National Geographic : 1918 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE It it necessary that this air fleet should come at the earliest date possible to take its place in the struggle. The supremacy of the air for 1918 will be decided during the first months of the spring. At that stage of the war it will be absolutely nec essary that the Allies rule the air. As was the case in the cavalry battles of the First Empire, the supremacy wrested from the enemy in the first encounters will hold for many months, and subse quent small reinforcements ordered into the struggle will not be able to regain that supremacy. The American air fleet must be at the front early this spring and in great numbers. It will be there if Amer ican industry turns out products quickly and on a large scale. Time saved will save human lives. If two squadrons of American battle planes could have been at Dunkirk in September, 1917, the French Aviation Service would not have suffered the irreparable loss of Captain Guynemer. Since 1915 French aviators have been making bombardment raids. The raid upon Karlsruhe, in 1915, made by 20 bombing planes, thoroughly terrified the Germans. In that attack more than 200 persons were killed or wounded, and for many months this reprisal stopped Ger man bombing of French towns. SHATTERING THE ENEMY'S MORALE BY AIR RAIDS In 1917 bombardment of our defense less towns by German planes began again. London and Dunkirk have suffered most. Public opinion in America has been aroused against these bombardments. Re prisal bombardments have been suggested: frequently and have been effected. Dres den and Frankfort have been visited by French planes. But the people of Amer ica must realize that it is more difficult for the Allies to carry out bombing expe ditions than for the enemy. The same distance which will take the German ma chines over London and Paris will take the Allied machines over Belgian towns or French towns in the invaded territory, still quite far short of important German towns. It is thus clear that the problem of bombardment is a more difficult one for the Allies. And this is one reason why we should go at it with all our might. Only a person who has been in a town bombed by enemy planes, especially at night, can understand how panic-stricken the inhabitants become, and this increases the effect of the material destruction by shattering the morale of the people. A systematic bombardment of open German cities, carried out relentlessly day and night without interruption, in answer to the bombardments the Germans have been carrying on for the last three years, in violation of all laws of warfare, would seriously affect the morale of the enemy. The air campaign of 1918 will be de cisive. A powerful bombing fleet, no less than a great battle fleet, is essential to success, and both should be ready for ac tion in the spring. By repeated raiding trips, day and night, this bombing fleet would contribute immensely toward destroying the morale of the German people and would hasten the end with an honorable peace. HOW TIME CAN BE SAVED It is, therefore, necessary to put forth every effort to develop and speed up these two forces-a fleet of American battle planes and a fleet of American bombing planes. The thought of getting to France in time must stimulate the industrial population of America in the building of these air fleets, as well as the officers who have the enormous task of organ izing this mighty fleet, of training the aviators, and arranging for the supplies. How is it is possible to save time, and thereby to save human lives? This can be accomplished by spending money and applying to the creation of the American air fleet the wonderful industrial organ ization of the country, and, finally, by shipping the finished products fearlessly, by facing all risks. AMERICAN AIRPLANES IN FRANCE WILL HASTEN END OE WAR The sooner American planes appear on the French front, the sooner the war will end, the more lives will be spared. In Europe great numbers of airplanes and engines of the type now used at the front are being built and will be used this spring.