Ho'okele Staff | Jun 16, 2012
* On June 14,1912, after training at the Army Air School in the Philippines, Cpl. Vernon Burge became the Army’s first enlisted pilot.
* On June 16, 1936, Seversky Aircraft Company won the contract to provide P-35 airplanes-the Army’s first all-metal, single-seat fighters with enclosed cockpits and retractable landing gear.
In action against the Japanese in the Philippines early in World War II, P-35s shot down about 60 Ja-panese aircraft and destroyed another 30 on the ground. However, their lack of armor and self-sealing fuel tanks made them vulnerable.
After two days of battle, only a few remained, and those were unfit for combat. The P-35 was the forerunner of the P-47 Thunderbolt.
* On June 16, 1941, the B-24 Liberator, a four-engine bomber that could fly faster and farther than the B-17, entered the Air Corps inventory. B-24s were produced in larger numbers than any other U.S. aircraft and employed on more fronts than any other Allied or enemy bomber in World War
* On June 11,1943, after a month-long aerial bombardment, some 11,000 Italian troops on Pantelleria, an island between Italy and Tunisia, surrendered to the Allies. It was the first large defended area to fall to air power, and allowed the Allied move north from Africa to Sicily and Italy.
* On June 15,1944, 68 B-
29 Superfortresses took off at night from staging bases at Chengdu, China, to bomb the Imperial Iron and Steel Works at Yawata on Kyushu, more than 1,500 miles away.
This was the first raid on the Japanese home islands since the Doolittle attack of April 1942, but they caused little damage because of poor aiming. This mission marked the beginning of the strategic bombardment campaign against Japan. Coincidentally, on this same day the U.S. Marines invaded the Marianas Islands – which would serve as more effective B-29 bases.
* On June 15, 1944, the Far East Air Forces (Provisional) was established at Brisbane, Australia as the single air headquarters in the Southwest Pacific Area. It became Far East Air Forces (FEAF) on June 20, 1944 with War Dept. approval of its designation. FEAF was formally activated on Aug. 3.
Lt. Gen George C. Ken-ney, commander of 5th Air Force, became FEAF’s first commander, and he remained commander until Dec. 30, 1945. FEAF was the predecessor to Pacific Air Forces (PACAF).
* On June 11, 1948, the USAF revised its aircraft designation system. “P” for pursuit changed to “F” for fighter. Thus, the P-51 became the F-51; the P-80 became the F-80, etc.
* On June 16, 1948, Col. Geraldine May became the first director of Women in the Air Force. The WAF program ended in 1976 when women were put on an equal basis with men in the USAF.
* On June 11, 1957, the first U-2 high-altitude, long-range reconnaissance aircraft was delivered to the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. The U-2 could fly 10-hour missions at exceptionally high altitudes.
* On June 16, 1963, Jr. Lt. Valentina Tereshkova , a Soviet cosmonaut, became the first woman in space with her three-day flight on Vostok 6. Twenty years later, on June 18, 1983, Sally K. Ride became the first U.S. woman in space. She was a crew member on Challenger during the seventh space-shuttle mission.
* On June 16,1966, a Titan IIIC boosted seven experimental communications satellites and one gravity-gradient satellite into orbit 18,000 nautical miles above the equator. The satellites demonstrated the feasibility of a global military communications satellite system.
* On June 17,1968, the first C-9 Nightingale aeromedical-evacuation aircraft rolled out at McDonnell Douglas Corporation, Long Beach, Calif.