Located in Mesa, AZ area, Formerly known as the Confederate Air Force, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is a 501(c)(3) American organization based in Dallas, Texas, whose mission is to preserve and exhibit vintage aircraft at airshows across North America.
The name Confederate Air Force was picked as a joke at the cost of the group’s humble roots, and is a reference to the Confederate States of America. When Central Valley Airport in Mercedes, Texas started collecting warbirds, someone painted the name on the side of the original North American P-51 Mustang Red Nose. The CAF is home to almost 13,000 individuals across 70 different units and 170 different aircraft, making it the world’s largest airworthy collection of warbirds.
The airport was renamed “Rebel Field,” the designation “colonel” was conferred to all members (a tradition that continues to this day), and a made-up figurehead named “Colonel Jethro E. Culpepper” was created to take credit for the group’s achievements. The CAF then put a humorous spin on the original World War II “blood chit” of the American Volunteer Group Flying Tigers, which said, “This foreign person has come to China to support the war effort.” Both military and civilians are responsible for his rescue, safety, and care.
The name “CAF” has been in use as a working title since a vote to alter it was held in November of 2000. On January 1, 2002, the group formally changed its name to the “Commemorative Air Force” in accordance with a 2001-member referendum. The name “Confederate Air Force” was criticized by many, including potential benefactors, because it gave the wrong impression about the organization’s goals.
As of the year 2022, the CAF has 179 aircraft in its inventory. The whole CAF air force is frequently called the “Ghost Squadron.” The company offers a wide variety of aircraft, from the small Stinson L-5 Sentinel and Ryan PT-22 to the massive Boeing B-29 Superfortress, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, and Consolidated Liberator B Mk I/B-24A Liberator AM927.
One of only two remaining Boeing B-29 Super Bomber and the last remaining Curtiss SB2C Helldiver are both preserved by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The same is true with B-24/LB-30 Liberators, Mitsubishi A6M Zeros, and Douglas SBD Dauntlesses, only a handful of which are still in service. The CAF operates Axis and Warsaw Pact aircraft, such as the MiG 17 Fresco C.