Continental Air Forces (CAF) was a United States Army Air Forces major command, active from 1944-1946. It was tasked with combat training of bomber and fighter personnel, and for Continental United States (CONUS) air defense after the Aircraft Warning Corps and Ground Observer Corps were placed in standby during 1944. CAF conducted planning for the postwar United States general surveillance radar stations, and the planning to reorganize to a separate USAF was for CAF to become the USAF Air Defense Command (ADC was headquartered at CAF's Mitchel Field instead of the CAF HQ at Bolling Field.) On 21 March 1946, CAF headquarters personnel and facilities at Bolling Field, along with 1 of the 4 CAF Air Forces (2AF—which had its HQ inactivated on 30 March) became Strategic Air Command. US Strategic Air Forces of WWII, e.g., Eighth Air Force and Fifteenth Air Force, transferred later to SAC. Most of the CAF airfields that had not been distributed to other commands when SAC activated were subsequently transferred to Air Defense Command (to which CAF's First & Fourth Air Forces were assigned on 21 March), Tactical Air Command (Third Air Force), and Air Materiel Command between March 1946 and March 1947.
On 16 January 1941, four Air Districts were established (NE, NW, SE, & SW). The air districts handled air defense, "organization and training of bomber, fighter and other units and crews for assignments overseas," and training maneuvers with the Army Ground Forces. The four districts were redesignated on 26 March 1941 as the First Air Force, Second Air Force, Third Air Force, & Fourth Air Force
CAF was "activated 12 December 1944" at Andrews Field with "Brigadier General Eugene H. Beebe in command" and the "4 continental air forces" as components (First Air Force through Fourth Air Force) which consolidated the CONUS air defense mission under one command. In August 1945 CAF was assigned the AAF Radar Bomb Scoring mission for bomber training/evaluation when Mitchel Field's 63d Army Air Force Base Unit transferred to CAF. CAF's air defense mission was documented "in AAF Regulation 20-1, dated 15 September 1945."
Planning to reorganize for a separate USAF had begun by fall 1945 Simpson Board to plan "the reorganization of the Army and the Air Force". In January 1946 "Generals Eisenhower and Spaatz agreed on an Air Force organization [composed of] the Strategic Air Command, the Air Defense Command, the Tactical Air Command, the Air Transport Command and the supporting Air Technical Service Command, Air Training Command, the Air University, and the Air Force Center."
The Continental Air Forces reorganization began by 31 January 1946 when Abilene Army Airfield was closed. On 16 October 1945 CAF's Muroc Field was transferred from CAF to Air Technical Service Command. Moody Army Airfield transferred to AAF Training Command on 1 November 1945. CAF's Bolling Field was assigned control of Andrews Field on 3 January 1946 and also Richmond Army Air Base on 2 February 1946.
Tyndall Field transferred quickly to Continental Air Forces on 28 Feb 46, then TAC, and the Air University (15 May 1946).  CAF had 13 bombardment groups transferred to its numbered air forces just before it was disestablished, e.g., 40th,[failed verification] 44th (2 AF), the 93d, 444th, 448th (became 92d), 449th, 467th (effectively became 301st), 485th, and 498th (became 307th). There was also the 58th Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy;[verification needed] and also active was the 73d Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy.
Interceptor and radar network plans at CAF HQ were passed on to ADC. CAF installations reassigned on 21 March 1946 included Grandview transferred to the Army Division Engineers, Mitchel Field to ADC, and both Tyndall Field and Army Air Base, Knob Knoster, to TAC. After the HQ transfer to SAC on 21 March, numerous CAF airfields transferred to TAC, ADC, and AMC from 23 March 1946 to 16 March 1947:
Air Defense Command's first Cold War network was the Lashup Radar Network, which was replaced by the Permanent System that included an improved search radar, which had been recommended by CAF. CAF's studies for computerized Aircraft Warning and Control were developed into the 1950s Lincoln Transition System that became the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment.
Continental Air Forces was superseded by Strategic Air Command in 1946. In 1992 SAC was inactivated. On 7 August 2009 SAC was redesignated as Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), and activated, that same day. In 2020 AFGSC retained the nuclear deterrence and nuclear strike mission.
Continental Air Forces had executed...all Army Air Forces' responsibilities in the Zone of the Interior, including the redeployment of air power from the European to the Pacific Theater, the air defense of the United States, joint air-ground training, and the formation and command of a Continental Strategic Reserve on completion of redeployment. During the last four months of 1945 the Continental Air Forces had also been responsible for the demobilization of Army Air Forces personnel stationed in the Zone of the Interior.Dated 21 March tbd--declassified 11 October 1991.
|volume=has extra text (help)
Continental Air Forces, activated 12 December 1944, had been assigned the mission of continental air defense upon activation ... 26 July - United States Air Force created as co-equal of the Army and Navy.
On 24 July 1945, the 206th was redesignated the 63rd AAFBU (RBS) and three weeks later was moved to Mitchell Field, New York, and placed under the command of the Continental Air Force.
In November 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower became Army Chief of Staff. One of General Eisenhower’s first actions was to appoint a board of officers, headed by Lieutenant General W. H. Simpson, to prepare a definitive plan for the reorganization of the Army and the Air Force that could be effected without enabling legislation and would provide for the separation of the Air Force from the Army.
|volume=has extra text (help)