This excellent report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. Since Thucydides chronicled land and naval warfare in 420 B.C., volumes have been written on innumerable battles in search of continuities, principles, and the nature of surface warfare. Air warfare has a comparatively short history. Yet, after 100 years of heavier-than-air flight, and numerous air battles and campaigns, airpower may finally be revealing some of its continuities and immutable principles. If so, what is the best way to find and study the continuities for application by the practitioner?
This study examines four dissimilar air battles or campaigns as case studies from WWII to Vietnam (1943-1973) in search of continuities in airpower. They are presented in an operational planning format in the hopes that the cases will more directly transfer to the practitioner. The case studies are limited to U.S., land based, fixed wing, post WWI battles and campaigns. Additionally, relatively well-known cases were selected to aid research, and subsequent additional study by the reader. The narrow focus is intentional to aid brevity. Although the air arms of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps are not included, their contribution to airpower should not be underestimated.
The first case study is the raid on the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania on 1 August 1943. This case reveals the risks versus expected gains of counter-doctrine employment of heavy bombers, the bomber"s flexibility, and the limits of flexibility in tactics and operational art. The second case study is the Berlin Airlift. In this case, non-lethal strategic airpower was used to achieve political goals. The success of the lift was in part due to the interaction and constant improvements in three major systems common to all air operations. The third case study was MiG Alley in the Korean War. F-86 Sabres battled MiG-15s over MiG Alley for air superiority over the Korean Peninsula. MiG Alley reveals the importance of technology, tactics, and training in air warfare, as well as the limits of air superiority in the larger context of the war. The fourth and final case study is BARREL ROLL in Laos. Here, a small, clandestine air force aided local guerillas in challenging a larger North Vietnamese army by using airlift, liaison, limited strikes, and the occasional call on the "Big Blue" Air Force.
There were at least four continuities revealed in the case studies. They were flexibility, airpower"s close tie with politics, airpower"s ability to overcome barriers or sanctuaries, and airpower"s "strategic blind spot" regarding ground defenses.
CHAPTER 1: HISTORY FOR OPERATORS * Introduction * Initial Conditions * Case Studies * Format * CHAPTER 2: PLOESTI: HEAVY BOMBERS GO LOW * Situation * Mission * Administration and Logistics * Command and control * Execution * Analysis * CHAPTER 3: BERLIN AIRLIFT: NON-LETHAL STRATEGIC AIRPOWER * Introduction * Situation * Mission * Administration and Logistics * Command and Control * Execution * Analysis * CHAPTER 4: MIG ALLEY: BATTLING MIGS AND SANCTUARIES * Mission * Administration and Logistics * Command and Control * Execution * Analysis * CHAPTER 5: BARREL ROLL: AIRPOWER IN COUNTER-INSURGENCY * Introduction * Situation * Mission * Administration and Logistics * Execution * Analysis * CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSION