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 The impact of air power

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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
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    The impact of air power
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Full Text

The University Record

of the

University of Florida

The Impact of Air Power
The Phi Beta Kappa Address, 1948
No. VI, D B K Series

Vol. XLIII Series 1, No. 5 May 1, 1948

Published monthly by the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
Entered in the post office in Gainesville, Florida, as second-class matter,
under Act of Congress, August 24, 1912
Office of Publication, Gainesville, Florida


Mr. John C. Cooper was born in Jacksonville,
Florida. He received his A. B. degree from Prince-
ton University, read law, and started the practice
of law in Jacksonville. From 1921 to 1925 he served
as a member of the Board of Control of the State of
Florida, the supervisory authority over higher educa-
tion in the State. He has long been recognized as
an authority in the field of international air law
and air power. He has served on a number of inter-
national commissions. In 1934 he became Vice-Presi-
dent of Pan-American Airways, serving in this posi-
tion until his appointment in 1945 as a member of
the faculty of The Institute for Advanced Study,
Princeton, New Jersey. In 1947 his book, The Right
to Fly, was published.
This address, The Impact of Air Power, was pre-
sented at the University of Florida through the co-
operation of the Phi Beta Kappa Associates. The
Chapter gratefully acknowledges its indebtedeness to
this group. The address is published as a significant
contribution to the understanding of the changes
which air power is bringing about in our civiliza-

The Impact of Air Power
Member, The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey

(Address delivered under auspices of Phi Beta Kappa at the
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, on April 6, 1948).
TWENTY-FIVE years ago I had the honor and pleasure of serving as a
member of the Board of Control of the University of Florida. It
was then a small university looking forward to greater things. To-
day, after many years' absence, I have returned to your campus to find
a new and great university, still looking forward.
In the twenty-five years which have passed since I last addressed an
audience at this university, a new world has appeared. That we are living
in one of the great revolutionary periods of history no one can longer
doubt. Just when this revolution started is not yet clear. Historians fifty
or perhaps a hundred years from now will be able to see the facts of our
times with truer perspective than we can possibly have today. They may
well find that we have lived in a period of war and revolution since the
first Balkan wars that preceded the first World War. They may also
well find that the period between the first and second World Wars was
nothing more than a truce and not a period of peace.
If you doubt my suggestion that we are living through a great revolu-
tion, I would urge that you look back on the nations of the world as they
were twenty-five years ago and then look at them today. The British
Empire, as we knew it, has ceased to exist. India and Burma, parts of
that empire, are now free nations. In the place of the empire has emerged
the British Commonwealth-a great partnership in which the United
Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Union of South Afri-
ca are each equal members, while each is at the same time a sovereign
national state. In these twenty-five years Mussolini and the Fascist Italy
rose and fell. In the same period Hitler and the Nazis took over Germany
and almost gained control of the world. Today Hitler has left us in de-
feated Germany a problem as dangerous to the future welfare of the
civilized world as was its former military might. In the Far East the
warlords of Japan have temporarily disappeared, leaving in Japan an-
other problem of future world organization and security almost as difficult
today as that of Germany.
In these same twenty-five years the Soviet Union has emerged from
its internal conflicting ideologies into a great world power, perhaps po-
tentially the greatest the world has ever seen.
As for the United States, all we know is that at the end of World War
II our position was unassailable. Only history can tell whether our short,
brilliant and meteroic career reached its zenith with the surrender of
the German and Japanese military and naval forces.

In whatever direction we look we are forced to admit that institutions,
standards, values-the bases of national and international life a generation
ago-are changing before our eyes. The causes of the revolution in which
we are living cannot yet be fixed. But one thing we do know-that the
technical progress of the world has been so rapid in the twentieth cen-
tury that it has far outstripped our social structure. Perhaps there has
always been in previous ages a time lag between technical progress and
the social readjustment to that progress. But in no time in past history
has the time lag appeared so great or so serious as it is today. Tremen-
dous new forces have emerged with which the world is not yet prepared
to deal. Of these technological forces the two most outstanding are air
power and atomic energy. Of atomic energy I do not feel qualified to
speak. But I do want to take this opportunity to say something about
air power and its impact on our civilization and our future.
Air power requires definition. It is not merely military striking force.
Air power is the total ability of the nation to fly-the ability to act in
the airspace by the use of controlled flight such as the flight of aircraft
or guided missiles. Air power is today one of the most dynamic forces
in the life of nations. Properly used, it can be the means to better un-
derstanding among the peoples of the world. Improperly used, air power
can be a threat to the general security, even in time of peace. If war comes
to the world again, air power can transport the armed forces and missiles
which may be fated to destroy our civilization.
"But why", it may be asked, "should the impact of air power be the
subject of a discussion under the auspices of a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter?
Is air power one of those things with which the scholar in his study in
the ivory tower should be concerned ?"
To answer these questions I would respectfully cite old and honored
On August 31, 1837, Ralph Waldo' Emerson addressed the Harvard
Phi Beta Kappa Chapter. The title of his address is well known to all
of us: "The American Scholar." But I sometimes feel that we forget the
subject matter-that we overlook what he actually said as to the place
of the scholar in the hard world in which we live. The too familiar quota-
tion that the scholar "in the right state" is "Man Thinking" has led us
to forget that this was only part of what he said. His actual words were:
In the right state he is Man Thinking. In the degenerate state, when
the victim of society, he tends to become a mere thinker, or still worse, the
parrot of other men's thinking.
Certainly Emerson never conceived of a scholar as a thinker shut up
in an ivory tower. He insisted, you will recall, that there were three great
influences upon the mind of the real scholar: nature, the mind of the
past, action. Of the mind of the past he felt that "Books are the best type
of the influence of the past, but he warned that
Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept
the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given; forgetful
that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they
wrote these books.

To Emerson the cardinal crime was that the scholar should be merely
"the parrot of other men's thinking."
But it is Emerson's last category of those things which mold the real
scholar to which I would tonight draw your attention and stand on as a
precedent-that the scholar learns by and from action. For, said Emerson,
I do not see how any man can afford, for the sake of his nerves and
his nap, to spare any action in which he can partake. It is pearls and rubies
to his discourse. Drudgery, calamity, exasperation, want, are instructors in
eloquence and wisdom. The true scholar grudges every opportunity of ac-
tion passed by, as a loss of power.
If further precedent be needed to prove that Phi Beta Kappa and its
ideals of scholarship have always been concerned with the active forces
influencing the world in which we live and the necessity for the scholar
to understand these forces if he is to exert the leadership which his
training and qualifications require of him, I would refer you to the able
and remarkable address given by the Honorable Job Durfee, Chief Jus-
tice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, before the Phi Beta Kappa
Chapter at Brown University on September 6, 1843. He spoke a little
more than one hundred years ago, but much of what he said is applicable
today. The title of his address was "The Influence of Scientific Dis-
covery and Invention on Social and Political Progress." His thesis was:
If it be true that knowledge is power, then it would seem to follow that
any change in the arts or sciences, favorable or unfavorable, must be fol-
lowed by corresponding changes in society. And such, in fact, we find to
be the result.
To illustrate this thesis he pointed out at length the social revolutions
which had been caused by the historic inventions: gunpowder, the printing
press, and the compass. Summarizing, he said:
Fire-arms resolved the feudal system into a community of nations. The
press inspired that community with a common soul. The compass revealed
this western world, and pioneered to these shores the select mind and choicest
institutions of Europe.
Then, turning to the main subject of his discourse, he speculated on
the effect the still new invention of steam power would have on the na-
tions of the world:
No matter what government first applies this invention to all its practi-
cal naval and military uses, other governments must follow, however re-
luctantly, or cease to exist.

Already has it coasted the shores of India, penetrated its interior by
river or road, invaded the empire of China, and roused the Chinese mind by
its appalling apparition, from the long slumber of centuries past. Ere
long it shall bind subject Asia to Europe by bands of iron, and the Cossack
and the Tartar, whilst feeding their herds on the banks of the Don and the
steppes of southern Russia, shall start with amazement at the shrill whistle
of the locomotive, and the thunder of the railroad car, as it sweeps on
toward the confines of China. Can the monarchies of Europe slumber in
security, whilst the immense Russian empire is thus centralizing and con-
densing its vast military resources and population at their backs? Never;
their very existence must depend upon their resort to like means of defense

or annoyance. And, from the heart of every monarchy of Europe, must
diverge railroads to every assailable extreme; that when danger comes,
and come it must, the whole war force of the nation may move, at a
moment's warning, with the speed of wings, to the extreme point of peril.

Think ye that the military progress of this invention in the old world is
to produce no effect on the new; that the breadth of the Atlantic is to set
bounds to its effects? The breadth of the Atlanticl Why, it has become a
narrow firth, over which armies may be ferried in twelve or fifteen days, to
land in slave or non-slaveholding States, at option; and that power, 'whose
home is on the deep,' already transports over her watery empire, on the wings
of this invention, her victorious cannon.

If we continue a free and independent people, must we not organize
ourselves on the basis which this invention affords
Steam, as a world revolutionary force, added but a new motive power
to existing means of transportation on the surface of the earth. Air power,
the ability of a nation to fly, has added to the world's problems an en-
tirely new means of transport-transport through the airspace. If scholars
were properly concerned with the political and social effects of the advent
of steam, they must be doubly concerned with the advent of air power.
It will be recalled that our historic political systems have been based
on the existence of surface boundaries-some natural, and some artificial.
Man has lived in communities connected or separated one from another
by surface conditions. Until this new means of transportation, air power,
emerged as a world force, man moved about only on the surface of the
earth. Nations traded by land and by sea. They built armies and navies
for their protection. They fortified themselves behind rivers and oceans
and mountains in fancied isolation and security. But those days have
passed. Transportation in the airspace over these rivers and oceans and
mountains is a fact with which we must deal-not a theory.
You may be interested to know that great scholars, not military men,
were the first to realize what would be the revolutionary impact on world
society if nations should acquire the ability to fly. In 1759, almost a quar-
ter of a century before the first successful balloon flights, Dr. Samuel
Johnson put into the mouth of one of the characters in Rasselas this far-
seeing statement:
If all men were virtuous . I should with great alacrity teach them
all to fly. But what would be the security of the good, if the bad could at
pleasure invade them from the sky? Against an army sailing through the
clouds, neither walls, nor mountains, nor seas could afford any security.
In 1784 one of our greatest American scholars, Benjamin Franklin,
was in Paris on official business for our very new government. He saw
the earliest balloon flights. Much clearer than most men of his time, he
realized what might be the results of the ability of nations to fly. Writing
to a friend in 1784, he said:
It appears, as you observe, to be a discovery of great Importance, and
what may possibly give a new turn to human Affairs. Convincing Sovereigns
of the Folly of wars may perhaps be one Effect of it, since it will be im-
practicable for the most potent of them to guard his Dominions.

It might be said that Franklin should be given credit for the very
modern slogan: "Air power is peace power."
While Franklin, the scholar and statesman, understood the possibilities
of air power, Napoleon Bonaparte, the soldier, did not. After the inven-
tion of the balloon, the French revolutionary armies organized an active
balloon corps. De Villette, who had been the first passenger in a captive
balloon, had written in 1783 that he "was convinced that this apparatus,
costing but little, could be very useful to an army for discovering the
positions of its enemy, his movements, his advances and his dispositions."
But Napoleon, when he took over command of the French armies, dis-
banded the balloon corps. One of the great air tacticians of our times
has recently speculated as to whether the results of the battle of Water-
loo might not have been very different had Napoleon then had at his
disposal even a few balloons to determine the position of the opposing
Air power, as we know it today, is a product of the twentieth century.
While it is true that the balloon was invented in 1783 and was used fo'r
various purposes during the nineteenth century, such as military obser-
vation during our Civil War, and as a means of communication with the
outside world by the French during the siege of Paris in the Francod-
Prussian war, and while rather crude dirigible balloons were constructed
during the latter part of the nineteenth century, culminating with the
building of the first zeppelins at the end of that century, nevertheless
air power as a world revolutionary force did not exist until the Wright
brothers demonstrated in 1903 man's ability to fly and to control his
flight in a machine heavier than the air which supported it. Only six
years after the first Wright brothers' flight, Bleriot crossed the English
Channel in a French airplane from France to England in thirty-seven
minutes. With that flight the practical effectiveness of geographic sur-
face boundaries ceased to exist. A new political problem faced statesmen.
With the coming of the first World War air power began to demon-
strate its terrible possibilities as a new and almost uncontrolled striking
force. Following the first World War, civil air transport began to take
its place as one of the most important factors in communication between
peoples in the development of world trade. International air commerce
developed rapidly in Europe, but in the United States we were more con-
cerned with building up our internal air trade routes. It was not until
1927 that the first United States international commercial air service was
inaugurated. But that very small effort-the short and unimportant
route between Key West and Havana-soon expanded. Only eight years
later the first trans-oceanic air service in history was organized across the
Pacific under the American flag, to be followed in the summer of 1939
by the first commercial trans-Atlantic service.
With the outbreak of World War II in the latter part of 1939, both
the military and civil uses of airpower became daily of more importance.
Air transport was accepted as the safest as well as the quickest means of
trans-oceanic wartime transport. Military air striking power in the hands
of the Germans paved the way for the crushing attacks which overran

Poland, the Low Countries and most of western Europe. After the en-
try of the United States into the war, the development by this country
and Great Britain of strategic bombing of enemy centers of economic and
military activity, as a special and separate military effort, changed, per-
haps for all time, the conduct of war and demonstrated that no part of
a belligerent territory in any future war can expect to be immune from
possible hostile action. The terrifying potentialities of strategic bombing
culminated in the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. With
the advent of air power, total war has become a fact.
Air power now requires the scholar and teacher, as well as the states-
man, legislator, and military man, to reconsider many old beliefs and
fixed standards.
New political and legal principles have come into being. Between 1900
and 1902, before the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, Fauchille, a
great French scholar and teacher of international law, had raised the
most fundamental political problem which air power has forced upon us:
Is the airspace over a nation's territory part of that territory? Or is it
an international medium of communications as free for use as are the
high seas ? Until the outbreak of World War I that question was debated
without decision. But with the coming of war, faced with the realization
of what war in the air could be, neutral nations closed their air boundar-
ies, claiming sovereignty in the spaces above them. When the peace trea-
ties of 1919 were drafted at the end of World War I, the air clauses were
based upon the complete and unquestioned acceptance of the principles
that each nation has exclusive sovereignty in the airspace over its terri-
tory. Under this doctrine practical results have followed which vitally
affect international affairs. As each nation has exclusive sovereignty in
its airspace, it and it alone has the right to fly in that airspace, and it
has the further unquestioned right to exclude or admit such foreign air-
craft as it sees fit. No aircraft of one nation may fly into the airspace of
another without the specific permission of the latter. The entire airspace
is not, like the high seas, open for universal use. But as the high seas are
not under the sovereign control of any nation, that part of the airspace
over the high seas may be used freely by aircraft of all nations.
One of the tragedies of the history of air power is that at the close
of the first World War a great scholar, Woodrow Wilson, misunderstood
the political problems involved. He agreed that each nation should have
sovereignty in the airspace. He agreed that the Versailles Treaty should
contain a clause seeking to deny for all time to Germany the right to in-
clude an air force in its military establishment. But at the same time, in
his anxiety to restore the economy of the German people, he insisted that
civil aviation be not .denied to Germany. As a consequence the Treaty
provided that after January 1, 1923, Germany regained sovereign con-
trol of its airspace. When that occurred, the right of the former Allies
to fly into Germany ceased. The Allied chiefs of state, who dictated the
Treaty of Versailles, may not have understood air power. But the Ger-
mans did. Left with the right to fly, the power to control their own air-
space, the authority to exclude other nations after January 1, 1923, shrewd

and able men, even before Hitler and Goering, saw their chance. They
made no mistakes. German civil aviation reappeared, German-designed
aircraft were built in neighboring countries, German airspace was used
as a bargaining weapon, until finally the right to fly into Germany was
graciously extended to the former Allies in exchange for an arrangement
under which the Inter-Allied Control Commission disappeared. This
Commission, with its rights of inspection, was to have prevented the
creation of a new German air force. In less than ten years after Ver-
sailles, the Luftwaffe-the air force that should never have been-was
built. But for this, Hitler would never have summoned Chamberlain to
Munich nor dared to fight World War II. To' this day, the formal clauses
of the Versailles Treaty, abolishing Germany's air force, still stand un-
abrogated, a derisive monument to the utter futility that was Versailles.
We are today faced with determining eventual peace conditions for
Germany and Japan. If they are not to be trusted in future with military
air striking force, we must remember what was forgotten at Versailles in
1919-that air power is the total ability of a nation to fly. This means,
among other things, that air power is indivisible and that if a nation has
the right to fly even civil aircraft, its air power continues to exist and
would certainly someday reappear in all its forms.
Air power also requires a reconsideration of geography. The size
and location of a nation's territory must be studied with the possibilities
of air power in mind. Every nation has the right, under the doctrine of
airspace sovereignty, to reserve for itself air traffic in its own territory.
The larger the national land mass, the more the internal air traffic of the
nation is developed, thus building a reserve supply of aircraft usable
elsewhere in an emergency, as well as the aircraft maintenance and manu-
facturing industries needed to support its internal aviation, together with
the trained airmen and ground crews, navigation facilities, and airports.
Air power builds and rebuilds itself. As a nation increases its national
flying, the greater becomes its actual air power as well as its potential air
power, and the more easily can it expand its air establishments, industry,
and facilities in time of emergency.
The location of national territory also directly affects its capacity to
fly and its air power. Of any two nations, otherwise equal, that nation
will have the greater air power which is so located that it can normally
reach the larger number of its foreign air objectives with less flying and
by more direct routes, particularly if such routes need not cross inter-
mediate foreign territory. The length and location of a nation's ocean
boundaries are therefore of the greatest importance. Over a boundary
separating national territory from that of another nation, aircraft may fly
only when political permission has been obtained. But over boundaries
facing the sea a nation has complete freedom of air action and may fly
when and where it wishes.
The territory of the Soviet Union occupies approximately one-sixth of
the land surface of the world. In area it is approximately equal to all
of North America. From the Black Sea in its southwest corner to Bering
Strait separating the Pacific and Arctic Oceans at the northeast corner

is approximately the same distance as from Seattle on the Pacific to
Paris beyond the Atlantic. The Soviet Union has the longest shorelines
in the world. While the thousands of miles of its Arctic shores may be
useless as an asset of sea power, they are not useless as an asset of air
power. Its aircraft may fly northward across the Arctic toward Greenland
and Canada and eastward across the Pacific toward Alaska and continen-
tal United States as and when they wish. The geographic air power po-
tential of the Soviet Union is quite beyond that of any other nation. Air-
craft with a one-way range of 5,000 miles, flying from bases within this
single great Soviet land mass, could reach any point in Europe, any
point in Asia, including Japan and the Netherlands East Indies, any
point in Alaska, Canada, continental United States, most of Mexico, and
any point in Africa as far south as Johannesburg in the Union of South
Africa. From Soviet airfields in northeastern Siberia it is only 1,250
miles to Fairbanks, Alaska, 2,500 miles to Seattle, 3,500 miles to Los An-
geles, and 4,000 miles to Chicago. From an airfield on the Soviet central
Arctic coast aircraft with a one-way range of 4,500 miles could reach all
of Canada and any point in the northerly part of the United States, includ-
ing Seattle, Chicago, and New York.
The geographic air power position of the United States is quite unique.
Its continental land mass as well as its industrial resources have fostered
the development of the greatest existing civil aviation. Its boundaries on
the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, and the Arctic
Ocean and Bering Sea (through Alaska) give it great freedom of action.
It is handicapped, however, by the fact that Alaska and Hawaii (two of
its most important air power geographic factors) are physically discon-
nected from its main land mass. Aircraft are quite useless for military
or civil purposes unless they can be kept adequately supplied with the
necessary fuel and replacement parts. Aircraft located in Alaska or in
Hawaii or in any other outlying bases which the United States may main-
tain suffer from this handicap.
These are but a few of the international geographic problems which
air power requires that we reconsider and understand.
Questions of population must also be analyzed in the light of the im-
pact of air power. The population characteristics of any nation will affect
its present and, even more so, its future air power. Aviation calls for
young men and women. Particularly in the operation of aircraft, youth
is a major factor, and to some extent this is also true in the manufacturing
and maintenance processes. The educational level of the population is also
a matter of importance in considering air power problems. For no other
industry requires higher overall technical skill than does aviation, whether
it be manufacturing, operation, or maintenance. On the other hand, a nation
which has a very large number of youths from which to pick may have real
advantage, even though the educational level and technical skill of its inhabi-
tants may be below that of another nation of fewer inhabitants. If we would
compare the future air power potential of the great nations of the world, I
would call your attention to these provocative figures. In the last prewar
census there were approximately 170 million people in the Soviet Union. Of

these it was estimated that 36 percent or approximately 61 million were then
fifteen years of age or under. At approximately the same time there were
about 190 million people in the English-speaking nations, comprising the
United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Australia. But of this 190
million, a little less than 25 percent or about 46,500,000 were fifteen years of
age and under. The Soviet Union lost heavily during World War II.
Since 1939, however, additional territory has been added to the Union,
and it has been estimated that its present population may be about 200
million with a normal increase of about 2,800,000 per year. From these
figures it appears that the Soviet Union has a very large percentage of
young men and women, and that either now or in the very near future
the number of Soviet youth may be twice that, age for age, of the youth
of the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Australia combined.
Air power also requires the reconsideration of many problems of inter-
national economics. Its effect on world trade is only beginning to be real-
ized. The speed of communication which it provides is a factor that can-
not be overlooked. The maintenance of air power also demands a new
point of view toward economic and industrial resources, such as those
needed for the construction and operation and maintenance of air fleets,
military and civil, together with the necessary airports and ground facili-
ties. Any nation which must import its completed aircraft or necessary
parts and accessories must suffer in potential air power.
The status of the raw materials requisite for the maintenance of air
power must be reexamined, such as the materials needed to construct air-
craft, engines, and parts, as well as the fuel required for their operation.
This is one of Great Britain's real air power handicaps. Practically any
kind of material that goes into the construction of its aircraft and all
the petroleum products needed for fuel and lubrication in its aircraft
engines must be imported from far overseas. In this respect both the
Soviet Union and the United States have certain advantages. The pe-
troleum industry of the Soviet Union has certainly expanded, and I am
personally inclined to think that it can now rely on its internal sources
of supply for aircraft fuel and lubrication without importation. The
Soviet Union is, of course, handicapped by very difficult inland transporta-
tion conditions in northern and northeastern Siberia. It must be re-
called, however, that the great Siberia rivers, which flow from south to
north, are open during part of each year and that the Trans-Siberian
Railway crosses each of these rivers in southern Siberia, thus providing
combined rail and water transportation for supplies to the Siberian Arctic
coast. Also, with the use of efficient icebreakers the Soviet Union has de-
veloped summer seaborne traffic as another source of supply for its Arctic
The metallurgical resources of the Soviet Union are very little known.
Within the last few years they have certainly been tremendously de-
veloped, and the Soviet Union is probably approaching self-sufficiency
in the matter of materials needed for the construction as well as the
operation of its aircraft.

The raw material position of the United States has been a matter of
serious debate. It is quite impossible to review it at this time. Suffice it
to say that in the construction of modern aircraft certain light metals
are necessary and also certain scarce metals for the required alloy steels.
Last year I made a study of this problem with the result that I found that
the plans for the construction of one type of modern high-speed transport
aircraft indicated that the materials to be used would be approximately
58 percent aluminum and 34 percent alloy steel. It is my information
that the United States is deficient in and must import certain of the
metals needed for these alloys. As to our supply of aluminum, without
which I do not believe we could maintain-an adequate air fleet, I call your
attention to the language of a report as to the wartime use of strategic
raw materials made by a special Senate committee in 1946. Aluminum
is a refined product of what is known as bauxite. The Senate committee
said that "the United States never had large resources of bauxite, except in
the State of Arkansas. These fields were large enough only for a year or
two of production at our maximum rate. We are, therefore, dependent
for our supply of bauxite on South America in particular, and to some
extent on the Pacific areas. Unless we can develop new industrial meth-
o'ds . the United States will always be dependent in this very basic
industry on its ability to import from abroad."
Petroleum products are needed for aircraft fuel and lubrication. Raw
rubber is needed for aircraft tires. If the airpower of the United States
is to be maintained, adequate supplies of these basic materials are abso-
lutely necessary. The United States has been in the past the greatest pro.
ducer of petroleum. Whether we have already arrived at the time, or
whether we are approaching the time when we must depend on importation
of petroleum products, is a subject of wide debate. As to rubber, we cer-
tainly must rely on the imported raw product unless we maintain our
capacity for synthetic production developed during the war.
The impact of air power requires that we also reexamine our manu-
facturing industry. Aeronautical industry in being at any particular time
is one of the vital factors of usable air power. Even more important as
an element of potential air power is the national ability to maintain that
industry and to continue its technical advance, and to be able in an emer-
gency to increase many times its output capacity. After World War I,
Germany, through the high technical level attained by its industries and
the energy and training of its engineers, rebuilt its aeronautical industry.
The United States in World War II saw its aircraft industry expand until
it became the largest industry in the country. In 1938 we built less than
7,000 aircraft. Very fortunately on that occasion we had the time to ex-
pand our industry before we became engaged in active hostilities. In
1944 we built almost 100,000 including fighters, bombers, trainers, and
transports. Following that peak period, production slumped dangerously
in the postwar recession. In 1946 the same industry produced only 1,330
aircraft. The recently published statement of the Aircraft Industries As-
sociation indicates that the output in 1947 will be approximately 1,800,
of about the same total airframe weight and dollar value as the 1,330

aircraft produced in 1946. This is the industry which also reported a pos-
sible one hundred million dollars operating loss in 1947. These figures
speak for themselves.
What I have outlined tonight is but part of the impact of air power
on national and international life today and for the future. It is not a
pleasant or inviting picture. But the task of understanding the problems
of revolutionary times is the scholar's job. Turning again to Emerson,
may I remind you, in conclusion, that he said in the same Phi Beta Kappa
address from which I quoted earlier:
If there is any period one would desire to be born in, is it not the age
of Revolution; when the old and the new stand side by side and admit of
being compared; when the energies of all men are searched by fear and by
hope; when the historic glories of the old can be compensated by the rich
possibilities of the new era? This time, like all times, is a very good one,
if we but know what to do with it.

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