2nd Air Force Patch – Hook and Loop
A 3.5″ patch 2nd Air Force Patch – Hook and Loop
The Second Air Force (2 AF; 2d Air Force in 1942) is a USAF numbered air force responsible for conducting basic military and technical training for Air Force enlisted members and non-flying officers. In World War II the CONUS unit defended the Northwestern United States and Upper Great Plains regions and during the Cold War, was Strategic Air Command unit with strategic bombers and missiles. Elements of Second Air Force engaged in combat operations during the Korean War; Vietnam War, as well as Operation Desert Storm.
The Northwest Air District of the GHQ Air Force was established on 19 October 1940; activated on 18 December 1940 at McChord Field, and then re-designated as 2d Air Force on 26 March 1941. 5th Bombardment Wing was assigned to Second Air Force up until 5 September 1941.
2nd Air Force
On 11 December 1941, four days after the Pearl Harbor attack, 2d Air Force was placed under Western Defense Command. However, on 5 January 1942, it was returned to the Air Force Combat Command (a redesignation of GHQAF after creation of the United States Army Air Forces on 20 January 1941), and later placed directly under Headquarters AAF when Air Force Combat Command was dissolved in March 1942.
From December 1941, 2d Air Force organized air defense for the northwest Pacific Ocean coastline of the United States (1940–1941) and flew antisubmarine patrols along coastal areas until October 1942. It appears that immediately after 7 December 1941, only the 7th, 17th, 39th and 42d Bombardment Groups under II Bomber Command were available for this duty. In late January 1942, elements of the B-25 Mitchell-equipped 17th Bombardment Group at Pendleton Field, Oregon were reassigned to Columbia Army Air Base, South Carolina ostensibly to fly antisubmarine patrols off the southeast coast of the United States, but in actuality came to prepare for the Doolittle Raid against Japan.
In January 1942, the 2d Air Force was withdrawn from the Western Defense Command and assigned the operational training of units, crews, and replacements for bombardment, fighter, and reconnaissance operations. It received graduates from Army Air Forces Training Command flight schools; navigator training; flexible gunnery schools and various technical schools, organized them into newly activated combat groups and squadrons, and conducted operational unit training (OTU) and replacement training (RTU) to prepare groups and replacements for deployment overseas to combat theaters.
As the Second Air Force it became predominantly the training organization of B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment groups. Nearly all new heavy bomb groups organized after Pearl Harbor were organized and trained by Second Air Force OTU units, then were deployed to combat commands around the world. After most of the heavy bombardment groups had completed OTU training, the Second Air Force conducted replacement training of heavy bombardment combat crews and acquired a new mission of operational and replacement training of very heavy bombardment (B-29 Superfortress) groups and crews.
Designated the Second Air Force on 18 September 1942, starting in mid-1943 the unit’s training of B-17 and B-24 replacement crews began to be phased out, and ressigned to First, Third and Fourth Air Forces as the command began ramping up training of B-29 Superfortress Very Heavy bomb groups, destined for Twentieth Air Force. Under the newly organized XX Bomber Command, B-29 aircraft were received from Boeing’s manufacturing plants and new combat groups were organized and trained. XX Bomber Command and the first B-29 groups were deployed in December 1943 to airfields in India for Operation Matterhorn operations against Japan.
A football team made up of Second Air Force personnel defeated Hardin–Simmons University in the 1943 Sun Bowl.
XXI Bomber Command, the second B-29 combat command and control organization was formed under Second Air Force in March 1944 with its combat groups beginning to deploy to the Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific beginning in December 1944. A third B-29 organization, XXII Bomber Command was formed by Second Air Force in August 1944, however the organization never got beyond forming Headquarters echelon and Headquarters squadron. Inactivated before any operational groups were assigned, as XX Bomber Command units were reassigned from India to the Marianas, eliminating need for the command.
On 13 December 1944, First, Second, Third and Fourth Air Force were all placed under the unified command of the Continental Air Forces (CAF) with the Numbered Air Forces becoming subordinate commands of CAF. The training of B-29 groups and replacement personnel continued until August 1945 and the end of the Pacific War. With the war’s end, Second Air Force was inactivated on 30 March 1946. In what was effectively a redesignation, the headquarters staff and resources were used to create Fifteenth Air Force, which became the first Numbered Air Force of the new Strategic Air Command ten days later.