On a recent holiday I read The Age of Airpower by Martin Van Creveld. If reading something so obviously work related on holiday marks me as a workaholic then so be it. Perhaps worse, I couldn't put it down.
The book is an A-Z of military campaigns in which airpower played a role. Best of all it discussed a number of obscure campaigns, such as the Italians' use of airpower in Libya before World War I, and the British policy of Air Control in the interwar period.
It also details the role of airpower in the major wars, and
how different airpower doctrines evolved and were executed by major the five
main WWII belligerents - the
Through all this Van Crevald manages to weave the
apprehension the world's army's and navies have always felt toward airpower.
Armies feel airpower is best employed in a close support role, whereas air
forces - ever mindful of their independence - see a bigger role, with airpower
best employed in interdiction, or in knocking out the enemy's command and
control systems as the
Despite the positive title The Age of Airpower will give defence contractors cause to reflect. It points out that no two powers capable of making advanced fighters have engaged in hostilities since WWII owing to the threat of nuclear weapons, which he feels obviate the role of combat aircraft.
Healso questions the wisdom of spending billions on expensive aircraft such as the F-22, F-35, and Eurofighter. These modern aircraft simply cannot be mass produced and rapidly deployed like the Mustangs, Spitfires, Focke Wolfes, and Messerschmitts of WWII. In a modern war of attrition, he suggests, belligerents would soon be forced to fall back on less advanced systems.
All in all a great, entertaining read about a deeply fascinating subject.