By William Carrington Sherman; Wray R Johnson; Air University (U.S.). Press
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They hoped that, as a result of this, guns and airplanes by the scores would be diverted from the decisive theatre of war on the Western front and tied down to the fruitless guard of the capitals. The strategy was not unlike that of Lee in the American Civil War in his many threats against Washington. It met with a full measure of success. A very small force of German airplanes immobilized many times their number of allied aircraft, and reduced by that amount the allied air power in the decisive areas of action.
The fight, once begun, was carried through to a finish. With the advent of the huge armies of modern times, the period necessary for a decision has been lengthened; our common language, in such phrases as “winning the day,” illustrates a feature of ancient warfare only. But even though battles of today may last over many days, they are normally continued to a decision. In this connection, it must be 14 AIR WARFARE [Ch. 1 recalled, the World War, apparently an exception, was a reality in four years’ siege of France, interspersed with sorties which were knows as battles.
But as a factor in tactical methods in the World War, shock action was negligible. With the advent of the present parachute, however, which has proved to be practicable and remarkably successful, shock action presents a slightly different aspect. A head-on collision, with its enormous speed of impact, is as certainly fatal in its consequences today as formerly. But it is possible to bring another airplane to earth by ramming from the rear, when the difference of speeds is not great, and allow all personnel to escape uninjured, thanks to the seat parachute.