Original U.S. WWII 12th Air Force Named Pilot Grouping with Air Medal
Original Items: One-of-a-kind grouping. Wonderful 12th Air Force Pilot 2nd Lieutenant Robert A. Swanson of Arthur, Indiana.
Included in this wonderful set are the following items:
- Named officers wool 4-pocket class A uniform with original sterling silver pilot wings. Featuring a 12th AF patch. His uniform is tailor made by Kahn with his name named typed on label inside pocket along with his initials RS embroidered initials an sewn into the lining. on a light blue background.
- Named Ike Jacket with original bullion silver pilot wings. Featuring a hand made embroidered 12th AF patch and medal ribbons that include the Air Medal, European-African-Middle East Campaign with 3 battle stars, American Defense Medal, WWII Victory Medal and Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation.
- This "crush" or "crusher" cap has the classic "bomber pilot" look of a USAAF pilot in Europe. This was the standard Army AAF officer's dress cap, worn by pilots and non-pilots alike, but pilots gave this cap their own unique twist. Normally, this cap had stiffeners - a support piece behind the cap device and a wire around the inside top perimeter to maintain the cap's round shape. These kept the cap in its proper, regulation military shape and angle. However, since bomber pilots wore headsets over their caps during flights, they would remove the wire stiffener to make headset more comfortable, causing the sides of the caps to become crushed. Eventually, the caps retained their floppy "crushed" look. This example made by BANCROFT in the Flighter model is in size US 7 1/4
- Cased Air Medal.
- Zippo Style Cigarette Lighter inscribed with the initials RAS.
- 2 x Officers long sleeve shirt with patches and lieutenant bars.
- 1 x Officers long sleeve shirt
- 1 x Officer "pinks" trousers.
- Photo of his wife mounted in a gear shift knob.
- 1945 Dated Immunization Record named to Swanson.
- Officer's Mess coupon book named to Swanson .
The origins of Twelfth Air Force are traced back to a series of mid-1942 Allied planners' meetings to develop a strategy for the North African invasion or "Operation TORCH". Because this extensive operation required a new organization to provide enough manpower and equipment, activation plans were prepared simultaneously with the invasion strategy.
On 20 August 1942, Twelfth Air Force was activated at Bolling AAF, Maryland. On 23 September 1942, Brigadier General Jimmy Doolittle formally assumed 12th AF command with Colonel Hoyt S. Vandenberg as chief of staff. Barely four months after it was conceived, 12th AF made its first contributions to World War I .
Initially, 12th AF was a composite organization containing both strategic heavy bombardment groups; and tactical light and medium bombardment, fighter-bomber, and fighter groups. Based in French Morocco and Algeria after Operation Torch, it became very important for 12th AF to coordinate and cooperate with the Royal Air Force which had been fighting in North Africa for two years. Such Allied cooperation was a major concern of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and their staffs at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943 where they created the Mediterranean Air Command (MAC) with Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder as Air Commander-in-Chief. For planning of the Tunisia Campaign, Tedder's MAC headquarters were adjacent to those of his immediate superior, the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower at Algiers, Algeria soon after the new Allied air force reorganization took effect on 18 February 1943.
The Northwest African Air Forces (NAAF) under Lieutenant General Carl Spaatz was the largest component of MAC and its organization was based on the tri-force model (No. 205 Group strategic, No. 201 Group coastal, and Air Headquarters Western Desert tactical) indicated above. Thus the three major combat commands of NAAF were:
Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) under former 12th AF Commander Major General James Doolittle
Northwest African Coastal Air Force (NACAF) under Air Vice-Marshal Hugh Lloyd
Northwest African Tactical Air Force (NATAF) under Arthur Coningham.
In keeping with the MAC priority of encouraging USAAF-RAF cooperation, Air Vice-Marshal James Robb was named Spaatz's deputy commander of NAAF and he handled operations.
Additionally, the following new units were assigned to NAAF:
Northwest African Air Service Command (NAASC) under Major General Delmar H. Dunton
Northwest African Training Command (NATC) under Brigadier General John K. Cannon
Northwest African Photographic Reconnaissance Wing (NAPRW) under the president's son, Colonel Elliott Roosevelt
Northwest African Troop Carrier Command (NATCC) initially under Colonel Ray Dunn and later under Brigadier General Paul Williams.
Lieutenant General Lewis Brereton's 9th Air Force was assigned to RAF Middle East although its 12th Bombardment (B-25Cs) and 57th Fighter (P-40Fs) Groups formed a Desert Air Task Force detached to NATAF's Western Desert Air Force under Air Vice-Marshal Harry Broadhurst who replaced Coningham when he was promoted to NATAF commander.
The 12th AF, the largest air force ever assembled soon after its inception several months earlier, ceased to exist in the new MAC organizational structure. As an operational organization, the 12th AF simply disappeared when its groups were distributed among the various new NAAF commands listed above. The only remaining reference to the 12th AF among these commands was Major General Edwin House's XII Air Support Command which along with Broadhurst's Western Desert Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Sir Laurence Sinclair's Tactical Bomber Force, and Air Vice-Marshal Sir Kenneth Cross' No. 242 Group, became part of Coningham's NATAF. Later, XII Air Support Command became even less obvious when it was detached to No. 242 Group. The curious status of the 12th AF in February 1943 is illustrated by the quotation below taken from Craven and Cate, Eds., The United States Army Air Forces in WWII, Volume 2, Europe: Torch to Pointblank, Chapter 6, Climax in Tunisia, p 167, 1949.
"One of the admittedly minor problems of the reorganization concerned the status of the Twelfth Air Force. Its units, personnel, and equipment having been transferred entirely to NAAF on February 18, both on paper and in actuality the Twelfth seemed to have vanished. At his last staff meeting, on February 22, Doolittle expressed the opinion that once such matters as courts-martial had been wound up, the "skeleton" of the Twelfth--"the name only"--would have either to be returned to the States for a reincarnation or be decently interred by War Department order. Spaatz put the question to Eisenhower and, receiving answer that Headquarters, Twelfth Air Force, would be continued as the administrative headquarters for the U.S. Army elements of NAAF, he took command of the Twelfth on March 1. As commander, however, he had no staff as such, it being assumed that AAF officers named to the NAAF staff had been automatically placed in equivalent positions in the Twelfth. Actually, all administrative functions were carried on by NAAF and the half-existence of the Twelfth served mainly to mystify all but a few headquarters experts."
Although the 12th AF was essentially unrecognized in the official Allied air force organization (MAC), it was of course, still a major entity in the USAAF. But even the U.S. Army Air Forces World War II Combat Chronology 1941–1945, recorded its daily chronology entries under "NAAF" rather than "12th AF" between 1 March and 1 September 1943. Ironically, the U.S. Ninth Air Force retained its identity in MAC (and in the USAAF Combat Chronology) even though it was officially a sub-command of RAF Middle East Command and most of its groups were assigned to other operational commands such as NATAF after the February reorganization of the Allied air forces.
On 22 August 1943, the Ninth Air Force's 12th and 340th Bombardment Groups, and its 57th, 79th, and 324th Fighter Groups were transferred to the 12th AF. This change coincided with the transfer of the 9th AF from the MTO to the European Theater of Operations (ETO).
On 1 September 1943 all administrative functions of USAAF elements of NAAF were transferred to the appropriate Twelfth AF organizations: HQ NAAF to HQ Twelfth AF, NASAF to XII Bomber Command, NATAF to XII Air Support Command, NACAF to XII Fighter Command, NAASC to XII AFSC, NAAF TCC to XII Troop Carrier Command (Provisional), NWPRW to Photographic Reconnaissance Wing (Provisional), and NATC to XII Training Command (Provisional) but operational control remained with NAAF.
On 10 December 1943 MAC was disbanded and reorganized as the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces (MAAF) with Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder as Air Commander-in-Chief. In mid-January 1944, Lieutenant General Ira Eaker took over MAAF when Eisenhower chose Tedder to oversee air operations and planning for the Normandy Landings. The new MAAF organization retained the original tri-force model adopted by the Casablanca Conference in creating MAC nearly one year earlier.
Components of the 12th AF, also under Cannon, were assigned to his various MATAF sub-commands after the 12th's heavy bomb groups (and three B-26 medium bomb groups that were eventually returned to the 12th) were transferred to the newly created Fifteenth Air Force (1 November 1943; briefly under Doolittle and then Twining) as part of MASAF. In January 1944, Doolittle took over the 8th AF in England which along with the 15th AF in Italy, formed the United States Strategic Air Forces (USSTAF) under former 12th AF, NAAF, and 8th AF commander Spaatz.
Units and Organization of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces in January 1944.
As the U.S. tactical air force in the Mediterranean, the 12th AF primarily provided close tactical support to U.S. ground forces in Italy and Southern France and targeted lines of transportation and communication, particularly roads, railroads, and bridges until the end of the war.
12th AF operated in the Mediterranean, French Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Greece, Italy, Southern France, Yugoslavia, Albania, Romania, and Austria. By V-E Day, 12th AF had flown 430,681 sorties, dropped 217,156 tons of bombs, claimed destruction of 2,857 enemy aircraft, and lost 2,667 of its own aircraft.
When hostilities ended, Twelfth Air Force was inactivated at Florence, Italy, on 31 August 1945.
12th Air Force Stations:
Bolling Field, D.C., 20 to 28 August 1942
England, 12 September to 22 October 1942
Algeria, 9 November 1942
Tunisia, 10 August 1943
Italy, 5 December 1943 to 31 August 1945.
12th Air Force Commanders:
Lt. Col. Roger J. Browne, 26 August 1942
Lt. Col. Harold L. Neely, 28 August 1942
Maj. Gen. James H. Doolittle, 23 September 1942
Lt. Gen. Carl Spaatz, 1 March 1943
Lt. Gen. John K. Cannon, 21 December 1943
Maj. Gen. Benjamin W. Chidlaw, 2 April 1945
Brig. Gen. Charles T. Myers, 26 May to 31 August 1945.
12th Air Force Campaigns: Air Combat, EAME Theater; Algeria-French Morocco; Tunisia; Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Anzio; Rome-Arno; southern France; North Apennines; Po Valley.
Collar to shoulder: 10”
Shoulder to sleeve: 23”
Shoulder to shoulder: 18”
Chest width: 19”
Waist width: 15”
Hip width: 23”
Front length: 34"
Collar to shoulder: 9”
Shoulder to sleeve: 25”
Shoulder to shoulder: 17”
Chest width: 20”
Waist width: 15”
Hip width: NA”
Front length: 21"
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