Collection Item Summary:
General of the Air Force Henry Harley “Hap” Arnold (1886-1950)
The officer's Type M1940 service uniform was adopted by the United States Army during the service's rapid expansion prior America's entry into World War II. Popularly known as the "pinks and greens," this uniform remained standard issue until the passage of the National Security Act of 1947 that created the Department of Defense. The uniform continued to be worn in the aftermath of the Act but officially became obsolete after July 1948.
This uniform was worn during World War II, by Gen. Henry "Hap" Arnold commander of the Army Air Forces during the war. The coat adorns two unique items, the "Aviator" badge that Arnold designed with Thomas Milling in 1909 and the five star General of the Army rank insignia.
Born and raised near Philadelphia, a 1907 graduate of the Military Academy at West Point, and trained as a pilot at the Wright brothers flight school in Dayton, Arnold rose to the rank of five-star general during World War II in command of the largest air force in America’s history. In 1949, President Harry S. Truman transferred his commission to the fledgling U.S. Air Force where even today is the only five-star general the USAF has ever had.
Arnold’s life paralleled the development of military aviation in America. He flew early Wright Flyer “aeroplanes” that were made of fabric, wood and wire. He commanded a flight of ten Martin B-10 bombers, America’s first all-metal long range bomber, on a round-trip mission from Washington DC to Alaska in 1934. He held direct command over an armada of B-29 Superfortresses that flew combat in the Pacific Theater in 1944 and 45; the most technically advanced military aircraft of its day. He lived to see the P-80 fly, America’s first turbojet powered fighter.
Arnold’s dynamic personality and innate ability to select gifted people to handle difficult problems influenced the long-term development of aerial refueling; precision guided weapons, and unmanned aerial vehicle technology. His leadership directly contributed to Allied victory in WW II and also secured the permanent relationship between the U.S. Air Force and advanced aeronautical science and technology.