Bombs, Cities, and Civilians: American Airpower Strategy in World War II

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9780700605743: Bombs, Cities, and Civilians: American Airpower Strategy in World War II

As the might and capabilities of American airpower have grown during the last 60 years, so has the controversy about its use in the intentional and indiscriminate wartime bombardment of civilians. In "Bombs, Cities and Civilians", Conrad Crane maintains that, for the most part, American airmen in World War II remained committed to precision bombing doctrine. Instead of attacking densely populated urban areas simply to erode civilian morale, Army Air Forces adhered to a policy that emphasised targeting key industrial and military sites. He demonstates that while the British, Germans and Japanese routinely conducted indiscriminate aerial bombardment of enemy cities, American airmen consistently stayed with daylight raids against carefully selected targets, especially in Europe. Daytime precision missions were usually far more dangerous than night area attacks, but such Army Air Forces tactics increased bombing efficiency and also reduced the risk of civilian casualties. This book responds to recent assertions by other historians that due to military necessity, vague policies, or the desire to maximise technology, Army Air Forces bombers in World War II exercised little restraint on attacks against civilians. Even though bombing policy was influenced more by the attitudes of airmen in operations rooms and in combat than by directives from leaders in Washington, Crane contends that air commanders in the field did consistently conform to the guidelines of precision doctrine. Crane also shows, however, that different leaders, command arrangements, and combat conditions in the Pacific led to bombing policies that were much less discriminating concerning target selection. Focusing on specific operations and key operational commanders, such as Carl Spaatz in Europe and Curtis LeMay in the Pacific, he illustrates how different situations and personalities influenced bombing policies. Despite deviations from precision bombing doctrine in the Pacific that led to incendiary raids on Japanese cities, Crane contends that the pursuit of accurate bombing remained a primary goal throughout World War II and remains one today. Beginning with the lessons gleaned from World War I, he traces the evolution of American doctrine and technology for conventional bombing through the wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. In the process, he demonstrates how public opinion, combat conditions, technological innovation, and the search for "Victory through Airpower" have affected bombing operations and military policy.

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From the Back Cover:

"Crane raises two very important questions in this well-researched and finely argued study--why did discussions on the atomic-bomb policy in 1944-1945 not focus on whether or not to use it, and second, to what extent can moral restraints be effective in war? He tackles these questions as an experienced army officer who understands the tactical and technological forces which drive operational decision-making in contrast to high policy emanating from the capital's politicians and military administrators."--Robin Higham, author of Air Power: A Concise History

"A carefully researched, thoroughly objective analysis of the moral dimensions of strategic bombardment."--I. B. Holley, Jr., author of General John Palmer, Citizen Soldiers and the Army

"Crane entered this study without the presumption of guilt so common among recent studies of strategic bombing. This book provides us with some much needed balance to our understanding of the moral dimensions of planning and conducting air operations in the support of our national policy."--David R. Mets, author of Master of Airpower: General Carl A. Spaatz

"Well researched and well written, this book makes excellent use of both primary and secondary sources. In the field of strategic bombing, it is comparable with the key books of the last decade: Schaffer, Sherry, and Overy."--Kenneth P. Werrell, author of The Evolution of the Cruise Missile

About the Author:

Conrad C. Crane is professor of history at the United States Military Academy and the author of American Airpower Strategy in Korea, 1950-1953.

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Crane, Conrad C.
Published by Univ Pr of Kansas (1993)
ISBN 10: 0700605746 ISBN 13: 9780700605743
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