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Years in aviation: 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942
Centuries: 19th century · 20th century · 21st century
Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s
Years: 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942

This is a list of aviation-related events from 1939:

EventsEdit

JanuaryEdit

FebruaryEdit

  • February 11 – The Lockheed XP-38 falls 17 minutes short of the record for a flight across the United States, flying from March Field, California, to Mitchell Field, New York, in 7 hours 43 minutes. It loses power and crashes during its final approach at Mitchell Field, but its pilot is unhurt and the flight is considered an impressive demonstration of range and speed for a fighter.[5]
  • February 12 – Spanish Nationalist forces have 600 aircraft, compared to only 40 available on the Republican side.[6]
  • February 16 – The Spanish Republican Air Force reports that it has only 25 Polikarpov I-15 and I-16 fighters, two squadrons of Tupolev SB-2 bombers, and three squadrons of Polikarpov R-5 bombers.[7]

MarchEdit

  • To improve coordination of aviation affairs within the United States Army, the United States Department of War places both General Headquarters Air Force (responsible for U.S. Army air combat operations) and the United States Army Air Corps (responsible for aviation logistics and training) under the command of the Chief of the Air Corps, Major General Henry H. Arnold.[8]
  • General der Flieger Albert Kesselring, commander of the Luftwaffe's Luftflotte 1, states that he doubts that even highly technically competent bomber crews can hit targets with any accuracy at night or in bad weather.[9]
  • March 25 – Ongoing ceasefire negotiations between Nationalist and Republican officials which include a Nationalist demand that all Spanish Republican Air Force aircraft fly to Nationalist airfields to surrender on this day are broken off when Republican aircraft do not surrender. A major motivation for the Nationalist demand is to prevent Republican leaders from fleeing Spain by air; six Republican aircraft carry officials and refugees from central Spain to France on this day.[10]
  • March 26 – Republican leader Segismundo Casado López telegraphs Nationalist leader Francisco Franco, announcing that the Spanish Republican Air Force will surrender to Nationalist forces the following day. Franco replies that Nationalist armies would advance on Republican territory anyway.[11]

AprilEdit

  • April 1 – Nationalist leader Francisco Franco announces that the Spanish Civil War has ended in a complete Nationalist victory. During the 32½-month war, the Nationalists have used about 1,300 aircraft and the Republicans about 1,500; about 10,000 people have died in air attacks. Early Republican numerical air superiority had been challenged almost immediately by the technical superiority of Italian Fiat CR.32 fighters and Savoia-Marchetti SM.81, and German Junkers Ju 52 bomber-transports; Soviet Polikarpov I-15 and I-16 fighters had given the Republicans air superiority in the winter of 1936-1937, but the Nationalists had achieved lasting air superiority after German Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters and Heinkel He 111 bombers and Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 bombers had arrived in 1937. Germany has sent about 600 aircraft to Spain, Italy about 660, the Soviet Union 1,000, and other countries (principally France) about 350. The German, Italian, and Soviet air forces have learned a great deal about the employment of modern aircraft in warfare through their involvement, and the Luftwaffe's Condor Legion in particular has used the conflict to test new aircraft and revolutionary new air warfare concepts.[12][13]
  • April 3 – The leading ace of the Spanish Civil War, the Nationalist pilot Joaquín García Morato y Castaño, dies when his Fiat CR.32 fighter crashes while he is performing low-level aerobatics for newsreel cameras. He had scored 40 victories during the war.

MayEdit

  • The Imperial Japanese Navy's air arm conducts the first Japanese bombing raid on Chungking, China, an incendiary raid which causes huge fires and inflicts enormous casualties. Raids will increase in size and intensity over the next two years.[14]
  • May 22 – The German Condor Legion holds a farewell parade in León, Spain.[15]
  • May 24 – The Royal Navy takes practical control of British naval aircraft for the first time since the dissolution of the Royal Naval Air Service in 1918. British naval aircraft, since 1918 under Royal Air Force control and since 1924 known collectively as the "Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Air Force," officially become the Royal Navy's Air Branch, although the term "Fleet Air Arm" remains in widespread informal use and finally will be adopted officially in 1953.[16]
  • May 26 – German personnel of the Condor Legion depart Spain.[15]
  • May 31 – Italian forces, including the "legionary air force," depart Spain.[15]

JuneEdit

  • June 6 – Adolf Hitler reviews 14,000 veterans of the Luftwaffe's Condor Legion in Berlin.[15]
  • June 22 – During the Khalkhin Gol Incident, a dogfight rages for 2½ hours between 120 Imperial Japanese Army aircraft and 95 Soviet Air Force fighters. The Soviets shoot down 31 Japanese aircraft in exchange for 11 of their own.[17]
  • June 28
  • June 29 – During another Khalkhin Gol Incident dogfight between Soviet and Japanese aircraft, the Soviets claim to have shot down 25 Japanese planes in exchange for the loss of two Soviet aircraft.[17]

JulyEdit

  • Serving as a testbed for the Heinkel HeS 3 turbojet with the jet engine slung under its fuselage, a Heinkel He 118 dive bomber takes off and lands using its piston engine but flies under jet power after the turbojet is started in flight. It is the first time any aircraft makes any part of a flight under jet power, and the successful test leads to the first flight made completely under turbojet power by the Heinkel He 178 the following month .[18]
  • July 20 – In the Heinkel He 176, German pilot Erich Warsitz makes the first flight powered by a liquid-fuelled rocket.

AugustEdit

  • August 20 – Since the beginning of the Khalkhin Gol Incident on May 11, the Soviet Union has claimed 320 Japanese aircraft shot down and another 35 destroyed on the ground.[17]
  • August 26 – The Messerschmitt Me 209 V1 (registration D-INJR) sets a new world speed record of 755 km/h (469 mph), not officially broken by another piston-engined aircraft until 1969.
  • August 24 – The Royal Air Force forms the Advanced Air Striking Force. Initially consisting of 10 squadrons of Fairey Battle bombers, its mission is to deploy to France in the event of war with Germany and strike targets in Germany from French bases.
  • August 27 – Flying the Heinkel He 178 V1, Erich Warsitz makes the pioneering first flight made entirely on turbojet power.

SeptemberEdit

  • September 1 – The German Luftwaffe has 3,650 combat aircraft (1,170 bombers, 335 dive bombers, 1,125 single-engine fighters, 195 twin-engine fighters, 620 reconnaissance aircraft, and 205 coastal aircraft); a reserve force of between 10 and 25 percent of each of these types; and a training organization with 500 operational types used for operational training and 2,500 other training aircraft.[19]
  • September 1 – World War II breaks out as Germany invades Poland. The Luftwaffe plays a key tactical bombing role in neutralising Polish defences, employing almost 1,600 aircraft against the Polish Air Force's 397.[20] During the predawn hours of the day, a Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" dive bomber flown by Leutnant Frank Neubert of I Group, Sturzkampfgeshwader 2, scores the first aerial victory of World War II, shooting down a PZL P.11c fighter flown by Polish Captain Mieczysław Medwecki. Twenty minutes later, Medwecki's wingman, Second Lieutenant Wladyslaw Gnys, flying a PZL P.11c, scores probably the first Allied aerial victories of the war, shooting down two German Dornier Do.17E bombers of Kampfgeschwader 77 over Zurada, near Olkusz, Poland, although some authors have claimed that Polish antiaircraft artillery shot down the bombers.
  • September 2 – In anticipation of war breaking out with Germany, the Royal Air Force's Advanced Air Striking Force deploys to bases around Rheims, France.
  • September 2 – By the end of the day, the Luftwaffe has achieved virtually complete air superiority over Poland. It switches over to support of German Army ground forces for thr rest of the Polish campaign, knocking out roads, railroads, and bridges – sometimes so effectively that the movement of Polish Army forces becomes impossible – and attacking Polish troop concentrations and destroying artillery and antiaircraft artillery units.[20]
  • September 3 – The United Kingdom and France declare war on Germany.
  • September 3 – Paratroops are used for the first time, with German units dropped into Silesia, behind Polish lines.
  • September 3 – Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys are used to drop propaganda leaflets into German cities.
  • September 4 – The first British bombs of the war are dropped on German targets when a Bristol Blenheim of 110 Squadron attacks the German fleet. During the day, 30 Blenheims and Vickers Wellingtons attack the German ships, with seven of the bombers shot down. One of the Wellingtons mistakenly bombs Esbjerg in neutral Denmark, killing two people. They are the first civilians killed by Royal Air Force bombs in World War II.[21]
  • September 5 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the United States Navy to organize a Neutrality Patrol to report and track any belligerent air, surface, or underwater naval forces approaching the United States East Coast or the West Indies.[22]
  • September 8 – Five French Air Force Curtiss H75 fighters engage a squadron of German Messerschmitt Bf 109s and shoot down two. They are the first French air-to-air victories of World War II,[23] as well as the first by any of the Western Allies.
  • September 15 – The Khalkhin Gol Incident concludes in a Soviet victory over the Imperial Japanese Army. In the final August 20-September 15 Soviet offensive, the Soviet Air Force claims the destruction of another 290 Japanese aircraft, bringing the total Soviet claim since the beginning of the Incident on May 11 to 645 Japanese planes destroyed. The Soviets claim to have lost only 34 aircraft in the last two months of the conflict.[17]
  • September 17 – The Soviet Union invades Poland.
  • September 17 – The German submarine U-29 torpedoes and sinks the British aircraft carrier HMS Courageous with the loss of 518 lives while Courageous is conducting an antisubmarine patrol in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Fleet Air Arm's No. 811 and No. 822 Swordfish squadrons are completely destroyed in the sinking. The loss of Courageous results in the Royal Navy withdrawing aircraft carriers from antisubmarine operations.[24]
  • September 18 – Its bases in eastern Poland threatened by advancing Soviet forces, the Polish Air Force evacuates to Romania.
  • September 19 – Germany halts construction of its second Graf Zeppelin-class aircraft carrier, Flugzeugträger B, while she still is on the building ways. Work on the ship never will be resumed.
  • September 25 – As Adolf Hitler looks on from a camouflaged bunker outside of the city, about 400 Luftwaffe bombers – some flying more than one sortie during the day – attack Warsaw, Poland, in conjunction with a German Army artillery bombardment, leaving the entire city ablaze. Its defenders surrender the next day.[20]
  • September 26 – Flying a No. 803 Squadron Blackburn Skua from HMS Ark Royal, Lieutenant B. S. McEwen of the Fleet Air Arm's No. 803 Squadron scores the first British victory over a German aircraft of World War II, shooting down a Dornier Do 18. German Heinkel He 111s attack Ark Royal in the North Sea later in the day, but score no hits.[25]

OctoberEdit

  • October 6 – The Polish campaign ends as Germany and the Soviet Union gain effective control over all of Poland. During the campaign, the Luftwaffe has lost 285 aircraft – 79 fighters, 78 bombers, 31 dive bombers, and 97 other aircraft – destroyed; 279 aircraft damaged; and 413 aircrew killed and 126 wounded.[20] Poland has lost 333 aircraft.
  • October 8 – The Royal Air Force scores its first aerial victory of World War II when a Lockheed Hudson shoots down a German Dornier Do 18 over Jutland.
  • October 16 – The Luftwaffe attacks its first British targets, Royal Navy warships in the Firth of Forth.

NovemberEdit

  • The Luftwaffe begins dropping sea mines around the British coastline.
  • November 30 – Soviet aircraft bomb Helsinki, Viipuri, and other cities in Finland from bases in Estonia, marking the outbreak of the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland. Soviet radio denies that Soviet aircraft bombed Finland, however, claiming that the Soviet Air Force had merely dropped bread to starving people in Helsinki, leading the Finns to refer to Soviet bombs as "Molotov's bread-baskets."[26] The Soviets have about 800 aircraft committed to the war as it begins, while the entire Finnish Air Force includes only 96 planes, most of them obsolete; one month's worth of aviation gasoline; and a few batteries of antiaircraft artillery.[27]

DecemberEdit

First flightsEdit

JanuaryEdit

MarchEdit

AprilEdit

MayEdit

JuneEdit

JulyEdit

AugustEdit

SeptemberEdit

OctoberEdit

NovemberEdit

DecemberEdit

Entered serviceEdit

FebruaryEdit

MarchEdit

AugustEdit

OctoberEdit

DecemberEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Francillon, René J., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1979, ISBN 978-0-87021-313-7, p. 21.
  2. Francillon, René J., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1979, ISBN 978-0-87021-313-7, p. 27.
  3. Maurer, Maurer, ed (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 7. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979. http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/Publications/fulltext/af_combat_units_wwii.pdf. 
  4. Thomas, Hugh, The Spanish Civil War, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986, ISBN 978-0-671-75876-9, p. 871-872.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, ISBN 978-0-517-56588-9, p. 263.
  6. Thomas, Hugh, The Spanish Civil War, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986, ISBN 978-0-671-75876-9, p. 890.
  7. Thomas, Hugh, The Spanish Civil War, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986, ISBN 978-0-671-75876-9, p. 892.
  8. Maurer, p. 8.
  9. Murray, Williamson, Strategy for Defeat: The Luftwaffe 1933-1945, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Air University Press, 1983, no ISBN number, p. 16.
  10. Thomas, Hugh, The Spanish Civil War, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986, ISBN 978-0-671-75876-9, pp. 910-911.
  11. Thomas, Hugh, The Spanish Civil War, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986, ISBN 978-0-671-75876-9, p. 912.
  12. The Main Events of the Spanish Civil War
  13. Thomas, Hugh, The Spanish Civil War, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986, ISBN 978-0-671-75876-9, pp. 927, 937, 940, 941, 977, 978, 980-981.
  14. Peattie, Mark R., Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power 1909-1941, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2001, ISBN 978-1-55750-432-6, p. 117-118.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Thomas, Hugh, The Spanish Civil War, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986, ISBN 978-0-671-75876-9, p. 920.
  16. Sturtivant, Ray, British Naval Aviation: The Fleet Air Arm, 1917-1990, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1990, ISBN 0-87021-026-2, p. 32.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Hardesty, Von, Red Phoenix: The Rise of Soviet Air Power 1941-1945, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982, ISBN 978-0-87474-510-8, p. 51.
  18. Guttman, Robert, "Heinkel's Jet Test-Bed," Aviation History, March 2012, p. 15.
  19. Price, Alfred, Luftwaffe: Birth, Life, and Death of an Air Force, New York: Ballantine Books, Inc., 1969, p. 26.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Price, Alfred, Luftwaffe: Birth, Life, and Death of an Air Force, New York: Ballantine Books, Inc., 1969, p. 40.
  21. Hinchcliffe, Peter, The Other Battle: Luftwaffe Night Aces Versus Bomber Command, Edison, New Jersey: Castle Books, 2001, ISBN 978-0-7858-1418-4, p. 26.
  22. Morison, Samuel Eliot, History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II, Volume I: The Battle of the Atlantic September 1939-May 1943, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1988, p. 14.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, p. 156.
  24. Sturtivant, Ray, British Naval Aviation: The Fleet Air Arm, 1917-1990, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1990, ISBN 0-87021-026-2, p. 33.
  25. Sturtivant, Ray, British Naval Aviation: The Fleet Air Arm, 1917-1990, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1990, ISBN 0-87021-026-2, p. 33-34.
  26. Condon, Richard W., The Winter War: Russia Against Finland, New York: Ballantine Books Inc., 1972, p. 7.
  27. Condon, Richard W., The Winter War: Russia Against Finland, New York: Ballantine Books Inc., 1972, pp. 29, 30, 32.
  28. Peattie, Mark R., Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power 1909-1941, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2001, ISBN 978-1-55750-432-6, p. 118.
  29. Thetford, Owen, British Naval Aircraft Since 1912, Sixth Edition, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1991, ISBN 1-55750-076-2, pp. 17, 151-152.
  30. Donald, David, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997, ISBN 978-0-7607-0592-6, p. 80.
  31. Hinchcliffe, Peter, The Other Battle: Luftwaffe Night Aces Versus Bomber Command, Edison, New Jersey: Castle Books, 2001, ISBN 978-0-7858-1418-4, p. 27.
  32. Francillon, René J., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1979, ISBN 978-0-87021-313-7, pp. 451, 453.
  33. Francillon, René J., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1979, ISBN 978-0-87021-313-7, pp. 207, 569.
  34. Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, pp. 169-170.
  35. Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, ISBN 978-0-517-56588-9, p. 388.
  36. Francillon, René J., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1979, ISBN 978-0-87021-313-7, pp. 364, 570.
  37. Donald, David, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997, ISBN 0-7607-0592-5, p. 65.
  38. Francillon, René J., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1979, ISBN 978-0-87021-313-7, p. 146, 570.
  39. Francillon, René J., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1979, ISBN 978-0-87021-313-7, p. 179.
  40. Francillon, René J., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1979, ISBN 978-0-87021-313-7, p. 103.
  41. Donald, David, ed., The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1997, ISBN 978-0-7607-0592-6, p. 81.
  42. Francillon, René J., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1979, ISBN 978-0-87021-313-7, pp. 224, 567.
  43. Boyne, Walter J., "Unfettered Turkeys," Aviation History, July 2008, p. 47.
  44. Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, ISBN 978-0-517-56588-9, p. 457.
  45. Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, p. 40.
  46. Francillon, René J., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1979, ISBN 978-0-87021-313-7, pp. 378-379.
  47. Francillon, René J., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1979, ISBN 978-0-87021-313-7, p. 170.
  48. Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, pp. 160-161.
  49. Angelucci, Enzo, The American Fighter: The Definitive Guide to American Fighter Aircraft From 1917 to the Present, New York: Orion Books, 1987, p. 92.

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