On a recent holiday I read The Age ofAirpower by Martin Van Creveld. If reading something so obviously work relatedon holiday marks me as a workaholic then so be it. Perhaps worse, I couldn’tput it down.
The book is an A-Z of military campaigns in which airpowerplayed a role. Best of all it discussed a number of obscure campaigns, such asthe Italians’ use of airpower in Libya before World War I, and the Britishpolicy of Air Control in the interwar period.
It also details the role of airpower in the major wars, andhow different airpower doctrines evolved and were executed by major the fivemain WWII belligerents – the
Through all this Van Crevald manages to weave theapprehension the world’s army’s and navies have always felt toward airpower.Armies feel airpower is best employed in a close support role, whereas airforces – ever mindful of their independence – see a bigger role, with airpowerbest employed in interdiction, or in knocking out the enemy’s command andcontrol systems as the
Despite the positive title The Age of Airpower will givedefence contractors cause to reflect. It points out that no two powers capableof making advanced fighters have engaged in hostilities since WWII owing to thethreat of nuclear weapons, which he feels obviate the role of combat aircraft.
Healso questions the wisdom of spending billions onexpensive aircraft such as the F-22, F-35, and Eurofighter. These modernaircraft simply cannot be mass produced and rapidly deployed like theMustangs, 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 deeplyfascinating subject.