What Were the Names of the Different Air Divisions of the World War 2 Allies and Axis Powers?

The planes of World War 2 served as a major factor to how the Allied forces won the battle, as it is through the advancements of weaponry and aircraft manufacturing of the United States, Britain, and other countries that fought for the Allies that the Axis powers were defeated in air warfare. However, the overwhelming firepower of the Allies doesn’t mean that the countries of the Axis powers didn’t present powerful air divisions or forces, as they too provided many technological advancements in aircraft manufacturing.

Not only do both the Axis and the Allies’ power rely on how the planes were made, but they also rely heavily on how the planes are used, which is why they trained their pilots to be the best of the best in doing specific tasks and missions. These brave pilots belong to different forces of the Axis and Allied powers, and these forces have different features and functions during the war. Here are the names of the different air forces for both the Allies and the Axis powers in World War 2.

The Royal Air Force (United Kingdom)

The Royal Air Force was founded in April 1918, specifically during the later years of the First World War, as a combination of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps. After World War 1, the Royal Air Force or RAF was reduced in size since the country has achieved peace, and the soldiers have been relegated to serve as the “police” for the British Empire.

However, right after knowing that Nazi Germany may be a threat to the country’s peace, the Royal Air Force was revitalized, and from having only 42 squadrons with 800 planes in 1934, the RAF quickly grew to have 157 squadrons and 3,700 planes in 1939. During World War 2, the Royal Air Force specialized in strategic bombing using their long-range bomber planes to execute missions in German territory. Besides having British and pilots from Commonwealth nations like Canada, the Royal Air Force was also comprised of soldiers and pilots that have escaped from Poland and other countries that were captured by Hitler.

a German aircraft executing one of the bombings of The Blitz

Despite having early success in stopping German planes from attacking Great Britain and other neighboring countries, the Royal Air Force was eventually overwhelmed in 1943 by a strange tactic known as Wilde Sau, which was used by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe). By 1944, the control of the Royal Air Force was given to US president Dwight D. Eisenhower to help the American forces during Operation Overlord (Battle of Normandy).

Army Air Forces (United States of America)

The United States Army Air Forces (AAF) was the aerial warfare service that was created on June 20, 1941 and served as a successor to the United States Army Air Corps. After the Attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the United States Army reorganized into three forces, with the AAF being the force that was given complete freedom to move through its internal administration. Outside the control of the government, the AAF created their own medical service unit and also designs their own planes and other pieces of equipment for warfare.

Much like the Royal Air Force, most of the planes that the AAF had were bomber planes, which made the force as one of the expert groups in strategic bombing. However, besides bombing, the AAF also specialize in piloting fighter planes, observations planes, and even transport planes for shipping cargo. Most of the missions conducted by the AAF include escort fighter planes that are accompanied by heavy bombers, but they also execute missions that involve light and medium bombers. Unfortunately, some of the planes used by the AAF were obsolete, which led to General Douglas McArthur’s defeat in 1942 against the Japanese forces in the Philippines, as the Japanese have more experience in air warfare and have better planes. However, the Philippines was regained by the American in 1945 after a new strategy that involves amphibious landings using ships was proven to be effective in countering the Japanese forces. The AAF was disbanded on September 18, 1947 and was replaced by the United States Air Force.

Soviet Air Force (Soviet Union/Russia)

During the start of World War 2, the then-Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin admitted that their military is not yet capable of winning a war, and this notion led to the country focusing on aircraft and tank production. However, the pilots of the country lacked training and experienced, and these factors led to the defeat of the Soviet Union during Operation “Barbarossa,” which was executed by Hitler in order to conquer the western region of the Soviet Union and repopulate it with the German “master race.”

Ilyushin Il-2 plane used by the Soviet Union

Besides inexperience, the soldier of the Soviet Union was also overwhelmed by the sheer firepower of Nazi Germany, as Hitler focused on designing and producing some of the best tanks, planes, and other vehicles before they declare war on neighboring countries. Although the Soviet soldiers were inexperienced in battling with tanks and planes, they were experts in combat during harsh weather conditions like snowstorms, in which the Germans aren’t experienced in. Because of the harsh and cold weather, as well as the morale boost of the Soviet forces, they were able to launch counter attacks against Germany and pushed the enemies back in order to reclaim the Eastern Front.

Luftwaffe (Germany)

The Luftwaffe was Germany’s air force that was founded in 1933, although its existence was publicly announced only in 1935, as the government was secretly training pilots since the country isn’t allowed to have an air force after their defeat in World War 1 and their signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The Luftwaffe is considered by many to be one of Nazi Germany’s best and most feared forces, as the planes that the country developed during that time were superior in terms of features and technology compared to the planes used by the Allied forces. However, despite having superior firepower, the Luftwaffe lacked strategy

The group’s most renowned mission was The Blitz, which was the bombing campaign meant to make the United Kingdom surrender. However, due to the faulty strategies of the German forces, they were unable to successfully capture the United Kingdom. One of the reasons as to why they didn’t win the battle was that The Blitz was focused on bombing towns, cities, and other residential districts of the United Kingdom, and they failed to realize that the enemy are still producing weapons and vehicles for war secretly.  The Luftwaffe was officially defeated when the Allied countries combined forces (specifically the RAF and AAF) to destroy the remaining divisions of the German air force.

The last mission of The Luftwaffe was in January 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, when they made a desperate attempt to stop the Allied air forces in supporting their land-based troops (Operation Bodenplatte). While the German force was successful in destroying the first line of Allied aircraft, their enemies quickly replaced the destroyed planes within a week. With the Germans already lacking in pilots and planes, they eventually lost not only Operation Bodenplatte but also the Battle of the Bulge, which was Hitler’s last attempt to recapture Belgium and gain an advantage against the Allies.