Organization of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force

The Organization of the Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force on November 11, 1918 represents its maximum strength in World War I. Units of the Air Service are listed as assigned to the order of battle for that date, which was that of the Armistice with Germany. The first air unit arrived in France in September 1917, while the final air unit reaching the front did so on November 9, 1918. Unit operations began in April 1918. At the armistice, 57,508 officers and men served in the Air Service of the AEF, 24,512 in the Zone of Advance (combat area), and 32,996 in the Services of Supply (rear areas). Of its 6,861 officers, 4,088 were on flying status and 219 were qualified observation balloon aviators. 1,724 of those on flying status and approximately 100 of the balloonists served in combat units.[1]

The Air Service, First Army was activated August 26, 1918, with Col. Benjamin Foulois named chief over Col. Billy Mitchell. The Air Service, Second Army was activated on October 12 with Col. Frank P. Lahm as chief, and the Air Service, Third Army was created immediately after the armistice to provide aviation support to the army of occupation, primarily from veteran units transferred from the First Army Air Service.

The first two air combat groups formed in the AEF were the 1st Corps Observation Group, in April 1918, and the 1st Pursuit Group at Toul. Ultimately fourteen airplane and seven balloon groups were formed. The five pursuit and two bombardment groups were organized into two wings, while the seven observation and seven balloon groups were allotted one per army and corps air service, with two flexible "observation wings" organized to coordinate the reconnaissance activities of the five corps air services.

The basic units of the air service were the squadron for powered aircraft and the company for balloons. 45 squadrons (38 of which conducted combat operations) of aircraft and 17 companies of balloons served at the front. The 20 pursuit and seven bombardment squadrons were authorized 25 aircraft (including spares) and 18 crews each by the Field Service Regulations, while the 18 observation squadrons were each authorized 24 planes and 18 crews. Balloon companies were equipped with one balloon and approximately six observers each.

Contents

Air Service of the AEF, 11 November 1918

Chief of Air Service, AEF - Maj.Gen. Mason Patrick (Chaumont)
Chief of Air Service, Group of Armies - Brig. Gen. William L. Mitchell

Air Service, First Army

Spad XIII, 94th Aero Squadron, 1st Pursuit Group
Nieuport 28, 95th Aero Squadron, 1st Pursuit Group
Salmson 2.A.2 observation plane

Col. Thomas D. Milling, (Souilly)

1st Pursuit Group - (Rembercourt, Maj. Harold E. Hartney)
27th, 94th, 95th, & 147th Aero Squadrons (Spad XIII)
185th Aero Squadron (night pursuit) - (Sopwith F-1 Camel)
1st Pursuit Wing - (Chaumont-sur-Aire, Maj. Burt M. Atkinson)
2d Pursuit Group - (Souilly, Maj. Davenport Johnson)
13th, 22d, 99th, & 139th Aero Squadrons (Spad XIII)
3d Pursuit Group - (Foucaucourt, Maj. William K. Thaw II)
28th, 93d, 103d Aero Squadron, & 213th Aero Squadrons (Spad XIII)
1st Day Bombardment Group - (Maulan, Maj. James L. Dunsworth)
11th, 20th, 166th (DH-4B) & 96th (Breguet 14 B2) Aero Squadrons
155th Aero Squadron (night bombardment) - (Belrain, Sopwith FE-2b)
First Army Observation Group - (Vavincourt, Capt. Harry T. Wood)
9th Aero Squadron (night reconnaissance) - (DH-4B, FE-2b)
24th Aero Squadron - (Salmson 2.A2)
91st Aero Squadrons (Salmson 2.A2)
186th Aero Squadron (Lemmes, Salmson 2.A2)
First Army Balloon Group - (Maj. John Paegelow)
11th (Fontaines) & 43d (Fossé) Balloon Companies
Corps Observation Wing - (Rampont, Maj. Melvin A. Hall)
Air Service, I Corps - (Chéhéry, Capt. Oliver P. Echols)
1st Corps Observation Group - (Julvécourt, Capt. Arthur J. Coyle)
1st Aero Squadron - (Salmson 2.A2)
12th Aero Squadron - (Salmson 2.A2)
50th Aero Squadron - (Clermont-en-Argonne, DH-4B)
Escadrille Br.211, Aéronautique Militaire - (Clermont-en-Argonne, Breguet 14)
1st Corps Balloon Group - (Chéhéry)
1st (Auzéville), 2d (Les Petites-Armoises), & 5th (La Besace) Balloon Companies
Air Service, III Corps - (Dun-sur-Meuse, Maj. Joseph C. Morrow)
3d Corps Observation Group - (Bethelainville, Capt. Kenneth P. Littauer)
88th Aero Squadron (Dorand AR, Sopworth 1, Salmson 2.A2)
90th Aero Squadrons (Sopworth 1, Salmson 2.A2, Spad XI)
Escadrilles Br.219 & Br.229, Aéronautique Militaire - (Courcelles-en-Aire, Breguet 14)
3d Corps Balloon Group - (Dun-sur-Meuse)
3d (Belrupt), 4th (Vilosnes-sur-Meuse), 9th (Consenvoye), & 42d (Villers-devant-Dun) Balloon Companies
Air Service, V Corps - (Nouart, Maj. Martin F. Scanlon)
5th Corps Observation Group - (Parois, Capt. Stephen H. Noyes)
99th Aero Squadron (Salmson 2.A2)
104th Aero Squadron (Salmson 2.A2)
Escadrilles Br.214 & Spa.215, Aéronautique Militaire - (Parois, Breguet 14 and Spad XIII)
5th Corps Balloon Group - (Nouart, Capt. Alvin C. Rois)
6th (Brabant-sur-Meuse), 7th (Tailly), 8th (Nouart), & 12th (Buzancy) Balloon Companies

Air Service, Second Army

Col. Frank P. Lahm, (Toul)

Caquot Type "R" kite balloon
A formation of DH-4Bs.
4th Pursuit Group - (Toul, Maj. Charles J. Biddle)
17th, 25th, 141st, & 148th Aero Squadrons (mostly Spad XIII, with S.E.5a for 25th Aero Squadron)
5th Pursuit Group - (Lay-Saint-Remy, Capt. Dudley L. Hill)
41st, 138th, & 638th Aero Squadrons (forming)
2nd Day Bombardment Group - (Ourches, Maj. George E. A. Reinberg)
100th Aero Squadron & 163d Aero Squadrons (DH-4B)
Balloons Wing - (Toul, Maj. John H. Jouett, Balloon Officer, Second Army)
(Six companies en route to front)
20 and 52 Balloon Companies, Aéronautique Militaire
Second Army Observation Wing - (Toul, Lt.Col. John H. Reynolds)
Second Army Observation Group - (Major C. Delaney, attached from French Third Army)
Escadrilles Sal.28, Spa.47, and Spa.277, Aéronautique Militaire - (Saint-Mihiel, Salmson 2 and Spad XIII)
Air Service, IV Corps - (Toul, Maj. Harry B. Anderson)
4th Corps Observation Group - (Toul)
8th Aero Squadron - (Salmson 2.A2)
135th Aero Squadron - (DH-4B)
168th Aero Squadron - (DH-4B)
255th & 278th Aero Squadrons (designated for VII Corps) - (DH-4B)
4th Corps Balloon Group
15th, 18th, & 69th Balloon Companies
Air Service, VI Corps - (Nancy, Maj. Joseph T. McNarney)
6th Corps Observation Group - (Saizerais, Capt. John G. Winant)
8th Aero Squadron - (Salmson 2.A2)
354th Aero Squadron - (DH-4B)
6th Corps Balloon Group
10th Balloon Company

Air Service, Third Army

Promptly after the armistice, the AEF formed the Third United States Army to march immediately into Germany while the remainder of the army demobilized. Brig. Gen. Mitchell was appointed to command the Air Service, Third Army, on November 14, 1918.[2] Gen. Mitchell was replaced in January as commander of the Third Army Air Service by Col. Harold Fowler, a combat veteran of the Royal Flying Corps and former commander of the American 17th Pursuit Squadron.

The most veteran units of the Air Service were selected to form the new Air Service. A pursuit unit, the 94th Aero Squadron; a day bombardment squadron, the 166th; and four observation squadrons (1st, 12th, 88th, and 9th Night) were initially assigned.[3]

On April 15, 1919, the Second Army Air Service in France closed down. Its former air units were transferred to the Third Army Air Service in Germany, which at its maximum consisted of the:

Sopwith F-1 Camel
5th Pursuit Group (Coblenz)
41st, 138th, 141st, and 605th Aero Squadrons (Sopwith F-1 Camel)
3rd Corps Observation Group (Weißenthurm)
1st, 24th, and 258th Aero Squadrons (Salmson 2.A2)
4th Corps Observation Group (Sinzig)
85th and 278th Aero Squadrons (Salmson 2.A2)
7th Corps Observation Group (Trier)
9th Aero Squadron (Night observation, DH-4B)
88th and 186th Aero Squadrons (Salmson 2.A2)

Notes

  1. ^ Thomas, Capt. Shipley (1920). The History of the AEF. George H. Doran Co. , pp. 385-386. 574 other members of the Air Service were with the British Expeditionary Force and 8 with the French armies.
  2. ^ Cooke, James J. (1996). The U.S. Air Service in the Great War, 1917-1919. Preager Press. ISBN 0275948625. P. 204.
  3. ^ Cooke (1996), p. 208.

Bibliography (Sources)


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