Airpower in Transition: The Evolution of United States Tactical Air Doctrine, Tunisia, 1942-43
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH
Pagination or Media Count:
Hampered by a lack of coordinated peacetime planning and hamstrung by an organization that broke air units up into penny packets responsible for narrow segments of the front, the United States Army Air Force roared into the North African theater in 1942 to meet with bitter defeat. This thesis trances the developments that led to a coherent and co-equal air command that removed tactical air units from a fragmented organizational structure dominated by ground officers. Awestruck by the success of the German Luftwaffe in the early blitzkrieg campaigns, American leaders failed to recognize that Hitlers enemies were, in most cases, simply overwhelmed by the might of a rapid ground assault and their already outnumbered and largely obsolescent air forces deprived of a change to rally. Thus, United States War Department planners envisaged the role of American tactical air power in much the same way as the Germans, as flying artillery. This study chronicles the course of air combat in Northwest Africa that by early 1943 brought the Allied effort to the brink of disaster. Utilizing battle-tested British doctrine and theories, Allied and American air officers managed to forge an air force that swiftly destroyed its Axis opponents and played a vital role in securing victory on the ground. The changes thus brought about what many contemporary observers considered to be the first step toward an independent United States Air Force. Theses.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics