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A Fair Critique of the de Seversky Combat Plane

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Author Topic: A Fair Critique of the de Seversky Combat Plane  (Read 452 times)
Bad Penny
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« on: August 06, 2011, 04:47:41 am »

Alexander de Seversky was best known as a pioneer aviator and as the originator of the concept of the "Combat Plane", which is a strategic bomber with range, armor, and armament sufficient to enable deep=penetration bombing raids into enemy territory without need of fighter escort.  While many consider this concept to have been foolhardy in the light of the experience hard-gained by air forces during the Second World War, I believe the experience of Eight United States Air Force over Central Europe during the last two years of the war validate the concept of the Combat Plane, however lacking in reality the overall concept of the ability of strategic aerial bombardment to eliminate an enemy's ability to wage war eventually proved to be.

While it is true that most attempts to implement de Seversky's Combat Plane concept failed (largely due to the design of the aircraft intended to implement this idea (i.e., the Consolidated B-24 Liberator and the Avro Lancaster)), the combination of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress (with her famous ball turret emplaced so as to cover the plane's ventral aspect) with Curtis LeMay's "Combat Box" formation, designed to give every machine gun aboard every plane a clear field of fire into airspace beyond the box itself, as well as to facilitate a concentrated drop zone for the bombs and to keep the trailing planes free of the wake turbulence of the planes ahead of them, did, in fact, prove the validity of de Seversky's fundamental concept of the Combat Plane.

The proof went to the extent that the US deep-penetration raids against Berlin in the spring of 1944 were, fundamentally, not actually intended to damage Berlin, but, rather, to attract German fighters which would be forced to defend the Capital, the specific purpose of this deliberate baiting being to clear the skies of German fighters in time for the invasion of Normandy.  The German fighter force in the West was still formidable when the raids began, but virtually non-existent on D-Day, due to the effectiveness of the B-17 formed into the Combat Box as an anti-aircraft platform.

The truth is that the B-17 accounted for more German aircraft than any other type in the ETO, fighters included.
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