Command of the Air [Giulio Douhet, Charles a. Gabriel] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Reprint of the translation by staff of the. The Command of the Air is the greatest military treatise on air war ever written – a dogmatic manifesto promising victory through strategic. Credit to Nicholas Morrow Giulio Douhet, an Italian army officer who never learnt to fly, first published one of military theory’s most recognized.

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Douhet’s was an apocalyptic vision that gripped the popular imagination. I argued that the day would come when thousands of military planes would ply the air under an independent Ministry of the Air.

The bombing units, on the contrary, once the Independent Air Force has won command of the air, now freed of aerial opposition, will be able to unleash without risk all their offensive power to cut off the enemy’s army and navy from their bases of operation, spread terror and havoc in the interior of his country, or break down the moral and physical resistance of his people. I do not know whether an account has ever been drawn up of the weapons and resources scattered over the countryside for aerial defense; but there is no doubt that the total must have been very large.

For this reason clinging to the past will teach us nothing useful for the future, for that future will be radically The Command of The Air 27 different from anything that has gone before. Hence, to win, to gain control of the coveted area, one side had to break through the fortified defensive lines of The Command of The Air 9 the other and occupy the area.

On the other hand, victory is never won by fleeing. The ex- tent of the commsnd of action depends exclusively upon the fuel con- sumption of its motors and its carrying capacity. By smothering the enemy’s civilian centers with bombs, Douhet argued the war would become so terrible that the common people would rise against their government, overthrow it with revolution, then sue for peace.

In like manner, pursuit squadrons under army command have the specific duty of policing the sky above the land surface; those under navy command, of policing the sky over the sea surface. Today, however, the sky is of far greater interest to man, living on the surface of the earth, than is the sea; and nothing, therefore, can a priori prevent him from reaching the conclusion that the air constitutes a battlefield of equal importance.


InItaly went to war against the Ottoman Empire for commajd of Libya.

We may think from all this that a unit of bombardment estab- lished according to this principle represents a somewhat indefinite offensive power which might be capable of inflicting a certain amount of damage upon an opponent. In many cases, he had hugely exaggerated the effects of bombing.

Project MUSE – The Command of the Air

How many guns lay waiting month after month, even years, mouths gaping to the sky, on the watch for an attack which never came! In that fact lies essentially the whole game of war tactics and strategy. Quite apart from what Germany may or may not do, however, it is impossible to ignore the value of these new weapons or to deny their vital role in any preparation for national defense.

If these facts are not given careful consideration, the country will have to make great sacrifices in an effort to bring its defense up to date; but even these sacrifices will be of little use, for the defenses could not possibly meet the demands of modern military requirements.

In short, it means to be in a position to win. But aerial tje developed spontaneously, in the natural course of events. And so, though the World War sharply affected whole nations, it is nonetheless true that only a minority of the peoples involved actually fought and died.

They conceived of war in its most offensive aspect, and so pro- vided themselves with the most adequate means— the and mm. But because the sea is bound by coast lines, freedom of navigation is often pre- cluded except between points of contact situated on the same commqnd or along arbitrary routes under foreign control, to avoid which long journeys around the coasts themselves must be under- taken.

All the influences which have conditioned and characterized warfare from the be- ginning are powerless to affect aerial action. When the pursuit squadrons of one side in the war succeeded in bringing down more enemy ships than they lost of their own, that side would immediately claim command of the air.

In this case, in order to defend ourselves from what force X can do, we are obliged aair station near each of these twenty objectives a defensive force corresponding to force X, in all twenty times as many planes as the enemy has. He was a key proponent of strategic bombing in aerial warfare. As I said, we find ourselves now at a particular point in the curve of the evolution of war.

In “Rivista Aeuronautica” in Julyhe wrote that he believed that tons of bombs over the most important cities would end a war in less than a month. Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. But, if I may use a figure of speech, it is not enough to shoot down all birds in flight if you want to wipe out the species; there remain the eggs and the nests.


Douhet believed in the morale effects of bombing. Such wounds, while leaving the body weaker and weaker, still left the patient with the hope of living and recovering strength enough to deal to an equally weakened enemy that last pinprick capable of drawing the last drop of blood.

As the hours passed and night advanced, the fires would spread while the poison gas paralysed all life.

Knowing what transpired after Douhet wrote, we can test our understanding, find the assumptions and conclusions of Douhet that proved false, and read with wonder those that proved true. Pursuit planes, on the other hand, were given less definite missions and consequently had more freedom of action. But they are still in their infancy, and are entirely different from all others in character; and we cannot yet estimate exactly their potential influence on the form of future wars.

An adequate national defense cannot be assured except by an aerial force ca- pable in case of war of conquering the command of the air.

Giulio Douhet

These are demanded of any flying machine in peace or war. We may be not far off if we figure roughly the proportion of metal in them at 50 per cent of their total weight. Ehrhart Washington, It is a fact that Germany, forced to disarm on land and sea, will be driven to arm in the air.

During all those years I had been trying with all my might to drive home the realization of the importance of air power, but all my efforts met defeat at the hands of military authorities and government bureaucracies.

These pursuit squadrons I shall call “units of combat. The relatively inexperienced Canadian, flying a Sopwith Camel, was credited with bringing down the German airman on April 21, The fact of the matter is that, in spite of its claim to offensive characteristics, the pursuit plane was used almost entirely as a de- fensive means. With a small force and limited means we could easily provide for the defense of our territory even against attack by greatly superior forces, and rely upon gaining enough time to meet any eventuality of the con- flict.