World Aviation in 1942

January – May
German troops cut off by Soviet forces at Kholm are re-supplied by air by using DFS230 and Go242 transport gliders (sailplanes) in the first large scale air supply of Germany’s own forces behind enemy lines.

1 January
The United Nations Declaration is signed. The name United Nations is adopted by the Allied coalition against Axis forces.

13 January
The first emergency aircraft ejection is made by the German Major Schenk when ejects from a Heinkel He280 Jet fighter prototype when it crashes at Rechlin following problems with heavy icing. He ejects at 7,875 feet and makes a safe landing.

1 February
The first United States carrier offensive is made by the USS Enterprise and USS Yorktown. Their aircraft attack Japanese targets on several of the Marshall and Gilbert Islands.

11-12 February
The German battle-cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the cruiser Prinz Eugen leave Brest and escape through the English Channel. They are provided with a strong Luftwaffe air umbrella during the passage.

19 February
The first air attack on Australia takes place when Japanese bombers attack shipping in the harbour at Port Darwin.

22 February
The first United States Army Air Force (USAAF) headquarters in Europe are established in the United Kingdom with Brigadier General I.C. Eaker commanding.

16 March
Japanese aircraft bomb targets at Port Darwin in Australia.

27 March
The United States Navy (USN) is given sole charge of anti-submarine warfare off the United States coastline.

2 April
The 10th United States Army Air Force (USAAF) makes its first combat operation when heavy bombers attack shipping in the Andaman Islands.

2-9 April
Japanese carrier aircraft operate off the coast of Ceylon and India.

6 April
Japanese carrier aircraft make the first air attack on India.

12 April
United States Army Air Force (USAAF) Boeing B17 Flying Fortresses and North American B25 Mitchells based in Australia make the first attack against Japanese shipping and installations in the Philippines.

18 April
In a one-way attack on Tokyo, sixteen North American B25 Mitchells led by Lieutenant Colonel J.H. Doolittle are flown off the carrier USS Hornet, some 400 miles off the Japanese mainland. Following the attack, the aircraft are forced land in China.

22 April
Assam, Burma, China Ferry Command is established to air ferry supplies into China over the Himalayas (The Hump).

7-8 May
The Battle of Coral Sea is fought. This is the first naval action to be fought by opposing carrier-based aircraft where the surface ships on both sides never sight the enemy. The United States Navy (USN) loses USS Lexington and 69 aircraft and the Japanese lose Shoho and 85 aircraft and Shokaku is also damaged.

10 May
USS Ranger, operating off the west African Gold Coast flies off sixty United States Army Air Force (USAAF) Curtiss P40 aircraft to Accra. They are then flown on by stages, to 10th USAAF in India.

2 June – 4 July
A costly but successful German assault on Sevastopol takes place, supported by concentrated German Air Force bombing attacks.

3-4 June
The Battle of Midway is fought. The Japanese carriers Akagi, Hiryu, Kaga and Soryu are sunk by United States carrier-based aircraft and the United States Navy (USN) loses the carrier USS Yorktown. This is one of the decisive battles of the Second World War. as the Japanese Navy is deprived of much of its carrier force and, prevented from taking the initiative, it is forced back onto the defensive.

12 June
Twelve United States Air Force (USAF) Consolidated B24 Liberator bombers make an unsuccessful attack on the Romanian oil refineries at Ploesti.

18 June
Major General Carl Spaatz is appointed to command the 8th United States Army Air Force (USAAF) in the United Kingdom.

1 July
The first Boeing B17 Flying Fortress for the 8th United States Army Air Force (USAAF) lands at Prestwick in Scotland.

7-8 August
With considerable early air cover United States Marines begin landings on Guadalcanal.

17 August
The United States Army Air Force (USAAF) makes its first European heavy bomber raid of the Second World War. Boeing B17 Flying Fortresses of the 97th Bombardment Group attack Rouen-Scotteville marshalling yards in occupied France.

20 August
The 12th United States Army Air Force (USAAF) is activated at Bolling Field in Washington DC in preparation for the invasion of North Africa.

A Yokosuka E14Y1 (Glen) light submarine-borne reconnaissance floatplane is launched from the Japanese submarine I25. It makes two overflights of the wooded Oregon coast and drops four incendiary bombs. This is the only time Japanese fixed wing aircraft attack the USA during the Second World War.

1 September
Royal Air Force (RAF) and United States Navy (USN) Consolidated Catalina flying boats disperse a German U-boat ‘wolf pack’ attacking a west bound North Atlantic convoy and one U-boat is sunk.

12 September
The 89th Bombardment Squadron of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) makes the first use of para-fragmentation bombs, during sweeps over Buna airstrip in New Guinea.

23 September
Brigadier General J.H. Doolittle is appointed to command the 12th United States Army Air Force (USAAF) .

3 October
The first fully successful launch of a German A4 (V2) rocket takes place and reaches 56 miles from Peenemünde in 296 seconds.

7 October
German Air Force night harassment units are formed as a direct copy of the Soviet practice.

21 October
The United States Army Air Force (USAAF) 8th Bomber Command flies its first operation, attacking German submarine bases in occupied France.

8-11 November
United States and British aircraft provide air cover for the invasion of North Africa and during the early days, Vichy French units put up a spirited resistance. Large numbers of Luftwaffe aircraft are flown into Tunis and troops are flown in by both sea and air.

12 November
The 9th United States Army Air Force (USAAF) is formed in the Middle East.

19 November
A Soviet counter attack north of Stalingrad begins and in just three weeks, supported by four Air Armies, the German troops fighting in the city are cut off from their colleagues and their fate is sealed.

25 November
Luftwaffe supply flights into the Stalingrad pocket begin.

4 December
9th United States Army Air Force (USAAF) Consolidated B24 Liberators make the first American attack on Italy by bombing Naples.

20-21 December
Japanese bombers make the first night attack on Calcutta in India.

24 December
The Germans lose their last remaining landing ground in the Stalingrad pocket, when Tatsinskaya is over run by Soviet tanks.

24 December
Australian and United States forces recapture Buna airstrip in New Guinea.

24 December
The first launch of Germany’s V1 surface-to-surface pilotless plane.