It was formed on 1 June 1943 as HQ Tactical Air Force from Army Co-operation Command in connection with preparations then in train to invade Europe a year later. It took units from both Fighter Command and Bomber Command in order to form a force capable of supporting the Army in the field. Bomber Command lent No. 2 Group with light bombers and Fighter Command was split up into the Air Defence of Great Britain, retaining fighter units for home defence, and No. 83 Group and No. 84 Group for the Second Tactical Air Force.
The NATO allied air component supporting the Northern Army Group (NORTHAG) in the northern part of Germany was later named Second Allied Tactical Air Force or 2 ATAF, part of the larger Allied Air Forces Central Europe and active until 1993.