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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We ths think from all this that a unit of bombardment estab- lished according to this principle represents a somewhat indefinite offensive power which might be capable of inflicting a certain amount of damage upon an opponent.
Military Thought from Machiauelli to Hitler, ed. As I said, we find ourselves now at a particular point in giulip curve of the evolution of war. Doubling the efficacy of the active materials, in fact, automatically doubles the power of an Independent Air Force. Outside Giuli, Douhet’s reception was mixed. Edward Mead Earle Princeton, N. In reality all that had been gained was a temporary superiority which may have made aerial operations more difficult for the opponent for the time being.
War today is fought by masses of men and machines.
This was the first success won by my long and arduous labors. Operations of June 17 pp.
Bellanger Maxwell Field, Ala. In face of this state of things, we can see clearly how easy a time a well-organized enemy bent on conquering the com- mand of the air would have, and how helpless these auxiliary aerial means employed by the army and navy would be, confronted by an enemy Independent Air Force bent on conquest, inas- much as no organized opposition would stand in his way. Aerial bombardment can wir never hope to attain the ac- curacy of artillery fire; but comand is an unimportant point because such accuracy is unnecessary.
With this increased power of firearms, the offensive must, in order to win, upset this equilibrium by a preponderance of forces. This supposition is consistent with present practice. It was only toward the end of the war that the idea emerged, in some of the belligerent nations, that it might be not only feasible but wise to entrust the air force with independent offensive missions.
I have already called attention to the great importance of the efficacy of the active materials used in bombs. But since this conclusion applies to matters of very great practical importance, and since it is sharply at variance with the accepted way of looking at things, it be- hooves us to stop and amplify our statement before going on. Compared with such units— the purpose of which, I repeat, is not to attack, 46 The Command of The Air but to defend themselves against attack— pursuit planes, with all their superior speed and maneuverability, would have no advan- tage, but rather the disadvantage of light armament.
It is the functional characteristics —the performance— of a plane we must determine here; and these include speed, radius of action, ceiling, armament, and comjand capacity.
The Command of the Air by Giulio Douhet : a Military Times Classic – Military History Monthly
After this point the curve drops off abruptly in a new direction, breaking off all continuity with the past. National defense can be assured only by an Independent Air Force of adequate power. If there were one, granting the uniformity of the air extending over land and sea alike, it could not depend for its being or for its operation on either the army or the navy, because such dependency would be an arbitrary one which, by forcing the Independent Air Force to divide its forces, would fail to fill the true needs of the situation.
The surface of the earth is the coastline of the air. And from these dog fights the fact emerged clearly that the faster planes had the ad- vantage over slower ones; they could hit and run at will. What could a navy do when it could no longer take refuge in its own ports, when its bases were burned or blown up, its arsenals and auxiliaries destroyed?
On the basis of the approximate calculation I personally made, the diame- ter of Treviso at its widest periphery being about 1 kilometer, it would take 4 squadrons of 10 planes each, or 40 planes in all, each carrying 2 tons of bombs, or 80 tons in all, to wreak that much destruction.
These are demanded of any flying machine in peace or war. Except in unusual cases, the targets 20 The Command of The Air of artillery fire are designed to withstand just such fire; but the targets of aerial bombardment are ill-prepared to endure such onslaught.
I have said, and I repeat it, that the primary function of a combat unit is to clear enemy aerial opposition out of the way of bombing units intent upon carrying out definite missions.
The Aerial Battle pp. I argued that the day would come when thousands of military planes would ply the air under an independent Ministry of the Air. Any effort, any action, or any resources diverted from this essen- tial aim makes conquering the command of the air that much less probable; and it makes defeat in case of war that much more probable.
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 surface under consideration. Douhdt, what we saw was a prolonged 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 douhte finally crumbled and the heart of the enemy bared.
The nation which stakes its safety or its power simply on speed in the air, gambles on a very doubtful card— especially in view of the giilio speed of airplanes. Douhet’s theories about forcing the population to start a revolution, when subjected to practical application, were shown to be ineffective. Exonerated finally inxir promoted to general officer inthe same year he published Command of the Air, Douhet soon retired from the service. Combat units have no other purpose in this operation than to clear out of their path any enemy aerial obstacles attempting to bar the way of the bomb- ing unit on the wir from A to B.
From this it is obvious that those nations which ddouhet the means to mass their forces rapidly and strike at whatever point they choose of the enemy’s forces and supply lines are the nations which have the greatest potential offensive power. In general, aerial offensives will be directed against such douhft as peacetime industrial and commercial establishments; important buildings, private and public; transportation arteries and centers; and certain designated areas of civilian population as well.
The weight of their broadsides, every gun firing one round, iskilograms, or about tons, each broadside averaging 6. Never, at any time during the war, was a death-blow struck— a blow which leaves a deep gaping wound and the feeling of imminent death. Now that we are released from the pressure of the World War, with its trial-and-error methods, it behooves us to work toward the solution of this problem by an entirely different method, one calculated to obtain for us eouhet maximum return with the minimum of effort.
And all that effort, all those resources, so pro- digally wasted, could have been profitably used for other pur- poses.
Space was closed to man. For that I am not to blame. To come to any other conclusion would be to deny reason itself. It is The Dpuhet of The Air 33 only natural that the army and navy should wish to be provided with aerial auxiliaries to assist their operations. And all of this defensive fire amounted xir nothing but a useless dispersion of enormous quanti- ties of our national resources, sometimes wasted on the notion commanc preventing, not an actual attack, but a possible one!
To be defeated in the air, on the other hand, is finally to be defeated and to be at the mercy of the enemy, with no chance at all of defending oneself, compelled to accept whatever terms he sees fit to dictate.
The greatest advantage of the offensive is having the initiative in planning operations— that is, being free to choose the point 16 Douheet Command of The Air of attack and able to shift its maximum striking forces; whereas the enemy, on the defensive and not knowing the direction of the attack, is compelled to spread his forces gilio to cover all possible points of attack along his line of defense, relying upon being able to shift them in time to the sector actually attacked as soon as the intentions of the offensive are known.