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Air warfare by William Carrington Sherman; Wray R Johnson; Air University

By William Carrington Sherman; Wray R Johnson; Air University (U.S.). Press

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But it is unquestionable that these practical fighters were concerned only with the conditions existing at the time, and made no pretense of formulating a rule for other than the present and immediate future, which they were considering. Under these circumstances, the opinion was undoubtedly sound. But it was based on the paucity of existing communications, and these conditions have already changed. Communication from airplane to airplane by means of the radio-telephone is already an accomplished fact.

The infection does not spread. While the comparative freedom of the airman from the influence of the mass tends to preserve him from the demoralizing effect of panic, it has also its disadvantages. Every infantry soldier is aware of the spiritual comfort which comes in the hour of danger from the close proximity of comrades or from the bearing and example of a leader. This is not totally denied to the airman, but its influence is weakened by the very conditions which render waves of panic so highly improbable.

It would, of course, be confusion of cause and effect to assert that design of aircraft necessitates offensive action; rather is it true that the pursuit airplane is so designed because the importance of the principle of the offensive is accurately appreciated. But, in order to insure that pursuit aviation may assume the offensive whenever it desires, it is necessary to strip it of practically all defensive power. In short, limitations of design make it impracticable to have a machine which may be utilized offensively or defensively at will.

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