“There is another way to truth: by minute examination of
facts. That is the way of the scientist, a hard and noble and
—John Masefield, Poet Laureate of England
War, despite its horrors, usually speeds up scientific discoveries and their uses. The First World War gave impetus to gigantic improvements of motors and engines. Early tanks, considered behemoths at the time, were introduced and had clanked across the battlefields of Western Europe. Although field artillery during that war to save democracy was still drawn by horses, mules, and men, mounted horsemen were no longer practical and mobile operations were replaced by trench warfare. From front lines, motorized ambulances marked with huge red crosses and carrying maimed men bounced their way backwards toward hospitals. Air power, despite stirring accounts of deeds by aces like Eddie Rickenbacker and Manfred Richthofen, was not a pivotal factor in World War I. That debacle had hardly ended, however, before militarists in former belligerent nations turned their attention to air power. In America, pioneers like William “Billy” Mitchell, Henry “Hap” Arnold, and Curtis LeMay gave demonstrations to officials and politicians of what bombs dropped from airplanes could do.
Italy and France expanded their air power, and experts, noting Germany’s Luftwaffe, predicted that a nation’s armed might would be invin-