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The first aviation force in the world was the Aviation Militaire of the French Army formed in 1910, which eventually became L'Armée de l'Air. (Balloonist army detachments of previous centuries, notably the French and American ones, do not really count.) During World War I France, Germany, Italy and the British Empire all possessed significant aviation forces of bombers and fighters, the latter produced numerous flying aces.
The first independent air force in the world, however, is The Finnish Air Force,[dubious -- discuss] founded on 6 March 1918.  The Royal Air Force (United Kingdom) came into existence on April 1, 1918.
After the war, Germany had been banned by the Versailles Treaty from having an air force, but the Luftwaffe was brought into existence in 1935. Italy's Regia Aeronautica became an independent force back in 1923, while France's L'Armée de l'Air gained independence only in the mid-1930s. The Soviet Air Force had been more or less autonomous since 1924, while the United States Army Air Corps gained semi-independent status only with the creation of the United States Army Air Force in 1941, a few months before Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese aircraft.
The air force's role of strategic bombing against enemy infrastructures was developed during the 1930s by the Japanese in China and by the Germans during the Spanish Civil War. This role for the bomber was perfected during World War II, when "Thousand Bomber Raids" were not uncommon. The need to intercept these bombers, both on day and at night, accelerated fighter aircraft developments. The war ended when United States Army Air Force Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers dropped two atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in August 1945.
The United States Air Force finally became an independent service in 1947. As the Cold War began, both the USAF and the Soviet Air Force built up their nuclear-capable strategic bomber forces. Several technological advances were widely introduced during this time: the jet engine; the missile; the helicopter; and inflight refueling.
Communist China has also developed a large air force (which, contrary to popular belief, is in fact quite independent from the ground force), initially with aid from the Soviet Union, and later on its own. Both the US and the USSR supplied large numbers of aircraft, technical advice and training to their allied nations.
During the 1960s, Canada took the unusual step of merging the Royal Canadian Air Force with the army and the navy to form the unified Canadian Forces, with a green uniform for everyone. This proved very unpopular, and recently the air force (and the navy) have re-adopted their distinct identities (although structurally they remained a unified force). Perhaps the latest air force to become "independent" is the Irish Air Corps, which changed its uniform from army green to blue in the 1990s.
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