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Billy Mitchell's War with the Navy: The Interwar Rivalry Over Air Power

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The years immediately after World War I was an era in which Congress was unwilling to spend money on armaments. It was a time when politicians and the constituents they served were more interested in disarmament than national defense. For the military services this meant lean budgets and skeleton operating forces. In this environment the Army and Navy struggled for funds to support the development of their respective aviation services giving rise to an interservice rivalry over air power that would last until the national defense build up prior to World War II.

At War with the Navy is chronicles the struggle between the Army and Navy air arms for the resources needed to define and establish the role of aviation within their respective services during the period between the two world wars. The main examples of this competition were the predatory attacks on the Navy orchestrated by Brigadier General Billy Mitchell between 1920 to 1925 and the response of the Navy's leadership. Mitchell's attacks on the Navy were symptomatic of the Army Air Service's struggle to define a mission in the wake of World War I and its efforts to dominate coast defense, which became the main point of contention between the two services.

When Billy Mitchell returned from World War I he brought with him the deep-seated belief that air power had made armies and navies obsolete. When Congress rejected the concept of a unified air service in 1920, Mitchell and his supporters turned on the Navy, seeking to substitute the Air Service as the nation's first line of defense. Mitchell proved that aircraft could sink a battleship with the bombing of the Ostfriesland in 1921, but he was unable to convince the General Staff of the Army, the General Board of the Navy, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, or Congress of the need to authorize an independent air force. When these efforts failed, Mitchell turned to the pen in a further attempt to discredit the Navy. Convicted by his own words and actions, Mitchell was court-martialed in 1925 and forced to resign from the service.

After Mitchell's resignation, the rivalry for air power between the two services resurfaced when the Navy's plans to procure torpedo planes for the defense of Pearl Harbor and Coco Solo were brought to the attention of the Army. The renewed controversy over coastal defense and the notorious MacArthur-Pratt agreement is discussed in detail as are the various attempts by the Army Air Corps to intercept ships at sea that including the Mt. Shasta incident, the bombing of the Utah, and the interception of the Rex.

The book concludes with a description of the events surrounding the Air Corps abysmal performance at Pearl Harbor and Midway followed by a critical assessment of how the development of aviation was pursued by the Army and the Navy during the interwar period.

Synopsis:

When Billy Mitchell returned from WWI, he brought with him the deep-seated belief that air power had made navies obsolete. However, in the years following WWI, the U.S. Congress was far more interested in disarmament and isolationist policies than in funding national defense. For the military services this meant lean budgets and skeleton operating forces. Billy Mitchell's War with the Navy recounts the intense political struggle between the Army and Navy air arms for the limited resources needed to define and establish the role of aviation within their respective services in the period between the two world wars.

After Congress rejected the concept of a unified air service in 1920, Mitchell and his supporters turned on the Navy, seeking to substitute the Air Service as the nation's first line of defense. While Mitchell proved that aircraft could sink a battleship with the bombing of the Ostfriesland in 1921, he was unable to convince the General Staff of the Army, the General Board of the Navy, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, or Congress of the need for an independent air force. When Mitchell turned to the pen to discredit the Navy, he was convicted by his own words and actions in a court-martial that captivated the nation, and was forced to resign in 1925.

Rather than ending the rivalry for air power, Mitchell's resignation set the stage for the ongoing dispute between the two services in the years immediately before WWII. After Mitchell's resignation, the rivalry for air power between the two services resurfaced when the Navy's plans to procure torpedo planes for the defense of Pearl Harbor and Coco Solo were brought to the attention of the Army. The book concludes with a description of the events surrounding the Air Corps' abysmal performance at Pearl Harbor and Midway followed by a critical assessment of how the development of aviation was pursued by the Army and the Navy after WWII.

About the Author

Thomas Wildenberg is an independent historian/scholar specializing in the development of naval aviation and logistics at sea. He has written extensively about the U.S. Navy during the interwar period. His articles have appeared in several scholarly journals including the Journal of Military History, American Neptune, and Proceedings. He is also the author of three books on U.S. naval history that cover such varied topics as replenishment at sea and the development of dive bombing. Besides All the Factors of Victory and Destined for Glory, his most recent work, co-authored with Norman Polmar is Ship Killer: A History of the American Torpedo.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780870210389
Author:
Wildenberg, Thomas
Publisher:
US Naval Institute Press
Subject:
Military - Aviation
Subject:
Military - World War I
Publication Date:
20140231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
25, 25 b/w photos
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 18.86 oz

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Military » Aviation History
History and Social Science » Military » General
History and Social Science » Military » World War I
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
Transportation » Aviation » General

Billy Mitchell's War with the Navy: The Interwar Rivalry Over Air Power New Hardcover
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Product details 288 pages US Naval Institute Press - English 9780870210389 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , When Billy Mitchell returned from WWI, he brought with him the deep-seated belief that air power had made navies obsolete. However, in the years following WWI, the U.S. Congress was far more interested in disarmament and isolationist policies than in funding national defense. For the military services this meant lean budgets and skeleton operating forces. Billy Mitchell's War with the Navy recounts the intense political struggle between the Army and Navy air arms for the limited resources needed to define and establish the role of aviation within their respective services in the period between the two world wars.

After Congress rejected the concept of a unified air service in 1920, Mitchell and his supporters turned on the Navy, seeking to substitute the Air Service as the nation's first line of defense. While Mitchell proved that aircraft could sink a battleship with the bombing of the Ostfriesland in 1921, he was unable to convince the General Staff of the Army, the General Board of the Navy, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, or Congress of the need for an independent air force. When Mitchell turned to the pen to discredit the Navy, he was convicted by his own words and actions in a court-martial that captivated the nation, and was forced to resign in 1925.

Rather than ending the rivalry for air power, Mitchell's resignation set the stage for the ongoing dispute between the two services in the years immediately before WWII. After Mitchell's resignation, the rivalry for air power between the two services resurfaced when the Navy's plans to procure torpedo planes for the defense of Pearl Harbor and Coco Solo were brought to the attention of the Army. The book concludes with a description of the events surrounding the Air Corps' abysmal performance at Pearl Harbor and Midway followed by a critical assessment of how the development of aviation was pursued by the Army and the Navy after WWII.

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