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Air Transport Command

Us army air corps shield.svg

Atc-wwii-emblem.jpg
Emblem of Air Transport Command
Active 1942-1948
Country United States
Branch United States Army Air Force
Role Worldwide transport of aircraft, personnel and cargo
Engagements World War II
For the Air Transport Command which existed prior to 1 July 1942, see I Troop Carrier Command

Air Transport Command (ATC) is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its mission was to meet the urgent demand for the speedy reinforcement of the United States' military bases worldwide during World War II, using an air supply system to supplement surface transport. ATC also operated a worldwide air transportation system for military personnel. Air Transport Command was the precursor to what became the Military Air Transport Service in 1948, re-named the Military Airlift Command in 1966 and today's Air Mobility Command.

Contents

History

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Lineage

  • Established as Air Corps Ferrying Command on May 29, 1941.
Re-designated: Army Air Forces Ferry Command on March 9, 1942
Re-designated: Army Air Forces Ferrying Command on March 31, 1942
Re-designated: Air Transport Command on July 1, 1942
  • Established and activated as Military Air Transport Service on 1 June 1948
Mission and operational control of Air Transport Command, established on 29 May 1941, consolidated into organization same date
Air Transport command was discontinued and inactivated on the same date.

Components

Domestic Division

Re-designated Domestic Wing on 26 February 1942 Operated military passenger transport services within the United States ("Zone of the Interior").

Northeast Sector (re-designated 2d Ferrying Group)
Detroit Sector (re-designated 3d Ferrying Group)
Nashville Sector (re-designated 4th Ferrying Group)
Midwest Sector (re-designated 5th Ferrying Group)
California Sector (re-designated 6th Ferrying Group)
Northwest Sector (re-designated 7th Ferrying Group)

Ferrying Division

Operated primarily by WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) transporting aircraft and cargo from manufacturing plants in the United States to and between various training bases within the USA and to Ports of Embarkation for overseas shipment (Hamilton Field, California; Morrison Field, Florida; Presque Isle Field, Maine; and Anchorage-Elmendorf Field, Alaska). From the Ports of Embarkation, aircraft were flown to final overseas destinations primarily by contracted civil airline pilots or former airline pilots serving in the AAF.

Foreign Division

Re-designated Foreign Wing on 26 February 1942

North America

  • Alaskan Wing (re-designated Alaskan Division on 1 July 1944)
Supported Eleventh Air Force in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. Controlled the Alaska-Siberia Route (ALSIB) to transport airborne lend-lease aircraft and support material from the Minneapolis, Minnesota and Great Falls, Montana via Central and Western Canada to Ladd Field, Alaska, where Soviet pilots collected the aircraft to fly them westward to air bases in Siberia. Also operated transport route into Northern Canada.
  • Atlantic Division
Operated the Mid-Atlantic Route from the Eastern United States (New York City, Washington DC, Miami) to Bermuda and on to the Azores / Portugal to ferry aircraft to England from early 1943. Later operated routes from the Azores to Portugal and France to provide connections with intra-European routes after 1944.

Central/South America

  • Caribbean Wing (Originally 24th AAF Ferrying Wing; redesignated Caribbean Division on 1 July 1944)
Transported aircraft, personnel and cargo from South Florida airfields (Morrison Field) to Waller Field, Trinidad over the South Atlantic Route. During World War II, over 16,000 tactical and cargo aircraft transited this route, carrying over 100,000 crew personnel and passengers. Also operated transport routes to Havana, (Cuba); Nassau, (Bahamas); and Sixth Air Force Caribbean lend-lease bases, and to Panama and Puerto Rico. Also operated an aircraft ferrying route between Brownsville, Texas and the Panama Canal Zone via Mexico and Central America. From Howard Field, Panama Canal Zone, it flew a route to the Galapagos Islands and along the west coast of South America to Salinas (Ecuador) and to Talara (Peru).
  • South Atlantic Wing (Originally 25th AAF Ferrying Wing; resdeignated South Atlantic Division on 1 July 1944)
Responsible for operating the South Atlantic Route from Waller Field, Trinidad along the north-eastern coast of South America to Natal (Brazil) and from there across the South Atlantic Ocean via Ascension Island to West Africa. It also operated routes along the eastern coast of Brazil to Montevideo (Uruguay) and to Asuncion (Paraguay).

Europe

  • European Wing (Re-designated European Division on 1 July 1944)
Established in July 1941 as AAF Ferrying Command at Prestwick Airport (Scotland). Received aircraft flown from the United States across the North Atlantic Route. On 19 June 1942, it took over the transatlantic operations from TWA and Northeast Airlines at Prestwick to ferry passengers to the European Theater. It served as the operational component of ATC in Europe. Initially, it flew transport operations from United Kingdom to Spain and Portugal, later on also to French Morocco. Clandestine transport operations were also made into Occupied Europe and to Scandinavia in 1943. Routes were established into France in 1944 and throughout Occupied Germany, Italy and to the Balkans and Greece in 1945.
  • North Atlantic Wing (Originally 23d AAF Ferrying Wing, re-designated North Atlantic Division on 1 July 1944)
Operated North Atlantic Route for aircraft, personnel and cargo from Presque Isle AAF to Prestwick Airport, Scotland, via Greenland, Iceland or directly from Nova Scotia. Operated transport routes into Labrador, Northeast Canada and to bases in Greenland. In 1945, it operated a transport route from Iceland to Oslo, Norway, and to Stockholm, Sweden.

Africa/Middle East

  • Central African Wing (re-designated Central African Division on 1 July 1944)
Responsible for moving aircraft, personnel and cargo from West African transport hubs over the Trans-Africa Route via Khartoum (Sudan) to Cairo (Egypt) and to Aden (South Arabia) and on to Karachi (India). This was discontinued when the route along the coast of West Africa from Dakar (Senegal) to French Morocco became available in 1943. Also operated a transport route to Leopoldville (Belgian Congo) for the transport of uranium to the United States. This route was later extended to Pretoria (South Africa Rep.) via Elizabethville (Belgian Congo).
  • Middle East Wing (Originally 26th AAF Ferrying Wing)
Delivered lend-lease aircraft, personnel and cargo from Cairo, Egypt to destinations in the Middle East. Operated the Eastern Mediterranean Route via Lydda (British-Mandated Palestine) and Beirut (Lebanon) to Adana (Turkey. It also ferried lend-lease aircraft to Tehran (Iran) for onward shipment to Russia via Baku. A connecting route linked Baghdad (Iraq) with Karachi, India, along the Persian Gulf coast.
  • North African Wing (re-designated North African Division on 1 Jul 1944)
Moved aircraft, supplies and cargo from West African transport hub supporting Twelfth and Fifteenth Air Forces. Also part of South Atlantic Route transport extension via West Africa to Casablanca (French Morocco) and to Britain. Operated the Mediterranean Air Transport Service from Casablanca (French Morocco) to Cairo (Egypt) and later from Algiers (Algeria) to Naples (Italy) in 1944.

Pacific/CBI Theater

  • West Coast Wing
Operated a transport route from Seattle, Washington to Elmendorf AAF, Alaska, along the coast of British Columbia primarily to deliver Boeing aircraft to Alaska.
  • Pacific Wing (Originally 27th AAF Ferrying Wing; re-designated Pacific Division on 24 July 1944)
Operated the South Pacific Air Route from Hamilton Field, California via Hickam Field, Hawaii to either Brisbane or Williamstown, Australia, via Nadi, Fiji and Noumea, New Caledonia for cargo and passengers. Later on, links were established with New Zealand and via Honiara, Solomon Islands with Hollandia and Biak, Dutch East Indies.
  • Central Pacific Wing (activated 1 Aug 1944)
Operated route from Hawaii via Marshall Islands to Mariana Islands for logistical support for Seventh and Twentieth Air Forces in the Marianas. The route was later extended to Manila, Philippines; Okinawa; and lastly to Tokyo, Japan in 1945. A transport route was established from Manila to Kunming, China.
  • Southwest Pacific Wing (activated on 1 August 1944)
Logistical support for Fifth and Thirteenth Air Forces in New Guinea and later to the Philippines.
  • Eastern Pacific Wing (activated on 10 April 1946)
  • Western Pacific Wing (activated on 10 April 1946)
Postwar reorganization of Pacific transport routes within Far East Air Force connecting Hawaii, Australia, the Philippines, Okinawa and Japan.
  • India-China Wing (1 December 1942. Re-designated India-China Division on 1 July 1944.)
It was responsible for transport operations across the Himalayan Mountains "The Hump" between airfields in Assam and China, formerly performed by the 10th AF India-China Ferrying Command and the 1st Ferrying Group, and operated a western Indian sector in Karachi. Responsible for the materiel support of the Fourteenth Air Force in China and of the Tenth Air Force operations.

Major stations

United States

  • Numerous municipal airports (MAP) used for domestic transport of cargo and personnel.
  • Major US Air Bases
Brownsville MAP TX (Ferrying only)
Anchorage-Elmendorf AFB/AAF AK
Great Falls-Malmstrom AFB/AAF MT
Miami MAP FL
Minneapolis MAP MN
  • Aerial Ports of Embarkation (U S A)
Manchester-Grenier Field NH (Air Transport only)
Hamilton Field CA
Hickam Field (Oahu, Hawaii)
Fairbanks-Ladd Field AK
Long Beach MAP CA
Mitchel Field NY
Morrison Field FL
Washington D.C.-National Airport VA (Air Transport only)
Presque Isle AAF ME
San Diego MAP CA

Canada

North Atlantic

  • Bluie West-1 (Greenland)
  • Bluie West-8 (Greenland)
  • Meeks (Keflavik) Air Base (Iceland)
  • Prestwick Airport (Scotland / UK)

Mid-Atlantic

  • Kindley Field AFB (Bermuda)
  • Lajes Field (Azores, Portugal)

Central/South America

  • Borinquen Ramey AFB (Puerto Rico)
  • Balboa Albrook Field (Panama Canal Zone)
  • Waller Field (Trinidad)
  • Georgetown-Atkinson Field (British Guiana)
  • Natal (Brazil)

West Africa

  • Dakar-Yoff (Senegal) (1943-1945)
  • Takoradi (Gold Coast) (1941-1943)
  • Monrovia-Roberts Field (Liberia) (1941-1943)
  • Benson Field (Liberia) (1941-1943)
  • Lagos Airport (Nigeria) (1941-1943)
  • Kano Airport (Nigeria) (1941-1943)
  • Maiduguri (Nigeria) (1941-1943)

Northeast Africa

North Africa

  • Casablanca-Nouasseur AFB (Morocco) (1943-1945)
  • Algiers-Maison Blanche (Algeria) (1943-1945)
  • Cairo-Payne Field AFB (Egypt)

Middle East

  • Abadan Airport (Iran)
  • Aden-RAF Khormaksar Airport (South Arabia)
  • RAF Lydda Airport (Palestine - British Mandate)
  • RAF Habbaniya Airport (Iraq)
  • Tehran-Mehrabad Airport (Iran)

Europe

  • Frankfurt Rhein Main AFB (Germany)
  • London RAF Bovingdon (England / UK)
  • Marseille (France)
  • Naples Pomigliano AFB (Italy)
  • Paris Orly AFB (France)
  • Prestwick Airport nr Glasgow (Scotland / UK)

India

China

South Pacific Region

Australia

New Guinea

  • Finschhafen (New Guinea)
  • Lae-Nadzab AAF/AFB (New Guinea)
  • Biak-Mokmer (Dutch New Guinea)
  • Hollandia (Dutch New Guinea)

Western Pacific Region

  • Guam-Agana AFB (Mariana Islands)
  • Saipan-East Field (Mariana Islands)

South-East Asia

  • Clark Field AFB (Philippines)

Primary aircraft

Operations

Origins

With the passage of the Lend-Lease Act in March 1941, a method was necessary to safely send aircraft to the United Kingdom, and later to the Soviet Union. In establishing overseas lines of supply, the United States had of necessity to rely most heavily on water transport. There was no other possible means of moving the bulk of tonnage required.

Britain pointed the way towards developing long-range strategic air supply routes from North America to the UK and onward to bases in the Middle East. In November 1940, a Canadian civilian agency under contract to the British government began ferrying US-built bombers across the North Atlantic from Newfoundland (Canada) to Prestwick (near Glasgow) (Scotland / UK). This was the first step in the spanning of the North Atlantic with an aerial supply bridge. The hazardous route across the North Atlantic constituted, however, only one segment of a long supply line that reached from the aircraft factories of Southern California –and other regions of the USA– to the airfields of Britain. The bombers, purchased for cash from US manufacturers prior to the passage of the Lend-Lease Act, were first ferried by factory-employed pilots from California to Montreal (Canada). There they were turned over to the civilian pilots of the British Atlantic ferrying organization for the flight to Scotland. By ferrying these bombers under their own power, vital shipping space was saved and factory-to-combat deliver time was cut from approximately three months to less than ten days.

Air Corps Ferrying Command

Major trunk air routes of AAF Ferrying Command, June 1942

The British ferrying service was well under way when the Lend-Lease Act became law on 11 March 1941. With the North Atlantic sea lanes vulnerable to German U-boat attacks, General Henry H. Arnold established the Air Corps Ferrying Command on May 29, 1941, to deliver lend-lease aircraft overseas from the USA. Commanded and organized by Brig. Gen. Robert Olds, the mission of the new command was, first, "to move aircraft by air from factories to such terminals as may be designated by the Chief of the Air Corps," and second, "to maintain such special air ferry services [i.e., air transport services] as may be required to meet specific situations." These were broad powers, and working within them, the Ferrying Command eventually expanded far beyond the limits imagined by those responsible for its creation. The second assignment provided specific authority for the establishment of a military air transport service over the North Atlantic between the USA and the United Kingdom, a project which had been under consideration for some months.

Ferrying Command relied initially on two-engine and single-engine pilots detailed from the Air Force Combat Command (formerly GHQ Air Force) for thirty- to ninety-day tours of temporary duty. More highly qualified four-engine pilots of the Combat Command, as well as navigators and other crew members, were borrowed to fly the trans-Atlantic transport shuttle. In the summer and fall of 1941, approximately 200 pilots were trained at Barksdale Field, Louisiana, especially for ferrying duty, although they were assigned to the Combat Command and served, as did the others, on temporary-duty status with the Ferrying Command.

During the fall of 1941, the Ferry Command had assumed an additional responsibility for delivery of some of the AAF's own planes from factory to stations within the United States. After the Pearl Harbor Attack, the ferry of aircraft within the USA quickly became a major function of the Command. From the domestic ferrying assignment it was only a step to the Command taking over the responsibility for delivering or supervising the delivery of AAF and lend-lease aircraft to theaters of war scattered across the world.

After the USA entered World War II, it became clear that the fastest and most economical method of moving combat aircraft from the factory to the front, which might be 10,000 to 15,000 miles away due to the worldwide nature of the conflict, was to ferry them under their own power. Also, to keep aircraft at their highest efficiency, an air transport system for the rapid delivery of spare engines and parts, auxiliary equipment of all kinds, flight crews, and ground personnel became an absolute necessity, and supplementary to the traditional and considerably slower method of surface transport.

During 1941, four major air routes were developed. These were:

  • The North Atlantic route, earliest to be developed for military purposes, provided an air connection between the Eastern USA and Britain, while
  • The Northwest route connected mainland USA with Alaska and the Soviet Union via Siberia.
  • The South Pacific route connected the USA via Hawaii with Australia and islands of the Western Pacific.
  • The South Atlantic air ferry route linked the USA with West Africa, the Middle East, India and China.

Secondary routes between Australia and India, and between Australia and the Philippines were also developed.

Later, a Mid-Atlantic route was developed via the Azores to link the USA with Europe and North Africa. While this route was not opened until late 1943, the USA and Britain were at all times prepared to occupy the Azores, had the security and future use of this route been threatened by the Axis Powers.

By early 1942, it had become clear that the Philippines could not be held, principally because the Japanese had cut the only sea and air lanes over which available reinforcements, such as they were, could reach General MacArthur. By the end of February 1942, the air connection between India and Australia was also cut due to the advancement of Japanese forces into Southeast Asia, although some heavy bombers and other reinforcements from the USA were able to get through before the Japanese captured Singapore and overran the Netherlands East Indies. Fortunately for the Allies, the five remaining major routes were held.

During 1942, the South Atlantic route to West Africa and beyond assumed an importance far surpassing that of any of the others. In contrast to the slowness of the North Atlantic, South Pacific and Alaskan routes, the South Atlantic airway immediately came to support a heavy volume of air traffic that strained its facilities and personnel to the limit. Lend-lease aircraft and supplies were sent over the route to the British forces in Egypt and the Russians through Persia, with a smaller volume going via India into China. The earliest heavy bomber reinforcements sent to the US Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific following the Japanese attack were moved over the route, as were most of the aircraft and crews that would form the Ninth Air Force in the Middle East and the Tenth Air Force in India. Fighter aircraft for the Ninth and Tenth Air Forces and for the American Volunteer Group in China were shipped by water to the west coast of Africa and were then ferried overland to their destinations. And, while ferrying operations were increasing steadily, the air transport service in support of both ferrying and combat operations was enlarged and extended.

During the thirteen months of its existence, Ferrying Command had grown from an original staff of two officers and a civilian secretary to a strength of over 11,000 officers and enlisted men, in addition to its civilian employees and those of the civil air carriers operating under its supervision. As the name implies, ferrying had been its main job, and during the period its pilots ferried 13,595 aircraft to final domestic destinations, while 632 planes were delivered to foreign destinations under the supervision of the command.

Air Transport Command

Change of roles

Air Transport Command major routes, 1 September 1945

Air transport services conducted by the Ferrying Command (before the Pearl Harbor attack), were first to Britain and later to Cairo. They were like courier services and were secondary to the major job for which the command was created, that of ferrying aircraft from US factories to Canada and onward to Britain or to US ports of embarkation. Probably no one then foresaw that a network of long-range transport routes, supporting the daily movement of hundreds of tons of supplies and thousands of passengers, would spread across the world and that daily flights to such remote areas as the Aleutians, Australia, the Philippines, India, and China would become commonplace.

Indeed, a limited view of the role of long-range air transportation in World War II persisted for some months after the USA became an active belligerent. Not until the late spring and summer of 1942, when large backlogs of supplies awaiting air shipment to the front began to build up at ports of embarkation and when it became clear that almost unlimited demands would be made in future for the rapid movement of urgently needed materials and personnel, did the idea of air transport as a major instrument of logistics begin to take shape.

In order to operate a worldwide air logistics system, maximum use would have to be made of the planes,men, and facilities of the civil airlines. The Ferrying Command was in no position to expand its own military transport services. The ferrying activity continued to increase as more aircraft were turned out by the factories, as new combat units became ready for deployment overseas, and as the need for battle replacements grew more and more emphasis came to be placed on the air transportation function. Air transport had passed beyond the stage of being primarily a courier service or an adjunct ot ferrying; it was well on the way to becoming a major instrument of logistical support to combat operations on the ground and in the air.

The civil airlines, in addition to having the available flying personnel and physical equipment, had another equally valuable though less tangible asset. They had the wealth of practical knowledge in conducting scheduled air transport operations, the administrative competence, and the mastery of techniques that came from long experience.

As a first step in mobilizing the resources of the airlines, President Roosevelt had signed an executive order on 13 December 1941 directing the Secretary of War to take possession of any portion of any civil aviation system required in the war effort. In addition, a letter sent by the Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, Mr. Larry Pogue, to the White House advocated the establishment of a civilian air transportation service to operate airline contracts for the military. Pogue advocated a new organization answering directly to the White House. In response, General "Hap" Arnold proposed that the United States Army Air Forces control and direct such a service, primarily composed of pilots and aircraft contracted from U.S. civilian airlines.

A memorandum of General Arnold on the subject and that of Mr. Pogue were submitted to a board of officers, with instructions to consider the whole problem. Before the board could make an official report, however, General Arnold had reached a decision; and, on 29 June, Army Air Forces issued General Orders No. 8, which embodied substantially the second recommendation of Mr. Pogue. The Ferrying Command was renamed the Air Transport Command. The organization hitherto known by that designation became the I Troop Carrier Command and given the mission of providing combat lifts for parachute troops, airborne infantry, and glider units.

A change of command at Army Air Forces Ferrying Command took place in the meantime. In March 1942 General Olds was stricken with a heart attack, and was replaced by Colonel (eventually Lieutenant General) Harold L. George, who remained as ATC's wartime commander.

Effective 1 July, the new Air Transport Command was given the following responsibilities:

  • The ferrying of all aircraft within the United States and to destinations outside of the United States as directed by the Commanding General, Army Air Forces.
  • The control, operation, and maintenance of establishments and facilities on air routes outside of the United States.
  • The transportation by air of personnel, materiel, and mail for all War Department agencies, except those served by Troop Carrier units.

The new Air Transport Command was initially only a semi-military organization, with most of its leadership coming from the ranks of airline executives who accepted direct USAAF commissions, usually as colonels or majors.[1 ] Until 1944, ATC also drew heavily on the airlines for manpower, using experienced civil airline pilots, radio operators, and other aircrew personnel from the airlines to crew transports that had been purchased by the Army from civilian sources.[1 ] ATC's original mission was ferrying airplanes to overseas destinations, a mission that had been originally performed by the Army Ferry Command that preceded it and from which ATC headquarters military personnel were drawn. As the war progressed, ATC's air transport division became more and more involved in transporting military personnel and cargo overseas.[1 ][2]

At the time, it was redesignated and given its enlarged mission, the command was already in the process of reorganization.

Organization of ATC

The newly created Air Transport Command consisted of two main divisions, the Ferrying Division and the Air Transportation Division, corresponding roughly to the two primary responsibilities of the command. The ATC Ferrying Division was responsible for the transfer of combat aircraft to overseas bases, and their replacement. Thousands of bombers, transport aircraft and fighters flown by combat crews on their way overseas were under ATC control during these movements. Ferrying of combat aircraft was a major ATC mission to the end of the war.[2]

In additino, five major field organizations, known as wings, were constituted on 12 June 1942 and activated at various dates during the latter part of the month. Initially, they were known as the 23d through the 27th AAF Ferrying wings, but the command soon requested and secured a change to more descriptive geographical names. On 5 July, they were redesignated the North Atlantic, Caribbean, South Atlantic, Africa-Middle East, and South Pacific wings. Over the course of the war, additional wings and divisions were created as the scope and complexity of the command increased.

More than 130 two- and four-engine transport aircraft had become available to the command by 1 July 1942, of which 10 or 15 were being flown by military crews and the remainder by the contract carriers. A large number of these had come from new production, some were acquired from the Air Service Command, but others became available as the result of a presidential order of 6 May directing the Secretary of War to commandeer all transports of the DC-3 type operated by the domestic air carriers in excess of 200 and to refit them "for such transport services as will most effectively serve the war purposes of the United Nations." The transfer of the aircraft from the airlines to the War Department made it possible for the former also to release additional crews for employment in military operations.

In the beginning of ATC operations, the Douglas C-47 Skytrain was the primary transport plane in use. At first, the C-47 was often fitted with long-range tanks for long flights, but as larger multi-engine aircraft became available, the C-47 was redeployed for use on shorter routes.[1 ]

In 1942, the Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express, a transport version of the B-24 Liberator bomber, was adopted for service with the ATC. The C-87 had a much longer range and higher service ceiling, making it a better choice for over-water transport flights, but its hurried conversion from a dedicated bomber design resulted in inevitable compromises that affected its reliability in service.[3]

In 1942, at the personal request of General 'Hap' Arnold, Colonel Cyrus R. Smith, formerly president and director of American Airlines, was commissioned a colonel in ATC and made its executive officer, thereafter assuming the positions of Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander.[4] During his tenure as Chief of Staff, Colonel Smith was largely responsible for ATC's considerable expansion in operations.[4] In the same year, Col. Smith proposed that ATC assume responsibility for the Hump airlift operation[4], as he believed that ATC would do a better job of transporting cargo to China.[2] However, due to a lack of navigation aids, personnel, suitable airfields and maintenance facilities, and above all, sufficient muli-engine transport aircraft suited to the difficult flight conditions, tonnage levels flown to China over the Hump did not appreciably increase until late 1943.[2][5]

As the war progressed, ATC received improved aircraft types for transport duty, including the Curtis C-46 Commando and the Douglas C-54 Skymaster, a militarized transport version of the DC-4. The C-54 in particular took over the C-87's duties in long-distance, over-water transport flights. In the China-India theater, the C-54, with three times the load capacity of the C-47, significantly increased cargo tonnage levels flown to China, causing ATC to phase out earlier C-47 and C-46 aircraft.[2]

ATC transports were used primarily to deliver high value cargo and important personnel to overseas destinations. For example, ATC C-87s delivered new engines to Libya to replace those worn out on the B-24s used on the famous low-level mission against Ploesti. An emergency shipment of artillery fuzes helped win the battle of Tobruk. When the first B-29s were sent to China, advance party personnel and additional combat crew personnel proceeded the bombers aboard ATC C-87s. On return flights, C-87s and C-54s brought back combat crews who had finished their combat tours and were returning to the States. At the end of the war, ATC C-54s transported 11th Airborne Division personnel from Okinawa to Japan.

By the end of World War II, Air Transport Command had developed into a huge military air carrier with a worldwide route pattern. Routes had been established to places that had seen few white men before the war, and where aircraft had been unheard of. Airline personnel who had never left the United States before the war, had become veterans of long over-water flights to the remotest regions of earth.[1 ]

Post-World War II era

With the end of the war, the Air Transport Command found itself in limbo. Senior USAAF authorities considered ATC to be a wartime necessity that was no longer needed, and expected its civilian personnel, including former airline pilots, to return to their peacetime occupations. Senior ATC officers, on the other hand, thought that ATC should be developed into a national government operated airline, an idea that was soundly opposed by the airline industry. While the war had firmly established the necessity of a troop carrier mission, most military officers believed the role performed by ATC should be provided by contract carriers.

When the United States Air Force was established as a separate service in 1947, the Air Transport Command was not established as one of its missions. The ATC commander and his staff took it upon themselves to convince the new civilian leadership of the newly created Department of Defense (DOD) (and Secretaries of the Army and Air Force) that ATC had a mission. They seized upon testimony by former Troop Carrier Command commander General Paul Williams that the Air Force should have a long-range troop deployment capability, and began advocating that ATC transports could be used to deploy troops. Williams had been pressing for the development of a long-range troop carrier airplane when he made his statement.

The DOD believed it should have its own air transport service and decided that ATC should become the Military Air Transport Service, supported by the USAF, even though not listed as a formal military mission. When the ATC commander wrote a mission statement for the proposed new command he inserted "deployment of troops" as a mission, although the change had never been formally requested, the Secretary of the Air Force either allowed it to remain or overlooked it when signing the mission statement.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e Gann, Ernest, Fate Is The Hunter, New York: Simon & Schuster (1961), ISBN 0-671-63603-0, pp. 160-164
  2. ^ a b c d e Glines, C.V., Flying the Hump, Air Force Association Magazine (March 1991) Vol. 74 http://www.afa.org/magazine/1991/0391hump.asp
  3. ^ Gann, Ernest, Fate Is The Hunter, New York: Simon & Schuster (1961), ISBN 0-671-63603-0, pp. 213-217
  4. ^ CBI Hump Pilots Association, Flying the Hump: A Fact Sheet for the Hump Operations During World War II, (USAAF) China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater of Operations http://www.cbi-history.com/part_xii_hump5.html

References

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Stanley M. Ulanoff, MATS: The Story of the Military Air Transport Service, 1964, The Moffa Press, Inc.
  • Office of Air Force History, The United States Army Air Forces in World War II, edited by Craven and Cate
  • James Lee, Operation Lifeline - History and Development of the Naval Air Transport Service, 1947, Ziff-Davis Publishing Company

External links


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