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Turkey Air Force History 1923-1944

After the foundation of the Republic of Turkey on 29 October 1923 by the great leader Atatürk, the whole world recognized the new Turkish State, its independence and integrity. Efforts were pursued to establish a powerful air force to accommodate to the contemporary aviation, and the following were accomplished towards this goal. The strength of the Air Force Directorate which consisted of 3 air (aircraft) companies, 1 naval air (aircraft) company and 1 air school in 1923 was gradually increased so that the number of air companies and naval air companies reached to 10 and 3 respectively. Furthermore, the companies were directed under the jurisdiction of group commands and air (aircraft) station commands. In 1924, personnel were sent to other countries to receive flight training and in 1925, the air school was reestablished in Eskisehir and the first students graduated in October the same year.

In the years after the Great War, an aircraft factory was built at Kayseri with a license to build American Curtiss Hawk planes. But the Turks also acquired German Heinkel bombers, British Blenheim bombers, American Martin and Vultee bombers, Polish PZL fighters, and French Morane fighters. The Turks also acquired a number of bombers - German Heinkels, British Blenheims and American Martins and Vultees.

In 1928, the Air Force Inspectorate was abolished and the Air Under-Secretariat was established within the structure of the Ministry of Defense. Likewise, the group and air (aircraft) station commands were also abolished and air (aircraft) battalions were established. The above- mentioned air units were affiliated to the Turkish General Staff for operations and training and to Air Under- Secretariat for logistic support. In the same year, the aviation personnel in other specialties and branches than pilots were trained in the schools established to meet the arising requirements.

In addition, personnel were also sent to Italy and the USA for training in 1930. In 1932, air (aircraft) regiments were established and the aviation personnel were considered to be a separate combat arm according to a law, which became effective on 1 July 1932. (Up to this date, the personnel assigned to the air force after being selected from army and navy and trained accordingly were considered to be under the authority of their previous services.) The Turkish aviators began to wear blue uniforms as a symbol of aviation starting from 1933. Air Force Academy was inaugurated in 1937, and on 22 May 1939 air brigades were established.

In 1940 Turkish Air Force, having close to 500 aircraft in the inventory became the most powerful air force of the Balkans and was always maintained in a ready status during the Second World War against a possible conflict. Air brigades were upgraded to division level and called "air divisions".

During Wworld War, Turkey was frequently under pressure to join one side or the other. Until the last days of the conflict, she remained neutral. Consequently, Turkey was able to obtain additional planes from both sides such as German Focke-Wulf 190s, British Hurricanes and American Tomahawks. The Turkish Air Force even acquired a few American B-24 bombers which were interned in Turkey when they made forced landings after the Ploesti raid of 1943. As the fighting raged, Turkey built more air bases and support facilities. Because of all the expansion, the three battalions were raised to division level in 1943, and in 1944 the Air Force was separated from the Army and became an independent service.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:06:36 ZULU