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The Command of the Air is the greatest military treatise on air war ever written – a dogmatic manifesto promising victory through strategic. The Italian General Giulio Douhet reigns as one of the twentieth century’s foremost strategic air power theorists. As such scholars as Raymond Flugel have . Reprinted in by the Office of Air Force History. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data. Douhet, Giulio, The command of the air.

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BooksMilitary Classics. Posted by Military History Monthly.

Command of the Air – University of Alabama Press

In fact, he may never have learnt to fly. He was an army officer, reaching the rank of general, but trench-war stalemate had turned his mind to alternatives. For going over the heads of his superiors, he was court-martialled and imprisoned for a year. The following year, he published his masterwork, The Command of the Air.

Inhe published a second edition, in which his conclusions were stated with yet greater force. Navies were restricted to the sea and slowed by the heavy medium of douhey. Aircraft could go anywhere within their radius hiulio action, flying over enemy lines to bomb industry, infrastructure, and workforces.

On the contrary, the battlefield will be limited only by the boundaries of the nations at war, and all of their citizens will become combatants, since all of them will be exposed to the aerial offensives of the enemy. Such, he claimed, was the destructive power of aerial bombardment that air power would become dominant in war, and national air-forces clmmand over the other two services.


He harboured an apocalyptic vision of the war to come: First would come explosions, then fires, then deadly gases floating on the surface and preventing any approach to the stricken area.

As the hours passed and night advanced, the fires would spread while the poison gas paralysed all life.

What defence was possible against the destruction of cities by aerial bombing? And how was this to be achieved?

commanx Neither anti-aircraft guns nor fighter aircraft could provide effective defence, and resources devoted to them drained strength from the decisive arm: The three-dimensional vastness of the sky and the speed with which aircraft moved through it precluded effective anti-aircraft gunnery.

Additionally, the numbers of guns needed to cover every potential target made this form of defence enormously expensive.

Giulio Douhet

Fighters had the problem of getting aloft and finding their enemy before damage could be done. Douhet was a terrible prophet, but a false one. His whole conception of air war rests commwnd the assumption that the bomber will always get through, and that the damage it can then do will crush the resistance.


He was wrong on both counts, as British experience in was to demonstrate.

The Command of the Air by Giulio Douhet : a Military Times Classic – Military History Monthly

The British developed an early warning system linked with a command-and-control network that allowed their fighters to intercept bomber squadrons. Heavy losses forced the Germans to switch to night bombing.

Then, indeed, the bomber got through. But neither the infrastructure nor the morale of London was broken by the Blitz. Instead, a million ordinary Londoners, mobilised in a plethora of volunteer roles, kept the city alive and breathing.

Nonetheless, even a false prophet often preaches partial truth. The Command of the Air remains a visionary conceptualisation of the potential power of massed strategic bombing. If the defence has proved more innovative and resilient than Douhet envisaged, aiir threat is real enough, and millions have indeed perished since in the holocausts of aerial destruction predicted in The Command of the Air.

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