America's Pursuit of Precision Bombing, 1910-1945 (Smithsonian History of Aviation and Spaceflight) (英語) ペーパーバック – 1997/11/1
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The refinement of American military technology--このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。
"This is a first-rate book. . . . At its core, this is a meticulously researched, nicely written 'biography' of the widely renowned, but in fact little-known Norden bombsight and its curious relationship to American strategic bombing doctrine and practice. It is a bizarre and ironic story."Technology and Culture
"An excellent book about a crucial yet surprisingly neglected subject."Air & Space Power Journal --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。
Between the years 1942-45, hundreds of thousands of young Americans embarked on an unprecedented struggle: To destroy, from the air, an enemy nation's ability to wage war. This was the first trial of the untested theory of daylight precision bombing. In the event, the reality was often much less than precise. But thousands of lives were risked daily, and many lost, on this premise.
Precision aerial bombing was not a natural outgrowth of the new science of aviation. It was the result of competing and bitterly debated bodies of opinion, inter- and intra-service rivalries, the appalling legacy of the Great War, America's image of itself as reflected in its warmaking philosophy and, a central topic of this book, engineering genius.
The book traces the evolution of the science of aerial bombardment from its origins in WWI to the detonation of the first atomic weapons. Along the way, the author covers not only the technical challenges, but includes portraits of the many personalities, at all levels, involved in the struggle to perfect a force capable of precision destruction. Chief among these is Carl Norden, the inventor of what was, up until the Manhattan Project, America's most closely guarded military secret. A reticent, strong-willed, driven and intensely proud man, this Dutch immigrant who never attained American citizenship created the principal instrument upon which the entire American daylight precision bombing campaign of WWII was founded: the Norden bombsight.
Touted as being capable of putting a bomb in a pickle barrel from 20,000 feet, this precision instrument was the ultimate analog computer--a collection of gears, dials, electromechanical linkages and optics which could calculate the variables of airspeed, altitude, drift, ordnance weight and trajectory to place high explosives close enough to a target to effect its destruction. Almost entirely handmade in its early versions, it was a product of Old World craftsmanship, conceived in the New World, sent as a mechanism of destruction to that same Old World.
From the first crude attempts to design aerial bombsights and formulate tactics, to the service funding debates of the interwar years; from the competition between the Norden company and its rivals, to the procurement battles between the Navy and nascent Army Air Forces; from the manufacturing difficulties inherent in mass-producing a precision instrument, to the training of WWII bombardiers, and even going so far as to include a step-by-step guide to the operation of the Norden sight--this is a comprehensive, thoroughly researched and completely fascinating history. It is highly recommended to any reader of history and technology.
It is of interest mostly to specialists and scholars. For me, it cleared up a number of arcane discussions, but it is LESS about precision bombing SYSTEMS and more about the development of high-tech items between 1932 and 1945.
Meanwhile, the navy (which had dibs on the Norden bombsight) took the wiser course and depended on single-engine dive bombers, whose pilots essentially turned themselves into missile guidance systems.
The pursuit of precision bombing ended over Hiroshima, where the best bombardier in the USAAF with no flak, no fighters, and perfect weather managed to miss his target by 800 feet. But with the atomic bomb on board, what did it matter? A miss was literally as good as a mile, and Hiroshima vanished.
A good, stolid, valuable history.