FIGHTING efficiency in war is partly determined by the speed with which experience in the field can be interpreted and utilized. Practical achievements in the employment of the results of experience during the year 1942 fall into three main groups -- strategical, tactical and technical. Obviously, technical progress is interwoven with, and has a direct influence on, strategy and tactics. This is nowhere more true than in aviation. Indeed, an outstanding example of the fact was provided during the opening phase of the North African campaign when bombers based in England were employed to attack supply ports in northern Italy that were feeding Field Marshal Rommel's forces and that were being got ready to feed Axis forces in Tunisia. But although this close linkage plainly exists between technology and strategy and tactics, we here shall consider each separately and only occasionally shall note striking instances of collaboration.
I. AIR STRATEGY
Right from the beginning of the war, the proper employment of heavy bomber forces has headed the list of strategical problems. The Royal Air Force always regarded the heavy bomber as an important weapon, and has steadily built up its heavy bomber strength. In this it has been proved to be right. But experience has caused it to modify its views as to its use.
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Lord Trenchard always was a powerful champion of independent air action. Indeed, he was advocating such action before the brilliant Italian writer General Douhet, although Douhet's name is more widely known than his in this connection. In its extreme form, the theory of an independent air force rests upon the power of strategic bombing. If it be true that a nation can be knocked out by bombing alone, it follows that an air force ought to be independent. But the hard school of war has taught that there is a fallacy, or rather an incompleteness, in this argument. Experience has emphasized that air power is as much dependent on supplies as
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