Air Power

Taking war into the third dimension forever changed war, and powered many advances in aviation. I have seperate sections for more individual air combat quotations and 9/11 aviation quotations. We’ll start with some bad predictions, and then move into the reality of war from above:

I will ignore all ideas for new works and engines of war, the invention of which has reached its limits and for whose improvement I see no further hope.

Julius Frontinus, chief military engineer to the Emperor Vespasian, c. CE 70.

Thank God, men cannot as yet fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.

Henry David Thoreau, Winter Journal, 3 January 1861.

When my brother and I built and flew the first man-carrying flying machine, we thought that we were introducing into the world an invention which would make further wars practically impossible. That we were not alone in this thought is evidenced by the fact that the French Peace Society presented us with medals on account of our invention.

Orville Wright. Letter to C. M. Hitchcock, 21 June 1917.

Air power may either end war or end civilization.

Winston Churchill, House of Commons, 14 March 1933.

I feel about the airplane much as I do in regard to fire. That is, I regret all the terrible damage caused by fire. But I think it is good for the human race that someone discovered how to start fires, and that it is possible to put fire to thousands of important uses.

Orville Wright, asked during WWII if he ever regretted being involved in the invention of the airplane.

We’re going to bomb them back into the stone Age.

General Curtis E. LeMay USAF, Mission with LeMay: My Story, 1965.

The preponderance of the Republican Guard divisions outside of Baghdad are now dead. I find it interesting when folks say we’re softening them up. we’re not softening them up, we’re killing them.

Lt. Gen. Michael Moseley, USAF, 5 April 2003.

Once the command of the air is obtained by one of the contended armies, the war must become a conflict between a seeing host and one that is blind.

H. G. Wells, Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life, 1902.

We were once told that the aeroplane had “abolished frontiers"; actually it is only since the aeroplane became a serious weapon that frontiers have become definitely impassable.

George Orwell, You and the Atomic Bomb, Tribune newspaper, London, 19 October 1945.

The cavalry, in particular, were not friendly to the aeroplane, which it was believed, would frighten the horses.

Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh. This is not the Sir Walter Raleigh who was beheaded nearly three hundred years earlier. This Sir Walter became the official historian of the RAF.

It is realized that Great Britain’s insular strength is no longer unchallenger, that the aeroplane is not a toy, but a possible instrument of warfare, which must be taken into accout by soldiers and statesmen.

Lays Aside Crutches to Fly Across Channel, article on Louis Blériot’s flight across the English Channel, in the weekly New York publiation Automibile Topics Illustrated, 31 July 1909.

Another popular fallacy is to suppose that flying machines could be used to drop dynamite on an enemy in time of war.

William H. Pickering, Aeronautics, 1908.

To affirm that the aeroplane is going to ‘revolutionize’ navel warfare of the future is to be guilty of the wildest exaggeration.

Scientific American magazine, 16 July 1910.

Aviation is fine as a sport. But as an instrument of war, it is worthless.

General Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superiure de Guere, 1911.

It is not possible … to concentrate enough military planes with military loads over a modern city to destroy that city.

US Colonel John W. Thomason Jr., November 1937.

I will not wage war against women and children! I have instructed my air force to limit their attacks to military objectives. However, if the enemy should conclude from this that he might get away with waging war in a different manner he will receive an answer that he'll be knocked out of his wits!

Adolf Hitler, speech before the Reichstag, 1 September 1939.

They had bombed London, whether on purpose or not, and the British people and London especially should know that we could hit back. It would be good for the morale of us all.

Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, ordering the RAF to start bombing German cities, quoted in Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945, 25 August 1940.

The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw, and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naive theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind.

Air Marshal Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, 1942, at the start of the bombing campaign against Germany. Quoted in Sir Arthur Harris & The Lancaster Bomber at The British Postal Museum and Archive.

We are going to scourge the Third Reich from end to end. We are bombing Germany city by city and ever more terribly in order to make it impossible for her to go on with the war. That is our object; we shall pursue it relentlessly.

Air Marshal Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, radio address, 28 July 1942. Quoted by Sir Courtauld Thomson, in a House of Lords debate on bombing policy on 9 February 1944.

In spite of all that happened at Hamburg, bombing proved a relatively humane method.

Air Marshal Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, statement on the July 1943 bombings of Hamburg, quoted in 'The Valour and the Horror: The Untold Story of Canadians in the Second World War (1991) by Merrily Weisbord and Merilyn Simonds Mohr.

I do not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier. It therefore seems to me that there is one and only one valid argument on which a case for giving up strategic bombing could be based, namely that it has already completed its task and that nothing now remains for the Armies to do except to occupy Germany against unorganized resistance.

Air Marshal Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, in letter to Sir Norman Bottomley, 29 March 1945. Quoted in 'Bomber Harris: The Story of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Harris' (1985) by Dudley Saward.

A thing of orchestrated hell — a terrible symphony of light and flame.

Edward R. Murrow, part of a 17-minute radio broadcast about his flight in a RAF Lancaster bombing Berlin . The famous broadcast became known as 'Orchestrated Jell.' 3 December 1943. Listen to the whole broadcast (mp3)

We are going to scourge the Third Reich from end to end. We are bombing Germany city by city and ever more terribly in order to make it impossible for her to go in with the war. That is our object, and we shall pursue it relentlessly.

Marshal of the Royal Air Force Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, July 1942.

Not to have an adequate air force in the present state of the world is to compromise the foundations of national freedom and independence.

Winston Churchill, House of Commons, 14 March 1933.

The development of air power in its broadest sense, and including the development of all means of combating missiles that travel through the air, whether fired or dropped, is the first essential to our survival in war.

Viscount Hugh M. Trenchard, 1946

Bombardment from the air is legitimate only when directed at a military objective, the destruction or injury of which would constitute a distinct military disadvantage to the belligerent.

The Hague Convention of Jurists, 1923.

Whatever the lengths to which others may go, His Majesty's Government will never resort to the deliberate attack on women and children and other civilians for purposes of mere terrorism.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, House of Commons, 14 September 1939.

War is a nasty, dirty, rotten business. It's all right for the Navy to blockade a city, to starve the inhabitants to death. But there is something wrong, not nice, about bombing that city.

Marshal of the Royal Air Force Arthur 'Bomber' Harris.

It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land … The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing … I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives, such as oil and communications behind the immediate battle-zone, rather than on mere acts of terror and wanton destruction, however impressive.

Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, memo to Charles Portal, Chief of the Air Staff and the Chiefs of Staff Committee, 28 March 1945. Under pressure from Air Chief Marshal Arthur Harris, Portal and others, Churchill withdrew his memo and issued a new one on 1 April 1945 omitting the words “acts of terror.”

Pershing won [WWI] without even looking into an airplane, let alone gong up in one. If they had been of such importance he'd have tried at least a ride… . we’ll stick to the army on the ground and the battleships at sea.

John Wingate Weeks, U.S. Secretary of War, 1921.

Would not the sight of a single enemy airplane be enough to induce a formidable panic? Normal life would be unable to continue under the constant threat of death and imminent destruction.

General Giulio Douhet,The Command of the Air, 1921.

The greatest contributor to the feeling of tension and fear of war arose from the power of the bombing aeroplane. If all nations would consent to abolish air bombardment … that would mean the greatest possible release from fear.

Ernest Rutherford

I would attack any squadron blockading a port. Nothing could prevent me from dropping out of the clear blue sky on to a battleship with 400 kilos of explosives in the cockpit. Of course it is true that the pilot would be killed, but everything would blow up, and that's what counts.

Jules Vedrines, pre-1914.

There are a lot of people who say that bombing cannot win the war. My reply to that is that it has never been tried… and we shall see.

Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, 1942.

Hitler built a fortress around Europe, but he forgot to put a roof on it.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Are you aware it is private property? Why you’ll be asking be  to bomb Essen next.

British Secretary of State for Air Sir Kingsley Wood, regards plans to bomb the Black forest, 30 September 1939.

Above all, I shall see to it that the enemy will not be able to drop any bombs.

Hermann Goering, German Air Force Minister. German original: “Vor allem werde ich dafur sorgen, dass der Feind keint Bomben werfen Kann.”

No enemy bomber can reach the Ruhr. If one reaches the Ruhr, my name is not Goering. You may call me Meyer.

Hermann Goering, German Air Force Minister, addressing the German Air force, September 1939.

My Luftwaffe is invincible… . And so now we turn to England. How long will this one last — two, three weeks?

Hermann Goering, German Air Force Minister, June 1940.

I think it is well … for the man in the street to realise there is no power on earth that can protect him from bombing, whatever people may tell him. The bomber will always get through. The only defence is in offence, which means that you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves.

Stanley Baldwin, British Prime Minister, House of Commons speech 10 November 1932.

Since the day of the air, the old frontiers are gone. When you think of the defence of England you no longer think of the chalk cliffs of Dover; you think of the Rhine. That is where our frontier lies.

Stanley Baldwin, House of Commons speech 30 July 1934.

I wish for many reasons flying had never been invented.

Stanley Baldwin, on learning that Germany had secretly built an air force in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles, 1935.

May it not also be that the cause of civilization itself will be defended by the skill and devotion of a few thousand airmen? There never has been, I suppose, in all the world, in all the history of war, such an opportunity for youth. The Knights of the Round Table, the Crusaders, all fall back into the past.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, report to Parliament,4 June 1940.

… when I look round to see how we can win the war I see that there is only one sure path … and that is absolutely devastating, exterminating attack by very heavy bombers from this country upon the Nazi homeland. We must be able to overwhelm them by this means, without which I do not see a way through.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in a letter to Minister of Aircraft Production Lord Beaverbrook, July 1940.

Victory, speedy and complete, awaits the side which first employs air power as it should be employed. Germany, entangled in the meshes of vast land campaigns, cannot now disengage her air power for a strategically proper application. She missed victory through air power by a hair's breadth in 1940… . We ourselves are now at the crossroads.

Air Marshal Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, opening of letter to Winston Churchill, 17 June 1942.

The air fleet of an enemy will never get within striking distance of our coast as long as our aircraft carriers are able to carry the preponderance of air power to sea.

Real Admiral W. A. Moffet, Chief of the US Bureau of Aeronautics, October 1922.

Space in which to maneuver in the air, unlike fighting on land or sea, is practically unlimited, and … any number of airplanes operating defensively would seldom stop a determined enemy from getting through. Therefore the airplane was, and is, essentially an instrument of attack, not defence.

Air Vice-Marshal J. E. 'Johnnie' Johnson, RAF.

Only air power can defeat air power. The actual elimination or even stalemating of an attacking air force can be achieved only by a superior air force.

Major Alexander P. de Seversky, USAAF.

The Navy can lose us the war, but only the Air Force can win it. Therefore our supreme effort must be to gain overwhelming mastery in the Air. The Fighters are our salvation … but the Bombers alone provide the means of victory… . In no other way at present visible can we hope to overcome the immense military power of Germany.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill, memorandum for the Cabinet, 3 September 1940.

The best defence of the country is the fear of the fighter. If we are strong in fighters we should probably never be attacked in force. If we are moderately strong we shall probably be attacked and the attacks will gradually be bought to a standstill… . If we are weak in fighter strength, the attacks will not be bought to a standstill and the productive capacity of the country will be virtually destroyed.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding.

For good or for ill, air mastery is today the supreme expression of military power and fleets and armies, however vital and important, must accept a subordinate rank.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill

The time will come, when thou shalt lift thine eyes
To watch a long-drawn battle in the skies.
While aged peasants, too amazed for words,
Stare at the flying fleets of wondrous birds.

England, so long mistress of the sea,
Where winds and waves confess her sovereignty,
Her ancient triumphs yet on high shall bear
And reign the sovereign of the conquered air.

Thomas Gray, 1737.

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin . . Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, his was their finest hour.

Prime Minster Winston Churchill, 18 June 1940.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

Prime Minster Winston Churchill, House of Commons, 20 August 1940. The Royal Air Force has been known as 'the few' ever since. Max Hastings in his book Winston’s War: Churchill, 1940-1945 states that Churchill came up with the phrase a few days earlier on 16 August, after visiting Fighter Command's 11 Group operation room. His chief of staff 'Pug' Ismay made some remark in the car riding back to Chequers, and Churchill said, “don’t speak to me. I have never been so moved.” After a few minutes silence, he first spoke the classic line.

The Few
This quote is often changed by writers and speakers, giving us material such as 'Never … was so much owed by so few to so many,' seen after the Falklands War. Other folks have wondered if Churchill was referring to the RAF's bar tab.

The military mind always imagines that the next war will be on the same lines as the last. That has never been the case and never will be. One of the great factors on the next war will be aircraft obviously. The potentialities of aircraft attack on a large scale are almost incalculable.

Marshal of France Ferdinand Foch.

Offense is the essence of air power.

General H. H. 'Hap' Arnold, USAAF. In Report of the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces to the Secretary of War, November 1945.

No aircraft ever took and held ground.

Atributed to a US Marine Corps Manual.

Air power is indivisible. If you split it up into compartments, you merely pull it to pieces and destroy its greatest asset - its flexibility.

Field Marshall Bernard Mongomery

Against this pale, duck-egg blue and greyish mauve were silhouetted a number of small black shapes: all of them bombers, and all of them moving the same way. One hundred and thirty-four miles ahead, and directly in their path, stretched a crimson-red glow; cologne was on fire. Already, only twenty-three minutes after the attack had started, Cologne was ablaze from end to end, and the main force of the attack was still to come.

Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, VC, DSO

How could they possibly be Japanese planes?

Admiral Husband E. Kimmel

Believe me, Germany is unable to wage war.

Former British Prime Minister David LLoyd George, 1 August 1934.

But I have seen the science I worshiped, and the airplane I loved, destroying the civilization I expected them to serve.

Charles A. Lindbergh, Time magazine, 26 May 1967.

Because of its independence of surface limitations and its superior speed the airplane is the offensive weapon par excellence.

General Giulio Douhet

I have a mathematical certainty that the future will confirm my assertion that aerial warfare will be the most important element in future wars, and that in consequence not only will the importance of the Independent Air Force rapidly increase, but the importance of the army and navy will decrease in proportion.

General Giulio Douhet,Command of the Air, 1921.

The future battle on the ground will be preceded by battle in the air. This will determine which of the contestants has to suffer operational and tactical disadvantages and be forced throughout the battle into adopting compromise solutions.

General Erwin Rommel

A modern, autonomous, and thoroughly trained Air Force in being at all times will not alone be sufficient, but without it there can be no national security.

General H. H. 'Hap' Arnold, USAAF.

The most important branch of aviation is pursuit, which fights for and gains control of the air.

Brigadier General William 'Billy' Mitchell, USAS.

During the Battle of Britain the question “fighter or fighter-bomber?” had been decided once and for all: The fighter can only be used as a bomb carrier with lasting effect when sufficient air superiority has been won.

General Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe,The First and the Last, 1954.

You can shoot down every MiG the Soviets employ, but if you return to base and the lead Soviet tank commander is eating breakfast in your snack bar, Jack, you’ve lost the war

Anonymous A-10 Pilot, USAF

In the development of air power, one has to look ahead and not backward and figure out what is going to happen, not too much what has happened.

Brigadier General William 'Billy' Mitchell, USAS.

That idea is so damned nonsensical and impossible that I’m willing to stand on the bridge of a battleship while that nitwit tries to hit if from the air.

Newton D. Baker, U.S. Secretary of War, regards Billy Mitchell's idea of airplanes sinking a battleship. In July 1921 Mitchell got his experiment and sunk the captured German battleship Ostfreisland. Newton was not on the bridge. 1921.

Good God! This man should be writing dime novels.

Josephus Daniels, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, regards Billy Mitchell's idea of airplanes sinking a battleship. In July 1921 Mitchell got his experiment and sunk the captured German battleship Ostfreisland. 1921.

Such an experiment without actual conditions of war to support it is a foolish waste of time… . I once saw a man kill a lion with a 30-30 caliber rifle under certain conditions, but that doesn't mean that a 30-30 rifle is a lion gun.

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr, U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Navy, War, regards Billy Mitchell's experimental sinking of the captured German battleship Ostfreisland. 1921.

Good God! This man should be writing dime novels.

Josephus Daniels, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, regards Billy Mitchell's idea of airplanes sinking a battleship. In July 1921 Mitchell got his experiment and sunk the captured German battleship Ostfreisland. 1921.

The advent of air power, which can go straight to the vital centers and either neutralize or destroy them, has put a completely new complexion on the old system of making war. It is now realized that the hostile main army in the field is a false objective, and the real objectives are the vital centers.

Brigadier General William 'Billy' Mitchell, 'Skyways: A Book on Modern Aeronautics,' 1930.

[In World War I] air raids on both sides caused interruptions to production and transportation out of all proportion to the weight of bombs dropped.

Edward Meade Earle

The sky over London was glorious, ochre and madder, as though a dozen tropic suns were simultaneously setting round the horizon … Everywhere the shells sparkled like Christmas baubles.

Evelyn Waugh.

From now on we shall bomb Germany on an ever-increasing scale, month by month, year by year, until the Nazi regime has either been exterminated by us or — better still — torn to pieces by the German people themselves.

Prime Minster Winston Churchill, 14 July 1941.

Strategic air assault is wasted if it is dissipated piecemeal in sporadic attacks between which the enemy has an opportunity to readjust defenses or recuperate.

General H. H. 'Hap' Arnold, USAAF.

I am purely evil;
Hear the thrum
of my evil engine;
Evilly I come.
The stars are thick as flowers
In the meadows of July;
A fine night for murder
Winging through the sky.

Ethel Mannin,Song of the Bomber.'

I am the bomber 17 —
Proud machine — sleek and powerful,
Made by man to kill his foe,
Made of steel and wood and metal,
Built to fight and drop destruction …

Robert Cromwell,Skyward: A Ballad of the Bomber.'

If we lose the war in the air we lose the war and lose it quickly.

Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery

Air power is like poker. A second-best hand is like none at all — it will cost you dough and win you nothing.

General George Kenney, Commander of Allied Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific, 1942-45.

As a peace machine, the value [of the airplane] to the world will be beyond computation. Would a declaration of was between Russia and Japan be made, if within an hour thereafter, a swiftly gliding aeroplane might takes its flight from St. Petersburg and drop half a ton of dynamite above the was offices? Could any nation afford to war upon any other with such hazards in view?

John Brisben Walker, owner of Cosmopolitan magazine, Cosmopolitan magazine, March 1904.

Air power alone does not guarantee America's security, but I believe it best exploits the nation's greatest asset — our technical skill.

General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, second AF Chief of Staff.

If we had these rockets in 1939, we should never have had this war.

Adolf Hitler, regards the V-1 rocket.

I believe this plan [raiding RAF airfields] would have been very successful, but as a result of the Fuhrer's speech about retribution, in which he asked that London be attacked immediately, I had to follow the other course. I wanted to attack the airfields first, thus creating a prerequisite for attacking London … I spoke with the Fuhrer about my plans in order to try to have him agree I should attack the first ring of RAF airfields around London, but he insisted he wanted to have London itself attacked for political reasons, and also for retribution.
I considered the attacks on London useless, and I told the Fuhrer again and again that inasmuch as I knew the English people as well as I did my own people, I could never force them to their knees by attacking London. We might be able to subdue the Dutch people by such measures but not the British.

Reichmarschall Hermann Goering, International Military Tribunal Nuremberg, 1946.

Air battle is not decided in a few great clashes but over a long period of time when attrition and discouragement eventually cause one side to avoid the invading air force.

Dale O. Smith

The best way to defend the bombers is to catch the enemy before it his in position to attack. Catch them when they are taking off, or when they are climbing, or when they are forming up. don’t think you can defend the bomber by circling around him. It's good for the bombers morale, and bad for tactics.

Brigadier General Robin Olds, USAF.

Bombing is often called 'strategic' when we hit the enemy, and 'tactical' when he hits us, and is often difficult to know where one finishes and the other begins.

Air Vice-Marshal J. E. 'Johnnie' Johnson, RAF.

Airpower has become predominant, both as a deterrent to war, and — in the eventuality of war — as the devastating force to destroy an enemy — s potential and fatally undermine his will to wage war.

Omar Bradley

Air Power is, above all, a psychological weapon — and only short-sighted soldiers, too battle-minded, underrate the importance of psychological factors in war.

B. H. Liddell-Hart

Never abandon the possibility of attack. Attack even from a position of inferiority, to disrupt the enemy's plans. This often results in improving one’s own position.

General Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe.

Anyone who has to fight, even with the most modern weapons, against an enemy in complete command of the air, fights like a savage against modern European troops, under the same handicaps and with the same chances of success.

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, Rommel Papers, 1953.

The first and absolute requirement of strategic air power in this war was control of the air in order to carry out sustained operations without prohibitive losses.

General Carl A. 'Tooey' Spaatz

In order to assure an adequate national defense, it is necessary — and sufficient — to be in a position in case of war to conquer the command of the air.

General Giulio Douhet

Air control can be established by superiority in numbers, by better employment, by better equipment, or by a combination of these factors.

General Carl A. 'Tooey' Spaatz

A modern state is such a complex and interdependent fabric that it offers a target highly sensitive to a sudden and overwhelming blow from the air.

B. H. Liddell-Hart

We carried out many trials to try to find the answer to the fast, low-level intruder, but there is no adequate defense.

Air Vice-Marshal J. E. 'Johnnie' Johnson, RAF.

… then there was war in heaven. But it was not angels. It was that small golden zeppelin, like a long oval world, high up. It seemed as if the cosmic order were gone, as if there had come a new order, a new heavens above us: and as if the world in anger were trying to revoke it … So it seems ours cosmos is burst, burst at last, the stars and Moon blown away, the envelope of the sky burst out, and a new cosmos appeared, with a long-ovate, gleaming central luminary, calm and drifting in a glow of light, like a new Moon, with its light bursting in flashes on the earth, to burst away the earth also. So it is the end — our world is gone, and we are like dust in the air.

Milton,Paradise Lost.'

And even if a semblance of order could be maintained and some work done, would not the sight of a single enemy airplane be enough to induce a formidable panic? Normal life would be unable to continue under the constant threat of death and imminent destruction.

General Giulio Douhet,Il dominio dell'aria, 1921.

We have the enemy surrounded. We are dug in and have overwhelming numbers. But enemy airpower is mauling us badly. We will have to withdraw.

a Japanese infantry commander, situation report to headquarters, Burma, WW II.

To have command of the air means to be able to cut an enemy's army and navy off from their bases of operation and nullify their chances of winning the war.

General Giulio Douhet

The conviction of the justification of using even the most brutal weapons is always dependent on the presence of a fanatical belief in the necessity of the victory of a revolutionary new order on this globe.

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1925.

In the early stages of the fight Mr. Winston Churchill spoke with affectionate raillery of me and my “Chicks.” He could have said nothing to make me more proud; every Chick was needed before the end.

ACM Sir Hugh C. T. Dowding, dispatch to the Secretary of State for Air, 20 August 1941.

Air warfare is a shot through the brain, not a hacking to pieces of the enemy's body.

Major General J. F. C. Fuller, British Army.

To me our bombing policy appears to be suicidal. Not because it does not do vast damage to our enemy, it does; but because, simultaneously, it does vast damage to our peace aim, unless that aim is mutual economic and social annihilation.

Major General J. F. C. Fuller, British Army.

The Air Force comes in every morning and says, “Bomb, bomb, bomb.” And then the State Department comes in and says, “Not now, or not there, or too much, or not at all.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson

As the aeroplane is the most mobile weapon we possess, it is destined to become the dominant offensive arm of the future.

Major General J. F. C. Fuller, British Army.

Air power can either paralyze the enemy's military action or compel him to devote to the defense of his bases and communications a share of his straitened resources far greater that what we need in the attack.

Prime Minster Winston Churchill

The most important thing is to have a flexible approach… . The truth is no one knows exactly what air fighting will be like in the future. We can't say anything will stay as it is, but we also can't be certain the future will conform to particular theories, which so often, between the wars, have proved wrong.

Brigadier General Robin Olds, USAF.

The weapon where the man is sitting in is always superior against the other.

Colonel Erich 'Bubi' Hartmann, GAF.

"He who wants to protect everything, protects nothing,” is one of the fundamental rules of defense.

General Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe.

If we should have to fight, we should be prepared to do so from the neck up instead of from the neck down.

General James H. Doolittle

To use a fighter as a fighter-bomber when the strength of the fighter arm is inadequate to achieve air superiority is putting the cart before the horse.

Lt General Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe

Adolf Galland said that the day we took our fighters off the bombers and put them against the German fighters, that is, went from defensive to offsensive, Germany lost the air war. I made that decision and it was my most important decision during World War II. As you can imagine, the bomber crews were upset. The fighter pilots were ecstatic.

General James H. Doolittle

The only proper defense is offense.

Air Vice-Marshal J. E. 'Johnnie' Johnson, RAF.

It is not possible to seal an air space hermetically by defensive tactics.

Air Vice-Marshal J. E. 'Johnnie' Johnson, RAF.

Superior technical achievements — used correctly both strategically and tactically — can beat any quantity numerically many times stronger yet technically inferior.

General Adolf Galland, Luftwaffe.

Good airplanes are more important than superiority in numbers.

Air Vice-Marshal J. E. 'Johnnie' Johnson, RAF.

Nobody kicks ass without tanker gas. Nobody.

attributed to the special operations KC-135 tanker crews of Plattsburgh and Grissom AFBs in the mid 1980’s.

In our victory over Japan, airpower was unquestionably decisive. That the planned invasion of the Japanese Home islands was unnecessary is clear evidence that airpower has evolved into a force in war co-equal with land and sea power, decisive in its own right and worthy of the faith of its prophets.

General Carl A. 'Tooey' Spaatz, Evolution of Air Power, Military Review, 1947.

The navy of any great power … has the dream to have one or more aircraft carriers. The question is not whether you have an aircraft carrier, but what you do with your aircraft carrier.

Major General Qian Lihua, director of the Chinese Defense Ministry's Foreign Affairs Office, the most forthright official statement to date regards rumors of China wanting to start carrier operations. 'Financial Times,' 16 November 2008.

Straying off course is not recognized as a capital crime by civilized nations.

Jeane Kirkpatrick, in reference to the Soviet destruction of Korean Airways Flight 007

The country will some day pay for the stupidities of those who were in the majority on this commission. They know as much about the future of aviation as they do about the sign writing of the Aztecs.

James H. Doolittle, at the time an Air Corps Reservist and racing pilot, comments to a reporter regards the presidential committee of inquiry that did not support establishment of an air force separate from the army, 1934.

The function of the Army and Navy in any future war will be to support the dominant air arm.

General James H. Doolittle, in a speech at Georgetown University, 1949.

What's the sense of sending $2 million missiles to hit a $10 tent that's empty?

President George W. Bush, Oval Office meeting, 13 September 2001.

Is it likely that an aircraft carrier or a cruise missile is going to find a person?

US Defense Secretary Donald H Rumsfeld, regards questions on an air war to kill Osama bin Laden, 23 September 2001.

we’re at a real time of transition here in terms of future aviation. What's going to be manned? What's going to be unmanned? There are those who see [the JSF] as the last manned fighter/bomber. And I’m one that’s inclined to believe it — whether it's right or not.

Admiral Michael Mullen, Joint Chiefs Chairman, congressional testimony regards the Fiscal 2010 defense budget and the future of manned military aviation, reported in Aviation Week & Space Technology, 18 May 2009.

There is no need for them to be pilots, it’s sort of like a union regulation.

A 'senior Pentagon official', regards the current requirement for USAF UAV operators to be rated pilots. General Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, said in the same article that the requirement will be dropped in the future. Reported in Newsweek magazine, 28 September 2009 

There is something more important than any ultimate weapon. That is the ultimate position — the position of total control over Earth that lies somewhere out in space.  That is … the distant future, though not so distant as we may have thought. Whoever gains that ultimate position gains control, total control, over the Earth, for the purposes of tyranny or for the service of freedom.

(Then) Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, quoted in U.S. News & World Report magazine, 1958.

This strongly asserted but ill-defined license to kill without accountability is not an entitlement which the United States or other states can have without doing grave damage to the rules designed to protect the right to life and prevent extrajudicial executions.

Philip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, report to the UN Human Rights Council regards U.S. UAV operations, 2 June 2010.

If we maintain our faith in God, love of freedom, and superior global air power, the future [of the US] looks good.

General Curtis Lemay, quoted in Why Air Power Alone Won’t Beat ISIS, the Wall Street Journal, 8 December 2015.

General Curtis Lemay

If our airforces are never used, they have achieved their finest goal.

General Nathan F. Twining, news reports, 31 March 1956.

General Nathan F. Twining

Why don’t we just buy one airplane and let the pilots take turns flying it.

President Calvin Coolidge, complaining about a War Department request to buy more aircraft. Cited in Developing Space Power, in the USAF flagship publication Air and Space Power Journal, Spring 2003.

Five Thousand Balloons capable of raising two Men each, would not cost more than Five Ships of the Line: And where is the Prince who can afford so to cover his Country with Troops for its Defense, as that Ten Thousand Men descending from the Clouds, might not in many Places do an infinite deal of Mischief, before a Force could be brought together to repel them?

Benjamin Franklin, letter to Jan Ingenhousz, 16 January 1784.


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