Daily Items


Topic Hap Arnold:  Came The Dawn
Date 26-Feb-2014


From Time Magazine, 04-Nov-1940


National Defense: AIR: Came The Dawn

Since the late great Brigadier General "Billy" Mitchell demanded a separate air force and got a court-martial instead, flying officers who agree with him have kept their opinion to themselves. The Air Corps, controlled by groundling officers of the General Staff, rocked along as a branch of the Army, and in 1940's emergency it found itself in the Army's fix: a long way from M-Day trim. But many a flying man could see, close ahead, the day when Billy Mitchell's demand for separate existence would be outmoded. For the inevitable result of the growing strength and tactical importance of military aviation was that soon it would have all the representation it needed (like infantry, field artillery, cavalry) in the top crust of the U. S. Army. Last week the day dawned.

For letting the sun come up, the Air Corps could thank the Army's Infantryman Chief of Staff, General George Catlett Marshall. Soon after he got his four stars in September 1939, General Marshall broke Army precedent by appointing an Air Corps officer—bulky Brigadier General Frank Maxwell Andrews—as his G-3 (in charge of operations and training). First flying officer ever to head a General Staff division, Frank Andrews was also notable as the only Air Corps man among the U. S. Army's policy makers, at a time when one of the Army's first jobs was to catch up with Adolf Hitler's Luftwaffe.

Last week General Andrews was no longer unique. Appointed Deputy Chief of Staff was another Air Corps man: genial, white-haired Major General Henry H. ("Hap") Arnold. A West Pointer (class of 1907—a year after Frank Andrews), "Hap" Arnold learned his flying from the Wright Brothers, has kept at it since 1911, has commanded the Air Corps for two years. Kicked upstairs to the staff job, he will have charge of Air Corps matters under George Marshall.

"Hap" Arnold's transfer was only part of the Air Corps's rosy dawn. Full sunrise came in a list of promotions of 26 general officers. They will help boss an army, ground and air, that is being increased from 227,000 to 1,400,000 in one year. Heading the list as No. 1 U. S. flying officer was West Pointer Delos Carleton Emmons, commander of the GHQ Air Force and until last week "Hap" Arnold's subordinate. George Marshall's list gave Delos Emmons the rank of lieutenant general, shared only by the commanders of the U. S.'s four field armies. No airman had ever flown to such a military altitude.

Day before, Infantryman Marshall had given Flier Emmons a good idea of the force he was to command. Reorganizing the Air Corps on a wartime basis, he announced that the four Air Corps wings in the continental U. S. (now commanded by brigadiers) would be expanded to 17 as fast as pilots and planes were ready. Army airmen hoped that the 12,800 fighting craft needed would be ready before the promised delivery date (late in 1942), set out to expand the Air Corps's enlisted strength from 45,000 to 163,000. They did not need to worry about pilots. Annual output after next year will be 12,000.

Since 1939, the GHQ Air Force has been under the direct command of the Chief of Air Corps. Last week George Marshall changed that setup too. To the Chief of Air Corps (a post now temporarily filled by Major General George H. Brett) were left the jobs of training, procurement, research, etc. As field commander of U. S. armies, George Marshall put Delos Emmons' fighting unit directly under his own command. Farseeing military fliers thought they could see another day, when an Air officer might command an army, might even be Chief of Staff.


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