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Was 1957 Airmail Stamp Commemorative Misnamed?

 
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Pillar Of The Community
1419 Posts
Posted 05/12/2015   10:37 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add blcjr to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I've always been puzzled by the legend on C49 proclaiming "Fiftieth Anniversary - United States Air Force." I know the anniversary date was relative to the creation of the Aeronautical Division of the US Army Signal Corp in 1907. The PB announcing the stamp said it was to "commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United States Air Force as part of the National Defense System." But there was no "United States Air Force" until 1947. The awkward description in the PB reads almost as an effort to gloss over a mistake in the design of the stamp. They heyday of the expression "national defense system" was in the early 1940's, and was used then of whether there should be a separate "air service" in the "national defense system." But by 1957, the expression had almost disappeared, and the POD's use of it seems awkward and anachronistic.

Is anyone aware of any further "backstory" on this?

Basil
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Bedrock Of The Community
United States
12128 Posts
Posted 05/12/2015   11:00 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add wt1 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The National Postal Museum website explains it as follows:


Quote:
Air ForceóBecause the United States Air Force was formally established in 1947, long after the start of U.S. military aviation, there have been two different "50th anniversary" Air Force stamps, issued 40 years apart. In 1957, a postage stamp was issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the Air Force, dating back to the establishment of the Aeronautical Division of the Army Signal Corps. Forty years later, in 1997, a new 50th anniversary stamp was issued, this one commemorating the founding of the separate United States Air Force in 1947.
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Pillar Of The Community
1419 Posts
Posted 05/12/2015   1:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
wt1,

That is not much of an "explanation" as far as I'm concerned. The truth is that the Army "air service" went by a lot of names over the years, but never, until after WWII, was it know as the "United States Air Force." Check out the following:



During WWII, the service was reconfigured and named the "United States Army Air Forces" (note well the plural "Forces"). There simply was no USAF prior to 1947, and to refer to the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Aeronautical Division of the Army Signal Corp as an anniversary of the "USAF" is simply awkward and incorrect. No one talked that way, not in 1947, and not in 1957.

I cannot help but believe that the stamp was designed by someone not intimately familiar with the history of Army aviation, and by the time anyone realized it it was too late to scrap the stamp. Not like that hasn't happened at other times! So the PB came up with this awkward "to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United States Air Force as part of the National Defense System."



Hardly anybody any longer used the term "national defense system" in 1957, but it was the best they could come up with.

Explanations given after the fact strike me as ad hoc and unconvincing. Sort of like "well, we endured 26,000 casualties on Iwo Jima so B-29's would have an emergency landing strip." The only thing that could change my mind would be evidence from the time period when the stamp was designed that explains why the term "United States Air Force" was used.

Basil


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