Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (MALA)



Document Type



Early attempts at strategic bombing led theorist to reason that it could offer a revolutionary new means of winning wars. Airpower visionaries such as Guilio Douhet, Hugh Trenchard, and Billy Mitchell advocated a Sherman - like strategy of attrition in which air strikes on the enemy’s vital economic centers would destroy his war – making capability and crush his will to resist. In the inner – war period the Air Corps Tactical School, occupied with formulating a strategic air doctrine, refined that idea, which was the central concept underlying AWPD-1, the basic statement governing strategic bombing elaborated by the Air War Plans Division of the War Department in mid – 1941. AWPD-1 identified the key German economic targets as electric power generation, transportation nodes, and the petroleum industry. American planners believed that effective attacks on those targets demanded Daylight Precision Bombing raids. An intense six-month bombing campaign, they thought, might defeat Germany without the need of a ground invasion of Europe. After the United States entered the war and as the Anglo – American invasion of North Africa was under way, British and American leaders agreed to execute an “around the clock” Combined Bomber Offensive (CBO) to bring about the progressive destruction of the German military, industrial, and economic system. Strategic bombing reached new levels of power and achievement during the war. The CBO undermined German war production, helped achieve air superiority, and paved the way for the Allied land invasion. Concentrated attacks on German aircraft plants, transportation centers, and oil facilities paid particularly valuable dividends. But strategic bombing failed to destroy enemy morale and it did not render a ground war unnecessary, as the visionaries had predicted, in part because of repeated changes in target priorities and the diversion of bombers to missions elsewhere, particularly those in connection with the Normandy invasion



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Committee Chair

Stanley E. Hilton



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