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Far East Air Force

The Far East Air Force (USAFFE Air Force) was formed from the Philippine Army Air Corps on August 4, 1941. At this time, USAFFE possessed 210 aircraft, including 31 P-40Bs. The rest were P-26s[?], P-35s[?], B-10s[?], B-18s[?], A-29s[?], C-39s[?], and various observation planes. This force was considered to be largely obsolescent and is described, in 1948, as, "...unable to withstand even a mildly determined and ill-equipped foe." (1[?])

The Force Headquarters was located at Nielson Field, however, the majority of the planes were at either Clark Field or Nichols Field. Major General Lewis H. Brereton[?] became the commander of this unit, in the fall of 1941.

Table of contents

History of the USAFFE Air Force

In July of 1941, Chief of the Army Air Forces[?], Major General Henry H. Arnold, proposed sending four heavy bombardment groups (340 aircraft) and 2 pursuit squadrons (260 aircraft) to the Philippines, as reinforcements for the Philippine Army Air Corps. By October 2, 81 P-40s had been shipped to the islands, along with the 14th Squadron of the 19th Bombardment Group (H)[?]. The rest of the 19th BG(H) arrived in November, for a total of 35 B-17s.

By March of 1942, the War Department[?] planned to have 165 heavy bombers[?] in the Philippines and, at least, 240 fighters[?]. The 7th Bombardment Group (H)[?] was enroute when the Japanese invasion began. The 27th Bombardment Group (L)[?]'s pilots and ground crews had arrived in November, but the unit's A-24s[?] remained in Hawaii.

Army Chief of Staff General Marshall wrote on December 1, 1941, "We must get every B-17 to the Philippines as soon as possible."

Aircraft Warning Systems of the Far East Air Force

By the time of the Japanese invasion, the force possessed seven radar sets, but, only two were in operation. There were plans, for 1942, to build three detector stations and an information center. The two working sets were at Iba[?] and outside Manila.

The islands were served by one air warning service company of ~200 troops. The 557th Air Warning Battalion[?] arrived in San Francisco, enroute, on December 6.

In lieu of working equipment and adequate personnel, USAFFE had organized a warning service consisting of watchers who would report plane movements by telephone (or telegraph) to the 5th Interceptor Command.

Airfields of the Far East Air Force

Within 130 km of Manila, there were 6 airfields. Outside of Luzon, there were another 6 airfields. Clark Field was the only one that could support heavy bombers[?], until the December completion of Del Monte Field. Another bomber base was scheduled for construction, in the Visayas.

In August of 1941, $10,000,000 was spent to improve the airfields. Most of these funds were spent on Nichols and Clark Fields, with the rest spent mostly on auxiliary fields at Iba[?], on the Zambales[?] coast, to the west of Clark, and various points on northern Luzon.

Aircraft of the Far East Air Force -- December 1941

The number in () indicate the number of aircraft that were usable. Where un-noted, the number of usable aicraft is unknown.

There were additional aircraft attached to the Philippine Army Air Corps.

Far East Air Force -- December 8, 1941

As of November 31, the force contained 4,940 enlisted troops, under the command of 669 officers. The August strength was at 2,049 enlisted troops, under the command of 254 officers.

The numbers in () indicate the number of personnel, as of November 31. This information needs to be checked for accuracy.



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