Bomber: The Formation and Early Years of Strategic Air by Phillip S Meilinger

By Phillip S Meilinger

Bomber makes an attempt to explain SAC within the context of what was once then a brand new worldwide dynamic, later dubbed the chilly struggle, displaying the way it confronted the always evolving demanding situations of its time.

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77 This was a utopian ideal not to be realized during this period, but it is important to note again that such thinking underpins nuclear deterrence theory even today—a nuclear exchange would be so horrifying as to be unthinkable. Therefore, building such a nuclear deterrent is essential to maintaining the peace. Airpower is so horrible it is humanizing. This truism remains one of the great paradoxes of modern air and space power. Airmen therefore worked assiduously throughout the 1920s and 1930s to formulate a message emphasizing the importance of strategic bombing and how it could, in the long run, save lives.

The technology for fighter aircraft demanded ultimate performance—high speed, high rate of climb, short turning radius, maximum agility. In the 1930s such demands were simply too risky for most aircraft builders, perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy, to attempt. Instead, the industry favored aircraft that were safe, reliable, and cost-effective and that did not push the envelope on technical development. In other words, the qualities needed in a heavy bomber 43 For overall histories of aircraft engine and fuel development, see Chapel, Aircraft Power Plants; Schlaiffer and Heron, Development of Aircraft Engines and Fuels; and Setright, Power to Fly.

The first several chapters were a primer covering the nature of war, the characteristics of airplanes and what makes them work, basic aerobatic maneuvers, and the missions of observation, attack, and pursuit aviation. It was not until chapter 7 that he began a serious discussion of bombardment. Sherman began this chapter with a bold statement: “The bomber now stands forth as the supreme air arm of destruction, with vastly enhanced power. ”30 He admitted that the practice of bombing as it had been carried out in the world war was rudimentary, inaccurate, and little more than a nuisance to those on the ground.

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