B-17 Nine-O-Nine


Jan 232014
Radio Compass

Radio Compass

A new feature recently added is the Field Finder. This will help you determine where Army Air Fields were located. Find fields near a particular city, or in a particular state, country, or region. If you know an air field by name, select that to see where it was located. Also discover the fields where a particular type of training was conducted, like primary flight schools.

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Dec 172013

500th ItemThe AAF Collection today reached another milestone with the addition of the 500th item!

This could not be possible without the generous support of contributors like you.  Thank you contributors! A special thanks to those who contributed over ten items.  They include Ben Guttery, Larry Caldwell, Marty Upchurch, Stephen Quint, and Bronson Gardner.

Please consider contributing digital copies of items from your own collection, or that of a loved one.  Many people have enjoyed reading these historical documents and finding pictures of family members among these pages.  For more information about contributing, please see How-To: Contribute Items.

Nov 102013

us-gbHere’s an interesting look at the different terminology used by American and British airmen. This table was adapted from an appendix to the Pilot’s Manual for Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.  I can imagine the use of the wrong word to the wrong person might result in injuries.

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Nov 052013
A Bombardier is Born

A Bombardier is Born

Here’s an interesting, if not disconcerting, cartoon drawn by Walt Disney.  It appears in the On Course class book for Class 45-1B at the Childress Army Air Field.

This field near Childress, Texas, was a bombardier school during World War II.  Graduating cadets earned their wings as bombardiers.

Nov 012013

Here is my growing collection of aircraft nose art.  These are planes I’ve visited on tour, or in museums.

Apr 152013

CBS News 60 MinutesI enjoyed watching the recent 60 Minutes story on Marfa, Texas.1  Apparently this isolated, rural town is attracting lots of different people today.  In the story, they briefly mentioned the remnants of an old army base there.

Marfa Army Air FieldActually it was the Marfa Army Air Field, a twin-engine advanced pilot training school.  Hundreds of Army Air Force pilots earned their silver wings at Marfa.  So, the town must have been a hub of activity about 1943 before slipping back into obscurity, then rediscovery.

The AAF Collection has a few pilot class books from Marfa.


  1. CBS News, 60 Minutes, “Marfa Texas: The Capital of Quirkiness,” aired April 14, 2013.
Feb 192013

Class BookI’m often asked if the AAF Collection has information on a specific person.  The collection does have hundreds of training class books.  These are like high school year books, except they were produced for a training class at a particular Army Air Field or other training facility.  Classes lasted anywhere from four to ten, or even twenty, weeks.  Separate classes sometimes overlapped their training at the same base.

Thus at a particular facility, there may have been dozens of class books produced during a given year.  Once a class graduated, cadets were generally stationed at another Army Air Field to begin their next class.  For example pilots underwent pre-flight, then Primary Flight, then Basic Flight, and then Advanced Flight classes, all at separate Air Fields.

Unfortunately I do not have additional information or records about individual cadets or instructors beyond what you see in the class books.  At one time I wanted to index the names and hometowns of those pictured in the class books.  That would now be a monumental undertaking, but I may do so in the coming years.

How Do I Find a Particular Person?

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Feb 082013

ItemsThanks to the generosity of over 50 contributors, the AAF Collection has grown to 400 items!  Started back in November 2006, the AAF Collection offers historical documents about the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.

You will now find hundreds of class books with pictures of thousands of cadets as they trained to be pilots, bombardiers, navigators, gunners and radio operators.  See the actual training manuals they used.  Discover what life was like as an air cadet on dozens of Army Air Fields across the United States.

400 Items

As the AAF Collection continues to grow, I hope you’ll consider contributing items from your own collection, or that of your parents’, or grandparents’ legacy.  Many people enjoy learning about this era in our history.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

Thanks to all those who have taken the time and effort to contribute to the collection.  Ben Guttery, aviation collector extraordinaire, contributed over half the items you see in the collection.  Larry Caldwell contributed many items and he supported this site from its beginning.  Stephen Quint and Bronson Gardner have each contributed over ten items.

Thanks to the visitors to this site.  I always enjoy hearing that you found a parent, grandparent or relative pictured in an item from the collection.  Or, that you found a rare document you were unable to find anywhere else.

A special thanks to all World War II veterans, and the veterans who left a comment here about their experiences during the war.

We’re well on the way toward 500 items.  You can keep tabs on the collection via the statistics page, or see What’s New right now.

Feb 052013

Bombardiers' Information File

I recently visited the United States Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base, near Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  On display behind glass were four training manuals.  One was the Bombardiers’ Information File, a copy of which is available to view in the AAF Collection.

Training Manuals

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Feb 052013
Astro Compass

Astro Compass

The Navigator’s Information File has a description of the Astro Compass (or Astrocompass) .  This device was used by navigators to determine the true heading of the airplane, to steer a true heading, to identify a star, or as a pelorus, a device without magnetic needles used to read bearings.

It is unclear to me if, or how often, this device was actually used.  I ran across an Astro Compass while visiting the United States Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base, near Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

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