ABSTRACT

Alexander P. de Seversky was one of the best known and most popular aviation figures in America during World War II.1 He was a fighter ace and war hero, aircraft designer, entrepreneur, stunt pilot, writer, and theorist. His passion was airpower, and his mission was to convince the American people that it had revolutionised warfare, becoming its paramount and decisive factor. He pursued this goal relentlessly for over three decades. In truth, although generally regarded as a theorist, his ideas on airpower and its role in war were not original. Rather, he was a synthesiser and populariser, a purveyor of secondhand ideas. His self-appointed task was to sell those ideas to the public, who could then influence their political leaders to make more enlightened defence decisions. At the same time, Seversky wore the mantle of prophet, using his interpretation of history and his own logic to predict the path that air warfare would take. Events would show that he was more successful as a proselytiser than he was as a prophet. Like many air theorists, his ideas outran the technology available to implement them.