Similar to the developments during World War I, World War II saw a rapid expansion of the Army Air Corps, which transitioned into the Army Air Forces, in terms of size, composition, and objectives. The war marked a pivotal moment in the utilization of aviation in armed conflict. As Mitchell had predicted, the effective deployment of these increasingly advanced and versatile air capabilities played a vital role in both the initial triumphs of the Axis Powers and the ultimate victory of the Allies. Today, air supremacy is still regarded as a crucial component for successful military campaigns.
The early stages of the separation between contemporary Army Aviation and the U.S. Air Force emerged during World War II. Ground forces retained separate aviation assets, such as the Piper L-4 Grasshoppers and Stinson L-5 Sentinels, for artillery reconnaissance. The first use of helicopters in combat, the Sikorsky R-4s, occurred in Burma in 1943, primarily for air rescue and medical evacuation missions.
It is not feasible to comprehensively discuss the role of the Army Air Forces during World War II in this context, as it would require extensive elaboration. However, it is worth noting that there was a heated debate during the war about whether air power alone could achieve victory without ground forces. This ongoing discussion indicated the possibility of such a scenario.
By the end of the war, it was difficult to definitively confirm or refute the notion that “Air Power Wins Wars.” What is clear, however, is that victory in Europe would have been impossible without air power, and the war in the Pacific ultimately concluded due to actions taken by aircraft rather than ground forces capturing Japanese territory.