6 years in a nutshell
some general facts...
  • The 10th year of the great U.S. depression
  • In September, the U.S. Army Air Corp consisted of 26,000 men and 800 aircraft. (At the begining of 1939, the U.S. Army Air Corp had 17 B-17 bombers and 40 on order.)
  • In the year 1939 the underdog race horse, Seabiscuit, earned more newspaper column inches than President Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, or Italy's Musolini
  • During this year, the U.S. aircraft industry experienced a sudden boom due to a rush of British and French orders.
  • The third year of war in Asia, the second year of war in Europe (France fell to Germany in June), and the 11th year of the great United States depression.
  • It is estimated that 45% of white and 90% of black citizens of the U.S. were living in poverty.
  • In international economics and politics, the U.S.A. was isolationist and officially neutral.
  • The United States had repeatedly refused to join the League of Nations and had the highest tarifs on imports in its history.
  • The U.S. Army was #17 in the world with 200,000 men.


  • War planning began in earnest for participation in the war against Hitler's armies in Europe.
  • By December the U.S. Army Air Corp had expanded to 354,000 men and 2,846 aircraft.
  • Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December.

"Now it is impossible for us to lose this war. We now have an ally that has not been vanquished in 3000 years."
- Adolf Hitler (in response to the news of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor)

  • It was decided that the war planners could not commit 230 divisions of Army troops to their war plan as this would jeopardize the home economy.  The number was reduced to 90 divisions (known historically as "the 90 division gamble").
Two immediate results of the 90 division gamble were:
1. The deployment of American land-invasion troops in Europe (which Stalin begged for to divert Nazi armies away from the Russian front) was delayed for over one year.
2. More citizens were available at home for involvement in weapons production.
  • As predicted by Roosevelt, the United States became "the arsenal" of the great war pumping guns, bombs, bullets, ships, planes, tanks and all manner of hardware into the Allied war effort.

August 17, 1942

12 B-17s of the USAAF flew from Grafton Underwood in eastern England. Accompanied by four squadrons of Royal Air Force Spitfire fighters, they flew 200 miles to Rouen, France and dropped 18.5 tons of bombs on a railroad marshaling yard.
Although small in comparison to previous Royal Air Force efforts, this event was a milestone in establishing "war from the air" as the method of warfare preferred by this nation up to the present day.


May - Germany's surrender.

September - Japan's surrender

Some mortality statistics of the war:

Great Britain











6,000,000 (5,000,000 Jewish)






It should be noted that the United States was the only nation involved in World War II that did not experience a decline in the general standard of living.  As an example: while the civilian standard of living in Great Britain declined by approximately 35%, the average U.S. citizen experienced a 15% increase in living standard between 1940 and 1945.

"The United States stand at the summit of the world."
- Winston Churchill - 1945

The10 years following World War II brought the U.S. into full bloom as a world power - a position this nation has now maintained for over 60 years.

"The post war generation experienced the longest
moment of collective inebriation in history."

- Author Phillip Roth

Ralph Lipper B-24 Liberator Don Pierce
Flying 8-balls Mighty 8th AF Sky Scorpions
random photos-a the air crews 389th BG aircraft
random photos-b Ploesti, Romania Ole Irish
lifestyle hazards Aviator's diary waist gunner
sources / books / links U.S. before the war 389th BG stories
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