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Airpower: WW I through WW II. WWI Thru WWII. Background – The 1920’s General Mitchell’s Crusade The Air Corps Act of 1926 The Air Corps Tactical School Move To Autonomy in the 1930’s WWII Begins The Battle of Britain The U.S. Prepares for War The Army Air Forces. WWI Thru WWII.

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wwi thru wwii
  • Background – The 1920’s
  • General Mitchell’s Crusade
  • The Air Corps Act of 1926
  • The Air Corps Tactical School
  • Move To Autonomy in the 1930’s
  • WWII Begins
  • The Battle of Britain
  • The U.S. Prepares for War
  • The Army Air Forces
wwi thru wwii3
  • The U.S. Enters the Second World War
  • America and its Allies Plan Strategy
  • The U.S. on the Offensive
  • U.S. Strategic Bombing Effort against Germany
  • The Air War against Japan
  • Tactical Airpower in the Pacific
  • Strategic Airpower in the Pacific
  • The End of the Second World War
  • Review CFD Model
interwar years background
Interwar Years Background
  • Following WW I, U.S. returned to isolationism
  • Army Air Service reduced from 20,000 officers in 1918 to 200 in 1919
  • Civilian aviation boomed, military budgets were cut
  • Air service sought to develop an air doctrine
  • Period marked by organizational change and personality clashes
  • Few Airmen saw the potential of the airplane
interwar years general william billy mitchell
Interwar YearsGeneral William “Billy” Mitchell
  • Director of Military Aviation in 1919
  • Believed the airplane would change the defense establishment
  • Believed the air service was an offensiveforce equal to the Army and Navy
  • Views were strongly opposed by the Army and Navy
  • Americans wanted no part of a service that looked offensive in nature.
billy mitchell cont
Billy Mitchell (Cont)
  • A visionary, fanatic and prophet
  • Alienated many due to constant attacks and need for 100% support
  • Technology was not capable of meeting his expectations -- cost him credibility
  • Feuded extensively with the Navy -- Claimed the battleship was obsolete
    • His planes bombed and sunk 3 ships
    • Infuriated the Navy leadership
mitchell s last campaign
Mitchell’s Last Campaign
  • 1922 - 1924 -- Mitchell concentrated on developing doctrine
    • advocated strategic bombardment
  • 1925 -- Demoted to Lieutenant Colonel because of his unrelenting bid for a separate air force
  • After the crash of the dirigible, “Shenandoah,” he accused military leaders of “incompetence and criminal negligence”
  • Court-martial -- October 25, 1925
mitchell s legacy
Mitchell’s Legacy
  • Focused attention on airpower
  • Forced people to accept the potential of airpower
  • Mentored many aviators who would carry on his work -- some became instructors at the Air Corps Tactical School (ACTS)
air corps tactical school acts origins
Air Corps Tactical School (ACTS) Origins
  • Founded in 1920 at Langley AFB VA
  • Moved to Maxwell AFB AL in 1931
  • Original mission was to teach air strategy and tactics
  • Changed to developing and teaching air doctrine (principles and philosophy)
air corps tactical school teachings
Air Corps Tactical School Teachings
  • Future wars would be decided by airpower
  • Airplane would be the primary offensive weapon
  • High-altitude strategic daylight bombing could paralyze and defeat an industrialized enemy without heavy losses
air corps tactical school
Air Corps Tactical School
  • Preoccupation with bombers and their missions overwhelmed other teachings
    • Claire Chennault, who led the Flying Tigers in WW II, taught pursuit aviation -- advocated escorting bombers and strafing enemy rear areas
    • George Kenney, who commanded the Pacific Air Force in WW II, taught attack aviation -- strafing attacks on enemy troops and behind enemy lines
organizational change
Organizational Change
  • Army Reorganization Act of 1920
    • Air Service gained autonomy in R&D, procurement, personnel, supply, and training
  • Air Corps Act of 1926
    • Changed the name of the Air Service to Air Corps -- implied the Air Corps was capable of independent operations
interwar years organizational change
Interwar YearsOrganizational Change
  • General Headquarters Air Force - 1935
    • Placed all tactical units under the Commander, GHQ
    • Recognition of an independent aviation branch within the Army
german aggression leading to u s involvement in ww ii
German Aggression Leading to U.S. Involvement in WW II
  • Germany attacks Poland -- 1 Sep 39
    • The Luftwaffe was used to gain air superiority, cut supply lines, and support ground forces
  • Germany then easily conquers Norway, Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands, and France


JUNKERS JU 87 “STUKA” Dive bomber

battle of britain
Battle of Britain

JUNKERS JU 88 Bomber

  • Britain stands alone against German aggression -- June 1940
  • Germany attacks in four phases
    • Attacks against shipping lines
    • Day and night bombing of RAF airfields
    • Daytime bombing of the cities
    • Nighttime bombing of the cities

HEINKEL HE 111 Bomber

reasons for luftwaffe s defeat
Reasons for Luftwaffe’s Defeat
  • Luftwaffe not trained or equipped to conduct strategic bombing
  • British had excellent command, control, and communication systems in place
  • Luftwaffe had poor intelligence capabilities
united states prepares for war
United States Prepares for War
  • Army Air Corps was expanded
    • July 1940 -- Air Corps expands to 54 combat groups to include 14 heavy bomb groups
    • March 1941-- Air Corps expands to 48 combat groups to include 24 heavy bomb groups
  • Emphasis placed on bombers, not escort aircraft -- hurts U.S. bombing efforts



air war plans division plan 1
Air War Plans Division Plan # 1
  • Formulated in response to Roosevelt's call for American air doctrine
  • Established independent operating objectives for the Air Corps
  • Called for precision bombing of German industry and economy
  • Flawed because it did not provide for long-range fighter escort


awpd 1 target list
AWPD # 1 -- Target List
  • Emphasized the offensive nature of the mission.
  • Ground support missions were secondary
  • Four major targets were:

Sources of electrical power

Transportation systems

Sources of oil production

Aircraft industry

forming the army air force aaf
Forming the Army Air Force (AAF)
  • Army Air Corps and GHQ Air Force merged in June 1941 to form AAF
  • Resulted from the decentralization of the War Department General Staff which was begun by General George Marshall in 1940
  • General Hap Arnold named commander
  • One step from full independence as a separate service
u s enters ww ii background
U.S. Enters WW II -- Background
  • Relations between U.S. and Germany deteriorate – U.S. destroyer Reuben Jamessunk in Oct 41
  • Relations with Japan worsened in 1941
    • Japan continues Asian aggression
    • Roosevelt froze Japanese assets in U.S. and halts all American trade with Japan -- Jul 41
    • Japan attacks Pearl Harbor -- Dec 7, 1941
allied strategy for winning world war ii
Allied Strategy for Winning World War II
  • Priority One -- Safeguard Britain and U.S.
  • Priority Two -- Fight a decisive air offensive against the Axis powers in Europe and fight defensively in Asia
  • Priority Three -- Sustained air offensive against Japan after the Axis powers weredefeated in Europe
    • Use land forces when, and if, necessary

I + II + III = Victory

u s first offensive action of ww ii north africa
U.S. First Offensive Action of WW II North Africa
  • First use of U.S. ground forces against the Germans
  • Provided valuable combat experience for ground and air forces
  • Opportunity for British and U.S. to fight a combined arms campaign
  • First defeat of the German forces since 1930
north africa
North Africa
  • U.S. learned some valuable lessons concerning the employment of airpower in tactical situations
  • Initial problems experienced by the Allies
    • Air units were split among ground units
    • Ground commanders didn’t share aircraft
    • Airpower was used defensively
    • Airpower was fragmented and inflexible
north africa cont
North Africa (Cont)
  • Allied airpower was reorganized in 1942
    • Command of the air forces went to Airmen
    • The air officer decided the missions and allocated forces
    • Missions became offensive in nature
  • Flexibility of Allied airpower was restored and air superiority was attained
  • Tactical missions followed and techniques refined.
  • Allies achieve victory in North Africa in

May 43

u s strategic bombing of germany
U.S. Strategic Bombing of Germany
  • Heavily influenced by ACTS and bomber advocates
    • Some felt strategic bombing alone would defeat Germany
    • Others believed strategic bombing would weaken Germany and a ground invasion would be required for her surrender
u s bombing strategy
U.S. Bombing Strategy
  • Committed to high-altitude, daylight precision bombing
  • Believed heavy bombers, flying in formation, could fight their way to the target and back
    • Fighter escorts were not necessary
  • Targets identified by AWPD were best hit in day time
  • Strategy ignored weather conditions, target obstruction, fighter opposition and anti-aircraft artillery
strategic bombing of germany early efforts
Strategic Bombing of Germany Early Efforts
  • Strategic bombing of Europe was responsibility of the 8th Air Force
  • First raids were against marshaling yards in France
    • little effect
  • Late ‘42 and early ‘43 -- 8th attacked small targets in Europe -- good experience, little effect
  • Casablanca Conference (Jan ‘43) established strategic bombing (destruction of German industry) as a major objective
strategic bombing of schweinfurt germany
Strategic Bombing of Schweinfurt Germany
  • 8th Air Force bombs the ball-bearing plants at Schweinfurt in Summer 1943
    • Aug ‘43 -- 8th inflicts heavy damage but lost 36 B-17s and 360 crewmen
    • Oct ‘43 -- AAF lost 60 bombers, had 138 aircraft damaged and 600 men lost
  • Losses were unacceptable
  • No fighter escorts - bombers vulnerable to enemy fighters and anti-aircraft artillery
strategic bombing in europe ploesti
Strategic Bombing in Europe: Ploesti
  • Aug ‘43 – USAF launch attacks against oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania
    • 180 aircraft launched, 55 aircraft lost
    • Raids were costly but needed to shorten the war
  • Attacks were designed to reduce Germany’s oil and lubricant production
    • Generally ineffective and deliveries increased until ‘44 when attacks resumed
strategic bombing in europe cont
Strategic Bombing in Europe (Cont)
  • Long-range fighter escorts arrived in theater in Dec ‘43
    • Took significant toll on German aircraft and their experienced pilot force
  • 8th resumed raids into Germany in Feb ‘44
    • Launched a 1000 plane raid by end of Feb ‘44
    • Attacked Berlin in Mar ‘44
    • German POL production was reduced to 25% capacity by Sep ‘44
strategic bombing in europe lessons learned
Strategic Bombingin Europe: Lessons Learned
  • Target list was not what it should have been
    • Attacks on sub-pens and ball bearing plants were ineffective
    • Best targets were the POL production facilities and sources of electrical power
  • Terror bombing of civilians was ineffective and did little to lower morale
  • Bombers needed fighter escorts to and from the target
the air war against japan japanese objectives
The Air War Against JapanJapanese Objectives
  • Territorial expansion to reduce over-crowding at home and gain raw materials
  • Moved to fill the power vacuum in the Southwest Pacific created German aggression in Europe
  • Keep the U.S. out of the war for 2 years with a knockout blow at Pearl Harbor
    • Underestimated American resolve and anger
allied strategy to defeat japan
Allied Strategy to Defeat Japan
  • China-Burma-India -- Japan’s back door
    • Campaign to re-supply troops in China and recapture Southeast Asia
    • AAF flew the “hump” -- supply route over the Himalayas -- “A logistics triumph”
  • South Pacific Offensive -- Island hopping campaign led by General MacArthur
  • Central Pacific Offensive -- Island hopping campaign led by Admiral Nimitz

C-47 Skytrain

tactical airpower in the pacific
Tactical Airpower in the Pacific
  • Far East Air Force (FEAF) -- formed to support the South Pacific campaign
    • Made up of the 5th and 13th Air Forces
    • Used innovative techniques such as fragmentation bombs to interdict enemy positions and troops
    • Employed fighters and medium bombers,

P-38 was a huge success

    • Won air superiority through a war of attrition
strategic airpower in the pacific
Strategic Airpower in the Pacific
  • First strategic raid 18 Apr 1942
    • Jimmy Doolittle led flight of 16 bombers from the deck of the aircraft carrier, “Hornet”
    • 600 mile flight, did little damage, but boosted morale of US forces and shocked the Japanese
  • 20th Air Force was formed in 1944 specifically to bomb Japan
    • Initial results were poor due to high altitude bombing techniques
strategic airpower in the pacific cont
Strategic Airpower in the Pacific (Cont)
  • Jan 1945 -- General Arnold put Gen Curtis LeMay in charge of strategic bombing
    • Changed tactics to use incendiary bombs
    • Lowered bombing altitude to improve B-29s accuracy
    • Launched first firebomb attack of Tokyo on

9 Mar 45 -- 279 B-29s participated

-- Burned 16 sq miles, destroyed 267,000

buildings and killed 85,000 people

strategic airpower in the pacific the end of the war
Strategic Airpower in the Pacific The End of the War
  • President Truman authorizes nuclear strikes against Japan
    • 6 Aug 45 -- Hiroshima bombed - 70,000 killed
    • 9 Aug 45 -- Nagasaki bombed - 40,000 killed
  • Japan surrendered 15 Aug 1945
  • WW II ended formally with ceremonies on the USS Missouri on 2 Sep 1945
review of cfd model
Review of CFD Model
  • Distinctive Capabilities: Air and space expertise, capabilities and technological know-how that produces superior military capabilities
  • Functions: Broad, fundamental and continuing activities of air and space power
  • Doctrine: fundamental principles which military forces guide their actions in support of national objectives
wwi thru wwii53
  • Background – The 1920’s.
  • General Mitchell’s Crusade.
  • The Air Corps Act of 1926.
  • The Air Corps Tactical School.
  • Move To Autonomy in the 1930’s
  • WWII Begins
  • The Battle of Britain
  • The U.S. Prepares for War.
  • The Army Air Forces.
wwi thru wwii54
  • The U.S. Enters the Second World War.
  • America and its Allies Plan Strategy.
  • The U.S. on the Offensive.
  • U.S. Strategic Bombing Effort against Germany.
  • The Air War against Japan.
  • Tactical Airpower in the Pacific.
  • Strategic Airpower in the Pacific.
  • The End of the Second World War.
  • Review CFD Model