Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics

Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics

The Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics (known as AAFSAT) was a military training organization of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Its function was to train cadres from newly-formed units in combat operations under simulated field conditions as the cores around which new combat groups would be formed. The Commandant of AAFSAT was Brigadier General Hume Peabody.

In addition to its training function, the school also developed as a tactical doctrine development center, assuming the functions formerly assigned the Air Corps Tactical School, discontinued in July 1940. In this function it also became known as the Army Air Forces Tactical Center (AAFTAC).


At the entry of the United States into World War II on December 7, 1941, the USAAF had expanded to 67 groups from a pre-1939 total of 15, but approximately half were paper units just forming. The entry into the war meant an immediate significant increase in the numbers of new combat groups, expanding to 269 groups by the end of 1943.

The training establishment then in place was inadequate to train units wholesale, and the concept of training cadres who in turn would direct the training of their assigned units was adopted. AAFSAT was established October 9, 1942, to provide this training. The first group receiving AAFSAT training to deploy overseas was the 390th Bomb Group (Heavy) in July 1943, based in England with the Eighth Air Force.

Headquarters USAAF originally intended that four tactical schools be developed across the United States, one for each of the four major military aviation functions. However "to save administrative costs and physical outlay" (Army Air Forces Historical Study 13) and to facilitate coordination between the schools, all four would be consolidated at a single location. Orlando was chosen November 1, 1942, primarily because it was already the location of Fighter Command School, which would be subordinated to AAFSAT, and because of its large geographical area. The school officially opened November 12, 1942. Between November 1942 and September 1945, AAFSAT trained 54,000 personnel and the cadres of 44 bombardment groups.

In addition to training cadre, AAFSAT also became a tactics development center, testing new tactics and disseminating their conclusions and procedures to combat theaters around the world. That role had been formerly held by the Air Corps Tactical School, but it had been a professional development school for future air commanders and had never developed into a true tactical center. Its suspension of classes in June 1940 and dissolution in the summer of 1941 had left a void in the promulgation, testing, articulation, and dissemination of doctrine and tactics, which AAFSAT was tasked to fill.



AAFSAT was organized into three directorates: Tactical Development, School Activities, and Demonstration Air Force, with three combat groups acting as both school units and demonstration air force units. The Directorate of School Activities was divided into four departments, each headed by a colonel or brigadier general as Assistant Commandant and containing a "command school": Air Defense Department (Fighter Command School), Air Service Department, Air Support Department, and Bombardment Department (Bomber Command School).

chool units

The AAFSAT school bombardment unit was the 9th Bomb Group, from October 31, 1942 to March 9, 1944, when it was re-designated a B-29 group and moved to Nebraska to train for combat operations. (Ironically, its new cadre were themselves trained at AAFSAT in June 1944.) The Fighter Command School unit was the 50th Fighter Group from March 23, 1943 to March 13, 1944, when it transferred to Ninth Air Force as a P-47 fighter-bomber group. The close air support school unit of AAFSAT from February 1943 to April 1944, when it was disbanded, was the 415th Bomb Group (Dive).

With a ground school at Orlando Army Air Base in Orlando, Florida, presenting a two-week academic course, AAFSAT also taught a two-week field course utilizing eleven training airfields in Florida representing all conditions likely to be found in combat, from bare fields to prepared bomber airbases having convert|10000|ft|m|sing=on runways.


*Montbrook - (school unit: 99th Bomb Squadron)
*Brooksville - (school unit: 1st Bomb Squadron)
*Pinecastle - (school unit: 5th Bomb Squadron)
*Bushnell - (fighter)
*Kissimmee - (fighter)
*Orlando - (school unit: 445th Fighter Squadron)
*Cross City - (school unit: 81st Fighter Squadron)
*Zephyrhills - (school unit: 10th Fighter Squadron)
*Keystone Heights - (school unit: 313th Fighter Squadron)
*Gainesville - (air support)
*Dunnellon - (air support)

AAFSAT also had a bombing range at Ocala, a service center at Leesburg, and an air depot at Pinecastle. The bases were situated throughout an convert|8000|sqmi|km2|sing=on area of north central Florida designated a mock "war theater" stretching roughly from Tampa to Titusville to Starke to Apalachicola in which war games were conducted.

External links

* [,8816,933024,00.html "Time" article, May 24, 1943]
* [ Army Air Forces Historical Study No. 13 "The Development of Tactical Doctrines at AAFSAT and AAFTAC"]


*Bowman, Martin W., "USAAF Handbook 1939-1945", ISBN 0-8117-1822-0

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