In fact, he may never have learnt to fly. He was an army officer, reaching the rank of general, but trench-war stalemate had turned his mind to alternatives. Giulio Douhet For going over the heads of his superiors, he was court-martialled and imprisoned for a year. The following year, he published his masterwork, The Command of the Air. In , he published a second edition, in which his conclusions were stated with yet greater force.
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In fact, he may never have learnt to fly. He was an army officer, reaching the rank of general, but trench-war stalemate had turned his mind to alternatives. Giulio Douhet For going over the heads of his superiors, he was court-martialled and imprisoned for a year.
The following year, he published his masterwork, The Command of the Air. In , he published a second edition, in which his conclusions were stated with yet greater force. Navies were restricted to the sea and slowed by the heavy medium of water.
Aircraft could go anywhere within their radius of action, flying over enemy lines to bomb industry, infrastructure, and workforces. On the contrary, the battlefield will be limited only by the boundaries of the nations at war, and all of their citizens will become combatants, since all of them will be exposed to the aerial offensives of the enemy. First would come explosions, then fires, then deadly gases floating on the surface and preventing any approach to the stricken area.
As the hours passed and night advanced, the fires would spread while the poison gas paralysed all life. And how was this to be achieved? Neither anti-aircraft guns nor fighter aircraft could provide effective defence, and resources devoted to them drained strength from the decisive arm: the bomber force.
The three-dimensional vastness of the sky and the speed with which aircraft moved through it precluded effective anti-aircraft gunnery. Additionally, the numbers of guns needed to cover every potential target made this form of defence enormously expensive. Fighters had the problem of getting aloft and finding their enemy before damage could be done.
No air defence? His whole conception of air war rests on the assumption that the bomber will always get through, and that the damage it can then do will crush the resistance. He was wrong on both counts, as British experience in was to demonstrate.
The British developed an early warning system linked with a command-and-control network that allowed their fighters to intercept bomber squadrons. Heavy losses forced the Germans to switch to night bombing. Then, indeed, the bomber got through. But neither the infrastructure nor the morale of London was broken by the Blitz. Instead, a million ordinary Londoners, mobilised in a plethora of volunteer roles, kept the city alive and breathing. Britain survived. Douhet was wrong.
Nonetheless, even a false prophet often preaches partial truth. The Command of the Air remains a visionary conceptualisation of the potential power of massed strategic bombing. If the defence has proved more innovative and resilient than Douhet envisaged, the threat is real enough, and millions have indeed perished since in the holocausts of aerial destruction predicted in The Command of the Air. Share this:.
Shelves: aviation , military-history , ww1 Its difficult to "review" a work like this. Thus, its an important work for understanding the history of airpower. His work was meant to convince Italian military planners to rely heavily on the airplane as their main military force. Douhet is often quoted for hist support of both strategic bombing and "morale bombing" aka terror bombing of civilians. Its difficult to "review" a work like this. His main concept here is that by bombing the "vital centers" of the enemy, such as its production centers, communication, and transportation networks, a quick decisive victory can be obtained.
The Command Of The Air
Born in Caserta , Campania , Italy , from a family of savoyard exiles who had migrated there after the cession of Savoy to France  he attended the Military Academy of Modena and was commissioned into the artillery of the Italian Army in Douhet saw the pitfalls of allowing air power to be fettered by ground commanders and began to advocate the creation of a separate air arm commanded by airmen. He teamed up with the young aircraft engineer Gianni Caproni to extol the virtues of air power in the years ahead. During that war aircraft operated for the first time in reconnaissance, transport, artillery spotting and even limited bombing roles. Douhet wrote a report on the aviation lessons learned in which he suggested high altitude bombing should be the primary role of aircraft. After an incident in which he ordered construction of Caproni bombers without authorization, he was exiled to the infantry.