Continental Air Forces (CAF) was a United States Army Air Forces major command at the end of World War II and during the early Cold War for combat training of bomber and fighter personnel and for Continental United States (CONUS) air defense after the Aircraft Warning Corps and Ground Observer Corps were placed in standby during 1944. CAF conducted planning for the postwar United States general surveillance radar stations, and the planning to reorganize to a separate USAF was for CAF to become the USAF Air Defense Command (ADC was headquartered at CAF's Mitchel Field instead of the CAF HQ at Bolling Field.) On 21 March 1946, CAF headquarters personnel and facilities at Bolling Field, along with 1 of the 4 CAF Air Forces (2nd—which had its HQ inactivated on 30 March) became Strategic Air Command. US Strategic Air Forces of WWII, e.g., Eighth Air Force and Fifteenth Air Force, transferred later to SAC. Most of the CAF airfields that had not been distributed to other commands when SAC activated were subsequently transferred to Air Defense Command (to which CAF's 1st & 4th Air Forces were assigned on 21 March), Tactical Air Command (3rd Air Force), and Air Materiel Command from 23 March 1946 to 16 March 1947 before the USAF was activated in September 1947.
CONUS WWII air defense was initially under the command of four Air Districts—NE, NW, SE, & SW established on 16 January 1941 before the Pearl Harbor attack. The four air defense districts also handled United States Army Air Forces "participation with Army Ground Forces in combat training maneuvers" and "organization and training of bomber, fighter and other units and crews for assignments overseas" after individual crewmember training by the Western and Eastern Technical Training Commands. The air defense districts were redesignated on 26 March 1941 as the 1st Air Force, 2nd Air Force, 3rd Air Force, & 4th Air Force (the Technical Training Command was established on the same date and had similarly numbered CONUS training districts in 1942-- First "(with headquarters at Raleigh, N. C.)," Second (St. Louis), Third (Tulsa), & Fourth (Denver)—for aircraft mechanics, inspectors, etc.) A plan "for developing Andrews Field as the headquarters of the Continental Air Forces" for September 1944 was enacted.:164 (CAF HQ eventually transferred from Andrews to Bolling Field).
CAF was "activated 12 December 1944" at Andrews Field with "Brigadier General Eugene H. Beebe in command" and the "4 continental air forces" as components (1st Air Force through 4th Air Force) which consolidated the CONUS air defense mission under 1 command. In August 1945 CAF was assigned the AAF Radar Bomb Scoring mission for bomber training/evaluation when Mitchel Field's 63rd Army Air Force Base Unit transferred to CAF. CAF's air defense mission was documented "in AAF Regulation 20-1, dated 15 September 1945."
- Post-war radar network planning
- After a June 1945 meeting with AAF headquarters about air defense, CAF recommended "research and development be undertaken on radar and allied equipment for an air defense system [for] the future threat", e.g., a "radar [with] range of 1,000 miles, [to detect] at an altitude of 200 miles, and at a speed of 1,000 miles per hour"; but the Hq AAF Director of Operations responded that "until the kind of defense needed to counter future attacks could be determined, AC&W planning would have to be restricted to the use of available radar sets". CAF's January 1946 Radar Defense Report for Continental United States recommended the military characteristics of a post-war Air Defense System "based upon such advanced equipment," and the Plans organization of HQ AAF reminded "the command that radar defense planning had to be based on the available equipment." (At "the Watson Laboratories in New Jersey", AMC's Electronics Subdivision held a "Manufacturers Conference" on 26–28 June 1946 for planning the "Improved Search Radar")
Planning to reorganize for a separate USAF had begun by fall 1945 Simpson Board to plan "the reorganization of the Army and the Air Force". In January 1946 "Generals Eisenhower and Spaatz agreed on an Air Force organization [composed of] the Strategic Air Command, the Air Defense Command, the Tactical Air Command, the Air Transport Command and the supporting Air Technical Service Command, Air Training Command, the Air University, and the Air Force Center."
The "Continental Air Forces reorganization" began by 31 January 1946 when Abilene AAF was closed—in 1945 CAF's Muroc Field had transferred to ATSC (16 October), and Moody Field had transferred to AAF Training Command (1 November). CAF's Bolling Field was assigned control of Andrews Field on 3 January 1946 and also Richmond Army Air Base on 2 February 1946. Although Tyndall Field transferred to Continental Air Forces on 28 Feb 46 when its 308 AAF BU was activated, Tyndall soon transferred to TAC (21 Mar 1946 when its Air Tactical School was activated) and then to Air University (15 May 1946). CAF had 13 bombardment groups transferred to its tbd Air Force just before it was disestablished, e.g., 40th,[not in citation given] 44th, the 93rd, 444th, 448th (became 92nd), 449th, 467th (effectively became 301st), 485th, and 498th (became 307th). There was also the 58th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy;[verification needed] and also active was the 73rd Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy. Interceptor and radar network plans at CAF HQ--"in expectation that it would become" Air Defense Command—were passed on to ADC. CAF installations reassigned on 21 March 1946 included Grandview transferred to the Army Division Engineers, Mitchel Field to ADC, and both Tyndall Field and Army Air Base, Knob Knoster, to TAC. Despite the HQ transfer to SAC on 21 March, numerous CAF airfields transferred to TAC, ADC, and AMC from 23 March 1946 to 16 March 1947:
- Bergstrom Field & Brooks Field (transferred to TAC on 23 March 1946)
- Myrtle Beach AAF (to ADC on 27 March 1946)
- Shaw Field (ADC on 1 April 1946)
- Blytheville AAF, Dover AAF, March Field, McChord Field, & Pope Field (TAC, 1 April 1946)
- Kirtland Field (Air Materiel Command, 1 December 1946)
- Bolling Field (Bolling Field Command, 16 December 1946)
- Alamogordo AAF (AMC, 16 March 1947)
- Seymour Johnson Field (closed 23 August 1947)
- (partial transcript at AlternateWars.com) History of Strategic Air Command: Chapter III Operations and Training (Report). Historical Study No. 61. Historical Division, SAC Office of Information. 21 March tbd--declassified 11 October 1991. http://www.alternatewars.com/WW3/WW3_Documents/USAF/SAC_Historic_Study_61_Partial.htm. Retrieved 2013-09-27. "Continental Air Forces had executed...all Army Air Forces' responsibilities in the Zone of the Interior, including the redeployment of air power from the European to the Pacific Theater, the air defense of the United States, joint air-ground training, and the formation and command of a Continental Strategic Reserve on completion of redeployment. During the last four months of 1945 the Continental Air Forces had also been responsible for the demobilization of Army Air Forces personnel stationed in the Zone of the Interior."
- Mueller, Robert (1989). Air Force Bases (Report). Volume I: Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Office of Air Force History. p. 600. ISBN 0-912799-53-6. http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-100921-026.pdf. Retrieved 2013-08-15.
- Arnold, Henry H.—Foreword (June 1944--Special Edition for AAF Organizations) [May 1944]. AAF: The Official Guide to the Army Air Forces. New York: Pocket Books. pp. 13–15. http://books.google.com/books/about/The_official_guide_to_the_Army_air_force.html?id=9ae4AAAAIAAJ.
- Futrell, Robert F. (July 1947). Development of AAF Base Facilities in the United States: 1939-1945 (Report). ARS-69: US Air Force Historical Study No 69 (Copy No. 2). Air Historical Office.
- quotation from Grant p. 1, which cites "ltr, Hq AAF to CG CAF, subj: Directive, 14 Dec 44, in Hist CAF, 15 Dec 44-21 Mar 46, doc 47"
- Grant, Dr C. L. (publication date tbd). The Development of Continental Air Defense to 1 September 1954 (Report). USAF Historical Studies: No. 126 (AU-126-54-RSI). Research Studies Institute (USAF Historical Division). "Continental Air Forces, activated 12 December 1944, had been assigned the mission of continental air defense upon activation ... 26 July - United States Air Force created as co-equal of the Army and Navy."
- author tbd (9 November 1983) (MobileRadar.org transcription). Historical Summary: Radar Bomb Scoring, 1945–1983 (Report). Office of History, 1st Combat Evaluation Group. http://www.mobileradar.org/Documents/hist_sum_rad_bom_scrg.pdf. Retrieved 2013-08-31. "On 24 July 1945, the 206th was redesignated the 63rd AAFBU (RBS) and three weeks later was moved to Mitchell Field, New York, and placed under the command of the Continental Air Force."
- quotation from Grant, which cites: "Ltr, Hq CAF to CG AAF, subj: Defensive Communications and Electronics in the Postwar Period, 21 Jul 45, in Case Hist AC&W System, doc 4."
- quotation from Grant Ch. V--citation 31 cites "1st Ind (ltr, Hq CAF to CG AAF, subj: Defensive Communications and Electronics in the Postwar Period, 21 Jul 45), Hq AAF to CG CAF, 30 Aug 45, in Case Hist AC&W System, doc 4."
- the quotation from Grant Ch. V used citation 32 to cite a letter to "Guided Missile Br [in the] AC/AS-4 R&E Div" and a Hq CAF letter: R&R AC/AS-3, Guided Missiles Div to AC/AS-4 R&E Div, attn: Guided Missiles Br, subj: Military Characteristics of an Air Defense System, 23 Jan 46, in DRB War Plans Miscellaneous National Defense 1946-47, v2; ltr, Hq CAF to CG AAF, subj: Radar Defense Report for Continental United States, 28 Jan 46 in Case Hist AC&W System, doc 9." NOTE: Grant's text & citation indicate the Guided Missile Branch was in the HQ AAF Plans organization (Air Materiel Command had not yet been activated from its predecessors.)
- Grant Ch. V citation 33
- Grant's p. 8 citation 60 (also used in Ch. V citation 34) cites "AMC “Short Range Air Defense,” Project Description as presented at Electronics Subdivision Manufacturers' Conference, 26-28 Jun 46, in Air University Library, Maxwell AFB, M-31353-S no. 4.07."
- Grant Ch. V citation 34 cites "AMC, Improved Search Radar, Project Description as presented at Electronics Subdivision Manufacturers' Conference, 26–28 June 1946, in AUL M-31353-S, no 4.02; AMC, Short Range Air Defense, Project Description as presented to Electronics Subdivision Manufacturers' Conference, 26–28 June 1946, in AUL M-31353-S, no 4.07.
- Leonard, Barry (2009). History of Strategic Air and Ballistic Missile Defense. Vol II, 1955-1972. Fort McNair: Center for Military History. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-4379-2131-1. http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/bmd/BMDV2.pdf. "In November 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower became Army Chief of Staff. One of General Eisenhower’s first actions was to appoint a board of officers, headed by Lieutenant General W. H. Simpson, to prepare a definitive plan for the reorganization of the Army and the Air Force that could be effected without enabling legislation and would provide for the separation of the Air Force from the Army."
- Grant p. 76 cites "ADS HS-9, Organization and Responsibility for Air Defense, March 1946-September 1955"
- A Brief History of Keesler AFB and the 81st Training Wing (Report). A-090203-089. http://www.keesler.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-090203-089.pdf. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- Moody, Walton S. (1995). Building a Strategic Air Force. Air Force History and Museums Program. pp. 60, 62.
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