The History of the US Air Force
Kenneth Bailey
United States
Ypsilanti
Michigan
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I'm a huge fan of aviation although I like Naval Aviation more than the Air Force but last year was the 60th Anniversary of the independent Air Force.
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1. Board Game: The Wright Brothers [Average Rating:2.00 Unranked]
Kenneth Bailey
United States
Ypsilanti
Michigan
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In 1907, the US Army Signal Corp created an aeronautical division to administer things related to aviation. In 1908, they started to test their first airplane. Also in that year was the first military airplane casualty, Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge (who the ANG guard base in Michigan is named after). In 1909, the Army accepted it's first airplane - an improved Wright Flyer. By 1912, the Army had 9 aircraft (one was last in a crash and the first airplane was given to the Smithsonian).

In early 1913, the Army created it's first squadron - "The 1st Provisional Aero Squadron". By late 1913, it was designated the 1st Aero Squadron. In 1914, the aeronautical division was renamed the Aviation Section but it was still in the signal corp. When World War I broke out, the Army had all of 6 aircraft, 12 officers, 54 enlisted men and 6 aircraft in December in 1915, it had 44 officers, 224 enlisted men and 23 aircraft.

 
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2. Board Game: Dawn Patrol [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:4074]
Kenneth Bailey
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During World War I, the Aviation section became the Air Service of the US Army. It had 740 aircraft which represented about 10% of Allied Air Strength but it made a pretty good showing for itself. During the war, the First Pursuit Group was created and that eventually became the First Pursuit Wing which consisted of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Pursuit groups. The First Bombardment group was also formed during the war. By 1918, the Army posessed 14 groups which all pretty much demobilized after the armistice.
 
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3. Board Game: Air Race [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Kenneth Bailey
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Ypsilanti
Michigan
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The Interwar years represented lean times for the fledgling American Air Force, but it also represented some times of rapid development. The biplanes made famous during World War I were becoming monoplanes and much faster. During the 1920's, the Air Service was comprised of one pursuit, one attack and one bombardment group in the United States, the Canal Zone and the Phillippines each had one Pursuit group and one bombardment group. Hawaii had two of each. Much of the research activities were pursued in Dayton at what would become Wright Patterson Air Force base (McCook at the time).

The Army also started to develop it's training regimen with flying training in Texas for officers and Illinois for enlisted men. A Tactical School for higher ranking officers was created at Langley which was eventually moved to Maxwell Field in Alabama. In 1926, the name of the service was changed to the Air Corps.

As the clouds of war formed over Europe, President Roosevelt and Congress paved the way for an expansion of the Army Air Corps.
 
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4. Board Game: Eighth Air Force [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked]
Kenneth Bailey
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Ypsilanti
Michigan
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World War II saw trememdous growth for the American Air Service. In 1942, it became the US Army Air Forces. Many airbases, new airplanes and tactics were developed during the war. In 1946, the Army Air Force was split into four major commands - Strategic Air Command, Air Defence Command, Tactical Air Command and Air Transport Service.
 
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5. Board Game: Mig Alley [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Kenneth Bailey
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Michigan
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In 1947, the Air Force became it's own service.
 
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6. Board Game: The Korean War [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:2162]
Kenneth Bailey
United States
Ypsilanti
Michigan
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The Korean War saw the transition from propellor aircraft to jet aircraft. The Air Force acquitted itself pretty well during this war. Despite the F-84 not being quite as good as the MiG's fielded by the North Koreans, the American Pilots established a pretty amazing kill ratio. The Korean War also saw the beginnings of the air-to-air guided missile.

During the 50's, missile technology progressed at a pretty rapid rate so that by the end of the 50's, American Aircraft were being created without guns. During this time, the Air Force was also experimenting with Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.
 
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7. Board Game: Downtown: Air War Over Hanoi, 1965-1972 [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:1817]
Kenneth Bailey
United States
Ypsilanti
Michigan
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The 60's brought us the Vietnam War. I'm not going to get into politics here but the Air Force didn't have the impressive kill ratio of the Korean War but it did realize that it needed guns in aircraft again.
 
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8. Board Game: Aegean Strike [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:7113]
Kenneth Bailey
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Ypsilanti
Michigan
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(I use this game because it has an F-15 on the cover)
The 1970's brought the F-15 and the F-16 to the Fighter Wings of the Air Force. Both of these planes incorporated lessons learned from the Vietnam War. The F-16 was the first jet that was designed to use fly by wire technology. Orginally, it was supposed to be a low cost alternative to the F-15 but as avionics and different missions were added to it, the cost started to come up. The 1970's also saw the birth and death of the B-1 Bomber which was supposed to replace the B-52 but was cancelled by the Carter Administration. It also saw the birth of the Stealth Fighter and the beginnings of the Stealth Bomber.

During the 70's, the cruise missile started to come into its own.
 
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9. Board Game: Tac Air [Average Rating:6.17 Overall Rank:5561]
Kenneth Bailey
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Ypsilanti
Michigan
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The 80's saw lots of growth for the Air Force. The MX (later Peacekeeper) was being developed. The Stealth Fighter was getting testing time and in 1989 got it's first mission. The F-15 and F-16 were getting further improvements. The venerable C-5 was getting new life as the C-5B. The B-52 was still trucking on and the B-1 was reborn as the B-1B. The 80's also saw some changes in tactics and weapons. The Fire and Forget missiles were starting to come into being (before to use a radar guided missile, the pilot had to keep radar lock on the target, sometimes a difficult prospect during a dog fight). The all aspect heat seeking missile was being developed (in the past, a pilot had to get behind the enemy to get a shot). The Laser guided bomb which saw first use towards the end of Vietnam was getting perfected.
 
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10. Thing: N/A
Kenneth Bailey
United States
Ypsilanti
Michigan
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The 1990's started with Operation Desert Shield which gave way to Operation Desert Storm. The US dominated the skies over Iraq to the point where Iraqi pilots would turn tail if a US plane got so much as a radar lock on one of them. Desert Storm also saw lots of use of precision guided air to ground munitions. Desert Storm also saw the first time when pilots flew from the United States to their targets in the Middle East.

The 1990's also saw the scaling back of the Air Force as the Cold War came to the end but it also saw some changes. It was starting to develop some of the network centric tactics that are being used now. It also developed bombs that could be used in conjunction with GPS. The 1990's also brought the birth of the F-22 Raptor.

During the 1990's, the Stealth Bomber was first used in anger over the skies of Bosnia.
 
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11. Board Game: Operation Iraqi Freedom: 2003 [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Kenneth Bailey
United States
Ypsilanti
Michigan
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The 2000's brought us more change to the Air Force. The Air Force fought in the war over Afghanistan and Iraq. It also so closer cooperation with Special Forces units on the ground.


Who knows what the future holds for the Air Force.
 
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12. Board Game: The Story of the U.S. Air Force [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
THE MAVERICK
United States
Roseville
California
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A game that seems fitting for the list!
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