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WW2 USAF ARMY AIR CORPS SERVICE S PILOT WINGS

Officers, and on rare occasions enlisted personnel, could undergo pilot training during World War II. Those who graduated from training and were assigned to a unit would be granted these to wear on their uniforms! The United States Army Air Forces (USAAF or AAF) was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II (1939/41–1945), successor to the previous United States Army Air Corps and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force of today, one of the five uniformed military services. The AAF was a component of the United States Army, which in 1942 was divided functionally into three semi-independent parts: an Army Ground Forces (AGF), an Army Service Forces (ASF), and the AAF. Each of these forces had a commanding general who reported directly to the overall commander of the Army, Lt. Gen. Frank Maxwell Andrews (Andrews was succeeded in 1943 by Lt. Gen. Henry H. Arnold). The Aviation Arm of the Signal Corps was formed in August 1907 under Chief Signal Officer (CSO) Albert J. Myer. General Myer gave his primary attention to developing a separate Aerial Coast Defense system and did not lobby for establishment of an independent air service. This was contrary to Army policy, with more senior officers opposed to the idea, including then Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, who thought it impractical due largely to the lack of funding and resources provided by Congress at that time for building an Air Force. Nevertheless, the Signal Corps persisted in formally requesting that Congress establish an Air Service in 1908 even though most senior military leaders (such as Secretary of War William Howard Taft and CSO Brigadier General Henry Arnold) continued to oppose the idea. In response to the Signal Corps request, Congress finally appropriated funds for the Army to purchase its first airplane in 1909. The Signal Corps subsequently ordered six more aircraft. The Pilot Wings shown here are representative of those worn by Army Air Corps pilots during World War II. The pilot wings consist of a pair of silver wings with a center shield containing the U.S. coat of arms. The words “United States Army” are displayed above the shield and “Air Corps” is written below it. The wings are attached to a uniform via a pair of small pins on the backside of the wings. Pilot wings were first authorized by the Army in 1918 for wear by qualified pilots. In 1919, the Air Service (the predecessor to the Air Corps) officially adopted the wings as its own insignia. The design of the Air Service pilot wings was based on the British Royal Flying Corps wings of World War I. The Army Air Corps was established as a separate branch of the military in 1926. In 1941, it was renamed the Army Air Forces (AAF). During World War II, the AAF trained more than 500,000 pilots and aircrew members. After the war, the Army Air Forces were again renamed the Air Force in 1947. Today, U.S. Air Force pilots continue to wear pilot wings on their uniforms.  
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