The introduction of aircraft had begun a new era in warfare. No longer were military powers limited to the boundaries of vehicles that were restricted to land. The evolution of aircraft technology helped pioneer a new type of combat strategy that played a significant role in determining the outcome of a battle. Air combat also influenced the economies of the participating countries. The whole cycle of airplanes from the assembly line to the pilot became factors that added up to become an advantage or disadvantage.
Aircraft combat became popular during World War II. Each of the combatant powers wanted to gain command of the air, which meant destroying enemy air power while also subjecting the enemy to continuous air attack themselves. However, air combat was not expected to be biggest factor in bringing the war to an end. Command of air was a necessary component in the successful execution of military strategies. But it was these strategies, involving the movement of vehicles and men and the occupying of land that won the day.
Air power had a complementary rather than an
autonomous role to play. As a result the air war also
lacks historical autonomy. Any attempt to impose it on
the evidence necessarily exaggerates the significance
of aircraft and distorts the view of military strategy
during the war itself.” (Fetzer 148).
Perhaps the greatest contribution of aircraft in the war was its ability to execute strategic bombings.
“The bombing offensive, the one ostensibly independent air operation, was regarded by some of its supporters as capable of winning the war on its own.” (Jablonski 149). Great Britain used aircraft bombing strategies just as they used to use naval blockades. Because of their inferior land army compared to the Axis powers in Europe, a different style of offense was needed, and air combat was it. On the other hand other countries were not as ready to change their strategies.
The other fighting powers, despite the popular
attraction of the theory of the ”knock-out blow” from
air, remained skeptical and never seriously
contemplated a strategic bomber campaign designed to
do what armies and navies had done hitherto. (Goyer
In the end however, neither the British nor the American supporters of bombing could provide convincing evidence that the war in Europe could be ended from air. In the pacific the bombers had a better case since Japan’s economy was weaker and it’s air resistance was much worse. Using aircraft to bomb Japan seemed a wise strategy because the bombings would avoid the needless loss of life that an invasion of the Japanese mainland would produce. Yet the American defeat of Japan was a combined operation in every sense, naval power cleverly combined with air power helped to back up and protect the long haul of the American armies...