Carl Spaatz

General Carl A. Spaatz
General Carl A. Spaatz

Carl Andrew 'Tooey' Spaatz (his surname was originally Spatz, the extra "a" was added in 1937) was born in Boyertown, Penn. on June 28, 1891. After graduating from West Point in 1914, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry and assigned to the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. He volunteered for the fledgling Air Corps in 1916 and became one of the first military aviators in the U.S. Army.

In May 1917 he was promoted to captain and placed in command of the 31st Aero Squadron in France.

His primary mission was to establish a curriculum and training plan for the 3rd Aviation Instruction Center at the aerodrome at Issoudon. By the end of World War I he managed three weeks of combat flight time, during which he received the Distinguished Service Cross for shooting down three German aircraft. In June 1918 he was brevetted a major.

Spaatz was promoted to a permanent major in July 1920, and during the inter-war years he proceeded up the ranks of a peacetime Air Corps. When war broke out in Europe in 1939, Spaatz became the Air Corps' chief planner. He went to England in 1940 as an observer in the position of an acting brigadier general. Upon his return to the United States he headed the materiel division of the Air Corps. In July 1941 Spaatz became chief of the air staff of the newly renamed Army Air Force under General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold. After the United States entered into World War II, Spaatz rose to Chief of the Air Force Combat Command in January 1942. He was again sent to England to initiate the planning stages of the American Air Effort in Europe. In May 1942 he commanded the Eighth Air Force and in July he was named commander of U.S. Army Air Forces in Europe. By November 1942, on order of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Spaatz reorganized the Allied air forces in North Africa. He become commander of the Allied Northwest African Air Forces (NWAAF) in February 1943. By March 1943 he took command of the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa as a temporary lieutenant general. There his forces played an instrumental part in reducing Rommel's Afrika Korps and later in support of the invasion of Sicily.

By January 1944, Spaatz commanded the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe (USSTAF), to include the Eighth Air Force under the command of General James 'Jimmy' Doolittle in England, and the Fifteenth Air Force under General Nathan Twining in Italy. During the implementation of an air superiority campaign for Operation Overlord, Spaatz came into direct confrontation with British Air Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Expeditionary Air Forces (AEAF), the tactical air command. Leigh-Mallory's scheme for an interdiction campaign, known as the 'Transportation Plan', encompassed all Allied tactical and strategic air power with the singular purpose of targeting the rail systems linking France and Germany. Spaatz felt that the best way to neutralize any German threat to a cross channel invasion was to launch an all out strategic bombing campaign against the oil production and industrial infrastructure of the Third Reich. While Leigh-Mallory's 'Transportation Plan' won final approval from Eisenhower, Spaatz felt the best use of the strategic air forces was the continued systematic destruction of all German oil production. In Spaatz's opinion, "…forces employed against oil will force policy decisions in anticipation of impending reduction in fuel supplies and consequent reduction in fighting power." He felt that the three target priorities for the strategic air forces should be: the German Luftwaffe, German aircraft production to include ball bearing manufacturing, and Axis oil production.

By mid April 1944 Eisenhower issued a formal directive outlining the Allied air interdiction campaign in support of the invasion of Normandy. Air power was prioritized into two missions: to defeat the Luftwaffe and destroy and disrupt the enemy's rail links within France, Germany and Belgium. Ultimately, Spaatz, under the guise of following Eisenhower's number one directive, destruction of the Luftwaffe, used the strategic forces under his command to direct attacks against Axis oil production, as well as grudgingly support the 'Transportation Plan' with his bombers. These raids brought the available fuel supply to dangerously low levels for the Luftwaffe.

General Spaatz received a temporary promotion to general on March 11, 1945, and was assigned to Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C., in June 1945. The following month he assumed command of the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in the Pacific, with headquarters on Guam. There he supervised the final strategic bombing of Japan by the B-29, including the two atomic bomb missions. He was present at all three signings of unconditional surrender by the enemy at Rhiems, Berlin and Tokyo.

In March 1946, Spaatz succeeded General Arnold as commander-in-chief of the Army Air Forces. This role expanded in September 1947 when he became the first chief of staff of the newly independent U.S. Air Force.

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