Ships over the Sea

Possibilities and Limitations of Air Transport in War

AS our war develops in far-flung regions -- Australia, Norway, the Red Sea -- the problem of transportation becomes more and more discouraging in view of the enormous distances involved. So far the attempt to bridge those distances has been made almost entirely by seagoing ships. But they are desperately slow. The high tempo of this ultra-modern war, with its accent on air power, demands the instant stepping-up of air transport. Perhaps this can be achieved more successfully now than in time of peace; because, provided the proper will exists, much more can be done much more quickly under stress of war than under normal conditions.

Little was heard about air shipping and the carriage of cargo by air until the war began. There were certain notable developments in Europe, to be mentioned in a minute; but so far as the American public were concerned, almost the first they heard about the revolutionary importance of air transport was when Germany began her demonstrations in Poland, Holland, Norway, Crete and elsewhere. Details are still somewhat of an enemy secret. But there nevertheless is ample documentation -- photographic and otherwise -- of the tremendously important place that the transport of both troops and supplies by air now holds in the modern German scheme of war.

When whole divisions of German troops were transported by air from Denmark to Oslo it was an historic moment which marked the final eclipse of British sea power as a self-sufficient instrument. What was on the sea -- no matter how preponderant -- made a difference only to what also was on the sea. Sea power could not deny access by air. German airplanes flew unhindered over the Skagerrak with their vitally important cargoes. Crete provided an even more fantastic example of what had happened. There, for the first time, a complete invasion by air was attempted and accomplished. One neutral observer is said to have counted 650 German transport planes in the sky over Crete at one time.

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