chapter  2
The Nature of Air Combat during the Combined Bomber Offensive
Pages 33

THE U L T I ~1 ATE aim of the Allied strategic bombing offensive was to destroy Germany's war-making potential and to help bring a speedy end to the war. To accomplish this goal it was necessary to redefine many of the traditional measures of success in conflict. For centuries victory in land warfare had been measured by territory seized and enemy ground forces killed or captured. On at least a theoretical level, it was felt that successful air war v\'Ould alter these goals. 1 During the early years of the Second 'Vorld War, Allied airmen spoke confidently about the ability of long-range bombers to penetrate deep into the Kazi homeland, strike accurately and return with minimum losses. 2 There were corresponding hopes that Germany's capability to wage war would be destroyed along with its willingness to resist. J

The reality of combat between 1939 and 1942 did much to damage these simplistic notions. Optimistic projections about the ability of air power to ,yin the war by itself were painfully dispelled throughout the ensuing long months of the conflict. The idea that a swift, clean and relatively bloodless air campaign could be decisive in twentieth century industrialized warfare gradually gave way to the realities of mounting losses and indecisive results! In the air war of attrition which inevitably developed, the Allies' vast reserves of manpower, equipment and resources were ultimately more important than German technological innovation, individual ability and tactical finesse. 5 In short, at the most fundamental level, war in the air proved to be not much different from war on the ground.