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Incendiary Wars: The Transformation of United States Air Force Bombing Policy in the WWII Pacific Theater

Gilad Bendheim

Title:
Incendiary Wars: The Transformation of United States Air Force Bombing Policy in the WWII Pacific Theater
Author(s):
Bendheim, Gilad
Thesis Advisor(s):
Mazower, Mark A.
Date:
Type:
Undergraduate theses
Department:
History
Persistent URL:
Notes:
, Columbia University.
Abstract:
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vast majority of research conducted on United States Army Air Force bombing and strategic bombing in general during World War II has been dedicated to the campaigns in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). This is because over 75 percent of USAAF munitions used throughout the war were used against Germany and its allies, and the theory of strategic bombing was best illuminated against the backdrop of the British Royal Air Force Bomber Command’s indiscriminate and deliberate bombing of civilian centers. The USAAF’s – and specifically the specially formed Twentieth Air Force’s – own strategic campaign in the Pacific Theater, though not totally ignored, has been given comparatively short shrift in the literature, mostly because of the overwhelming attention devoted to their use of the atomic bomb. Yet the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945 were only a tiny fraction – and not even the most destructive – of the 26,401 effective sorties and 148,675 tons of bombs dropped by the Twentieth against their primary targets (though pound-forpound, the atomic bombs were by far the most destructive). In many senses, the atomic attacks were the culmination of a trend begun half a year earlier in late February and early March 1945. Those months saw the inception of the USAAF policy of firebombing Japanese urban centers, a practice seemingly at odds with the well-publicized USAAF commitment to only engage in precision bombing of military targets. It is the circumstances of this evolution – from precision to area or “morale” bombing – that will be investigated in this study.
Subject(s):
American history
Military history
Item views
1058
Metadata:
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Suggested Citation:
Gilad Bendheim, 2011, Incendiary Wars: The Transformation of United States Air Force Bombing Policy in the WWII Pacific Theater, Columbia University Academic Commons, http://hdl.handle.net/10022/AC:P:10285.

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