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By D. Mortensen

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Several twin-eng ined tactical bombers, modified from commerical transport aircraft, were offered by the alert aircraft industry in the late thirties. Portrayed are Douglas 8-18s (lop), shown here flying in formation over California, and a Martin A-22 Iboltom) on the ramp. • A more conventional attack aircraft, the Northrop A-17, last of the prewar single-engine attack airplanes, was a successful flyer and was much faster than its predecessors. A-17s were procured in great quantity between 1936 and 1941 , but after the United States became involved in the war, it was clear to all that this aircraft would be Inadequate in speed, range , and bomb-carrying capability.

Despite the buildup of forces and planning for potential war during 1939 and 1940, the War Department was not as prepared as it wanted to be. Still, the military flung what it had into battle with the Japanese and began a buildup of forces in Europe and other parts of the world. Marshall recognized that it would require months before a ground fOrce could be raised big enough for an invasion of the Continent. The British believed it would take years. t an offensive against the Germans earlier than the ground forces, but it meant a slowdown in development of air support forces.

In 1941 he asked the air forces to acquire dive bombers similar to those used by the Germans. The Stuka dive bombers had terrified enemy ground 26 forces by providing precision bombardment of targets close to German troops. Light bombers, using the levelbombing attack mode, could not guarantee pinpoint target destruction. The German dive bomber success captured everyone's attention, and army commanders wanted similar air support. 1+7 Arnold told Marshall that the Air Corps had tested the dive bomber concept years earlier, rejecting it as dangerous and potentially ineffective because of enemy fighters.

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