Billy Mitchell

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Thesis: Billy Mitchell and his devotion to promoting the U.S. Air Force improved America's belief of dominance and power which increased the morale of American people causing a spike in nationalism, thus unifying the country under one common enemy, the Central Powers.



Just the Facts:
  • Born in December, 1879
  • Known as the father of the United Air Force
  • Began his life of fame in France, where he learned from British and French air leaders
  • After obtaining crucial knowledge, he returned to work for the American air force
  • He worked his way through the ranks, earning promotion after promotion and generating commotion in American press as the most controversial figure in the air force
  • Attained the rank of Brigadier General, which put him in command of American aircraft in France
  • Advocated for more power in the air force, chiefly allowing bombers to attack battleships
  • Felt that the world war one and on will be fought and won in the skies.
  • Was seen as very daring and energetic
  • Did not accept no for his demands
  • Strived for independence from other military organizations, seeing as they would hold him back from his objectives
  • Was not by-the-books and political; he had a plan and he was going to accomplish it by himself if he must

Maintaining Air Superiority; Having a strong Air Force has two main benefits
  1. Benefits the war:
    • Reinforces troops
    • Raises troop morale ("Death from above")
    • Destroys ships
    • Intimidates opposition
  2. Benefits the People
    • Controlling the sky evokes the image of ultimate power
    • Makes American's feel that their country is unstoppable
    • People become more loyal to their military knowing that they aim to exceed expectations

The Battle of Saint-Mihiel
  • The first unified air-ground offensive
  • Expressed the importance of air power
  • Mitchell commanded 1,500 aircraft belonging to American, British, French, and Italian forces
  • Gives the public perception that America has full control of the war

Project B; the birth of destruction

  • Mitchell wanted to demonstrate the power of aerial bombardments by bombing and sinking a captured enemy battleship
  • The navy wanted to build a battleship to be sunk, which was extremely inefficient
  • Mitchell argued that with the materials it takes to build a battleship, one thousand bombers capable of taking down multiple battleships could be made
  • He wanted to exploit the war time powers to carry out his demonstration on an enemy battleship
  • On July 20th, the german captured Ostfriesland was called out to be sunk, although many thought it unlikely
  • A 2,000 pound bomb was dropped on the static target, eventually sinking it after it flooded
  • Considered a "near-miss"
  • Showcased incredible explosion that convinced the public that battles could be easily won in the air

Connection to Today:
  • The United Air Force, or UAF, has become the predominant strategy of warfare in todays world
  • What used to belong to the Army, the UAF recently separated due to its significance in the war as well as Billy Mitchell's arguments that the Air force is the supreme force
  • From purely visible, useless planes with flashy explosions to tactical bombing under the radar with the B-2 stealth bomber
  • The UAF is no joke now, they are a force to be wreckoned with
  • Lazer guided missiles made taking out a target from vast distances easy
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Mitchell's Reality: external image Ostfriesland-2%2C000lb-bomb.jpg
This amazing spectacle of power and morbid beauty empowered Americans with the belief of flawless imperialistic success in the war. Mitchell provided safety to Americans by ensuring that they will be protected by the best defense, a dominating offense.

Mitchell's Fantasy:



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A phosphorous bomb on the out of commision USS Alabama that was demonstrated after the sinking of the Ostfriesland

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An honorary bomber, the B-25 Mitchell, was created in remembrance of his push for American dominance of the sky that revitalized the people's confidence in conquoring the daunting Central Powers.