Doughboy Center

The Story of the American Expeditionary Forces



U.S. Air Service Insignia




BILLY MITCHELL


AVIATION PIONEER

 



Presented the Great War Society

WILLIAM "BILLY" MITCHELL - 1879 - 1936

Pilot, aviation and aerial bombing advocate. As an officer in the Army he served in the Philippines, Cuba, [Alaska] and on the Mexican border, and on the Army General Staff (1913-16).

During and after WW1 he held a number of command and staff posts in the Air Service, both in France (1917-19), and in the US (Director of Military Aeronautics, 1919; Chief of Training and Operations, 1920). As Assistant to the Chief of Air Service (1921-26), he advocated the creation of an independent Air Service. He arranged demonstrations illustrating the utility of air power through the historic bomber vs. battleship trials (1921), the group flight to Alaska from the continental US (1923), and the Army's Around-the-World Flight of 1924.

Mitchell's public criticism of government policies, in defiance of Army regulations, resulted in his court martial for "conduct prejudicial of good order and military discipline" and insubordination in Oct-Dec 1925. Found guilty and suspended for five years, Mitchell resigned his commission in Jan 1926. He continued to promote aviation and decry government inefficiencies until his death.
           Courtesy of the Aero Data Files Website

Billy Mitchell being admired by many and highly criicized by some is the subject of a number of outstanding articles on the Internet. Some of the best links are listed below. Mitchell's 1919 article American Air Action in the World War is a major feature of the Doughboy Center.

The Real Billy Mitchell
Biographical Sketch of the Aviation Pioneer by Rebecca Grant from Air Force: The Journal of the Air Force Association

Christopher A. Long's William "Billy" Mitchell Site
Excellent site by a Scottish relative of Mitchell's; includes fine bibliography and extensive images.

USAF Air University Site: Billy Mitchell Page
Biographical Sketch.

The Lost Legacy of Billy Mitchell from Aviation History Magazine
Fine article by Historian Walter Boyne

Air Power Visionary from Aviation History Magazine
Fine article by Historian C.V. Glines

The Paradoxical Paradigm: Aviation Leadership, 1918-1926: How William Moffett Changed the Navy and How Billy Mitchell Prevented the Formation of a Separate Air Force
From the USAF Air University Website

Transformational Leaders and Doctrine in an Age of Peace: Searching for a Tamer Billy Mitchell
From the USAF Air University Website

Information on the 1955 feature film The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell
From the Internet Movie Database Website

Recommended Reading: The most detached analysis of Mitchell's air power theories are contained in "Douhet, Mitchell, Seversky: Theories of Air Warfare," by Edward P. Warner from Makers of Modern Strategy, Princeton University Press, 1952. MH


Revised: February 15, 2003




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