5 Replies Latest reply on Jun 1, 2019 7:29 PM by Jason Andrew

    Research Advice - 8th Air Force

    Peter Lawless Newbie

      Hello!

       

      I am new to History Hub and historical research in general.  I am an avid student of World War 2 history.  I want to create an online learning tool that will allow users to explore the story of the air war from the highest strategic level down to personal anecdotes.  I am starting with the 8th Air Force as the scope of this project but it could easily be expanded to cover other commands.  I believe the first step is to obtain mission reports and comb them for data like date, target, aircraft loadout, the route taken to the target, etc.  I have looked at other online resources but none of them have the level of detail I am looking for.

       

      I know NARA has the mission reports, but it does not look like they are available online.  Does this mean I will have to go to College Park to physically scan the documents I need, or is there another way to obtain them?  Are there other resources apart from NARA that would have copies of the mission reports or other official histories that contain the information I need?

       

      Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

        • Re: Research Advice - 8th Air Force
          Elliot Schneider Tracker

          Peter,

           

          I actually just did this for the 9th AF, please use the information below to aid you in your search.

           

          The original paper copy from which the film was created is still in the custody of the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) and has been declassified. For access to these records, please contact AFHRA, 600 Chennault Circle, Building 1405, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL  36112-6424. The web site is https://www.afhra.af.mil/

           

          Thanks,

           

          Elliot Schneider

          3 of 3 people found this helpful
            • Re: Research Advice - 8th Air Force
              Peter Lawless Newbie

              Thank you!  Did you have to travel to Maxwell AFB to conduct your research, or did they digitize the records?  Also, just out of curiosity, what did you do with your research?

               

               

              Thanks again!

               

              Peter

                • Re: Research Advice - 8th Air Force
                  Elliot Schneider Tracker

                  Peter,

                   

                  No I did not have to go there, and yes they did have digitized copies of what I needed. You may have to describe what your looking for. When these records were digitized they were not in any particular order. So when you receive 2800 pages of digitized material like I did you will spend hours looking for information you need. It's nice but when they digitized they did keep any order. Mostly concerned in those days on completing the task. My research was for family information, my mother's mom, my grandmother her two brothers designed what would later becoming known as the black out chair. When WW2 came around the two brothers were sitting on a gold mind not even knowing it. Then when they went to get drafted they told the military officials about this design they had created. So instead of being drafted they got to choose the branch of their choice and MOS, in return they had to hand over the design. Which was the Air Corps or AF

                   

                  Thanks,

                   

                  Elliot Schneider

                  2 of 2 people found this helpful
              • Re: Research Advice - 8th Air Force
                Rebecca Collier Ranger

                Dear Mr. Lawless,

                 

                Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

                 

                The series World War II Combat Operations Reports, 1941 - 1946 (also referred to as Mission Reports) in the Records of the Army Air Forces (Record Group 18) consists mostly of units of the Eighth Air Force.  A file listing is available when you click on the series name and then the phrase “53751 file unit(s) described in the catalog” in the details section of the series description. These records have not been digitized and only are available for viewing in person. For access to this series, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.

                 

                As stated by Mr. Schneider, many of the additional historical and operational records of the Eighth Air Force have been microfilmed by the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA). The National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) has a copy of the microfilm. For access to the microfilm, please use the index to the Air Force History microfilm available at http://www.airforcehistoryindex.org/

                 

                To conduct your search for Eighth Air Force records, please enter FORCE/0008/AIR in the search window of the index and narrow your search by including 12/7/1941 in the Start Date and 12/31/1945 in the End Date before clicking the Search button. The results should be 2,578 records. Read the brief Abstract to determine which records you are interested in and click on the specific PDF icon. In the PDF listing, the IRISREF is the microfilm reel number and note the FRAME and FRAMELST numbers for the location on the reel. If the reel number begins with A, B or C, please contact RDT2 via email at archives2reference@nara.gov for access to them.

                 

                If the reel number begins with D - Z, the microfilm is still security classified and RDT2 will not be able to make the reel available to you. The original paper copy from which the film was created is still in the custody of the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) and has been declassified. For access to these records, please contact AFHRA, 600 Chennault Circle, Building 1405, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL  36112-6424. The web site is https://www.afhra.af.mil/. They also have custody of the Army Air Force general orders.

                 

                We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

                2 of 2 people found this helpful
                • Re: Research Advice - 8th Air Force
                  Jason Andrew Adventurer

                  Just to give you some additional suggestions, the following institutions have some great content, to include oral histories and other material collected directly from veterans and their kin.

                  The American Air Museum in Britain

                   

                  National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force


                  You might also be interested in An American Family in World War II edited by Sandra O'Connell and Harry Butowsky based on the letters of Ralph Minker, who served in the 8th Air Force.  Not only is the book interesting in and of itself, but the authors are a wealth of knowledge about the 8th Air Force and might be able to assist you or at least give additional suggestions.