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Lesson Index: [ Introduction | Lesson Objective | Overview | Early Perspective of War | Rise of Total War | WWI Perspective | Context for Airpower | Aircraft as a Military Tool | Aircraft for Strategic Effects | Early Airpower Theorists | Aipower Theorists—Douhet | Douhet’s Theory | Implications of Douhet’s Theory | Douhet’s Impact | Aipower Theorists—Trenchard | Trenchard’s Theory | Implications of Trenchard’s Theory | Trenchard’s Impact | Aipower Theorists—Mitchell | Mitchell’s Theory | Implications of Mitchell’s Theory | Mitchell’s Impact | Mitchell’s Legacy | Summary | Quiz ]
Title: Aipower Theorists—Mitchell
Action: A portrait of Trenchard appears to screen left while text bullets appear to the right to reinforce the narration:
Voice: William “Billy” Mitchell was born in France in 1879 and raised in Wisconsin. He joined the Army Air Force as a Signal Corps Officer, completed flight training at his own expense, and was appointed to the General Staff all at a young age. Mitchell, who was in Europe when the U.S. entered the war, became the first American aviator to cross enemy lines as a combat pilot and was soon appointed to command of combat aviation at the front. Mitchell led many combat patrols and commanded the nearly 1,500 aircraft of the Saint Mihiel air offensive—the single largest air armada of the time. He was subsequently appointed brigadier general and given command of the Air Service of the Group of Armies. After the war, he headed the Aviation of the Army of Occupation, established in Germany. When he returned from Europe, having led air forces in combat and served as an Allied air commander, he was appointed Assistant Chief of the Air Service. He led an Air Service Provisional Brigade in the bombing tests of various naval vessels and demonstrated the efficacy of airpower by sinking an ex-German battle ship, the “Ostfriesland,” with a 2000-pound bomb. Mitchell quickly became the voice of independent airpower. Through numerous speaking engagements and published articles, Mitchell became the leading advocate for a strong, independent air force and a robust national aeronautics capability made up of all types of aviation assets: military, commercial, and general. Because of his zealous campaign for airpower and his open criticism of those charged with airpower’s development, he precipitated his own courts martial in 1925. His vocal criticism of the War Department’s mismanagement of airpower, resulted in his conviction. He left the Army in early 1926 and died in February 1936.
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