Term Paper: History of American War: Aerial Warfare

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[. . .] Below, I highlight the aircraft models that were mainly used by the U.S. during the Second World War. These will be classified as per the kinds of wartime aircrafts highlighted elsewhere in this text.

Bomber Aircraft: The bombers mainly used during this war were the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, Boeng XB-15, Brewster XA-32 and the CAC Wirraway (Lorell, 2003). The Boeing B-29 Superfortress was the one responsible for the dropping of the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Transport Aircraft: the United States made use of such models as Boeng C-108 Flying Fortress, Lockheed Model 10 Electra, Waco CG-3, and Douglas C-54 Skymaster for transportation and logistical purposes (Lorell, 2003).

Reconnaissance Aircraft: by 1941, the United States had begun to appreciate the need for reconnaissance aircraft. However, most of the aircraft used for aerial situational awareness at first were modifications of other aircraft. This was the case with the Lockheed A-12 Super Electra.

Fighter Aircraft: at the beginning of the Second World War, most of the fighter aircraft the United States had access to were inferior to those of opposing forces (Dugdale-Pointon, 2007). It should, however, be noted that as the war progressed, the U.S. aviation industry was able to develop models that came in handy as the U.S. military sought to gain air superiority. Fighter aircraft in this case included the Grumman H6F Hellcat, the Northrop P-61 Black Widow, the North American P-51 Mustang, and the Bell P-39 Airacobra (Lorell, 2003).

The Korean War (1950-1953)

There was massive utilization of fighter jets during the Korean War. Some of the combat jets that were extensively made use of included F4U Corsair and P-51 Mustang. While these two kinds of aircraft were propeller-powered, the skies were also dominated by other models such as F9F Panthers and F-80s that were, essentially, turbojets.

It is important to note that, effectively, the newly self-reliant U.S. Air Force's shooting capabilities were tested during the Korean War. As Murphy and McNiece (2009) point out, this war marked the very first time that United States was making use of jet aircraft in battle. Other dominant U.S. jets included, but they were not limited to the F-86 Sabre jets and the MiG-15s -- with the latter being soviet-built (Lorell, 2003). This particular war also saw the retirement of Second World War era aircraft such as B-29 Superfortresses and the F-51D Mustangs. Although battle tired, the B-29s were of great relevance when it came to the attacking of military installations and other critical targets in North Korea (Lorell, 2003). However, as I have already pointed out, the greatest show was put by the likes of F-86 Sabre.

It should also be noted that in addition to the utilization of jets, USAF units also made specialized utilization of the likes of the A-26A Invader and the A-1 Skyraider (Murphy and McNiece, 2009). The two were largely counterinsurgency aircraft. According to Murphy and McNiece (2009), the total casualties suffered by the USAF during this particular war was 1,841. On the other hand, the number of aircraft lost in action were 1,466 (Murphy and McNiece, 2009).

As I have already pointed out elsewhere in this text, the newly self-reliant U.S. Air Force's shooting capabilities were tested during the Korean War. In that regard, therefore, it would be prudent to also categorize the aircraft used on the basis of the kinds of military aircraft that have been used in wartime scenarios. These include reconnaissance, transport, fighter and bomber aircraft.

Reconnaissance Aircraft: some of the aircraft used for reconnaissance during the Korean War include the Convair RB-36D Peacemaker, the North American RB-45 Tornado, Boeng RB-50A Superfortress, Boeng RB/SB-17G Flying fortress and the RF-86 Sabre (Lorell, 2003). Convair RB-36D Peacemakers were largely utilized in high altitude reconnaissance missions towards the end of thee war.

It should be noted that in some cases, reconnaissance aircraft such as the North American RB-45 Tornado were valuable targets. For this reason, they had to be escorted by fighter jets most of the time. The relevance of the reconnaissance aircraft listed above cannot be overstated in this particular war as far as aerial photography of targets and bomb damage assessment is concerned.

Transport Aircraft: as I have indicated elsewhere in this text, transport aircraft help in the movement of troops and military hardware during wartime situations. This was also largely the case during the Korean War. The transportation aircraft employed at this time included Douglas C-124 Globemaster II, Curtiss C-46 Commando, and the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxar (Lorell, 2003). These aircraft types proved critical in the airlifting of military personnel and supplies.

Fighter Aircraft: Fighter aircraft made use of included the North America F-86A/E/F Sabre, the Republic F-84E Thunderjet, the North American F-82F/G Twin Mustang and the Lockhead F-94B Starfire (Lorell, 2003).

In addition to clearing the skies by shooting down Korean aircraft that ventured into the airfields, fighter aircraft also conducted ground attacks and was also actively used in the escort of other aircraft.

Bomber Aircraft: there were several types of these employed during the Korean War. Some of these included, but they were not limited to, Douglas B-26 Invader and Boeing B-29 Fortress (Lorell, 2003). These aircraft were extensively used to bring about damage to enemy infrastructure such as bridges, dams, as well as railroads - with an aim of bringing about confusion and chocking off enemy supplies.

Vietnam War (1955 to 1975)

While the Korean War became synonymous with the significant utilization of fighter jets, Vietnam War saw the massive utilization of helicopters by the United States. Some of the helicopters that were heavily utilized during this particular conflict were the UH-1 Huey helicopter, the CH-47 Chinook and the CH-54 Tarhe, and the AH-1Cobra (Gross, 2002). However, it was the UH-1 Huey helicopter that was most extensively used during this war -- eventually becoming the Vietnam War symbol (Gross, 2002).

The CH-47 Chinook and the CH-54 Tarhe helicopter models were extremely important when it came to logistics -- they could carry as well as lift heavy loads, including arterially and military vehicles. All in all, helicopters were critical when it came to the distribution of troops and evacuation of injured personnel throughout the war. Bombings considered strategic were undertaken by such models as the AC-47 gunships, Dauglas A-1 Skyrider aircraft, and the B-26 Invaders (Gross, 2002).

Occasionally, B-52 Stratofortresses were used to pacify enemy camps by unloading on the unsuspecting concentrations massive payloads of explosives. According to Gross (2002), most of the strike missions in North Vietnam were, however, flown using the USAF F-105 Thunderchiefs. This was particularly the case during the so-called Operation Rolling Thunder.

Utilization of Aircraft in Recent Wars -- Rapid Advance of Technology (2003-2014)

In this section, I will largely concern myself with the Iraq war and the more recent U.S. engagement in Afghanistan. These two wars revealed significant advances in the application of technology in military aviation. It is important to note that at the beginning of the First World War, the military airpower of the United States, as was the case with many other countries, was at its infancy. In comparison to today's wartime aircraft, the aircraft in use at the time was largely primitive (Dugdale-Pointon, 2007). The offensive aerial warfare weapons included the Zeppelins (widely used by German forces) and static balloons.

The U.S. military airpower came of age during the Second World War. Designs changed and speed was enhanced. Bomb load was also increased significantly. During and after the cold war, advances in technology led to the development of advanced antiaircraft weaponry and detection systems. As a result, countermeasures had to be developed to protect military aircraft, with the use of flare and chaff as Dugdale-Pointon (2007) points out, becoming common, and later, the adoption of stealth technology.

Further advances in technology in recent times have seen the development of unmanned aerial devices commonly referred to as drones. Although the idea of making use of unmanned aircraft, as Callam (2010) points out was conceived almost fifty years ago, the operationization of these devices only started taking place recently.

The Iraqi War (2003 to 2011) and the War in Afghanistan (Ongoing)

In this particular war, the goal was to defeat Saddam Hussein and restore order in Iraq by, amongst other things, crushing insurgency. Key partners in the war were the U.S. And Britain. Beginning on the 19th of March, the air campaign proved too difficult for Iraqi anti-aircraft defense to contain. This is particularly the case given that such models as the B-2 and the B-52 bombers were either beyond the reach of the said anti-aircraft weapons (due to their ability to fly at high-altitudes) or were virtually undetectable (due to the employment of stealth technology) (Messenger, 2013).

In the Afghanistan War, the U.S. made use of both helicopter gunships and fighter-bombers to pacify Taliban fighters. While apache helicopter gunships came in handy in the tactical destruction of air defenses and training camps controlled by the Taliban, AC-130 gunships and F/A-18 Hornet Fighter-Bombers… [END OF PREVIEW]

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History of American War: Aerial Warfare.  (2014, July 18).  Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/history-american-war-aerial-warfare/8883598

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"History of American War: Aerial Warfare."  Essaytown.com.  July 18, 2014.  Accessed May 20, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/history-american-war-aerial-warfare/8883598.