World Aviation in 1940

20 January
The Brazilian Air Force, originally founded in 1908 as the Brazilian Army Balloon Corp, adopts its current title, Fôrça Aeréa Brasileira.

1 February
The Southern Rhodesian government forms Southern Rhodesian Air Services.

26 February
The United States War Department forms the United States Air Defense Command to integrate defences against possible air attack.

12 March
Finland capitulates to Soviet invaders in the Winter War.

25 March
United States Army Air Force (USAAC) contractors are authorised to sell to anti-Axis governments modern types of Army combat aircraft.

26 March
A United States report, reviewing the 1939 civil airline year in the United States records that it was entirely free from any air fatalities.

9 April
German forces overrun and occupy Denmark.

9 April
The German invasion Norway includes the use of paratroop assaults on Oslo and Stavanger.

25 April
The USS Wasp aircraft carrier is commissioned.

10 May
The German invasion of the Low Countries begins. There is extensive use of paratroops and airborne Troops and Belgium’s Fort Eban Emael, considered impregnable, is quickly and easily overcome by glider-borne assault troops. Luftwaffe records show their losses for the first day are 304 gliders destroyed and 51 damaged.

13 May
The Sikorsky VS300 single rotor helicopter, which uses a small rotor at the tail to overcome main rotor torque, makes its first free flight.

14 May
The Rotterdam business centre is bombed during surrender discussions. The raid is an error, as all bomber groups were recalled as soon as the negotiations began, but unfortunately one group failed to receive the recall instructions. The world is shocked by this bombing.

8 July
The first airliner with a pressurised cabin, the Boeing 307 Stratoliner, enters service with Transcontinental Airways on the New York to Burbank in California route.

28 August
The experimental Italian Caproni-Campini N1 monoplane, which is powered by a turbine driven by a piston engine, makes its first flight.

2 September
The United States transfers fifty First World War destroyers to the United Kingdom in exchange for air and naval bases at eight strategic points.

27 September
Germany, Italy and Japan conclude a pact, each pledging total aid to the others.

German Air Force Gruppe Rowehl is instructed to begin high altitude reconnaissance and mapping of western Russia.

26 October
The North American NA73 fighter prototype, better known as the ‘Mustang’, makes its first flight.

11 November
Regia Aeronautica, Italy’s air force, makes its one and only major raid on the United Kingdom.

18 December
The German Henschel Hs293A radio-controlled bomb makes its first flight.