Plans for still greater expansion of the Aviation Section were incomplete when the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. In November 1918 the AEF possessed 14 groups (seven observation, five pursuit and two bombardment).
All 24 squadrons had been formed by early 1917, but the 1st Aero Squadron remained the only one fully organized and equipped. On May 24 the War Department officially recognized these two Army agencies as the Air Service of the U. The following month the 1st Pursuit Group was formed, and in July 1918 the American Expeditionary Forces organized its first aircraft unit higher than a group--the 1st Pursuit Wing--made up of the 2d and 3d Pursuit Groups and, later, the 1st Day Bombardment Group.
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In December 1916 the seven Regular Army squadrons either had been or were being organized. At the front, squadrons with similar functions were formed into groups, the first organized in April 1918 as I Corps Observation Group.
In October 1916, Aviation Section plans called for two dozen squadrons--seven for the Regular Army, 12 for the National Guard divisions, and five for coastal defense -- plus balloon units for the field and coast artillery. The dispersal of aero squadrons among various Army organizations during the war made it difficult to coordinate aerial activities, which led to the creation of higher echelon organizations.