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Carl Andrew Spaatz
June 28, 1891(1891-06-28) – July 14, 1974 (aged 83)
Carl Spaatz, Air Force photo portrait, color.jpg
Gen. Spaatz
Nickname Tooey
Place of birth Boyertown, Pennsylvania, USA
Place of death Washington, D.C., USA
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Air Force
United States Army Air Corps
Years of service 1914 - 1948
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Battles/wars Mexican Expedition
World War I
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star
Air Medal
Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire GBE
Knights Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav

Grand Officiers of the Légion d'honneur
Croix de guerre

Carl Andrew "Tooey" Spaatz (June 28, 1891 – July 14, 1974) GBE was an American World War II general and the first Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.


Early life

Born as Carl Andrew Spatz, he added the second "a" in 1937 at the request of his wife and daughters to clarify the pronunciation of the name, as many pronounced it "spats". He added the second "a" to draw it out to sound like "ah", like the "a" in "father". (The name is thus correctly pronounced "Spahtz".)[1]

Spaatz received his nickname at West Point because of his resemblance to another red headed cadet named F.J. Toohey. He graduated in 1914, served briefly in the infantry, and was assigned to the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps in October 1915.

Spaatz served in the First Aero Squadron which was attached to General John J. Pershing during his expedition to Mexico in 1916. Spaatz was promoted to First Lieutenant in July 1916 and to Captain in May 1917.

Bust of General Spaatz at the Imperial War Museum Duxford

World War I

Following America's entry into World War I, Spaatz was sent with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in command of the 31st Aero Squadron. Spaatz spent most of the war commanding the American Aviation School at Issoudun, France but he saw three weeks of action during the final months of the war. In this brief period, Spaatz shot down three enemy planes and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC); during the time he was with the 13th Aero Squadron.[2] Spaatz was given a temporary promotion to major in the Air Service in June 1918.

Inter-war years

In 1919 he served in California and Texas and became assistant department air service officer for the Western Department in July 1919. He reverted to his permanent rank of captain February 27, 1920, but was promoted to major July 1, 1920.

As a major, he commanded Kelly Field, Texas, from October 5, 1920, to February 1921, served at Fort Sam Houston as air officer of the Eighth Corps Area until November 1921, and was commanding officer of the 1st Pursuit Group, first at Ellington Field, Texas, and later at Selfridge Field, Michigan, until September 24, 1924. He graduated from the Air Corps Tactical School, Langley Field, Virginia, in June 1925, and then served in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps at Washington, D.C.

From January 1 to January 7, 1929, Spaatz along with fellow Air Corps officers, Captain Ira Eaker and Lieutenant Elwood Quesada, both of whom would later become senior United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) generals, established an aviation record by keeping the airplane Question Mark in the air over the Los Angeles vicinity for over 150 hours.

From May 8, 1929, to October 29, 1931, Spaatz commanded the 7th Bombardment Group at Rockwell Field, California, and the 1st Bombardment Wing at March Field, California, until June 10, 1933. He then served in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps and became chief of the Training and Operations Division. In August 1935, he enrolled in the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and while there was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He graduated in June 1936, and then served at Langley Field on the staff of Maj. Gen. Frank M. Andrews, commander of General Headquarters Air Force, until January 1939, when he returned to the Office of the Chief of Air Corps at Washington as assistant executive officer.

In November 1939, Spaatz received a temporary promotion to colonel, and during the Battle of Britain in 1940, spent several weeks in England as a special military observer. In August 1940, he was assigned in the Office of the Chief of Air Corps, and two months later was appointed assistant to the chief of Air Corps, with the temporary rank of brigadier general. He became chief of the Plans Division of the Air Corps in November 1940, and the following July was named chief of the air staff at Army Air Forces Headquarters.

The Question Mark being refueled by a Douglas C-1

World War II

Spaatz was named commander of Air Forces Combat Command in January 1942 and promoted to the temporary rank of major general. In May 1942 Spaatz became commander of the Eighth Air Force and transferred its headquarters to England in July. Spaatz was placed in overall command of the USAAF in the European Theater of Operations, while retaining his Eighth Air Force command. He was promoted to the permanent rank of Colonel in September 1942 and subsequently assigned command of the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa in December 1942. He was named commander the Allied Northwest African Air Force in February 1943, the Fifteenth Air Force and Royal Air Forces in Italy in November 1943, and the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe in January 1944. Spaatz received a temporary promotion to lieutenant general in March 1943.

As commander of Strategic Air Forces, Spaatz directed the United States portion of the strategic bombing campaign against Germany, directing the Eighth Air Force, which was now commanded by Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle, based in England, and the Fifteenth Air Force, which was now commanded by Lieutenant General Nathan Twining, based in Italy.

"It is hard to think of another commander in the USAAF who had enough influence with General Eisenhower to hold off, as well as Spaatz did, the diversions proposed by Leigh-Mallory. Neither is it easy to think of any other who had both the perception to identify oil targets as decisive and the strength to conserve a part of the U.S. strategic air striking power for them.[3]:340

biographer David R. Mets

As the commander of Strategic Air Forces in Europe, Spaatz was under the command of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and the supervision of Gen. Hap Arnold, the USAAF Chief of Staff, and he continued under Gen. Arnold's command in the Pacific.

In March 1944, Spaatz proposed the Oil Plan for bombing, and in June 1944 during the Operation Crossbow priority bombing of V-1 sites aimed at the UK, Spaatz advocated, and received authorization from Eisenhower for, bombing of those targets at a lower priority. Spaatz also identified that "…the chimera of one air operation that will end the war…does not exist", and [3]:273 advocated Tedder's plan "which retained the oil system in first position, but more clearly placed Germany's rail system in second priority", which encouraged Eisenhower to overrule Air Ministry fears that the "thrust against the oil industry" might be weakened.[3]:260-1 Spaatz's Oil Plan became the highest bombing priority in September 1944. After the war, Eisenhower said that Spaatz, along with General Omar Bradley, was one of the two American general officers who had contributed the most to the victory in Europe.

Spaatz received a temporary promotion to the rank of general on March 11, 1945. He was transferred to the Pacific and assumed command of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific as part of the Pacific Theatre of Operations, with headquarters on Guam, in July 1945. From this command, Spaatz directed the strategic bombing of Japan, including the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Spaatz had been present at Reims when the Germans surrendered to the Americans on May 7, 1945; at Berlin when they surrendered to the Russians on May 9; and aboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered on September 2. He was the only man of General rank or equivalent present at all three of these surrenders.

Later life

In July 1945, President Truman nominated Spaatz for promotion to the permanent rank of major general. Spaatz was appointed commanding general of the Army Air Forces in February 1946 following the retirement of his friend General Henry H. Arnold. After the creation of the independent Air Force by the National Security Act of 1947 and Truman's Executive Order No. 9877, Spaatz was appointed as the first Chief of Staff of the new United States Air Force in September 1947.

Spaatz retired from the military at the rank of general on June 30, 1948[4] and worked for Newsweek magazine as military affairs editor until 1961. He also served on the Committee of Senior Advisors to the Air Force Chief of Staff, from 1952 until his death. From 1948 until 1959, he served as National Commander of the Civil Air Patrol. In 1954, Spaatz was appointed to the congressional advisory board set up to determine the site for the new United States Air Force Academy. Spaatz died on July 14, 1974 and is buried at the Academy's cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Other information

See also


  1. ^ Spaatz was a neighbor and close associate of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Olds at Langley Field, Virginia in the 1930's. Olds had similarly changed the spelling of his name (from Oldys) in 1931 because of common mispronunciation.
  2. ^ "Full Text Citations For Award of The Distinguished Service Cross World War I". 
  3. ^ a b c Mets, David R. (1997 - paperback) [1988]. Master of Airpower: General Carl A. Spaatz. pp. 260–1,265. 
  4. ^ Public domain biography from U.S. Air Force "General Carl A. Spaatz". Biographies. Air Force Link. Public domain biography from U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Henry H. Arnold
as Chief of the United States Army Air Forces
Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
1947 — 1948
Succeeded by
Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg


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