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Website Notes: Air Force Historical Research Agency

If you are interested in Air Force history in general, or in the history of particular units, read this annotation I created as part of National Novel Writing Month. Then go forth and explore.

Air Force Historical Research Agency (http://www.afhra.af.mil/index.asp) – This site is divided into the following sections:

  • Organizational Records
  • Studies
  • Documents
  • Timelines
  • Art
  • Photos
  • Aerial Victory Credits

Organizational Records – This section provides information on Air Force units from individual squadrons to entire commands. Each unit record contains a photo of the unit emblem plus lineage, assignments, Components, Stations, Commanders, Aircraft (if assigned), Operations (combat history), Service Streamers, Campaign Streamers, Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers, and Decorations. It would be helpful to read over the article “Types of USAF Organizations” to give you a feel on how the different types of organizations relate to each other and which ones are no longer in current use.

Studies – The studies section is divided into “numbered studies”, “Short studies on recent operations” and “other studies.”

Many of the numbered studies are available as PDF files and some of them offer clues as to what individual Air Force/Army Air Corps people might have gone through such as:

  • Study 2 –  (U) Initial Selection of Candidates for Pilot, Bombardier, and Navigator Training, by Robert L. Thompson (1943). 66 pages.
  • Study 5 –  (U) Individual Training of Bombardiers, by Ben R. Baldwin (1944). 186 pages.
  • Study 55 – (U) Women Pilots with the AAF, 1941-1944, by J. Merton England and Joseph Reither (1946). 122 pages.
  • Study 91 –  (U) Biographical Data on Air Force General Officers, 1917-1952, by Robert P. Fogerty (1953). 2 Volumes: Volume 1 – A thru K, 519 pages; Volume 2 – L thru Z, 584 pages
  • Study 121 – (U) Special Operations: AAF Aid to European Resistance Movements, 1943-1945, by Harris G. Warren (1947). 259 pages.
  • Study 141 – (U) The World War I Diary of Col Frank P. Lahm, edited by Albert F. Simpson (1970). 271 pages.

Studies 150-195 are actually translated captured German Air Force documents from the Nazi period and mostly relate to World War II, with some coverage of the Spanish Civil war. Alternative history buffs might be interested in study 157 – Operation SEA LION and the Role of the Luftwaffe in the Planned Invasion of England, by Karl Klee (1955).

Be warned that the scan quality or in some cases the quality of the original is not high and may require some close reading.

The “short studies on recent operations” focuses on the post 1990 period and features articles on Somalia, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)s and USAF PsyOps.

There are three studies under “other studies” and the most interesting one to me was “A Study of Females on Minuteman/Peacekeeper Crews 31 January 1985” which concluded that women were just as effective at turning missile keys as men and recommended the deployment of women in single gendered crews.

Documents – The documents section focuses on descriptions of personal papers and oral histories. The papers and oral histories are browsable by name. Entries will include a person’s rank and topics contained in the papers or oral history. The entries for personal papers will also contain a short biographical essay. Neither the personal papers nor the oral histories are available online. To make arrangements to access these materials, you have to contact:

Archives Branch, Air Force Historical Research Agency
600 Chennault Circle,
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6424

Timelines – The Timelines section is a bland description for a wide variety of chronologies, statistical reports and forward-looking studies which are divided up into:

  • USAF Wing Force Structure (1939-2019)
  • Toward New Horizons
  • USAF Statistical Digests
  • World War II – Includes chronology of Tuskegee Airmen.
  • Korea
  • Vietnam – Includes Rocket Attacks on USAF Bases in Vietnam
  • USAF Rotation Policies: WWII Through Vietnam

Art – The “art” page has very little description but appears to be mostly unit emblems. It may be searched by keyword or browsed by “emblem”, “all art” or “Disney.” This last browse option brings up Disney-themed emblems for various Air Force Units. Unlike a number of government graphics sources displayed here, reproduction of any unit emblem for commercial purposes (like showing it in your book) is only allowed with written permission of the current unit commander.

Photos – Like the Art section, not much description is available from the page, though it may be searched by keyword or browsed by the following suggested canned searches:

  • All Photos
  • 509th Composite Group
  • AAF in WWII, Vol. VI
  • AAF Mobile Air Training Command
  • Capt. Joseph J. Merhar Jr. collection
  • Early Wright Brothers Flying Machines
  • History of the 3rd Antisubmarine Squadron
  • Homepage Photo
  • The Lewis E. Goodier Jr. Collection
  • Woodi Ishmael: Artwork
  • XIX Tactical Air Command

Mouse over thumbnails to see captions. Photos may be downloaded or links e-mailed to friends and others.

Aerial Victory Credits – This section provides access to summaries and individual cases of US pilots downing enemy aircraft. Read the section on each conflict to see how aerial victory credits were awarded and what factors led to greater or lesser numbers of enemy aircraft being destroyed. The actual search form can be found at http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/avc.asp and can be searched by Name, Rank, Unit, Echelon, Service, Serial Number, Date, Position, Type, Enemy Aircraft, US Aircraft, Order, War, Weapon Used, Theater, and Credit. Drop down boxes appear to next of the criteria to aid searching. In addition, this page provides summaries of credits by War/Operation, Aircraft, Enemy Aircraft and by Weapons Used.


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