Bomber Boys - Origins


Developed over the years 1926–1929 at Air Corps Tactical School (ACTS) at Langley Field in Virginia, a forward-looking doctrine of daylight precision bombing was promulgated by four instructors who argued that an enemy's army and navy could be defeated intact due to the destruction of industrial and military targets deep within enemy-held territory. This theory was first espoused by Italian General Giulio Douhet, though his ideas included the terror bombing of population centers that the American theorists eschewed. In contrast, American theorists devised a strategy of pin-point bombing that targeted the enemy economy and the production of weapons. Though unproven, the major attraction of this sort of strategic bombing doctrine was that a war was expected to be won relatively quickly, with minimal casualties, and that grinding, static trench warfare as seen in World War I could be avoided.

To effect this doctrine, the United States Army Air Corps would be required to expend the majority of its resources in amassing a fleet of self-defending heavy bombers, and in the training and maintenance of a great number of airmen to fill aircrew and ground crew positions. The ACTS officers who believed in the heavy bomber doctrine realized that any other Air Corps expenditures such as for tactical bombers and fighter aircraft would take away from the proposed large fleet of heavy bombers. Moreover, the men realized that the United States government would have to reduce funding to naval and ground forces in order to establish a great air fleet. To implement these changes, the ACTS instructors began to instill a sense in their students that a separate and independent air arm of the type described earlier by Brigadier General William "Billy" Mitchell, to be called the United States Air Force, was the way forward. As a compromise first step, the General Headquarters (GHQ) Air Force was established within the Army Air Corps in 1935, commanded by General Frank M. Andrews, a strategic bombing advocate. Andrews staffed the command with like-minded officers such as Henry H. "Hap" Arnold.

Although flawed and tested only under optimal conditions, the doctrine (originally known as the "industrial web theory") became the primary airpower strategy of the United States in the planning for World War II. Four former instructors of the school, the core of the "Bomber Mafia", produced the two airpower war plans (AWPD-1 and AWPD-42) that guided the wartime expansion and deployment of the Army Air Forces.

Read more about this topic:  Bomber Boys

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