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How logistics made big week big: Eighth Air Force bombing, 20-25 February 1944.


The night of 19 February 1944 found England shrouded under a heavy cloud cover, but the weather over Germany was breaking. While the murk might complicate getting away and possibly landing, General Spaatz had made his decision--"Let 'em go." (2) What was to be called the Big Week (20-25 February 1944) had begun. The next day, 20 February, saw the largest force of aircraft up to that time take off and head for targets in Germany. England literally shook under the roar of engines--some 1,004 bomber aircraft plus their fighter escorts. (3)

The primary objective of Big Week was to direct a strategic bombing campaign against the Luftwaffe that would destroy its means to continue the war and, as a result, gain air superiority before Operation Overlord. (4) Bomber operations were conducted principally by the Eighth Air Force, with support from both the Fifteenth Air Force and the Royal Air Force (RAF). In-theater logistics support, the key element that allowed the Eighth Air Force to kick off Big Week, came from the VIII Air Force Service Command (AFSC). An order of magnitude measure of this logistics effort is seen in the number of bomber aircraft generated--VIII AFSC made 1,292 bombers available, an unprecedented number. However, many other facets of logistics support, often on a scale never seen before, were also necessary for Big Week. These include preparation--industrial mobilization, unit buildup and bed-down, stateside logistics support, facility expansion and modernization, training and equipping of personnel, and organization of air logistics activities. As is often the case, much of the planning, preparation, and execution of the Eighth's bombing operations was subject to uncertainties that made logistics support difficult and required improvisation on the part of both logistics organizations and logistics leadership. (5)

The Foundations of Eighth Air Force Logistics

Armies do not go out and have aright and one guy wins and the other loses and the winner takes all. Throughout history victorious commanders have been those that knew logistics when they saw it. Before any plans can be made to provide an army, logistics must be provided first. History has changed a lot, but logistics has been the crux of every one of these changes, the nail that was missing, which lead to the loss of a country lead to a lot of those decisions. (6)

--Major General Hugh J. Knerr, USAAF

Industrial Mobilization Planning

Organizations and planning that focused on industrial mobilization were primarily the result of the National Defense Act of 1920 and the Industrial Mobilization Plan of 1924. The Defense Act established the War Department Planning Branch, Army and Navy Munitions Board, and Army Industrial College. It also directed the Assistant Secretary of War to prepare mobilizations plans. The Industrial Mobilization Plan of 1924 called for instantaneous industrial mobilization upon declaration of war (M-day), based on the assumption that civilian leadership would not accept gradual mobilization prior to a declaration of war, and for military control of the economy. The plan was revised in 1934. A variety of flaws plagued mobilization planning efforts and the 1934 plan itself. These include incorrect assumptions (no civilian support for gradual mobilization), not addressing the needs of the civilian populace or potential allies, and military control of the civilian economy. Further, the operations staff that prepared the plan failed to seek input from either civilian leadership or industry and did not consult with relevant military logistics planning or support activities. Industrial mobilization planning in the post-1920 period was superficial at best and, therefore, "The muddling that had accompanied World War I mobilization was being repeated." (7) Even as late as 1940, when President Roosevelt wanted some 50,000 aircraft produced per year, there was no guidance as to what types should be produced. (8)

Army/Army Air Forces Logistics Planning

In September 1941, faculty from the Air Corps Tactical School drafted Air War Plans Division Plan No. 1 (AWPD-1) to address what would be needed should the United States go to war. (9) In August 1942, AWPD-1 was rewritten to address the requirements for conducting an air offensive against Germany, and this resulted in a new plan known as AWPD-42. (10) In the fall of 1942, the US Army Air Force (USAAF) staff made aircraft utilization projections by aircraft type--which included allocations for attrition, transit, reserves, training, and modification--for November 1942 through December 1944, totaling in excess of 65,000 aircraft. (11) However, neither AWPD-1 nor AWPD-42 addressed the needs of the RAF, logistical requirements beyond personnel end-strength, or anything more than a generic total of munitions required. Operational planning took precedence over logistical planning, which resulted in war plans that were incomplete at best. "The organization and proper position of the logistical arm had long been a subject of debate in the Army and the Army Air Force (AAF)." (12) Recommendations by the commanding general, Army Service Forces (ASF) for standardizing organizations and procedures to improve efficiency and effectiveness were misunderstood and rejected by the War Department. Lack of doctrine resulted in each theater commander establishing complex, unique logistics organizations. Further, the Army's lack of emphasis on logistics training prior to the war--due to outright neglect--resulted in too few personnel with an extensive knowledge of logistics and its functions. Ultimately, during World War II, "Large headquarters with ill-defined and duplicating functions were the rule and achieved only partial success in coordinating supply...." (13)

In the summer of 1943, the Bradley-Knerr committee made an extensive study of air force installations in Europe and published the Bradley Plan, which became part of the Air Force Buildup Plan. The plan, largely written by Major General Hugh Knerr, prescribed the manning and organization of air units and installations. A key feature of the plan was the requirement to establish third echelon maintenance activities (subdepots or service groups) manned by Air Service Command (ASC) personnel at each operational base. Third echelon maintenance would be augmented as necessary by depot field teams dispatched from fourth echelon (depot) maintenance organizations (base area depots and advance depots) to take care of abnormal battle damage repair loads. The Air Force Buildup Plan provided for coordinated buildup of combat units, increased flow of materiel, expansion of maintenance and supply installations, and increased stateside Air Service Command personnel. Shortly after the Bradley plan was adopted, Knerr was selected to command the VIII AFSC in the United Kingdom (UK), where it became his task to put the plan into operation. (14)

Industrial Mobilization

At the onset of and continuing well into World War II, industrial mobilization was hampered by a proliferation of organizations and procedures.

In 1940, President Roosevelt created an advisory commission to address industrial mobilization. Roosevelt appointed William S. Knudsen, a General Motors executive, as the commission's advisor for industrial production, and the commission reported directly to the President. The commission, however, was largely ineffective. (15) Military efforts to control the mobilization effort and the Army and Navy Munitions Board's autonomy contributed to the commission's difficulties and led to Roosevelt's disenchantment with it. (16) While every effort to gain control of the economy would be thwarted by the President, there can be no doubt this activity behind the scenes created more problems than it solved and negatively influenced civil-military relations. The one bright spot in the commission's performance was giving industry the incentive to build munitions factories by allowing them to amortize all construction costs over a 5-year period. This was the brainchild of Donald M. Nelson, the chief merchandizing executive at Sears and an advisor to the committee.

The President replaced the advisory commission with the Office of Production Management (OPM) on 7 January 1941 and appointed Knudsen as its director general, undoubtedly contributing to the OPM's ineffectiveness, as he was not considered a strong leader. The OPM lacked authority and was plagued by organizational design defects resulting in duplication of effort, so it could not dictate to industry, which still preferred to cater to the civilian population. Even Roosevelt's declaration of national emergency on 27 May 1941 did not enhance the OPM's clout. However, despite all its problems, the OPM accomplished a great deal. It surveyed industry to determine output by examining the potential to standardize production processes. In March 1941, it prioritized raw material usage and production of nondefense items. At the same time, the Army and Navy Munitions Board prioritized production of specific defense products. Considering the long lead times required for procuring and manufacturing machine tools, the OPM's identification of a shortage in this area early in the mobilization effort is clearly significant. (17) The OPM also initiated retraining programs to increase the pool of skilled labor and encouraged industry to hire women.

In April 1941, the President created the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply. However, when the organization's leader decided to end automobile and major appliance production for the civilian population, a decision with which the President disagreed, Roosevelt moved the civilian supply function to the OPM by creating the Supply Priorities Allocations Board. Donald M. Nelson, appointed to head the board, still worked for Knudsen as part of the OPM but possessed particular authority his boss did not--the authority to set priorities. The board set out to first establish an allocation process and then set priorities within the allocations. In late 1941, industrial production rates were stagnating because of prioritization problems with both raw materials and the mix of consumer-to-defense goods produced as a result of the OPM's general lack of authority. Nelson, in his role as head of the Supply Priorities Allocation Board, cut back on production of automobiles, appliances, and raw material for civil sector use. While the reorganization that created the Supply Priorities Allocations Board did prove to be essential to satisfying the defense requirements for the Victory Plan, the board was often rendered ineffective by government officials who sought assistance from department secretaries or the President whenever things did not go their way. (18) In addition, the board was challenged with coordinating with the Services--who still retained their procurement authority--the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other powerful organizations.

In January 1942, Roosevelt created the War Production Board (WPB) and appointed Nelson as its chairman. The War Production Board absorbed the OPM, Supply Priorities Allocation Board, and National Defense Advisory Committee. However, these organizations continued to perform a role under the WPB umbrella. During the war, the advisory committee grew to more than 20,000, with many of these people located at defense manufacturing facilities across the country. Throughout the war, Nelson and his staff were occupied by three problems as they tried to increase production.

* Supplying raw materials from which war materiel and essential civilian products were made

* Providing the plants and equipment in the factories to manufacture the tools of war

* Staffing the plants with enough people who had the right skills

Unfortunately, the WPB, like its predecessors, suffered from the lack of real authority to make decisions affecting the civilian populace. Its authority was further diluted when the President created the Office of War Mobilization. It did, however, have "the power to compel acceptance of war orders by any producer in the country and could requisition any property needed for the war effort." (19)

A key example of the effect the proliferation of industrial mobilization organizations and procedures would have on operational logistics is seen in munitions production. Beginning in early 1942, General George C. Marshall headed the Combined Chiefs of Staff, with authority over the munitions allocation process; however, Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt retained the authority to resolve disagreements. (20) The Army and Navy Munitions Board determined military munitions requirements, and the Munitions Assignment Board controlled the assignment of all military hardware. The President and his various civilian organizations controlled resource allocation and the means of production. Clearly, with no fewer than four large organizations involved in munitions planning, the beginnings of major difficulties were created that would hinder the effectiveness of Allied bombing from late 1943 onward.

In spite of many difficulties, the industrial output of the US grew almost geometrically into 1944. However, demand consistently exceeded production because of "overestimation of capacity by those responsible for producing materiel." (21)

In sum, while the military put much effort into planning, plans were often incomplete because they were formulated in a vacuum. Military leadership did not seek advice from industry leaders or consult with elected officials. The proliferation of civilian, civil-military, and military organizations--often with overlapping functions and lacking authority--resulted in duplication of effort, confusion, and frustration. Further, the military attempted to gain control of the economy, contrary to the desires of the President, adding to the problems. Clearly, all of this was counterproductive and retarded the efforts to build and sustain the logistics support necessary to conduct large air operations like Big Week. Major General O. R. Cook, Deputy Director of Service, Supply and Procurement, summed it up well:
 It is, therefore, imperative that advance plans provide for more
 effective civilian war agencies. Most serious duplications,
 wasteful methods, and complex procedures existed during World War
 II, when the organization of these agencies was largely improvised.
 Their very multiplicity impeded the accomplishment of essential
 activities. (22)

The Pillars of Support

Several military organizations provided logistical support to the Eighth Air Force and VIII Air Force Service Command in the United Kingdom. The USAAF's Air Service Command provided stateside depot, technical, research and development, and acquisition support to the Eighth, while the ASF Service of Supply (SOS) provided the Eighth with items common to the Army and the USAAF. Although the Eighth and VIII AFSC together had a very large logistics capability and capacity, they depended on the ASC and the ASF for supplies and support and could not have succeeded without their assistance.

On 17 October 1941, the Air Service Command was activated and made responsible for acquisition of weapon systems and provision of fourth echelon (depot level) maintenance support to the warfighting commands. (23) Headquarters USAAF established maintenance policies and procedures, while the Air Service Command issued technical instructions. (24) However, there is evidence that field commanders occasionally issued guidance without ASC coordination. (25) In early 1942, the Air Service Command also became responsible for providing airbases with third echelon (subdepot or intermediate-level) maintenance support. (26) By June 1943, ASC's work force of 50,000 worked day and night to support the War effort. (27) The expansion of ASC's depots and acquisition effort was vital to the Eighth's ability to generate and sustain Big Week raids.

The aviation industry in America had focused on research and development during the interwar years. This focus tended to result in the production of aircraft in small lots, so the ASC acquisition function faced the challenge of trying to convert the industry to a mass production ethos.
 In 1940, when President Roosevelt set a goal of producing 50,000
 aircraft per year and funds were appropriated in large amounts,
 severe acquisition problems developed. Many of the carefully
 developed procedures relating to advertising and competition had to
 be set aside simply because of a shortage of time. (28)

Additionally, on 9 April 1942, Congress simplified accounting and contracting by appropriating funds for war materiel directly to the Service departments. (29)

"World War II demonstrated the importance of scientific research in a spectacular manner. Never in the history of warfare were there more rapid and far-reaching scientific and technological developments in weapons." (30) Some of the most significant technological developments were the identification of suitable material and process substitutions to satisfy military requirements. Synthetic rubber is a good example of a substitution that was made in World War II. Much time and effort was required to research and develop suitable substitutes, but they played an important part in providing the logistical support necessary to sustain combat operations. In hindsight, Cook observed, "A most important logistic lesson is that our safety depends on the continuation of this close collaboration in the development of new instruments of war." (31)

Improvements in supportability were also gained through the combination of engineering expertise and quality maintenance. "By strict adherence to the best standards of inspection and routine maintenance, it was possible to lengthen the time interval between overhauls and thus to increase the force available for operation." (32) As early as July 1941, greatly reduced maintenance and supply demand resulted from lengthening aircraft inspection intervals by 25 percent. (33) The official history maintained:
 During the earlier years of the war ... the desperate need for
 aircraft in most theaters argued so strongly for repair of the
 crippled or damaged plane that air depot and service groups were
 strained to provide the special skills, equipment, and materials to
 meet the demand. (34)

The spare parts shortages that existed through the end of 1942 made this problem more acute, and the difficulty was not overcome until late in the war. (35)

Between 1931 and 1939, the Air Corps had fewer than 2,000 aircraft, and the depots' small capacity was adequate as they overhauled an average of 166 planes and 500 engines annually. (36) USAAF expansion after the summer of 1940 was so rapid the Air Service Command found it almost impossible to meet the steadily growing maintenance demands. The USAAF did not initiate depot expansion plans until late 1940; therefore, by 1941, the depots were wholly inadequate. From January 1942 through January 1944, depot modernization and expansion, along with the addition of eight depots and many subdepots, meant that capacity outstripped the availability of qualified technicians. (37)

There were just not enough skilled technicians to meet demands, and there was no time to properly train unskilled laborers. The Air Service Command found itself in competition with the more attractive war industry employers in recruiting civilian laborers and generally suffered from a lower priority for civil service personnel fills. A training program for military personnel, which graduated hundreds of thousands of technicians, and special technical training programs for civilian employees recruited to work in stateside depots only partially alleviated the personnel shortage. (38)

The Air Service Command also turned to the private sector for solutions, increasing depot capacity by contracting for training and transport aircraft maintenance and adopting mass production methods to improve productivity. (39) Production line techniques alleviated some problems associated with integrating unskilled labor into depot and flight-line maintenance functions worldwide. A task performed by one mechanic was broken down into several simple steps to quickly make new employees productive. Conveyor belt systems were used to support engine overhaul, repair of parts and accessories, and even some phases of aircraft inspection and repair. (40) Depot management statistically measured and monitored production to identify areas for improved productivity and often adopted the innovative ideas of technicians for improving tools, equipment, and processes. The combination of special civilian training programs, use of military personnel in depots and contractors to augment depot capacity, and process improvements remedied the depot personnel shortage and improved quality and productivity. (41)

ASC acquisition, engineering, research and development, and depot maintenance activities were beneficial to the Eighth Air Force operations. The improvements made within the Air Service Command improved the Eighth's and VIII AFSC logistical support capabilities to some extent. Whether in the form of a new aircraft, a repaired part, an aircraft modification, or a technical directive to maintainers, ASC performance directly impacted the Eighth's performance.

Similarly, the Eighth's performance directly reflected that of the Army Service Forces. General Marshall's reorganization of the War Department as America entered the war had created three separate but equal commands under the Chief of Staff. The new commands were the Army Ground Forces, USAAF, and the Army Service Forces. In the theater, the SOS commander supported the operational USAAF commanders. However, many commanders felt the Services of Supply infringed upon their responsibilities, and many misunderstandings occurred.

The Army Service Forces established command in the UK in 1943, with headquarters functions split between London and Cheltenham, resulting in inefficiency. "This split in SOS HQ was brought about by the desirability of having SOS planning staffs near the various other planning agencies in London and by the inability of facilities in London to accommodate the entire staff." (42) Communications support was inadequate and travel was time consuming, so the geographical separation caused acute problems. (43)
 ... SOS was the "rear area" organization of the theater. Under
 field service regulations, the rear areas of a theater were
 organized as a "communications zone," an autonomous
 theater-within-at-heater. The communications zone commander was
 responsible to the theater commander for moving supplies and troops
 from the zone of the interior forward to the combat zone. In this
 regard, he relieved the theater commander from ... rear area
 activities .... In the European Theater of Operations (ETO),
 however, there was as yet not a combat zone--the entire theater was
 essentially a rear area. This geographic coincidence ...
 exacerbated the ambiguities over ... logistical roles. (44)

The USAAF maintained its own supply system for things unique to its mission. Therefore, split USAAF supply support responsibilities existed as supply support of common items was provided by the ASF Services of Supply. This split was a source of great contention. (45)

Knerr, commanding general of the VIII Air Force Service Command and later the United States Strategic Air Force (USSTAF) Deputy for Administration, was responsible for all USAAF logistics in the United Kingdom. He hotly contested the Army' s tables of organization and tables of equipment that placed artificial limits on authorized manpower and equipment. Knerr wrote in 1945, "The tables of organization and tables of equipment are a convenient and simple means for a staff agency in the United States to do its job easily, but they place the people in the theater of war in a straight jacket." (46) He provided many examples of the impact strict adherence to these tables had on the war. Problems included shortages of vehicles to move ammunition, vehicle maintenance and ordnance equipment, and high-explosive bombs due to increased usage during late 1943. These problems made the execution of Big Week more challenging for the Eighth's logisticians. More important, the latter problem meant that not every bomb dropped would produce the desired effect, increasing requirements to revisit targets. (47) Knerr believed the Army should reinvent its manpower and equipment authorization policies. He wanted the Army to use authorization tables more flexibly, like the USAAF supply tables, treated more as guidelines than strict policy. (48) Although Knerr tried to resolve many of these problems before February 1944, the Army did not adopt his suggestions.

ASC and ASF Services of Supply support was critical to the Eighth and VIII AFSC, but the theater logistics organization evolved throughout the war and was characterized by functional overlaps and power struggles. Even after the VIII AFSC shouldered the responsibility for supply distribution, the Army Service Forces provided it some supply support.

Eighth Air Force Logistics

Let us, the next time, have our logistics prepared before we plan to operate. We managed to skin by, in this last war, particularly in training personnel, on the logistic side by pulling ourselves out by our bootstraps.... Here 273 groups were set up but not a Depot Group was thought of That meant that the very late start that was made had to be taken care of in the theater, and in the European theater our logistic establishment in the Burgenwood (sic) area was simultaneously a training school and the support for the operating pilot. But that is a bad situation to be in. (49)

--Major General Hugh J. Knerr, USAAF

An enormous effort was required to receive, support, and sustain the US bomber units, and British support was the key to success in massing strategic bombardment forces within striking distance of Germany. The British provided the materials for and constructed 91 of the 138 airfields required for American flying operations, allowing the forward deployment of USAAF units.
 The buildup of American air and ground forces in Britain (Operation
 Bolero) was determined by the logistics constraints the
 British-American coalition faced before the Normandy invasion.
 During the first year or so of its operational status from August
 1942, Eighth Air Force's buildup was greatly helped by Britain's
 industrialization and the RAF's maturity. (50)

However, logistical sustainment of the deployed units was also critical in order to increase pressure on Germany and step up those efforts during Big Week. These efforts could only be made if flyable airframes and the fight munitions were available. Unfortunately, the emphasis at home on aircraft acquisition overshadowed problems of supply and maintenance, which received inadequate attention from USAAF senior leadership until they became acute. (51)

As evidenced by the data in Table 1, the in-theater logisticians found a way to conquer obstacles and get the kind of results necessary to support an effort with the magnitude of Big Week. Although some of the success is attributable to the improvements made stateside, most of the credit goes to the American and British logisticians in the UK and those braving the Atlantic sea lines of communications. Dramatic improvements across the spectrum of logistics were made in less than 1 year, enabling the Eighth to sustain crippling bombing missions against Nazi Germany from Big Week onward.

Leadership and Organizational Evolution

The USAAF established the VII/AFSC to provide the Eighth's combat units with supply, intermediate- and depot-level maintenance, and transportation support. However, in many respects, the AFSC concept was in direct conflict with the ASF Services of Supply. (53)

Air service groups provided intermediate-level maintenance support for two combat groups, possibly with the squadrons dispersed. One air depot group supported two air service groups. However, in Europe, an entire combat group, sometimes two groups, usually operated at a single airfield, complicating intermediate-level maintenance operations. (54)

VIII AFSC established two depots in England and one at Langford Lodge, Ireland. (55) A government contracting oversight gave Lockheed control of all personnel working at the depot in Ireland, which further complicated operations. (56)

General Knerr spearheaded the logistics efforts within the Eighth up to and beyond Big Week. His past experiences in corporate America, combined with those gained while part of the Bradley-Knerr Committee, did much to influence the logistics organizations and processes supporting the Eighth flying operations. Knerr arrived in Britain in July 1943 as the deputy commander, VIII AFSC. (57) AFSC was separate from the Eighth and subordinated to the numbered air force A-4 (logistics) staff, resulting in conflicts between staff office and operating agency. Knerr pressed for a reorganization of the Eighth, consistent with the recommendation he made to the Bradley Committee, elevating AFSC to a status equivalent to other staff functions. He also sought to consolidate A-4 and AFSC headquarters and reorganize Headquarters Eighth Air Force around two deputies--one for operations and one for logistics. Knerr believed a commander in constant contact with his two deputies could eliminate the need for much staff work and get results by being able to make major decisions quickly. Knerr took control of the Eighth A-4 staff on 11 October 1943, while still acting as deputy commander of VIII AFSC. Shortly after that, he took command of the AFSC. Knerr, by December 1943, "absorbed the personnel and functions of A-4 to become, in effect, the sole logistical agency entitled to act in the name of the commanding general, Eighth Air Force." (58)

Unfortunately, the Eighth took staff and other resources from VIII AFSC, without warning, to stand up the Twelfth Air Force in October 1943. This unforeseen loss of resources degraded VIII AFSC capabilities for some time. (59) VIII AFSC anticipated the activation of IX AFSC, so when this occurred, it did not affect VIII AFSC as the need to support the Twelfth had. (60)

Reestablishment of the Ninth Air Force in Britain prompted further organizational changes. In late December 1943, General Carl Spaatz, commander of the newly created US Strategic Air Force, established a two-deputate structure, administration and operations. The deputy for administration would direct the logistics efforts of the Eighth and Ninth, while the deputy for operations would direct the strategic operation of both the Eighth and the Fifteenth. (61) With the birth of the USSTAF organization, Knerr became the deputy for administration. Knerr stated, "We had a good demonstration of the smooth operation of that partnership thesis during this war in Europe, and we should never forget that lesson because it produced results." (62) Under this new command structure, Knerr made the final preparations and executed support of the Eighth bombing operations during Big Week.

Workloads resulting from initial combat operations, however, were greater than anticipated. In April 1943, VIII AFSC modeled itself after the Air Service Command by establishing three operating divisions--supply, maintenance, and personnel. This organizational change replaced the traditional general staff structure and produced a more effective operation. AFSC also decentralized operations in conjunction with this reorganization, allowing headquarters to focus on management and process improvement. In 1943, logistics organizations and processes were specialized and optimized, and the reduced threat of bombardment in the UK allowed for more efficient centrally located functions. However, VIII AFSC sustainment of the Eighth's combat operations became a major problem, and the "anxious examination of the factors affecting the rate of bombing operation in the fall of 1943 had emphasized anew the basic importance of its varied functions." (63) VIII AFSC had not addressed all the organizational overlaps, inefficiencies, and difficulties. Despite great organizational improvement, its effectiveness suffered.

Infrastructure, Personnel, and Training

"Britain contained a core of civilian workers with maintenance and supply management skills" but "logistics met with an immediate shortage of British labor at ports and construction sites." (64) Although the number of USAAF personnel in Britain increased by 300 percent in 1943, buildup of AFSC personnel lagged behind that of combat forces and handicapped logistics. (65) Despite the fact that 1,000 Eighth Air Force personnel completed technical schools each month in 1943, Knerr noted the biggest problem he faced in 1943 was a shortage of personnel, and those he did have required training. He solved the problem, at least for the maintenance function, by cycling personnel through the air depot groups for formal training. Once trained, they were reassigned to air service groups, and "maintenance was no longer a problem." (66)

In late 1943 and early 1944, thousands of unskilled and untrained workers were shipped to the UK to help man rapidly expanding depots. In order to use new personnel quickly, production-line methods were instituted. Although this approach was not efficient, there was no other way to productively employ these people more rapidly. (67)

In June 1941, a factory representative section was established in London, and when the VIII AFSC was activated, it became responsible for the section. The factory representatives assisted the RAF and the USAAF with technical problems in the field and at depot. By May, it had 222 civilians representing 34 different American manufacturing companies. Then, as now, the factory representatives were invaluable in sustaining operations. (68)


"The decision in 1939 ... to put almost all of the funds made available to the Air Corps into complete aircraft explains in large part the critical shortage of spare parts which persisted through 1942." (69) Throughout 1942, aircraft grounded for lack of parts was a concern throughout the USAAF. (70) To make matters even more stressful for VIII AFSC, on 1 December 1942, the unanticipated withdrawal of supplies and essential personnel to support the Twelfth created much chaos. (71)

Through most of 1943, the Eighth's logistics system suffered shortages because of shipping losses and the support it provided to the Twelfth. "Shortages of spare parts for such items as superchargers, bombsights, and trucks (which themselves were in short supply) were frequent." (72) However, by the beginning of 1944, more than 190,000 supply items were cataloged, spares were at satisfactory levels, and "no aircraft was long on the ground for lack of spare parts." (73) The improvement is attributable to the synergistic effects of:

* Decreases in shipping losses

* Redeployment of Ninth Air Force to Britain

* Local purchase and manufacture

* Improved transportation, maintenance, and supply distribution processes

* The learning curve

* ASC service life extension and economic repair policies

US forces in the UK relied on merchant shipping that was subject to German U-boat attacks. U-boats caused the loss of 6.3 million tons of cargo in 1942, but losses steadily declined in 1943 and afterwards. Cargo reaching the UK increased from some 50,000 tons in May 1943 to about 1 million tons in December 1943, while monthly losses decreased from more than 700,000 tons in November 1942 to approximately 100,000 tons in June 1943. (74)

Although cargo losses subsided, problems with manifests and cargo markings often delayed deliveries to units. In 1942, ships commonly arrived in the UK without the SOS having received a copy of the manifest or loading information. Even when documentation was received in a timely manner, it was often too general, making planning almost impossible. (75) Actions were taken to standardize markings and documentation, and dramatic improvement was realized.
 As late as the first quarter of 1943, only 46 percent of the
 manifests and Bills of Lading were being received five or more days
 before the arrival of the ships, and 24 percent were not received
 at all. However, during the month of April 1943, 80 percent were
 received five or more days ahead of ships, and in May 90 percent.
 Thereafter, delays in receiving documentation ceased to be a
 serious problem. (76)

SOS unfamiliarity with USAAF markings and procedures delayed distribution of supplies and prompted VIII AFSC to establish intransit depots at sea and aerial ports. Further improvements in distribution were realized by dividing the British Isles into two geographic zones. Northern Ireland was later established as a third zone. Intransit depot zoning was based on the capacity of the geographic area to receive supplies, and ships in the United States were then loaded with supplies based on zones, reducing the amount of intratheater transportation required within the UK. (77)

Consequently, VIII AFSC distributed all USAAF supplies received in the UK. With respect to the Eighth, the Services of Supply provided wholesale supply support, and VIII AFSC provided retail supply support. (78) On 14 December 1943, VIII AFSC reported that intransit depots could deliver bulk supplies from the port to a depot or base within 72 hours. They also reported that 88.5 percent of requisitions were satisfied immediately and requisitions for items not on hand were being filled in less than 24 hours. These process improvements may seem simple, but they did wonders to make the flow of USAAF supplies to and within the UK more efficient and reliable. (79)

It took the USAAF nearly 2 years to develop an effective supply statistics system to aid in spare parts requirement forecasting. As early as 1942, supply planning was accomplished using automatic supply tables based on peacetime consumption rates for 30-, 60-, 90-, and 180-day stock levels in 20-, 40-, and 80-aircraft units. The tables were developed and implemented to help reduce pipeline times for high demand parts with low availability--some were, in fact, taking up to 2 months to obtain from the United States. (80) Supply conferences were held in April and November 1943 to fine tune the tables. (81)

In September 1943, the Air Service Command discontinued automatic resupply shipments for all but new aircraft types. An agreement to ship 50 percent of the 6-month requirement as soon as possible and the remainder 60 days later resolved the problem. Further process refinement averted both shortages and overstocks, and depots were authorized 90-day stock levels of specialized aircraft parts. Subdepots were authorized 6-month levels of common supply items. The prepositioned pipeline stocks were used to fill supply demands at all echelons of maintenance. (82)

In October 1943, the VIII AFSC began to use 3-month forecasts to account for the effects of sortie rates, enemy opposition, repair facilities, and other factors that were not accounted for by the automatic supply tables. Supply transactions were recorded manually, and by late 1943, the aircraft fleet size made it evident that automation was necessary. However, automation did not occur until after 1944. As a result, Big Week did not enjoy the speed and efficiency of an automated supply demand forecasting process. (83)

The amount of equipment being shipped to support the Twelfth caused acute equipment shortages in the Eighth, hampering beddown and support of new units arriving in theater.
 During the early part of 1943, the movement of air echelons to the
 United Kingdom prior to the movement of ground echelons, service
 units, and their equipment, contributed to low serviceability. A
 new unit, for example, seldom reached a serviceability rate higher
 than 50 percent during the first month of operations. (84)

To alleviate theater shortages, the USAAF began to require units deploying to the UK to ship their own equipment 1 month before deployment. (85) Given the lead times associated with the manufacture of peculiar support equipment items, this policy maximized the number of combat ready aircraft during Big Week.

Before February 1943, all requisitions were passed through HQ VIII AFSC, slowing the process and making it inefficient. After February 1943, the supply channels for Air Force-unique supply items were decentralized. Only those needs that could not be satisfied by military supply within the theater were passed to HQ VIII AFSC and filled, preferably by stateside ASC depots. If ASC could not satisfy the demand, local purchase was used as a last resort. (86) Supply stocks after the winter of 1943-1944 were adequate, and overages were shipped back to the United States. (87) Reinvention of supply demand processing procedures, beginning in February 1943, improved supply support.

In a fine example of cooperation and teamwork, the "British dispensed all the petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) in Britain, even though most of it came from the United States under lend-lease." (88) Further, British POL manpower brought some relief to VIII AFSC personnel shortages.

By May 1942, it was apparent that operational requirements would not permit the delays associated with waiting for parts from the United States, so local procurement was begun. The Army SOS established the General Purchasing Board in May 1942 for the purpose of locally procuring goods and services. (89) Shortly thereafter, the SOS commander granted VIII AFSC limited procurement authority. (90) This decentralized procurement tool gave logisticians powers similar to today's International Merchant and Procurement Authorization Card program. (91) Also, by early 1943, local manufacture of some spare parts by European theater of operations depots aided in partially alleviating shortages. (92)

A mutual aid agreement establishing reverse lend-lease with the British was signed 23 February 1942. In the first 2 years of the war, approximately 422,721 tons of supplies were procured from the British. (93) "From June 1942 to July 1943, the British provided US forces in the UK half or more of their quartermaster, engineer, Air Corps, medical, and chemical warfare service supplies." (94) During the war, the United States received more than $6.7B worth of goods and services from the British through reverse lend-lease. (95)

The supply support received from the British was significant as the United States suffered losses of 100,000 to 700,000 tons of shipping per month from late 1942 to mid-1943. Logistics personnel made good use of local purchase, local manufacture, reverse lend-lease, and pooled common supplies. These resources brought relief to weary maintainers by reducing the number of aircraft part cannibalization actions required to satisfy supply shortfalls while maximizing the mission capable rate. The RAF's extensive use of US-built aircraft allowed the RAF and USAAF to create a large pool of common supplies in early 1943. VIII AFSC eventually took over procurement responsibility for the common supply pool, and many items were obtained from UK sources, reducing pipeline time and transport burdens. (96) It would not have been possible to execute Big Week in February 1944 if it had not been for the materials the United States received from the British through local purchase and reverse lend-lease, coupled with the synergistic effect of pooling common aircraft supplies and local manufacture capabilities.

Maintenance and Munitions

During 1943-1944, the average life of an Eighth Air Force heavy bomber was 215 days, during which it flew missions on 47 days and was undergoing maintenance, repair, or modification on 49 days.
 The quality of maintenance was often the margin of difference
 between the life or death of an aircrew or the success or failure
 of a mission. The greatly increased rate of operations, the high
 incidence of battle damage, and the growing complexity of military
 planes during World War II made maintenance one of the most vital
 functions in waging of air war. (97)

Maintenance system operations were flexible, and the amount of maintenance was determined by the availability of equipment, supplies, and manpower. (98) Prior to mid-1944, heavy bomber maintenance organizations were constantly challenged by having to expend labor and parts to keep war-weary aircraft flying, since replacement aircraft were not available in sufficient quantities to stabilize aircraft availability with respect to losses. (99) Fighter and medium bomber serviceability was higher than that of heavy bombers "primarily because of a much lower percent of battle damage and less extensive modification requirements." (100) Large theater depots also put increased flexibility into theater maintenance, relieving VIII AFSC organizations on the airbases of a wide variety of labor intensive tasks. (101) In late 1943, General Knerr established subdepots at various operational bases to enhance field maintenance capability. He also implemented a mobile aircraft repair team concept to support onsite repair of aircraft too badly damaged to fly to the depot. In existence between 1943 and 1945, mobile repair teams comprised of supply and repair trucks and specially trained personnel were very important to base maintenance activities. Because the mobile repair teams repaired damaged aircraft that landed off station and aircraft damaged beyond the bases' maintenance capabilities, base maintainers could concentrate on minor repairs and aircraft regeneration. (102)

Further, Knerr reorganized the VIII AFSC and instituted a system to monitor and control aircraft production. He established "statistical reporting and control procedures at all bases" so commanders knew what the situation and requirements were. (103) This included, beginning in September 1943, collecting 3-month sortie forecasts from the combat commands to forecast and adjust depot workloads in order to reduce backlogs. (104) Late in 1942, the British agreed to let Americans replace British workers at the Burtonwood depot, and "under American leadership and production methods the production of engines and instruments increased at a rapid rate." (105) Depot capacity was also increased when Warton Air Depot was activated in September 1943. Several smaller subdepots, known as advance depots, were activated at selected operational airbases to further enhance field capabilities. (106) Knerr's reallocation of repair and modification work in December 1943 took advantage of the efficiency of specialization by spreading backlogs and making the depot in Ireland responsible for aircraft modification kits. (107) The necessity of modifying all incoming aircraft frequently reduced theater aircraft serviceability rates as much as 16 percent. (108) "Following this reorganization, the volume of work accomplished was vastly increased." (109)

Lockheed Corporation, under US contract, manned the Irish depot. Lockheed's depot support was considered advantageous because it provided in-theater specialized engineering work, modifications, development of special tools, design changes, and kit manufacture for all types of USAAF equipment. (11) Finally, "Between 12 and 20 February 1944 no bombing missions had been flown; hence the backlog of aircraft in repair had been diminished, and an unprecedented number of bombers were available." (111) This period of inactivity was the result of poor weather conditions that restricted flying operations. Maintainers took advantage of the situation to generate the 1,292 aircraft that were available entering Big Week. (112)

The Eighth had a sufficient tonnage of munitions and quantities of ammunition available to support Big Week. However, disagreement centered on the types of munitions available and the types the flying units needed to destroy the targets assigned. Knerr believed the disagreement was due to improper communication of field requirements to munitions production plants in the states. The shortage of desired bomb types began in December 1943 and was not corrected by 1 April 1945. The lack of proper bomb types to support Big Week, given the bombing accuracy of the B-17 and B-24, degraded mission effectiveness. (113)


Knerr attempted to address airlift problems, which he had foreseen, by trying to secure the dedicated airlift he had apparently been promised. In the summer of 1943, he wrote, "Not more than 3 percent of the required airlift has ever been forthcoming in the United States from that promised service." (114) With the exception of inter- and intra-island air service, the Eighth was relieved of airlift functions. These functions had been placed under the Air Transport Command sometime in the summer of 1943. Knerr later wrote in his lessons learned, dated 10 May 1945, that air cargo had been delivered to places where it was "extremely difficult to assemble and process" and that units and equipment were separated from each other, delaying unit mission execution in the theater. (115) A military airline was formed by the Eighth for moving troops and supplies throughout the UK and proved its merit by moving an average of 300 tons of cargo and 2,500 personnel per month in 1943. (116)

The Army Service Forces controlled what was shipped via sea to the UK. Knerr felt the Army Service Forces mismanaged sea shipments, and although it never happened, he believed the Air Force should have been allocated dedicated sealift. (117)

Knerr addressed many key logistical problems in 1943. Not the least of his efforts included resisting the return of the Truck Transport Service to the Service of Supply because "until the Air Forces took over segregation and distribution of their own supplies from shipside (sic) to consuming unit, they starved." (118) A shortage of vehicles added to interservice squabbles over control of the ground transport function. "A truck shortage adversely affected distribution, although it was mitigated by Britain's fine transportation system.'" (119) In addition, the Eighth's trucks were pooled into a single organization and were effective and efficient in moving supplies from port to base and laterally between bases. (120)

Concerning transportation, the Eighth made the best of a bad situation. It operated an intratheater airlift service but depended on Air Transport Command for intertheater airlift. This combination of intertheater and intratheater support apparently satisfied the Eighth's airlift needs despite its dependence on another command. Despite the sealift problems Knerr believed the ASF created, he never was able to secure dedicated sealift.

Eighth Air Force Logistics--The Bottom Line

World War II, as exemplified by the Eighth' s tremendous efforts up to and through Big Week, "dramatized as never before the importance of the essentially undramatic functions of transportation, supply, and maintenance and lent new strength to calls for centralization of responsibility." (121) From 1942 right on through Big Week, improvements were constantly sought in all logistical functions to make them more responsive and effective. Many of the accomplishments were achieved because of Knerr's leadership. Although logistics organizations and process deficiencies still existed in late February 1944, many problems had already been addressed and yielded the logistics capability to initiate and sustain operations the size of Big Week. The improvements made within all the logistical functions, combined with continuous process improvements, put the big into Big Week.

Success Reaped the Hard Way

Perhaps the most significant lesson of World War II is that the military potential of a nation is directly proportional to the nation's logistic potential. The first hard fact to be faced in applying that lesson is that our resources are limited. The next is that the slightest delay or inefficiency in harnessing our logistic resources may cost us victory. (122)

--Major General O. R. Cook, USA

Logistics indeed made Big Week big with respect to the Eighth's bombing operations. The Eighth generated 3,880 bomber sorties that delivered 8,231 tons of bombs to targets throughout the Third Reich. The number of operational bombers declined to about 900. However, within 5 days after Big Week ended, maintainers had returned about 150 of the approximately 200 bombers with battle damage back to a combat ready condition. (123) Big Week was big because, although Allied air superiority was not won until later, as General Spaatz noted, it did spell the beginning of the end for the Luftwaffe daylight fighter force. (124)

Leadership greatly influenced the logistics capability and support the USAAF was able to establish in the UK. On the negative side, it took a long time for the civil-military organization to evolve into an effective one, and it appears the military spent more time trying to take charge of the economy than to work within the President's system. General Cook remarked:
 Time is the most precious element in logistics preparation for
 military security. Measures must be prepared in advance for the
 all-out, logistic mobilization that must be completed between the
 time when the danger threatens and the time that war actually
 strikes. (125)

Indeed, the military did not adequately plan for industrial mobilization, which contributed to the myriad of problems encountered.

Congress' streamlining of acquisition procedures and granting of obligating authority to the armed services greatly reduced lead times associated with the major procurements necessary to prepare for and prosecute the war. However, military management of acquisitions was not perfect. In 1942, there was an imbalance between the number of whole aircraft procured and the spare parts required, resulting in a parts shortage. Fortunately, the spare parts situation improved by 1943, and maintainers had the spares needed to support Big Week.

ASC research and development activities enabled technologies to be exploited and, thus, improved combat capability through a controlled aircraft modification program. Technology insertion was a positive influence on logistics.

Functional overlaps, process inefficiencies, and what could be labeled intraservice rivalry between the VIII AFSC and AFS Services of Supply caused many of the processes critical to providing and sustaining aircraft maintenance to break down. VIII AFSC addressed most of the problems during 1942 and 1943, but Knerr, because of his overall dissatisfaction with ASF support, made every effort to make the Eighth as logistically independent from the Army as he could, and he got results. (126)

VIII AFSC suffered personnel and training shortages. The leadership's adoption of production-line maintenance processes was not the most efficient use of personnel, but it did allow for speedy incorporation of unskilled workers into the depots and service groups.

"Host nation support, or whatever resources happen to be in the place one fights, can contribute greatly to a logistics system's capability." (127) British airfield construction allowed the United States to mass bomber units on the island. Interservice supply support was critical to the Eighth's maintenance. Finally, British dispensing of POL made efficient use of manpower, which was important to the undermanned VIII AFSC.

Civilians also provided critical support to the logistics team. Civilians in ASC worked acquisition programs and provided supply and repair support. The Lockheed employees at Langford Lodge depot provided in-theater support in a much more timely manner than would have been possible had they been located in the United States. Factory representatives further enhanced theater maintenance capabilities. In-theater depots, subdepots, and intermediate-level maintenance organizations provided in-depth aircraft repair service independent of stateside organizations. In addition, they developed and provided limited but valuable local manufacture capability, alleviating parts shortages. By the time Big Week arrived, these organizations had evolved and could provide effective logistical support to the combat units, thus enabling sustained bombing raids of 1,000-plus bombers.

Knerr was the single greatest influence on the capabilities and effectiveness of the Eighth's logistics. From the time he served on the Bradley-Knerr Committee to plan the organization and buildup of forces through his tenure as the US Strategic Air Force Deputy of Administration, he constantly improved all logistical functions. His institutionalization of statistical monitoring and requirements forecasting was used effectively to minimize depot backlogs. His implementation of mobile repair teams for battle-damaged aircraft helped sustain the bomber fleet. Finally, he championed making the logistics and operations functions equal at the headquarters level, giving logistics the clout needed to ensure their logistics considerations were taken into account and that logistics and operations were synchronized. "Responsiveness and flexible logistics support requires a management system that consciously links operations and logistics." (128) A good example of Knerr's effort to synchronize operations and logistics was his ability to get 3-month sortie forecasts that were used to plan logistical support.

The processes of producing or allocating munitions, or both, were broken because units did not always have the types and quantities of munitions needed to destroy the assigned targets. Big Week was big, but it did not pack the punch it had the potential to because of the many munitions substitutions. (129)

Ship escorts, establishment of distribution zones, ship loading based on destination of goods, improved documentation and communication, establishment of intransit depots, VIII AFSC's pooling of trucks for supply distribution, and theater controlled intratheater airlift were very positive influences on operations.

Eighth Air Force logistics prior to Big Week was the story of brute force logistics. Knerr's effort to synchronize logistics and operations and provide responsive, effective, and efficient logistics serves as the benchmark for all airmen. At the end of the day, the logisticians conquered many challenges through innovation and adaptation that yielded improved productivity and paved the way for Big Week. Indeed, Big Week would not have been big were it not for the dedicated efforts of the logisticians for months and years prior to 20 February 1944.


(1.) Maj Gen O. R. Cook, "Lessons of World War II," Lecture to Air War College USAF HRA, K239.7162241-22, 10 Dec 1947, 4.

(2.) Edward Jablonski, Airwar, Garden City, New York, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc, 1971, 52-53.

(3.) USSTAF, "Materiel Behind the 'Big Week'," USAF HRA, 519.04-1, 20-25 Feb 1944, 4. On 20 February 1944, Eighth Air Force had fighter escort support from both Eighth and Ninth Air Force units, totaling 902 sorties.

(4.) Stephen L. McFarland and Wesley Phillips Newton, To Command the Sky, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991, 168-169.

(5.) Jacob A. Stockfisch, Linking Logistics and Operations: A Case Study of World War H Air Power, Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 1991, v.

(6.) Maj Gen Hugh J. Knerr, "Strategic, Tactical, and Logistical Evaluation of World War II," Lecture to Air War College, USAF HRA, K239.716246-18, 19 Oct 1946, 3.

(7.) Alan L. Gropman, ed, The Big "L": American Logistics in World War H, Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 1997, 10-15, 94, 98-100. The War Industries Board, established in 1917, was the focal point for the nation's resource and acquisition management. The Board, short-lived, was abolished in the wake of post-World War I acquisition reform that replaced streamlined procedures with peacetime bureaucracy.

(8.) Gropman, 21.

(9.) Maj H. Dwight Griffin, et al., Air Corps Tactical School: The Untold Story, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1995, 45.

(10.) Haywood S. Hansell, Jr, The Strategic Air War Against Germany and Japan, A Memoir, Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1986, 62-63. AWPD-1 called for 61,799 aircraft, of which 4,328 were to be based in Britain, and required 2,118,625 Army Air Forces personnel. AWPD-42 included munitions requirements and called for a total of 8,214 aircraft, including a 50 percent reserve, to be based in Britain.

(11.) "AC/AS Plans: 1942-1945," USAF HRA, 145.92-18, 1943.

(12.) USASF, Logistics in World War 11: Final Report of the Army Service Forces, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1947, 247-250.

(13.) Ibid.

(14.) "Materiel Behind the 'Big Week'," 1-2.

(15.) Gropman, 9-31.

(16.) Ibid.

(17.) Gropman, 23-25.

(18.) Gropman, 25-31.

(19.) Gropman, 31-35, 38, 55.

(20.) Gropman, 265-283.

(21.) Gropman, 31-35, 38, 55.

(22.) Cook, 7.

(23.) Lois E. Walker and Shelby E. Wickam, From Huffman Prairie to the Moon, Washington, DC: Office of History, 2750~h Air Base Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, 1986, 146-147.

(24.) AAF Historical Office, "Army Air Forces Historical Studies No. 51: The Maintenance of Army Aircraft in the United States 1939-1945, " USAF HRA, 101-51 (1945), 133. In February 1942, improvements in engine construction enabled overhaul schedules to be changed. Only when inspection revealed it was necessary were aircraft reconditioned. In 1943, the obsoletion policy requiring the retirement of combat aircraft after 6 to 8 years of service was changed and replacement was not required until "whenever superior equipment was available."

(25.) Maj Gen Hugh J. Knerr, "Knerr Correspondence," USAF HRA, 519.1613, October, November, December 1943. Although the commanders who did this probably felt operational necessity justified their actions, they increased the complexity of logistics support by creating nonstandard configurations. Their actions negated the advantages of interchangeable parts and lengthened the time it took for VIII Air Force Service Command intermediate and depot maintenance activities to return affected aircraft to service.

(26.) Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate (ed), The Army Air Forces in World War II, Vol 6, Men and Planes, Chicago, IL: The University Press of Chicago, 1955, 391.

(27.) Walker and Wickam, 145.

(28.) Gropman, 123.

(29.) Gropman, 122, 282.

(30.) Cook, 18.

(31.) Ibid.

(32.) Craven and Cate, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 389-392. "The basic data from which policies and instructions were derived came from reports which flowed in from the depots and stations and from various inspection activities.... Although jurisdiction of ASC did not extend overseas, it was responsible for providing service units, equipment, and supplies for all AAF commands."

(33.) Army Air Forces Historical Studies No. 51, 134-135. The suggested overhaul time for the B-17 increased from 4,000 flying hours or 30 to 60 months of service in 1940 to 8,000 flying hours or 84 months of service in 1944.

(34.) Craven and Cate, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 393.

(35.) Ibid. By 1944, aircraft production allowed replacement of heavily damaged planes by new ones, and battle damage repair became less critical. ASC was then able to establish criteria for determining whether or not it was more cost effective to repair or replace badly damaged aircraft, and the job of the depots "became mainly one of modification and overhaul."

(36.) Craven and Cate, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 389.

(37.) Army Air Forces Historical Studies No. 51, 121, 124, 136-139.

(38.) Craven and Cate, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 395. In 1941, there was an urgent need for more and better maintenance, and the quality of maintenance continued to be low during the early months of the war due to a lack of adequately trained engineering officers and civilian mechanics to man the depots. In part, this was caused both by the increased production pressure associated with the parts shortage that existed through 1942 and the fact that ASC was the lowest priority command for personnel fills.

(39.) Craven and Cate, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 391,395.

(40.) Craven and Cate, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 396.

(41.) Army Air Forces Historical Studies No. 51, 118-122, 127-128, 135. During the period Jan 1942 through Jan 1944, stateside depot maintenance facilities returned approximately 25,000 aircraft and 90,000 engines to service. In 1943 alone, 236,622 aircraft visited the 200-plus subdepots for repair and other work. Finally, an Air Inspector survey conducted in the summer of 1943 attested to the fact that the Eighth Air Force was satisfied with the third and fourth echelon maintenance support it was receiving from ASC.

(42.) General Board United States Forces, European Theater, "Logistical Build-Up in the British Isles," USAF HRA, 502.101-128, 9 Jun 1953, 4.

(43.) Ibid.

(44.) Gropman, 345.

(45.) Logistics in World War H, 248, 341. Within the ASF, "there was an unnecessary overspecialization in types of service troops, thereby making it difficult to secure maximum flexibility in the utilization of service personnel." Although it was believed units comprised of both USAAF and Army personnel would improve the situation and some experimenting with this type of organization was done, the idea "was not pushed vigorously."

(46.) Maj Gen Hugh J. Knerr, "Air Force Logistics," USAF HRA, 519.8086-1, 10 May 1945, 2.

(47.) "Air Force Logistics," 6-7

(48.) "Air Force Logistics," 2.

(49.) Knerr, "Strategic, Tactical, and Logistical Evaluation of World War II," 4-5.

(50.) Stockfisch, 18.

(51.) Craven and Cate, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 390.

(52.) USSTAF, "Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, " USAF HRA, 519.057-4, 1942-1945, 10.

(53.) Ibid.

(54.) Stockfisch, 19. Further complicating an already complicated task, commanders of combat units wanted command of Air Force Service Command intermediate-level maintenance (air service group) activities on their bases. This quickly became the practice, diluting the authority but not the responsibility of the VIII Air Force Service Command commander.

(55.) Knerr, "Knerr Correspondence."

(56.) "Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter," 6.

(57.) Biographical Data, Personnel Index, USAF HRA, 519.293-1, 1945. Knerr, a graduate of the US Naval Academy, became an Army artillery officer in 1911. He joined the Air Corps near its birth and retired from active duty in 1939 only to be recalled in 1942, having spent the interim years at the Sperry Gyroscope Company "in work that ... proved invaluable both to him and to the Military Service."

(58.) Craven and Cate, Vol 2, Europe: Torch to Pointblank--August 1942 to December 1943, 742-743. As a member of the Bradley Committee, in the spring of 1943, Knerr had prepared a special report on air service in Africa. In the report, he advocated the elimination of the problems caused by the logistics function being subservient to the staff and operations functions by the simple expedient of elevating the agency to the staff level of command.

(59.) Stockfisch, 18-19.

(60.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 6-11.

(61.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 752.

(62.) Knerr, "Strategic, Tactical, and Logistical Evaluation of World War II," 5.

(63.) Craven and Cate, Vol 2, Europe: Torch to Pointblank--August 1942 to December 1943, 742.

(64.) Stockfisch, 18, and Gropman, 346.

(65.) Gropman, 364.

(66.) USAF Historical Research Agency, "Notes on an Interview with Maj Gen Hugh J. Knerr," USAF HRA, 168.2-12, 24 Nov 1947, 1-2.

(67.) Craven and Cate, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 395-396.

(68.) "Civilian Technicians and Representatives," USAF HRA, 519.8023, 1941-1945.

(69.) Craven and Cate, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 390.

(70.) Craven and Care, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 394.

(71.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 2.

(72.) Stockfisch, 19. "During early 1943 spare parts for 50-caliber aircraft machine guns became so scarce that the total supply was pooled in a single depot with telephone requests being doled out by special truck delivery."

(73.) "Materiel Behind the 'Big Week'," 3.

(74.) Gropman, 347-348, 359, 361-363, and Maj Gen William E. Kepner, "Supply (Congressional Committee)" Kepner Collection, USAF HRA, 168.6005-84, 3 Jun 1945, 2.

(75.) "Logistical Build-Up in the British Isles," USAF HRA, 502.101-128, 9 Jun 1953, 25-26. "Entries on the manifest such as '1000 boxes of Quartermaster Class I supplies' were not uncommon."

(76.) Ibid.

(77.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter 3, 128.

(78.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter 3, 3.

(79.) Knerr, "Knerr Correspondence."

(80.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 3.

(81.) "Stock Control in the ETO," USAF HRA, 519.8024-1, 1945, 1, 8-9.

(82.) "Stock Control in the ETO," 25, 31.

(83.) "Stock Control in the ETO," 3-5, 10.

(84.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 5.

(85.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 4.

(86.) "Stock Control in the ETO," 15-16, 19-23, 36-37. Combat group demands not met were first sent to the air service group, then the depot. If neither organization could satisfy the demand, it was then sent to headquarters VIII Air Force Service Command. A three-tier supply priority system was established, in which priority was based on urgency of need. Aircraft grounded for lack of parts were given highest priority, and those requirements were sent via teletype to the air service group. If the air service group could not fill the request, a teletype was sent to the air base depot, and if it still could not be satisfied, a cable was sent to the responsible stateside depot.

(87.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 5. AOG rates fell from 5 percent in Dec 1942 to 2.3 percent in Nov 1943.

(88.) Stockfisch, 19.

(89.) General Board United States Forces, European Theater, Logistical Build-Up in the British Isles, 15.

(90.) "Stock Control in the ETO," 22-23. Local purchases were limited to 25 pounds sterling ($100), required written approval of the station commander, and could only be done when urgency of need did not permit procurement through the British Equipment Liaison Officers. Station purchase (for example, contracting) officers bad standing authority to make purchases not exceeding 5 pounds sterling.

(91.) Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Contracting). Contracting Toolkit: IMPAC, 5 Jan 2000 [Online] Available:

(92.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 2.

(93.) "Stock Control in the ETO," 19. Reverse lend-lease arrangements were used to make routine purchases exceeding 25 pounds sterling and were processed through the commanding general, VIII Air Force Service Command and the RAF Equipment Liaison Officers.

(94.) Stockfisch, 18.

(95.) Gropman, 273, 277.

(96.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 4.

(97.) Craven and Cate, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 388, 394.

(98.) Craven and Cate, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 389.

(99.) Stockfisch, 43-44.

(100.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 4. For example, medium bomber serviceability went from 29 percent in July 1943 to 92 percent in Nov 1943.

(101.) Craven and Cate, Vol 6, Men and Planes, 391.

(102.) "Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 6, 11. Transport of aircraft via truck to depot in the UK was infeasible due to the physical constraints associated with humpback bridges, narrow winding roads with reverse camber, and bridge clearances.

(103.) "Materiel Behind the 'Big Week'," 2-3.

(104.) Knerr, "Knerr Correspondence."

(105.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 6. Although it is not clear from the historical account if VIII Air Force Service Command sought to replace British personnel at Burtonwood depot with Americans because the British were not productive or if the decline in British employee productivity was caused by the agreement, it is clearly documented that productivity increased.

(106.) Ibid.

(107.) "Materiel Behind the 'Big Week'," 3-4.

(108.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 5. The shortage of station overhead personnel also necessitated the use of skilled service personnel for overhead functions.

(109.) "Materiel Behind the 'Big Week'," 4.

(110.) "Materiel Behind the 'Big Week'," 6. Despite initial USAAF reservations regarding Lockheed's control of depot personnel at Langford Lodge, which occurred due to an error made by the government in writing the contract, it appears the contractor managed the personnel satisfactorily.

(111.) "Materiel Behind the 'Big Week'," 4.

(112.) Ibid.

(113.) Maj Gen Hugh J. Knerr, "Letter from USSTAF in Europe Deputy Commanding General, Administration to Commanding General," USAF, HRA 519.8671-3, 1 Apr 1945.

(114.) Knerr, "Knerr Correspondence."

(115.) Knerr, "Air Force Logistics," 7.

(116.) "Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter," 12.

(117.) Knerr, "Air Force Logistics," 7.

(118.) Knerr, "Knerr Correspondence."

(119.) Stockfisch, 19.

(120.) Notes for Supply and Maintenance Chapter, 12.

(121.) Craven and Cate, Vol 2, Europe: Torch to Pointblank August 1942 to December 1943, 742.

(122.) Cook, 6.

(123.) "Materiel Behind the 'Big Week'," 4.

(124.) Richard G. Davis, Carl A. Spaatz and the Air" War in Europe, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1993, 327.

(125.) Knerr, "Strategic, Tactical, and Logistical Evaluation of World War II," 7.

(126.) Knerr, "Air Force Logistics," 1.

(127.) Stockfisch, 52.

(128.) Ibid.

(129.) Knerr, "Air Force Logistics," 6-7.

Lieutenant Colonel Jon M. Sutterfield, USAF
Table 1. VIII Air Force Service Command Production
Comparison (52)

Activity Dec 42 Nov 43

Aircraft Assembled 12 463
Engines Overhauled 35 714
Aircraft Modified 5 619
Tons of Bombs Delivered 2,329 18,000
Propellers Repaired 65 375
Supply Tonnage Received 4,000 20,600
Truck Tonnage Hauled 2,700 22,194
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Title Annotation:Rewind Readings in Logistics
Author:Sutterfield, Jon M.
Publication:Air Force Journal of Logistics
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Mar 22, 2011
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