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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: Implications of Trenchard’s Theory
Action: A picture of Trenchard appears screen left. The following list of links to pop-up boxes appears screen right. The text of the pop-up boxes follows:
Originally, Trenchard was opposed to both the creation of a single air arm and strategic bombing. The reason for his opposition was that the British Expeditionary Force in France was the key to the British role in the war; therefore, the priority for the Royal Flying Corps was support of the ground forces. After the war was over, Trenchard became more committed to the ideas of a separate air force and the concept of strategic bombing. He became preoccupied with defending the Royal Air Force from opponents in the Army and Navy who retained the idea that airpower should remain a support arm.
Trenchard was well indoctrinated in ground warfare. While World War I was still being fought, he was firm in his commitment to ground support and only allowed excess aircraft to be dedicated to independent operations. However, after the war, he increasingly argued that the role of army and navy forces was secondary and that RAF strategic attack was primary.
After the war, Trenchard gave a very high priority to bomber units. This prioritization reflected his ever-growing belief in the importance of strategic bombing.
Arguments have been made that the British squandered a huge lead in aviation technology after 1918. This was not entirely Trenchard’s fault, however. All of the services were held to very tight budgets until after the rise of Hitler. Bomber Command was not on line until 1936, and when war came in 1939, all of its bombers were two-engine aircraft of unimpressive performance. Fighter Command did succeed with some technological triumphs in the late 1930’s, but some have argued that was in spite of Trenchard and his disciples.
Voice: Trenchard’s ideas regarding the role of airpower contained several implications regarding the use of airpower in the conduct of warfare. More information on the implications of his theories can be found by passing your cursor over the bullets.
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