Home Page World War II Armed Forces — Orders of Battle and Organizations Last Updated 01.11.2001
Royal Afghan Armed Forces
By Avro Vercamer
      Area: 770,000 square miles
Population: 10 million (1938 E)
Population density: 13 people per square mile (1938 E)

Although the below cited data is applicable for 1938, it need be noted that during the 1937-1940 time frame, the Afghan Army was undergoing a reorganization.

In the late 1930ís, Germany agreed to provide Afghanistan with 15 million Reichsmark, which would be used to train (and possibly equip) one Afghan Infantry Division according to German standards. Afghanistan accepted German assistance during this period as it was seen as one means to curb British economic and political influences in Afghanistan. In addition to the economic aid that Germany was providing Afghanistan during this period, German military and German intelligence operatives (Abwehr) were active in Afghanistan (as were Italian advisors to a lesser degree). This activity essentially ceased by 1943, when the Western Allies pressured (neutral) Afghanistan to expel all non-diplomatic German and Italian advisors.

It need be noted that for the entire conflict, Afghanistan remained a neutral nation.

The Afghan Ministry of War:
      The Afghan Minister of War (he was also the Commander-in-Chief of the Afghan Army)
  The War Ministerís Cabinet:
   • The Chief of the General Staff of the Afghan Army
   • The Director General of the Afghan Army (personnel, recruitment, military medical and veterinary services, military construction, supply, transportation services)
   • The Director General of Arms (ammunition, arms and guns, military hardware)
   • The Director General of Equipment (military equipment, finances, pensions, supplies)

The Afghan Army:
      As of 1938, the Afghan Army contained 103,000 officers and men.

The Afghan Police numbered 9,649 men and officers in 1938 (this included urban, rural and the Afghan Mounted Police force). In a time of war, the Afghan Police would be added to the Afghan military.

The Afghan Royal Air Force
      King Amanullah founded the Afghan Royal Air Force (ARAF) in 1924. The first airplanes of the ARAF were two British Bristol F.2Bís, which were two-seat reconnaissancenaissance airplanes. A German pilot piloted each airplane.

In 1925, the Soviet Union presented the ARAF with a squadron of R-2 reconnaissance-bombers. In addition, the Soviet Union agreed to host 50 ARAF pilots for training and technical education purposes.

In 1928, 25 ARAF cadets were sent to Romeís Caserta Cadet College.

Regretfully, all 15 operational aircraft of the ARAF were damaged or destroyed during the 1929 revolution. From then until 1937, the ARAF did not have any airplanes, save one German Junkers Ju F-13, which had been former King Amanullahís personal plane. But this airplane too was not flight-worthy from 1929 on, until German aviation specialists repaired it in 1937.[1] In 1937, the ARAF made a number of orders abroad for new airplanes. Specifically:
    8◊ Italian Breda 25 trainers
    8◊ British Hawker Hart light bombers
  16◊ Italian Meridionaly RO-37 reconnaissance aircraft

In 1938, at least eight ARAF pilots were sent to British India for additional flight training. In 1939, the ARAF took possession of 20 British Hawker Hartís and 8 Hawker Hind's [2], as well as the Italian RO-37ís. These aircraft were divided into three squadrons.

No additional aircraft were obtained by Afghanistan during the course of the Second World War.

Major References:
      William Greene and John Fricker
"The Air Forces of the World"
Hannover House Press, New York NY, USA, 1958.

League of Nations
"Armaments Year-Book — 1938"
Official Publication Number: C.206.M.112.1938.IX
Geneva, Switzerland, 1938.

League of Nations
"Armaments Year-Book — 1939/40"
Official Publication Number: C.206.M.112.1938.IX
Geneva, Switzerland, 1940.

[1]  In 1968, Professor Kurt H. Weil, who was at that time a visiting professor at the University in Kabul, discovered the fuselage of the Ju F-13 in a scrap pile. As Professor Weil was previously employed by the Junkers Works as an engineer, he quickly pulled a few strings to help save/restore the old aircraft. In 1969, the Government of Afghanistan returned the fuselage of the Ju F-13 to the Deutsches Museum in Munich as a present to Germany. By 1984, the Deutsches Museum had restored the Ju 13 (with help from MBB). It was now was able to replace a previous Ju F-13 exhibit, which was lost to the museum in a bombing raid in 1944 (Deutsches Museum Nr. 78042).
[2]  One surviving Hind was donated to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum (formerly 'Canadian Avitation Museum') in 1975 — it now flies as the L7 180 in RAF markings. Another Afghan Hind is preserved at the Royal Air Force museum in Hendon — and they did an absolutely perfect job in restoring that bird in full Afghan war colors.
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