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Central to his theory was the premise that control of the air alone could win a war regardless of those armies on land or at sea. Douhet believed that bomber’s would reign supreme by bringing the war to the civilian population centers. The use of high explosive’s, incendiaries, and gas were to be used. To be sure, the use of such ordnance is quite horrifying, however Douhet reasoned that the end result would be saving lives. The civilian population, “driven by an instinct for self preservation”, would force her government to sue for peace, thus ending a war quickly.
Douhet’s vision was of bombers that would be self-defending and fly as fast or faster than fighter aircraft. Fighter planes would be limited to a secondary role of defending bomber formations. preemptive air strikes should be the order of the day. There was no need for the niceties of civilized society (declaration of war) as war itself was an uncivilized action. Lastly, the air arm should be independent of all other services and receive the lion’s share of military expenditures.
Interestingly, while Douhet’s vision of “future” war while quite frightening, was meant to save lives & property. War, he viewed, was inevitable, and naturally the sooner it was over the better. His ideas were meant as a way of achieving this.
While there is much to discuss and debate about his theories, the intent of this essay was to give a general overview of a visionary and his work. I offer no opinion as to the validity or morality of his theories as it is beyond the scope of this writing.
Written By: Eddy Cassin
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