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Over the Hump

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This book is a classic in the annals of air power history. William Tunner was a master of airlift operations at a time when the airplane itself was transitioning from the pre-modern into the modern era. His work encompassed airlift operations from the era of the Douglas C-47 and C-54, both of which launched major technological revolutions that dramatically affected subsequent aviation, through the gestation stage of the modern jet airlifter. Today, the C-17 Globemaster III airlifters that respond to Americas needs for prompt and decisive airlift to the crisis points around the globe fly in the wake of the airman of the Military Air Transport Service and its predecessors that met the challenges of the Second World War and defeated Soviet intransigence during the Berlin blockade of 1948-1949. That history offers both lessons and confidence to national decision-makers and, in particular, to the men and women of the U.S. Air Force today as they project power, influence, and presence around the globe. It is fitting that we reissue this work in 1998, the 50th anniversary of the Berlin airlift. The Berlin airlift was the first great challenge -- and the first great humanitarian airlift -- that the U.S. Air Force met as an independent service. That a prodigious airlift effort accompanied this blockade is evidenced by the following impressive statistics 1,783,572.7 tons of supplies delivered, 62,749 passengers flown, 189,963 total flights, 586,827 total flying hours, and 92,061,862 aircraft miles flown by C-47 and C-54 transports. Sadly, this came at the cost of 31 American fatalities during Berlin airlift operations, 28 of which were Air Force personnel. The Berlin airlift was a milestone in the history of military aviation and the history of the Cold War. Quite simply, had the U.S. Air Force not met the challenges of Berlin, the Cold War might have had a very different history, and Western Europe might indeed have fallen under Communist thrall.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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