By Thomas Hippler
Charts how Giulio Douhet's pioneering technique of concentrating on civilian populations with air energy built from 1884 to international warfare II.
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Additional resources for Bombing the People: Giulio Douhet and the Foundations of Air-Power Strategy, 1884-1939
16 See G. Douhet, La difesa nazionale, in G. Douhet La guerra integrale, ed. E. Canevari (Rome: Campitelli, 1936), 5–89 (23). 17 This text was published only after the war, in two volumes, in 1921 and 1922 respectively, of which the first treats the conduct of the war in 1915 and the second in 1916. The texts on the First World War are actually pivotal for Douhet’s thinking, even if aeronautical matters play only a subordinate role in them. During the same period he also drew up a series of memoranda concerning the use of the aeroplane in war.
As a consequence, Douhet was one of the first to insist on the importance of war in the air, and he was furiously opposed to ideas that would advocate war from the air. The primary objective of military aviation was to combat enemy aviation, and not to attack objectives on the ground or at sea. Virtually all of his other opinions on aviation follow from this basic insight: on the technical level, his preference for the aeroplane rather than the dirigible; on the institutional level, his idea of an independent air force; and on the ethical level, the condemnation of strategic bombardments.
In Douhet, Scritti 1901–1915, 95–104 (95–6). 43 In Douhet’s view, aviation could be of some utility for reconnaissance missions, but only for ground forces and not for navies, since the speed was too limited. Gat’s description of this outlook as ‘not [assuming] the complete dominance of air power to the practical exclusion of armies and navies’ definitely seems far too weak. The same holds true for his statement that Douhet did not ‘prescribe “strategic” bombing of the enemy’s production centres and population as the only appropriate mission for air power’.