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Air war plans division I: the air plan that defeated Hitler.

In August 1941, four men, all former instructors at the Air Corps Tactical School (ACTS) at Maxwell Field, Alabama, reported to the Air War Plans Division (AWPD) in Washington, D.C., to lay the foundation for a comprehensive, strategic air war plan. Lt Col Hal George called upon Maj Laurence Kuter, Maj Ken Walker, and Maj Haywood S. Hansell Jr. to answer a request from President Franklin D. Roosevelt for a "production plan to defeat our enemies"--one that would outline specific air requirements for industrial mobilization should the United States become embroiled in a war. After nine days, the team delivered a briefing to Gen Henry Arnold and Gen George C. Marshall that specified production requirements for 13,083 bombers; 8,775 fighters; 2,043 observation and photographic aircraft; 2,560 transports; and 37,051 trainers--an astounding total of 63,512 aircraft. Although these numbers were impressive, the planners exceeded Roosevelt's tasking by recommending a strategy for prosecuting the war against the Axis p owers. That strategy assumed that airpower could achieve strategic and political objectives in a fundamentally new way.

Building upon untested airpower theories (taught throughout the 1930s at ACTS) that relied upon self-defending, high-altitude daylight bombers, the team first envisioned a strategic defensive in the Pacific theater while prosecuting an all-out air war against Germany. Air forces would concentrate for 18 months before launching an intensive six-month air campaign against Nazi Germany. The forces that had assembled at bases in Great Britain would focus on industrial target systems--the "industrial web"--that supported the German war effort. Electrical power, rail and canal transportation, petroleum production, and other industries formed the backbone of any industrial power. The AWPD staff also recognized that the German Luftwaffe would mount a strong defense. Consequently, the enemy air force became an 'intermediate objective of overriding priority." Allied strategists later incorporated elements of AWPD-1 into AWPD-42 and the plans for the Combined Bomber Offensive that commanders used to prosecute the air wa r against Germany.

To Learn More...

Biddle, Tami Davis. Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914-1945. Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 2002.

Cate, James Lea, and E. Kathleen Williams. "The Air Corps Prepares for War, 1939-41." In The Army Air Forces in World War II. Vol. 1, Plans and Early Operations, January 1939 to August 1942. Edited by Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Gate. 1948. New imprint, Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History, 1983.

Faber, Lt Cal Peter R "Interwar US Army Aviation and the Air Corps Tactical School: Incubators of American Airpower." In The Paths of Heaven: The Evolution of Airpower Theory. Edited by Cal Phillip S. Meilinger. Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, 1997.

Hansell, Haywood S., Jr. The Air Plan That Defeated Hitler, Atlanta, Ga.: Higgins-McArthur/Longino & Porter, 1972.

Murray, Williamson. "Strategic Bombing: The British, American, and German Experiences." In Military Innovation in the Interwar Period. Edited by Williamson Murray and Allan R Millett Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
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Publication:Air & Space Power Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2003
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