Bombing to Surrender: The Contribution of Air Power to the Collapse of Italy, 1943
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIRPOWER STUDIES
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Throughout this first century of air power, military theorists have proposed numerous schemes as the best use of air power. Airmen of many nations tried and tested these theories in wars large and small and they have learned, ignored, or forgotten many lessons. Of the four major coercive mechanisms available to air power punishment, risk, military denial and decapitation Robert Pape in Bombing to Win, concludes that military denial is the best use of air power. Furthermore, Pape argues that recent technological advances only enhance the military denial mechanism. In his appendix, Pape categorizes the Italian case as another case of successful military denial. This study examines the collapse of Italy in 1943 and the contribution of air power to this collapse. Several broad works, often citing Ernest May in Lessons from the Past, claim that air power decisively caused the Italian surrender, but do not indisputably argue this point nor do they define the coercive mechanisms air power employed to achieve this result. Studies such as the United States Strategic Bombing Survey or the British Bombing Survey Unit largely ignore Italy or in the case of F. W. Deakins. The Brutal Friendship, cite the coalition politics as the primary cause of Italy s surrender. This study reveals how air power made four contributions to the collapse of Italy. First, airpower shaped the grand strategy of the western Allied powers in 1943. The Americans preferred to wage an air campaign to destroy German industry while using the direct approach of a cross-channel invasion to defeat Germany. Under the leadership of Churchill, the strong British preference for an indirect strategy aimed at the soft-underbelly of Europe as well as the belief in the efficacy of air power to cause the Italian surrender through morale bombing artfully maneuvered the United States into waging a prolonged campaign in Africa and the Mediterranean.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics