The Fourteenth Air Force operated from bases in China, supporting the Chinese army against the Japanese. The Fourteenth Air Force was created at the start of 1943 largely at the suggestion of Major General Claire L. Chennault. He had been involved in the war in China even before the United States entered the war, as the commander of the Flying Tigers. He was then brought under the command of the Tenth Air Force, which had authority of all American air operations in China and India. Although Chennault had command of the semi-independent China Air Task Force, he still came under the overall control of officers based in India. Chennault's request for a separate Air Force was opposed by many in the military hierarchy, including Generals Marshall and Arnold, but he had the support of Chiang Kai-shek. President Roosevelt decided in favour of Chennault, and the Fourteenth Air Force was officially activated on 10 March 1943.
The Fourteenth was never a large force - at its peak it only contained seven groups, although it did operate with the Chinese Air Force and the Chinese-American Composite Wing. It began life with the 23rd Fighter Group, created from the Flying Tigers, the 51st Fighter Group, inherited from the Tenth Air Force, and the 341st Bombardment, newly created.
The main duty of the Fourteenth Air Force was to cooperate with the Chinese to prevent the Japanese Army completing its conquest of China. The force also had to defend the Chinese end of the Hump, the air supply route across the Himalayas from India. Its bombardment Groups also operated against Japanese shipping. Earlier plans for a heavy bomber campaign against Japan from bases in China were placed in the hands of the Twentieth Air Force, but were abandoned after a short period.
The main restriction on size of the Fourteenth Air Force was the hump. It was particularly difficult to fly aviation fuel across the mountains, with flights often consuming more fuel than they delivered.
Major General Claire L. Chennault: 10 March 1943
Major General Charles B Stone III: 10 August-31 December 1945
|5 March 1943||Constituted as Fourteenth Air Force|
|10 March 1943||Activated in China|
|March 1943-end of war||Operated against Japanese in China|
|December 1945||Begins to return to United States|
|Inactivated||6 January 1946|
|308th Bombardment Group||1943-1945|