Jimmy Doolittle: The Commander behind the Legend
Drew paper no. 17
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
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This study evaluates Jimmy Doolittles performance as an operational air commander. As one of the most well-known Airmen of the twentieth century Doolittle is the subject of a significant number of books and articles. Despite their many virtues, these efforts have largely overlooked a very important portion of his life--his command of the Eighth Air Force. This study seeks to fill that gap. It draws upon multiple sources, including the mature body of biographical literature, archival documents, and Doolittles personal and military records. The study reveals that in January 1944, prior to his assumption of command of the Eighth Air Force, Doolittle lacked the administrative skills and bureaucratic experience typical of most senior officers. His legendary raid on Tokyo had, however, demonstrated his technical expertise, courage, and strong personal leadership. In evaluating Doolittles operational effectiveness as Eighth Air Force commander, the study assesses his efforts to gain air superiority in Western Europe, manage aircrew rotation, and improve the effectiveness of bombing in close proximity to friendly forces. It concludes that Doolittles aggressive, yet mature, command demeanor placed effectiveness above efficiency and extracted the highest profit from his forces in their effort to defeat the enemy. The evaluation progresses with an appraisal of Doolittles influence on tactical and technical innovation. In this arena, he had mixed success innovating technically, but his tactical initiatives significantly enhanced the air offensive against Germany. The final portion of the study explores Doolittles leadership, examining his command environment his leadership approach, and the measures he took to sustain the morale of his command. The analysis reveals that Doolittle adroitly managed his forces morale while remaining steadfast in his determination to defeat the Luftwaffe.
- Military Aircraft Operations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics