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WWII Patch, AAF, US Panama Canal Zone Base Weather SQ., Panama Canal Zone

WWII Patch, AAF, US Panama Canal Zone Base Weather SQ., Panama Canal Zone

Product Information
WWII US Army Air Force Squadron Patch
USAAF US Panama Canal Zone Base Weather SQ., Panama Canal Zone
Walt Disney Design
4 7/8 inches

Providing important weather information to Fighter Fighting Bomb Bombing Bomber Bombardment squadrons.

Just as a ground commander must know the terrain over which his troops and supplies move, so did the successful air commander of World War II depend upon uninterrupted and fresh intelligence regarding the atmospheric “terrain” in which his forces operated. The vertical dimension of his three-dimensional battlefield was no less significant than its length and breadth. Atmospheric conditions thousands of feet above the ground determined the pathways open to his aircraft, and weather hundreds of miles away could be of greater military significance than a storm over his own headquarters. For this indispensable information the air commander relied on the delicate instruments and skilled personnel of his weather services. By the end of the war those services had come almost to be taken for granted, so much so that little thought was any longer given to the near-miracle they represented.

When the war began, modern meteorology, with its special dependence for the purposes of weather forecasting upon analytical study of the movement of air masses, was still a youthful branch of scientific investigation. Its principles and techniques had been developed first by the Scandinavians as a result of having been shut off from customary weather intelligence by the combatant powers in the first World War. The new approach began to influence meteorological studies in American universities and technical institutes only in the later years of the 1920’s, just in time to serve the needs of a rapidly growing commercial air transport system. Systematic and scientific weather reporting was still limited very largely to the European and North American segments of the globe, and wartime interruptions of normal opportunities for communication promised increased difficulty in efforts to extend adequate weather services into more than one strategically.

The most impressive achievement of the AAF Weather Service was the extension of its vital activity overseas. That story falls naturally into two parts: (1) the extension of weather services eastward across the Atlantic to battle stations in Europe and Africa and thence across the Middle East to India, Burma, and China and (2) the extension of these same services westward from the United States across the Pacific.

Early flights along the South Atlantic air route depended very largely for weather intelligence upon the meteorologists of Panair do Brasil, subsidiary of Pan American Airways. During 1941 the AAF activated nine weather stations in Puerto Rico, Panama, the Canal Zone, British Guiana, the Virgin Islands, and the British West Indies. But when war came, just after the establishment of the 6th Weather Region,* the AAF still operated a very incomplete service, and shortages of equipment and personnel continued for several months thereafter to plague responsible officers. Local training of edited forecasters at Albrook Field in the Canal Zone provided some help in meeting the shortage of personnel. Gradually, needed equipment came through, and the creation of a 9th Weather Region in July 1942 helped to solve administrative problems attendant upon an expanding service to ATC and tactical units flying out by way of Brazil to Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East.

Albrook Air Force Station

Albrook Air Force Station is a former United States Air Force facility in Panama. It was closed on 30 September 1997 as a result of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties which specified that United States military facilities in the former Panama Canal Zone be closed and the facilities be turned over to the Panamanian government. It was located on the east side of the Panama Canal just south of Fort Clayton and north of the township of Balboa, Panama.

Major commands to which assigned
    * Panama Canal Department, 1932- 19 October 1940
    * Panama Canal Air Force, 19 October 1940 - 5 August 1941
    * Caribbean Air Force, 5 August 1941 - 18 September 1942
    * Sixth Air Force, 18 September 1942 - 31 July 1946

After World War I, it became apparent to military planners that air power, especially naval air power, constituted a serious threat to the safety of the Panama Canal. The one existing airfield (France Field) was too small, had a poor landing surface, offered no room for expansion, and provided little defense for the Pacific entrance to the Canal. Construction for an air base at Albrook Field was authorized by Congress in 1928, and $1.9 million was appropriated. Actual construction began in 1930 and most was completed in 1932. Albrook Army Airfield was commissioned in April 1932 as an active air field.

The original construction program at Albrook left out several buildings necessary for efficient flight operations, including a headquarters building. As money could be secured throughout the 1930s, seven buildings were added to the base. In addition, the runways were unsuitable for all-weather flying and had to be improved.

By the mid-1930s, advances in naval aviation (primarily aircraft carriers) and increasingly long-range bombers had again made plain the inadequacies of Canal air defense. Plans to significantly expand Air Corps strength had been around since 1934, essentially proposing a system of outlying bases supported by pursuit and bombardment aircraft. It was 1939, however, before these plans began to be realized. Congressional authorization and $50 million in funding were forthcoming that year for improving Canal defenses. Since a large part of the expansion program was a vast increase in manpower, much of the new construction involved housing at existing bases. In addition, a new airfield (Howard Field) was authorized for the west bank of the Pacific entrance to the Canal. The majority of the expansion program construction was completed by early 1942.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the number of troops in Panama was sharply increased. The newly established Caribbean Defense Command carried out its mission of Canal defense through a widespread net of naval and air reconnaissance, with the greatest threat coming from German U-boats. By April 1943, the threat to the Canal was diminishing, defense status was downgraded, and a reduction in troop strength began.

Albrook Field became Albrook Air Force Base on March 26, 1948, by the Department of the Air Force General Order Number 10.

Major units assigned
 * 16th Pursuit (later Fighter) Group
    24th Pursuit (later Fighter) Squadron, 26 October 1932 - 10 January 1943; 28 May-9 June 1943
    28th Pursuit Squadron, 1 February - 5 October 1940
    29th Pursuit (later Fighter) Squadron, 1 October 1933 - 17 May 1942
    43d Pursuit (later Fighter) Squadron, 1 February 1940 - 13 July 1942
    73d Pursuit Squadron, 1 October 1933 - 14 July 1941
    78th Pursuit Squadron, 15 October 1932 - 1 September 1937
* 19th Composite Wing, 25 January 1933
    Redesignated 19th Wing, 1937
    Redesignated 19th Bombardment Wing, 1940 - 25 October 1941
* 37th Pursuit (later Fighter) Group
    30th Pursuit Squadron, 13 November 1940-24 November 1941
    31st Pursuit (later Fighter) Squadron, 13 November 1940-9 November 1941; 31 December 1941-3 February 1942; 19 May-30 September 1942
* Headquarters, Panama Canal Air Force, 20 November 1940
    Redesignated: Caribbean Air Force. August 5, 1941
    Redesignated: 6th Air Force, September 18, 1942
    Redesignated: Caribbean Air Command, July 31, 1946
    Redesignated: United States Air Forces Southern Command July 8, 1963-1 January 1976
* 12 Pursuit Wing, 10 November 1940-6 March 1942
* 32d Pursuit (later Fighter) Group
    51st Pursuit Squadron, 1 January-21 August 1941
    52d Pursuit Squadron, 1 January-21 August 1941
    53d Pursuit Squadron, 1 January-21 August 1941
* VI Bomber Command, 25 October 1941-1 November 1946
* XXVI Fighter Command, 6 March 1942 - 25 August 1946
* 1st Communications Squadron, Air Support, 23 April 1942-April 1943
* 40th Bombardment Group, 16 September 1942 - 3 June 1943
* 6th Bombardment Group, 14 January - 1 November 1943
* Sixth Air Force Base Command
    20th Troop Carrier Squadron, 9 June 1943-September 1948
* 1st Depot Repair Squadron, 6 May 1943-7 December 1944

Price: $115.00

Product Code: PatchAAF.0000.USPanamaCanalZoneBaseWeatherSQ.PanamaCanalZone
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