In 1939 the air force was only in the embryonic phase of development.
By 1942 the tiny air force was only suitable for recon and communications duties and it contained some 300 personnel (some of which had previously underwent training in India or Europe).
The Afghan Air Force was established on 22 August 1924. As early as 1921, the Soviet Union and Great Britain provided a small number of aircraft to Afghanistan's King Amanullah Khan who had been impressed with the British use of aircraft against his government in 1919, however they were not made into a separate air arm until 1924. For the next decade, Soviet pilots performed the bulk of the flying and equipping for the AAF, probably about one-half of the aircraft were Polikarpov R-1s, a Soviet copy of the de Havilland DH.9A.
Most AAF aircraft were destroyed in the civil war that began in December 1928, and it was not before 1937 that a serious rebuilding effort began. From the late 1930s until World War II, British Hawker Hind and Italian IMAM Ro.37 aircraft constituted the bulk of the Afghan Air Force, which by 1938 amounted to about 30 planes in service.