Overlord: General Pete Quesada and the Triumph of Tactical Air Power in World War II

Overlord: General Pete Quesada and the Triumph of Tactical Air Power in World War II

by Thomas Alexander Hughes
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Over Lord is the fascinating story of how American tactical air power was developed by General Elwood "Pete" Quesada during World War II, including its decisive role in Operation OVERLORD and the liberation of Europe.

Pete Quesada is one of World War II's unsung yet crucial heroes. With his famous "Ninth Tactical Air Command," Quesada established the

See more details below

Overview

Over Lord is the fascinating story of how American tactical air power was developed by General Elwood "Pete" Quesada during World War II, including its decisive role in Operation OVERLORD and the liberation of Europe.

Pete Quesada is one of World War II's unsung yet crucial heroes. With his famous "Ninth Tactical Air Command," Quesada established the best air-ground team in the European theater. he pioneered the use of radar in close air support operations, introducing weapons systems specifically geared to tactical operations. He nurtured new flying methods designed for the kind of precision bombing the battlefields of Europe demanded. And more than anything else, Pete Quesada championed efforts to model air and ground officers into a single fighting unit. His relationships with ground leaders like Generals Omar Bradley and "Lightning Joe" Collins were a model for the kind of interservice harmony that was essential for dislodging the entrenched German Army.

At war's end everybody from General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower to ordinary infantrymen recognized Pete Quesada as the premier expert and dogged patron of close air support. Allied airplanes over the battlefields of Europe had undoubtedly shortened the war and saved many thousands of lives, and Pete Quesada came home to a hero's welcome in 1945. By then he was the personification of tactical air power. Indeed, he was its over lord.

Unfortunately, Quesada's groundbreaking methods were all but forgotten after the war. As the Cold War deepened, Air Force leaders stressed the role of big bombers flying deep into enemy territory and renounced the importance of close air support missions. Quesada himself was shunted into jobs that were both illsuited to his fiery temperament and divorced from his wartime expertise in tactical aviation. Frustrated, he retired from the Air Force in 1951 at forty-seven years of age.

Fortunately, the story of Quesada's innovative tactics did not end there for the American military. In Korea in the 1950s and Vietnam in the 1960s, U.S. servicemen struggled — and died — relearning and recreating the kinds of tactics that Quesada had made commonplace in 1944-45. Had the U.S. Air Force nurtured its capacity for close air support, those two conflicts may have unfolded differently. Since then, the Air Force has struggled for a better balance between its bombardment missions and its support functions.

This is the definitive story of an extraordinary man, whose remarkable efforts to aid foot soldiers in World War II contributed significantly to the Allies' success. America's belated rediscovery of Quesada's precepts some forty years later in conflicts like Operation DESERT STORM only underscores the importance of Quesada's story.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Stephen E. Ambrose Author of D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II Pete Quesada was one of the finest airmen of World War II, an unsung hero who was critical to the success of the Allies. This excellent biography finally gives him the credit he deserves.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With this work, Hughes, who teaches history at Ohio State, makes a major contribution to the history of tactical airpower in the U.S. Air Force. Quesada, like most of his pre-1941 contemporaries, was heavily exposed to the orthodoxies of strategic bombardment. His experience in the Mediterranean, however, convinced him that direct support of ground forces was at least as important. As commander of IX Fighter Command (later Tactical Air) from October 1943 to V-E Day, Quesada was instrumental in developing the doctrines and practices that made the role of the American fighter-bomber a decisive factor in the D-Day campaign. He was quickly sidetracked in a postwar Air Force emphasizing nuclear weapons rather than ground attack. But Quesada's legacy, argues Hughes, ignored in Vietnam, bore fruit in Desert Storm and continues to shape Air Force policies. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Library Journal
A key to the successful Allied invasion at Normandy was the effective and responsive use of air power. Here, Hughes (history, Ohio State Univ.) describes not only the tours of duty that made Gen. Pete Quesada a military leader-a story fascinating in its own right-but also sketches a vivid picture of the birth of this new military tactic. Hughes describes how Quesada's career in the army prepared him to become one of the best men for the job of developing and carrying out the new military tactic of close air support. He also explains the evolution of what would become in the modern era nothing less than the birth of the fledgling concept of combined arms. Direct communications, joint planning, and the use of liaison officers were refinements that had to be tested in smaller actions leading up to D-Day. A sweeping history told thoroughly, logically, and well, this book is of major importance to students of military tactics and World War II.-Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, Cal.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743247832
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
10/03/2002
Pages:
396
Sales rank:
1,501,306
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >