Germen Air Doctorine
"Anyone who has to fight , even with the most modern weapons, against an enemy in complete control of the air , fights like a savage against a modern European army.
- Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, Northwest Africa, 1943
The airman who provided the long-range strategic vision for the Luftwaffe during the early 1930s, General Walther Wever, Chief of Staff, was killed in an aircraft accident in 1936. The death of General Wever would prove a tragic blow to German air doctrine and strategic thought because his followers would lack his strategic vision. Consequently, Hitler's "doctrine of the short war" would eventually play a role in Germany's ultimate defeat. Since Hitler only planned for short, tactical wars, the German air force was ill equipped to conduct strategic air campaigns against Britain and Russia. This was reflected in Germany's attempt to conduct these campaigns without the benefit of a heavy, long-range, four-engine bomber.
The Luftwaffe attempted to develop and build an aircraft capable of reaching Russian industry located beyond the Ural Mountains. Two prototypes were developed, but neither made it past this stage due to poor performance. The ultimate result was a situation in which the doctrine and forces available were inadequate to achieve Germany's strategic objectives. Germany had a relatively short-range, tactical air force when it declared war on Britain and Russia, two countries whose industrial heartland could only be reached with long-range aircraft. Consequently, Germany entered the war with doctrine and equipment that were not up to the tasks that lay ahead.
Allied Air Doctorine
American air doctrine in World War II was formed during the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s by bomber advocates like Arnold, Eaker, Spaatz, and LeMay. However, unlike the Germans, the Americans would develop the doctrine, aircraft and training required for the war in Europe. The main tenet of U.S. air doctrine became strategic daylight precision bombing. This theory was grounded on three principles.
The first was that a modern nation could be crippled economically if vital components within its economic system were destroyed. Further, this doctrine taught that the necessary precision needed to destroy a nation's industrial web could only be achieved with daylight bombing from high altitude. Finally, these airmen believed that heavily-armed, well-flown formations of bombers could get through enemy defenses without unacceptable losses, fighting their way through if necessary, and destroying vital preselected targets.
The early theorists from the Air Corps Tactical School (ACTS) would lead the American bomber forces during WW II. However, they would begin this epic campaign with a doctrine that placed little emphasis on fighter aircraft. The role of pursuit and fighter aircraft was primarily to support ground forces. AWPD-42, the requirements plan for war materiel production in 1943, failed to mention the need for escort fighters to accompany the bomber formations. This would prove to be a fundamental flaw in American air doctrine as it existed in early 1943...
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