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Air Force unit histories and related historical documents

Various Air Force organizations prepared and submitted Unit Histories periodically since the establishment of the Air Force History Program in 1942. Reporting requirements changed from time to time over the years and the submissions vary in quality.

The coverage provided by unit histories is supplemented by special collections, including historical monographs and studies; oral history interview transcripts; End-of-Tour Reports; personal papers of retired general officers and other Air Force personnel; reference materials on the early period of military aviation; course materials of the Air Corps Tactical School of the 1920s and 1930s; working documents of various joint and combined commands; miscellaneous documents or collections of various organizations, including the U.S. Army, British Air Ministry, and German Air Force; USAF individual aircraft record cards; and a large collection of material relating to USAF activities in the war in Southeast Asia and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

These materials are available at the at the Air Force Historical Studies Office in Washington, D.C. and here at the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell AFB, AL. Researchers can request reference assistance, or request permission to visit the agencies and use these materials in person.

Many of these materials can be purchased from AFHRA on 16mm microfilm. For further information, phone: (334) 953-2395 or DSN 493-2395, complete and submit the form at Contact Us, e-mail AFHRANEWS@maxwell.af.mil, or write to AFHRA/ISAM, 600 Chennault Circle, Bldg 1405 Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6424

Additional information may be available from the following organizations:
NARA - National Archives and Records Administration
DTIC - Defense Technical Information Center
NTIS - National Technical Information Service

Copies of visual materials (photos, videos, maps, etc.)

For still photographs:

Prior to 1981:
National Archives and Records Administration
Still Picture Branch
Attn: NNSP
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
Phone 301-713-6660
Contact: Fred Pernell
1982 to Present:

Defense Visual Information Center
Attn: Still Media Operations
1363 Z Street, Bldg 2730
March AFB, CA 92518-2717
Phone: 909-413-2550 

For motion pictures, recordings, and videos:

National Archives and Records Administration
Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch
ATTN: NNSM
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
Phone 301-713-7060 

Defense Visual Information Center
1363 Z Street, Bldg 2730
March AFB, CA 92518-2717
Phone: 909-413-2550

For aerial photographs and maps: 

National Archives and Records Administration
Cartographic Reference Branch
ATTN: NNSC
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
Phone 301-713-7040

Individual Aircraft Record Cards

We and the AFHSO maintain individual aircraft record cards for almost all aircraft once or presently in the United States Air Force inventory. The records for many aircraft of the early 1920s and for aircraft in highly sensitive reconnaissance programs are not available. Each set of aircraft records has its own unique characteristics, but for most planes one may learn the manufacturer, place of production, date of entry into the inventory, units of assignment, duty stations, and something of the final disposition.

Aircraft Accident Reports are also available through 1955.

Information on Korean War, Cold War, and Vietnam-era POWs/MIAs

Library of Congress Vietnam Era POW/MIA Database: established to assist researchers interested in investigating the U.S. Government documents pertaining to U.S. military personnel listed as unaccounted for as of December 1991.

Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO): Established in 1993 and located in Crystal City, Virginia, the DPMO serves as the central point in all policy matters on the POW/MIA issue within the Department of Defense (DoD). This site maintains a list of other official POW/MIA links as well.

Task Force Russia Documents: The Federal Research Division maintains the documents from Task Force Russia, which attempted to locate Americans thought to have been held in the former Soviet Union.

Information on Veteran's Health Concerns

General Health Information
PDHealth.mil is a Department of Defense website designed to provide post-deployment health information for Veterans and their families.
General information regarding Veteran's Administration Health Programs and Initiatives is available here.

Agent Orange
The Air Force Health Study was directed by Congress in late 1978 to address concerns among Vietnam War veterans about the consequences of exposure to Agent Orange and its contaminant 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (dioxin).

The Veteran's Administration National Toll-Free Hotline for Agent Orange answers questions about Agent Orange Exposure, health care, and benefits at (800) 749-8387. VA representatives staff the hotline from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., CST, and there is a 24-hour automated system at other hours.

The VA has established an Agent Orange Web Page.

PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder)
The mission of the National Center for PTSD is to advance the clinical care and social welfare of America's veterans through research, education, and training in the science, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD and stress-related disorders.

Specialized PTSD Treatment Programs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are described at http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/index.asp

A fact sheet on Veteran's Administration Programs for Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is available here.

The mission of the U.S. Armed Services Center for Research of Unit Records (CRUR) PTSD unit is to provide documented information to support veterans' involvement in stressful incidents while serving in the military. They do not provide general historical documentation nor copies of records for large periods of time without specific incident. CRUR is also responsible for the maintenance and operation of the Gulf War Declassification database and the Department of Defense Persian Gulf Registry in support of the Office of Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses and other scientific agencies.

Mustard Gas
The Veteran's Administration has posted a fact sheet on Mustard Gas exposure. For further information, call the VA at 1-800-827-1000 or contact the following agencies:

Headquarters US Army Material Command
5001 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22233
703-617-6657

Defense Manpower Data Center
1600 Wilson Blvd., Suite 400
Arlington, VA 22209
703-696-7403

Missing Air Crew Reports (MACR)s

During World War II the U.S. Army Air Forces (AAF) required group echelon units to submit Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) to AAF headquarters within two days after an aircraft or air crew failed to return from a combat mission. AAF HQ directed the various group headquarters to submit a MACR for all incidents involving the loss of air crew members during combat operations irrespective of the number of crew members lost. For example, heavy bomber groups would submit a MACR when an aircraft returned from a mission with fewer than the usual ten crew members. In the event an entire crew failed to return, a report was submitted to AAF HQ describing the events prior to the loss of the aircraft. Likewise, fighter groups would submit MACRs when the pilots of single seat aircraft failed to return after a mission.

The information contained in a typical MACR includes a date, time, and location that the crew and aircraft were last seen or reported missing from the formation. Details about aircraft incidents were taken from statements given by crew members from other aircraft flying in the same formation. These statements usually mentioned whether any parachutes were seen to have opened and how many airmen exited the aircraft before it crashed. The names of the missing air crew member(s) were listed by crew position, rank, serial number, and known status such as MIA or POW.

Additional information included in the MACR is the aircraft AAF serial (tail) number; nickname or squadron identification letter; and the type, model, and serial number of the engine(s) or machine gun(s). The name of the assigned air base and numbered unit (squadron, group, or air force) to which an aircraft belonged also appears in the MACR.

The Air Force Historical Studies Office in Washington, D.C. maintains MACRs on microfiche. Copies of these reports are provided to veterans and their family members upon written request. When submitting requests for MACRs from AFHSO, write to the following address: AF/HOH, Reference and Analysis Division, 3 Brookley Avenue, Box 94, Bolling AFB, DC 20032-5000. You may also email your request here.  
Please include your full postal address if you request that we send you print items!

The National Archives and Records Administration maintains MACRs on 16 mm microfilm and provides copies to public and private researchers for a nominal fee. When submitting requests for MACRs from NARA, write to the following address: NARA/NNR2, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001 or call 301-713-7250 ext. 382.

The AFHRA has several numerical listings compiled from the AAF unit records which may be used to find the corresponding MACR number for crew members failing to return from combat missions when the following information is known: aircraft serial number and type, date when aircrew became missing, assigned unit, machine gun serial number(s), or engine serial number(s).

These numerical listings are also available for purchase on 16 mm microfilm from the AFHRA. When requesting microfilm, use the following address:

HQ AFHRA/RS
600 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112-6424.

Consider these guidelines when placing orders for microfilm:

AFHRA call number 134.67-1562, microfilm roll A1114, frames 559 to 1137 contain information arranged numerically by Army Air Forces aircraft serial number.

AFHRA call number 134.67-1562A, microfilm roll A1114, frames 1140 to 1479 contain information arranged chronologically by the date when the aircrew member(s) became missing.

AFHRA call number 134.67-1562B, microfilm rolls A1114 and A1115 contain information arranged numerically by machine gun serial numbers for European and Mediterranean Theaters of Operations.
Volume 1 (serials 648229 to 686963), roll A1114, frames 1482 to 1502.
Volume 2 (serials 686968 to 1085953), roll A1115, frames 4 to 755.
Volume 3 (serials 1152628 to 1992444), roll A1115, frames 758 to 1394.

AFHRA call number 134.67-1562C, microfilm roll A1115, frames 1397 to 1720 contain information arranged in three miscellaneous parts.
Alpha-numerical listing by aircraft type, model, and series.
Numerically by machine gun serial numbers (1087948 to 1090850).
Numerically by engine serial numbers (6263 to 13277).

AFHRA call number 134.67-1585, microfilm roll A1116, frames 4 to 651 contain information arranged numerically by engine serial numbers for European and Mediterranean Theaters of Operations.

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