Orlando Army Air Base, Florida, 27 October 1942 – 8 March 1946
AAFSAT was organized into three directorates: Tactical Development, School Activities, and Demonstration Air Force, with three combat groups acting as both school units and demonstration air force units. The Directorate of School Activities was divided into four departments, each headed by a colonel or brigadier general as Assistant Commandant and containing a "command school": Air Defense Department (Fighter Command School), Air Service Department, Air Support Department, and Bombardment Department (Bomber Command School).
The AAFSAT school bombardment unit was the 9th Bomb Group, from 31 October 1942 to 9 March 1944, when it was re-designated a B-29 group and moved to Nebraska to train for combat operations. (Ironically, its new cadre were themselves trained at AAFSAT in June 1944.) The Fighter Command School unit was the 50th Fighter Group from 23 March 1943 to 13 March 1944, when it transferred to Ninth Air Force as a P-47 fighter-bomber group. The close air support school unit of AAFSAT from February 1943 to April 1944, when it was disbanded, was the 415th Bomb Group (Dive).
With a ground school at Orlando Army Air Base in Orlando, Florida, presenting a two-week academic course, AAFSAT also taught a two-week field course utilizing eleven training airfields in Florida representing all conditions likely to be found in combat, from bare fields to prepared bomber airbases having 10,000-foot (3,000 m) runways.
During 1943-1945 the AAFSAT operated a combat simulation facility in Florida. Units and airfields were established throughout an 8,000-square-mile (21,000 km2) area of north central Florida designated a mock "war theater" stretching roughly from Tampa to Titusville to Starke to Apalachicola in which war games were conducted. AAFSAT also had a bombing range at Ocala AAF, a service center at Leesburg AAF, and an air depot at Pinecastle AAF.
School demonstration units, assignments and stations
- 901st Army Air Forces Base Squadron, Bushnell AAF
- Operated station support facilities at AAFSAT airfields, no flying Operational Training Unit assigned
Transfer and transition
Due to a major reorganization of the Tactical Center and a change in the types of courses conducted by the institution, the Army Air Forces redesignated the AAF School of Applied Tactics as the Army Air Forces School (AAFS) on 1 June 1945. Following the end of World War II, in preparation for its post-war educational operations, the Army Air Forces transferred the AAF School from Orlando to Maxwell Field, Alabama on 29 November 1945 and assigned it directly to the AAF as a major command. On 12 March 1946, Headquarters, Army Air Forces redesignated the Army Air Forces School as the Air University (AU) and established the Air War College, Air Command and Staff School (now known as Air Command and Staff College), and the Air Tactical School (now known as Squadron Officer School) as its subordinate units.
This formed the basis for the present day Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base.
- Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites: History's Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C., 2004.