Military Organization > United States > ​U.S. Army Monoplace Pursuit Squadron (1918)

U.S. Army Monoplace Pursuit Squadron (1918)

By Brendan Matsuyama, Editor

The following was the organization of the Monoplace Pursuit Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Service effective as of September 1918 shortly before the end of World War I. These squadrons were typically outfitted with the French produced Nieuport 28 Biplane Fighter and the SPAD S.XIII Biplane Fighter that replaced it. Monoplace Pursuit Squadrons were distinguished from Biplace Pursuit Squadrons by their use of single-seat fighters as opposed to two-seaters.

The next level up was the Monoplace Pursuit Group which consisted of 3 Monoplace Pursuit Squadrons.

Contents:

  1. Organization

  2. Discussion​​

  3. Sources

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WW1 Pursuit Squadron-01.png
 

Organization

  • Type: Fighter Squadron

  • Origin: U.S. Army Air Service (United States)

  • Time Frame: Late World War I (1918)

  • Personnel: 20 Officers and 193 Enlisted

1× Headquarters, 1st Section (3 Officers and 6 Enlisted)

  • 1× Squadron Commander*, Major (OF-3), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver

  • 1× Adjutant**, First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver

  • 1× Operations Officer**, First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver

  • 1× Squadron Sergeant Major, Sergeant First Class (OR-6), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver

  • 1× Clerk, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Clerk, Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 2× Buglers, Bugler (OR-1), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver each

  • 1× General Duty Soldier, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

* Active pilot

** Not an active pilot, but preferably a former pilot who is no longer able to fly so they have technical expertise

→ Vehicles

  • 1× Single-Seat Biplane***, armed with 2 Synchronized Machine Guns

*** For Squadron Commander, but maintained by a Flight.

1× Supply & Transportation, 2nd Section (1 Officer and 24 Enlisted)

  • 1× Supply & Transportation Officer**, Second Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolve

  • 1× Supply Sergeant, Sergeant First Class (OR-6), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Truckmaster, Sergeant First Class (OR-6), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Assistant Truckmaster, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Mess Sergeant, Mess Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Supply & Transportation Corporal, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 3× Chauffeurs, Chauffeur First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 4× Chauffeurs, Chauffeur (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 6× Cooks, Cook (OR-1), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver each

  • 1× Clerk, Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 3× Motorcycle Riders, Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 2× Storemen, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

** Not an active pilot, but preferably a former pilot who is no longer able to fly so they have technical expertise

→ Vehicles

  • 2× Cars

  • 1× Light Car

  • 2× Motorcycles, with side car

  • 1× Motorcycle

  • 1× 3-ton Truck

  • 3× 1½-ton Trucks

  • 1× 3-ton Trailer

  • 1× 3-ton Water Trailer

  • 3× 1½-ton Trailers

  • 3× 1-ton Trailers

  • 1× Rolling Kitchen Trailer

1× Engineering, 3rd Section (2 Officer and 31 Enlisted)

  • 1× Engineer**, Second Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver

  • 1× Radio Officer**, Second Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver

  • 1× Electrician, Master Electrician (OR-7), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver

  • 1× Fitter (Engine), Master Electrician (OR-7), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver

  • 1× Fitter (Machinist), Master Electrician (OR-7), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver

  • 1× Fitter (General), Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Rigger, Master Electrician (OR-7), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver

  • 1× Rigger, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Radio Mechanic & Operator, Master Electrician (OR-7), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver

  • 1× Radio Mechanic & Operator, Sergeant First Class (OR-6), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Radio Mechanic & Operator, Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 3× Radio Mechanic & Operators, Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 2× Radio Mechanics, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 1× Carpenter, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Carpenter, Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Carpenter, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Instrument Repairer, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Instrument Repairer, Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Instrument Repairer, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 2× Chaffeurs, Chaffeur First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 1× Acetylene Welder, Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 2× Blacksmiths, Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each each

  • 2× Motorcycle Riders, Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 2× Sailmakers, Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 1× Coppersmith, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Vulcanizer, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

** Not an active pilot, but preferably a former pilot who is no longer able to fly so they have technical expertise

→ Vehicles

  • 2× Motorcycles, with side car

  • 2× Repair Trucks

  • 2× 3-ton Trucks

3× Flights (8 Officers and 34 Enlisted)

→ Headquarters

  • 1× Flight Commander*, Captain (OF-2), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver

* Active pilot

→ 6× Air Sections (Personnel Displayed in Aggregate)

  • 2× Pilots*, First Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver each

  • 5× Pilots*, Second Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 Service Pistol/Revolver each

  • 6× Riggers (Aviation Mechanician), Sergeant First Class (OR-6), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 1× Fitter (Engine), Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 2× Fitters (Engine), Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 2× Fitters (Engine), Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 4× Fitters (Engine), Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 1× Fitter (General), Sergeant (OR-5), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Fitter (General), Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Fitter (Turner), Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 2× Riggers, Corporal (OR-4), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 2× Riggers, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 1× Chauffeur, Chauffeur First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 3× Chauffeurs, Chauffeur (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 1× Electrician, Private First Class (OR-2), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Carpenter, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Coppersmith, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 3× General Utility Soldiers, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle each

  • 1× Instrument Repairer, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

  • 1× Motorcycle Rider, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 M1903/M1917 Rifle

* Active pilot**

→ Vehicles

  • 8× Single-Seat Biplane Fighters, armed with 2 Synchronized Machine Guns

  • 1× Motorcycle, with side car

  • 2× 3-ton Trucks

  • 2× 1½-ton Trucks

  • 2× 1-ton Trucks

 
 
 
 
 

Discussion

The Monoplace Pursuit Squadron was one of two types of pursuit squadrons (progenitor to the fighter squadron) that existed within the U.S. Army Air Service late in World War I. The other was the Biplace Pursuit Squadron. In General Pershing's 260-squadron plan, the U.S. Army Air Service was intended to have a 1-to-2 ratio of Monoplace squadrons to Biplace squadrons by June 1919, although the war ended 7 months prior.

 

As the name implies, the difference between the two types was Monoplace Pursuit Squadrons fielded single-seat fighters while the Biplace Pursuit Squadrons fielded two-seaters. Monoplace fighters only had one crew member (the pilot) while biplaces had two (pilot and observer). The Monoplace squadrons primarily flew the French-made Nieuport 28, later replaced by the SPAD S.XIII, with a smaller number of British-made Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5s and other single-seat fighters. Pursuit Squadrons were intended to seek out and destroy enemy air elements, protect day bombers during their missions against enemy air elements over enemy territory, protect allied observation aircraft, and maintain air superiority over allied territory. Pursuit Squadrons could also be employed as Attack Squadrons, by which the pursuit aircraft were used in the ground attack role with their machine guns and bombs dropped from the cockpit. Their primary mission was to attack and harass enemy infantry and forward artillery positions in conjunction with a ground offensive, although supporting second-line forces would be the focus in the defense. If the enemy employed tanks, air forces could be used to separate tanks from supporting infantry. The practice of Attack Squadrons worked to the morale benefit of friendly infantry and to the detriment of the enemy as a tangible demonstration of air power in the ground war. Attack Squadrons would preferably operate with day bomber squadrons to maximize impact.

The typical pursuit sub-unit structure was as follows:

  • 1 Monoplace Pursuit Brigade

    • 3 Monoplace Pursuit Wing​s each

      • 3 Monoplace Pursuit Groups each​

        • 3 Monoplace Pursuit Squadrons each​

Organization

The squadron consisted of 1 Headquarters Section (1st Section), 1 Supply & Transportation Section (2nd Section), 1 Engineering Section (3rd) Section, and 3 Flights consisting of 6 Air Sections each (in total numbered 4th to 21st Section). Additionally, 1 Ordnance Department of 19 men was attached to the squadron to provide armory services.

The Headquarters Section included the Squadron Commander, a Major, who was an active pilot. The commander flew, with his fighter aircraft being maintained by one of the flights for accountability. The section also had command and operations personnel, as well as a complement of Buglers, Clerks and a General Duty soldier.

The Supply & Transportation Section was the main logistics sub-unit of the squadron, consisting mostly of logistics/supply/store personnel, drivers and Cooks.

 

The Engineering Section was the main maintenance sub-unit of the squadron outfitted to perform second echelon maintenance for the squadron. It included riggers, electricians, smiths, welders, mechanics, and other tradepersons. 

The Flights were the combat sub-units of the squadron. Each squadron consisted of 3 flights with each flight being further subdivided into 6 Air Sections. The flight was commanded by a Captain with the remainder of the flights' 7 pilots being either First or Second Lieutenants. The remainder of the flights' personnel were either first echelon maintenance personnel (such as riggers, fitters, smiths and electricians) and a small number of general supporting staff (such as chauffeurs).

All-in-all the Monoplace Pursuit Squadron consisted of 163 enlisted personnel, 20 officers, and fielded 25 fighter aircraft.

Sources

  • Table 615 "Monoplace Pursuit Squadron, Air Service" published 8 September 1918, republished by Military Research
     

  • Huston, J. et al. (1975). "The U.S. Air Service in World War I", Volume II published by Library of Congress

 

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