Air Force

September 13, 2013

This Week in History: September 13

Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell

1918: Battle of Saint-Mihiel Salient

Between Sept. 12 and 15, 1918, Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell led 1,482 aircraft, the largest combined air armada to date, in World War I during the first U.S. air campaign. Since July 28, 1914, the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary fought the Allies of United Kingdom, France and the Russian Empire. The United States declared war on Germany April 6, 1917. Once the U.S. joined the war effort, it took another 18 months to expand its small army, train it and get to Europe.

The war devastated its participants. Just in military dead, wounded and missing, the Central Powers lost more than 16 million military members and the Allies lost over 22 million military members. By contrast, the United States lost 323,000 military members. Due to their losses, the Allies wanted to use the newly arriving Americans piecemeal to fill the gaps in their lines. Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing, the American Expeditionary Force commander, refused. He wanted American military members to fight under American commanders.

During the Summer Counteroffensive of 1918, Pershing began planning to reduce the St. Mihiel Salient. The salient was approximately a 35 by 40-mile bulge in the German lines southwest of Metz, France. It was a leftover from the battle of Verdun four years earlier, and the Germans knew it was a weak point.

Mitchell was given the task to create the air campaign in support of the ground assault. Doctrinally he concentrated his forces on air superiority and the air protection of the infantry. Mitchell set out with three objectives: destroy the enemy air forces, scout enemy positions and destroy enemy ground forces.

To meet those objectives, Mitchell’s planners broke their missions into three types: bombardment, pursuit and reconnaissance. The First Army and First Army Air Service staffs, along with subordinate corps commanders, selected the targets. Bombardment targeted enemy flying fields and, in close coordination with the army, troop concentrations. But, if the fliers saw better targets in the immediate area, the flight commanders could decide to attack the new targets.

Mitchell assigned more than 400 aircraft to work with ground commanders and protect them. He used the combined force of more than 1,000 aircraft to knock the enemy out of the air. Against them, the Germans had only about 500 machines.

One of Mitchell’s major concerns was Allied Airmen had problems flying in six-ship formations. For the campaign, they would be flying in formations of 60 or more.

Even with all of the secrecy the Allies could muster, the Germans knew they were going to attack, but miscalculated by a day. As a result, initially the Allies saw great success on the ground. For his part, Mitchell successfully rendered the Luftwaffe ineffective, achieved air ascendancy, and the German Army received a mauling. The campaign proved massed air formation principles worked.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Courtesy Photo

Chrach saves lives, earns recognition

Courtesy Photo Tech. Sgt. Steven Bruner, 56th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and Chrach, 56th SFS MWD, pose for a photo in Afghanistan during their 2012 deployment. Chrach was recently awarded the 12th A...
 
 

Ahead of schedule …

Master Sgt. Thomas Hartley, right, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group depot structural maintenance chief and Staff Sgt. Joseph Kern, 309th AMG DSM craftsman, analyze blueprints to repair cracked canopy seal longerons in Hangar 914 Dec. 11 at Luke Air Force Base. Hartley is team leader for the seven-man depot team sent from Hill Air Force Base,...
 
 

Heating up the asphalt …

The heat and exhaust of a launching F-16 Fighting Falcon creates a photo opportunity Jan. 8 on the runway at Luke Air Force Base. Luke’s mission is to train the world’s greatest F-16 fighter pilots while deploying mission-ready warfighters.
 

 

Divorce comes with heavy baggage

Divorce, though a difficult chapter in many lives, happens. Divorce comes with both financial and emotional burdens for all involved. Once the decision is made, knowing what will come next can be helpful and comforting. In order to file for divorce in Arizona, one of the parties must reside in Arizona for 90 days. In...
 
 
6_150113-F-VY794-166

Test … testing … 1-2-3

Airman 1st Class Brian Dirgo, 56th CMS avionics team member, demonstrates soldering procedures on an engine diagnostic unit.
 
 
Courtesy photo

White Sands ‘Vipers’ – F-16 training thrives at Holloman

Courtesy photo Lt. Col. Jerod Rick, 54th Fighter Group chief of standardization and evaluation, and 1st Lt. Taylor Roberts, 311th Fighter Squadron basic course student, prepare to taxi Nov. 13, 2014, in an F-16 Fighting Falcon ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin