Fifty years ago this month, the question of whether an independent air force should be established was answered with the creation of the U.S. Air Force. The British precedent (below, U.S. aircraft fly off HMS Victorious in World War II) made the decision to establish such a force a matter of intense controversy.
On 18 September 1947, the Air Force was established in the midst of an acrimonious battle between the Navy and the supporters of an independent U.S. flying service.
Previously, the nation's non-naval aviation had been part of the U.S. Army. Beginning as part of the Signal Corps when the Army procured its first airplane in 1908, the Army's aviation arm grew in stature until, in June 1941, the Army Air Forces (AAF) was established. In 1942, the Air Force became one of three major Army components, along with the Army Ground Forces and the Army Service Forces.