In the summer of 1941 GHQ AF had decided to establish commands to direct its air support mission in each numbered air force, plus one additional command reporting directly to GHQ AF. These commands would be manned from inactivating wings, and would initially control only observation squadrons, which would be transferred from the control of the corps and divisions, although they would remain attached to these ground units.1st Air Force organized 1st Air Support Command at Mitchel Field, New York in September 1941, drawing its personnel and equipment from the 7th Pursuit Wing, which was simultaneously inactivated.
New observation groups were formed, with a cadre drawn from National Guard squadrons that had been mobilized in 1940 and 1941. During the Carolina Maneuvers of 1941, the command was attached to First Army. Unlike the opposing force, the command posts of the air and ground elements were located together, and the commander of the air support command doubled as the air staff officer of the ground force commander. The opposing force command posts were separated by sixty miles, which enabled greater freedom of action and use of airpower more aggressively.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor the command came under the control of the Eastern Theater of Operations and flew antisubmarine patrols off the east coast. However, by early 1942, the command's first commander William E. Kepner, like two of the other commanders of air support commands had moved overseas, and similar demands led GHQ AF to believe it had little more than the "remnants" of the command remaining. However, in May, the Army Air Forces (AAF) reaffirmed that each of the continental numbered air forces would have an air support command and the command's manning was brought back up. Although most of the command's observation units were withdrawn form antisubmarine operations in June 1942, the command continued limited antisubmarine patrols until 15 October 1942, when Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command took over the mission.
The AAF determined that its continental air forces would specialize in their training operations and that all their air support commands would be reassigned to Third Air Force. In August 1942, the command was one of the first reassigned to Third Air Force.
It trained light bombardment crews, participated in air-ground maneuvers, and demonstrated air support techniques, September 1941-May 1944. Trained reconnaissance personnel and organizations, May 1944 – 1946.
Constituted as the 1st Air Support Command on 21 August 1941
Activated on 4 September 1941
Redesignated 1st Ground Air Support Command c. 30 April 1942
Redesignated I Air Support Command c. 18 September 1942
Redesignated I Tactical Air Division on 28 August 1943
Redesignated III Tactical Air Division c. 15 April 1944
Redesignated III Reconnaissance Command c. 1 June 1945
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