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XX Bomber Command: Wikis


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XX Bomber Command
Emblem of XX Bomber Command
Active 1941–1948
Country United States
Branch United States Army Air Force
Role Command and Control
Engagements World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg
  • World War II
American Campaign (1941–1942)
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign (1944–1945)

The XX Bomber Command (XX BC) is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with Far East Air Forces, based on Okinawa. It was inactivated on July 16, 1945.





  • Constituted as I Bomber Command on September 4, 1941
Activated on September 5, 1941
Inactivated on October 15, 1942
  • Activated on May 1, 1943
Redesignated XX Bomber Command in August 1943
Disbanded on October 6, 1943
  • Reconstituted as XX Bomber Command on November 19, 1943
Activated on November 20, 1943
Inactivated on July 16, 1945
Disbanded on October 8, 1948


Bases Assigned

Hsinching Airfield, China designated as forward headquarters, 6 Apr 1944-1 Apr 1945

Units Assigned

Command Structure

General Henry "Hap" Arnold named himself the commander of the Twentieth Air Force to avoid diversion of assets from the B-29 effort against Japan, particularly by Admiral Nimitz, who was given command authority over all efforts in the Central Pacific. Brigadier General Haywood S. Hansell became Twentieth Air Force chief of staff. The subordinate commanders of XX Bomber Command were:

  • Major General Kenneth B. Wolfe
  • Brigadier General LaVern G. Saunders
  • Major General Curtis E. LeMay
  • Brigadier General Roger M. Ramey

Operational History

Emblem of I Bomber Command (1941–1942)

As I Bomber Command, the organization engaged primarily in antisubmarine operations along the east coast of the United States as part of First Air Force. The unit was redesignated as Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command on 15 October 1942.

I Bomber command was reconstituted and redesignated as XX Bomber Command on 19 November 1943. XX Bomber Command controlled Operational Training Units (OTU)s as part of Second Air Force. The command was reassigned to Twentieth Air Force in 1943, to oversee B-29 Superfortress training in the US.

The XX, an operational command of the Twentieth Air Force was then moved to India. Under the plan known as Operation Matterhorn the XX bombed Japan from forward bases in China, supported by supplies from India flown over the Hump. Early in 1945 the B-29 moved to newly established bases in the Marianas and XX Bomber Command stopped being an operational command.

The organization was inactivated on July 16, 1945, and disbanded on October 8, 1948. Personnel of the inactivated unit formed the Headquarters of Eighth Air Force with its reassignment to the Pacific Theater on July 16, 1945.


The American Bomber Summary Survey states that "Approximately 800 tons of bombs were dropped by China-based B-29s on Japanese home island targets from June 1944 to January 1945. These raids were of insufficient weight and accuracy to produce significant results."[1] XX Bomber Command had failed to achieve the strategic objectives that the planners had intended for Operation Matterhorn, largely because of logistical problems, the bomber’s mechanical difficulties, the vulnerability of Chinese staging bases (see Operation Ichi-Go), and the extreme range required to reach key Japanese cities. Although the B–29s achieved some success when diverted to support Chiang Kai-shek’s forces in China, MacArthur’s offensives in the Philippines, and Mountbatten’s]] efforts in the Burma Campaign, they generally accomplished little more than the B-17 Flying Fortresses and B-24 Liberators assigned to the Fourteenth, Fifth, Thirteenth, and Tenth Air Forces.[2]

Chennault considered the Twentieth Air Force a liability and thought that its supplies of fuel and bombs could have been more profitably used by his Fourteenth Air Force. The XX Bomber Command consumed almost 15 percent of the Hump airlift tonnage per month during Matterhorn. Lt. Gen. Albert C. Wedemeyer, who replaced Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell as American senior commander in the China theater, agreed with Chennault. The two were happy to see the B–29s leave China and India. Yet, despite those objections, Matterhorn did benefit the Allied effort. Using the China bases bolstered Chinese morale and, more important, it allowed the strategic bombing of Japan to begin six months before bases were available in the Marianas. The Matterhorn raids against the Japanese home islands also demonstrated the B–29’s effectiveness against Japanese fighters and antiaircraft artillery. Operations from the Marianas would profit from the streamlined organization and improved tactics developed on the Asian mainland.[2]


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