Strategic Bombing if Possible, but Possibly not Strategic Bombing: an examination of ends, ways, and means and the use of strategic airpower during the Great War

Randall Wakelam


This paper is an offshoot of research conducted in preparation for the University of Calgary History conference of 2014 focussing on new perspectives of the Great War.  My primary intent in that research was to explore the notion that air services were, using the recent educational concept of the Learning Organization, in fact precursors of this concept within a military context.  One of the conclusions I came to is that this learning was not just happening within the air services but took place even at the national, or grand strategic, level where decisions had to be made both about how to use this new means of warfare and about the allocation of resources while continuing to support the needs of the army and navy.  The former had to do with strategic bombing of enemy targets and the balance of this paper looks at how the concepts and practice of strategic bombing evolved in France, Germany and Britain.

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JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.