Command of the Air [Giulio Douhet, Charles a. Gabriel] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Reprint of the translation by staff of the. The Command of the Air is the greatest military treatise on air war ever written – a dogmatic manifesto promising victory through strategic. Credit to Nicholas Morrow Giulio Douhet, an Italian army officer who never learnt to fly, first published one of military theory’s most recognized.
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The first step has been taken; and now it is fitting that I should round out my thoughts on the subject of air power.
But aerial com- bat is a reality and is here to stay. Caught by surprise, the Allies no sooner saw the German march into the heart of France halted, than they deluded themselves into believing— their lack of defensive preparations notwithstanding— that they could win the war with comparative ease; so, having failed to do at once what should have been done at the beginning of hostilities to insure victory, they were forced to do it in suc- cessive stages.
The World War was only a point on the graph curve showing the evolution of the character of war; at that point the graph curve makes a sharp swerve showing the influence of en- tirely new factors.
Planes based te on the surface of commanv same circle can simultaneously converge in mass on point A. In “Rivista Aeuronautica” in Julyhe wrote that he believed that tons of bombs over the most important cities would end a war in less than a month.
In an effort to safeguard themselves against Ger- many’s possible thirst for revenge, the Allies forced her along the surest road hhe accomplishing it. In the war both sides kept trying to bomb Headquarters, and it was soon apparent that pursuit The Command of The Air 43 planes were the best defense against these attempts.
If these facts are not given careful consideration, the country will have to make great sacrifices in an effort to bring its defense up to date; but even these sacrifices will be of little use, for the defenses could not possibly meet the demands of modern military requirements. His ideas were rejected, and for criticizing Hte military leaders in memoranda to the cabinet, he was court- “Lee Kennett, A History of Strategic Bombing New York, Giupio bombing power 2. Gas attacks must be so planned as to leave the target permeated with gas which will last over thee period of time, whole days, indeed, a result which can be attained either by the quality of the gases used or by using bombs with varying delayed-action fuses.
Navies were restricted to the sea and slowed by the heavy medium of water. In short, it means to be in a position to win. Yet firearms were only a gradual development, an im- provement upon ancient engines of war— such as the bow and arrow, the ballista, the catapult, et cetera— utilizing the elasticity of solid materials. Aerial bombardment can certainly never hope to attain the ac- curacy of artillery fire; but this is an unimportant point because such accuracy is unnecessary.
But neither the infrastructure nor the morale of London was broken by the Blitz. All the influences which have conditioned and characterized warfare from the be- ginning are powerless ot affect aerial action. This kind of destruction can be accom- plished only in the air or in tye interior of the enemy’s country.
Once the basic quantity of active materials is established and the ratio between it and the weight of the shell determined, it is a simple matter to calculate the total weight of the bomb load needed to destroy the comjand under consideration.
In like manner, pursuit squadrons under army command have the specific duty of policing the sky above the land surface; those giullo navy command, of policing the sky over the sea surface. Conversely, surfaces containing targets more difficult aig destroy can be contracted by reducing the number of planes.
In other words, by “conquering the command of the air.
Giulio Douhet – Wikipedia
Will she accept patiently this inferior status? A quarter of it would have been sufficient if it had been wrought in eight days. To be sure, this statement is directly opposed to the prevailing concep- tion of national defense, and it puts the air arm first in order of importance.
To obtain this result it is necessary only to train the crews of ten airplanes to drop their bombs as uniformly as possible over that area. And, as a matter of fact, it goes without saying that the radius of action and ceiling of combat planes should be greater than those of bombing units, which they must escort and protect.
We can answer, “No, it is not true,” to this question only if we have no intention of providing ourselves with suitable means, in addition to those of the army and navy, with which to meet any such eventuality. Now, 10 tons of active material requires 10 tons of metal casing or shell. Policing the sky became the particular province of the pursuit planes, and they enjoyed the favor of the High Com- mands, whose safety and peace of mind they could safeguard, at least during the day.
Instead, what we saw was a ajr duel of powerful weapons The Command of The Air 13 against even more powerful defense fortresses until, by dint of sheer repeated battering, the fortified defenses were finally crumbled and the heart of the enemy bared. Aerial offensives were in- stinctively and empirically met by anti-aerial defense alone, whether operating in the air or from the ground.
And everything I argued for then has come true just as I predicted it in The New Form of War pp. Germany’s Plan of Operation pp. The Organization of Aerial Warfare pp. It would be foolish indeed to be too economical in douheh matters or in any way stint appropriations for research into the nature and use of these materials.
But that situation is a thing of the past; for now it is possible to go far behind the fortified lines of defense without first break- ing through them.
Therefore, the command of the air cannot be conquered except by an adequate aerial force. The nation which stakes its safety or its power simply on speed in the air, gambles on a very doubtful diuhet especially in view of the ever-increasing speed of airplanes.
The Command of the Air. It may seem that if my ideas have been accepted fouhet put into practice, there is no need for a second edition of my book. Then gradually the idea of using it as a range-finder for the artillery grew up. The relatively inexperienced Canadian, flying a Sopwith Camel, was credited with bringing down the German airman on April 21, I have already called attention ot the great importance of the efficacy of the active materials used in bombs.
As I have pointed out, this conclusion means the superseding of traditional values by new ones not yet fully realized. This giuilo clearly demonstrated by the fact that never before had there been such a widespread and thorough use of systems of defense as in the World War, in which they assumed formidable proportions.
But in order to be effective, these dispositions for defense must provide means of warfare suited to the character and form future wars may assume. In our own lifetime we have seen how great an influence the introduction of small-caliber, rapid-fire guns— to- gether with barbed wire— has had on land warfare, and how the submarine changed the nature of sea warfare.
With a small force and limited means we could easily provide for the defense of our territory even against attack by greatly superior forces, and rely upon gaining enough time to meet any eventuality of the con- flict. In the air his planes may escape; but, like the birds whose nests and eggs have been destroyed, those planes which were still out would have no bases at which to alight when they returned.
Conquering the command of the air implies positive action— that is, offensive and not defensive action, the very action best suited to air power. Douhet believed in the morale effects of bombing.