World War II became the global arena for a titanic struggle for control of the air. Beginning with the war's first air strikes by the Luftwaffe on September 1, 1939, combat in the air greatly accelerated the development of aeronautical technology. New tactical and strategic roles were found for military aviation while traditional roles discovered during World War I were either enhanced and extended or abandoned. American military aviation alone witnessed tremendous growth, from about 2,500 airplanes to nearly 300,000 by the war's end. Explore the Museums expansive collection of World War II aircraft, hear from our experts, and uncover new World War II stories.