Biplanes at War
US Marine Corps Aviation in the Small Wars Era, 1915-1934
In Biplanes at War: US Marine Corps Aviation in the Small Wars Era, 1915–1934, author Wray R. Johnson provides a riveting history of the marines' use of aviation between the world wars, a time in which young soldiers were volunteering to fly in combat when flying itself was a dangerous feat. Starting with Haiti in 1915, Biplanes at War follows the marines' aviation experiences in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, China, and Nicaragua, chronicling how marines used aircraft to provide supporting fires (e.g., dive-bombing) to ground troops in close contact with irregular opponents, evacuate the sick and wounded, transport people and cargo (e.g., to assist humanitarian operations), and even support elections in furtherance of democracy.
After years of expanding the capabilities of airplanes far beyond what was deemed possible, the small wars era ended, and the US Marines Corps transitioned into an amphibious assault force. The legacy of the marines' ability to adapt and innovate during the small wars era endures and provides a useful case study. Biplanes at War sheds light on how the marines pioneered roles and missions that have become commonplace for air forces today, an accomplishment that has largely gone unrecognized in mainstream histories of aviation and air power.
About the Authors
"Wray R. Johnson has written an important book that links the unique history of Marine Corps aviation and the Corps' equally unique experience with unconventional warfare. Johnson offers an objective look at the challenges, innovations, contributions, and occasional missteps of the pioneers and their advocates. Biplanes at War outlines how the US Marine Corps reversed the common mistake of simply applying conventional methods to small wars and instead developed its aviation capability in small wars and then applied it with great success in both the conventional and small wars that followed."—Christopher Owens, Maj. Gen., USMC (Ret.)
"Well written, with some very informative footnotes, this is a useful read for anyone interested in the USMC, air power, or small wars."—The NYMAS Review: A Publication of The New York Military Affairs Symposium
"Readers will find this book well researched on the neglected subject of early Marine aviation. The book helps to provide insight into the air-ground team that is used so successfully by the Marines in current conflicts. From the aviation enthusiast to the lover of history this is a necessary read."—Vernon Yates, The Journal of America's Military Past
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