Airwar: Essays on Its Theory and Practice

By Werrell, Kenneth P. | Air & Space Power Journal, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

Airwar: Essays on Its Theory and Practice


Werrell, Kenneth P., Air & Space Power Journal


Airwar: Essays on Its Theory and Practice by Phillip S. Meilinger. Frank Cass Publishers (http://www.frankcass.com), 5824 NE Hassalo Street, Portland, Oregon 97213-3644, 2003, 288 pages, $67.50 (hardcover), $26.00 (softcover).

Phillip Meilinger, a prolific and well-respected historian of military aviation, has published a collection of 14 essays taken from his master's thesis, articles, papers, and lectures. Varying in length from three to 29 pages, they were either published or presented between 1991 and 2001. Meilinger's wide breadth of coverage, in terms of both chronology and subject, gives readers a sweeping survey of aviation history. From the outset, he emphasizes that his book is not history of airpower (the title is somewhat misleading) but "a collection of my thoughts on various important aspects of air power history and theory, strategy and tactics, and operations and organization, from both an American and an international perspective" (p. 3). Three chapters on Giulio Douhet, Hugh Trenchard, and John Slessor cover the theory of military aviation. He also includes pieces on joint operations in World War II, the B-29 campaign against Japan, the first Gulf War, and Kosovo. A pair of essays deals with aviation technology (the development of US fighter aircraft between the world wars and of precision-guided munitions). Other chapters deal with seldom-discussed topics, such as the British navy's fleet air arm and the issue of interservice rivalry, and the futile international attempt in the early 1930s to disarm the world's militaries.

Meilinger reveals his enthusiasm for and advocacy of airpower early on (literally on page one): "I believe that air power has brought about a revolution in war, because it has altered virtually all aspects of how it is fought, by whom, against whom, and with what weapons. …

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