“Still the Fulcrum”

“Still the Fulcrum” (February 28, 1944)
by William (Bill) Crawford (1913-1982)
19 x 22 in., ink and crayon on heavy paper
Coppola Collection

Crawford worked as a sports cartoonist and for the Washington Daily News and the Washington Post from 1936-38. He joined the Newark News as an editorial cartoonist and his cartoons were distributed to more than 700 daily newspapers by the Newspaper Enterprise Association. He was an active member of the National Cartoonists Society, serving as its president and vice-president. In 1956, 1957, 1958, and 1963 he was awarded “Best Editorial Cartoon” by the National Cartoonist Society, and in 1973 he received their Silver T-Square Award. Crawford retired in 1977.

“Strategic effectiveness on the modern battlefield in the twenty-first century is centered on the reality that airpower needs landpower to be strategically relevant. Landpower, by contrast, merely desires airpower because it makes both offensive and defensive maneuvers less risky by degrading and disrupting adversarial ground forces. There is a codependence between the two, but it is unequal. That fact is perhaps threatening to some advocates of airpower, but it need not be. Airpower’s decisiveness might be in question— domination in the air domain does not equal domination in the ground domain—but its relevance is unequivocally not.”

Jahara Matisek and Jon McPhilamy (Modern War Institute, November 5, 2018)

The Army’s major commands were given to infantrymen Douglas MacArthur and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Neither had paid much attention to aviation before the war. However, in July 1942, the air power advocate Jimmy Doolittle instituted a critical change in strategic fighter tactics and the 8th Air Force bomber raids faced less and less Luftwaffe defensive fighter opposition for the rest of the war.

MacArthur had been badly defeated in the Philippines in 1941–42 primarily because the Japanese controlled the sky. His planes were outnumbered and outclassed, his airfields shot up, his radar destroyed, his supply lines cut. His infantry never had a chance. MacArthur vowed never again.

In the highly visible “Big Week” campaign (February 20-25, 1944) American bombers flew 3,800 sorties, dropping 10,000 tons of high explosives on the main German aircraft and ball-bearing factories. Ball bearing production was unaffected, as Nazi munitions boss Albert Speer repaired the damage in a few weeks. Sensing the danger, however, Speer began dispersing production into numerous small, hidden factories.

The need for coordination between ground and air coverage was clear.

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