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xiii PREFACE The end of World War II in the Pacific is known for its bloody island battles and the use of two atomic bombs, bombs that marked the end of one era and the dawn of a more modern and colder one. Part of the sweeping away of the old ways in 1945 was the scrapping of the fleets of bombers that tore apart the Axis powers. Fleets of b-17s, b-24s, b-26s, and even b-29s were crushed, smelted, or sold by the airfield as scrap metal. The conventional strategic-bombing doctrine that dominated the 1930s and 1940s was pushed aside and replaced by a nuclear strategy of massive destruction. The first plane to carry the mantle in this new era of massive destruction was the one that started it all over Hiroshima and Nagasaki , the b-29 Superfortress. Lost in this new paradigm of atomic warfare, however, was the larger role the b-29 played in the last year of the war in the Pacific, one of conventional bombing. The b-29s of the 20th Air Force (af), like those of its fellow numbered air forces in Europe, carried out a strategic-bombing campaign against the industrial power of Japan. True, the strategic bombers in the Pacific never achieved close to the number of planes the European forces did, or operated in theater for nearly as long as the European units, but they did contribute mightily to the defeat of Japan and the evolution of strategic airpower. The men of the 20th af bombed specific targets with iron bombs and burned to the ground almost all the major cities of Japan. This book tackles the question of how the U.S. Air Force, dedicated to precision bombing, moved to area attacks as an avowed tactic . Others have written about what the Pacific air campaign, 20th preface xiv af, and b-29s did (though never close to the amount written about what the b-17s and b-24s did in Europe), but the decision-making process for such a monumental tactical shift has never been fully investigated. I started what became this book while trying to answer this question in graduate school. The initial research took me to the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (ussbs), Pacific, and quickly expanded through the records of the United States Air Force and associated organizations that helped develop policy during World War II. The answers I found developed a picture of a world at war, both overseas and at home, and a race to win the war for the sake of humanity, but also to earn the recognition of having contributed to this most noble victory—all this while managing an endeavor that stretched over millions of square miles and cost billions of dollars. While the ultimate outcome was successful—Japan was defeated, and the Air Force received the recognition it deserved—the contribution and controversy of the conventional bombing campaign against Japan was pushed aside, forgotten like the many war-weary planes consigned to the scrap pile. The Air Force and strategic-bombing doctrine moved on, never telling the story of how the precisionbombing doctrine, so much a part of the Air Force identity entering the war, found its most significant battle against the flammable cities of Japan, and how the evolution of that doctrine contributed to the end of the war in the Pacific as much as if not more than two atomic bombs. Now that story is told. ...


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