Hap Arnold's 10 Principles

Hap Arnold's 10 Principles

The following article is an excerpt from Bill Yenne's book Hap Arnold: The General Who Invented the US Air Force.

Hap Arnold wrote in his memoirs that “throughout the war, I tried to have the Air Force operate under certain fundamental principles.” He lists them as follows:

1. “The main job of the Air Force is bombardment; large formations of bombardment planes must hit the enemy before the enemy hits us. In short, the best defense is attack.”

2. “Our planes must be able to function under all climatic conditions, from the North Pole to the South Pole.”

3. “Daylight operations, including daylight bombing, are essential to success, for it is the only way to get preci- sion bombing. We must operate with a precision bombsight-and by daylight-realizing full well that we will have to come to a decisive combat with the enemy Air Force.”

4. “We must have highly developed, highly trained crews working together as a team-on the ground for main- tenance and in the air for combat.”

5. “In order to bring the war home to Germany and Japan, and deprive them of the things that are essen- tial for their war operations, we must carry our stra- tegic precision bombing to key targets, deep in the enemy territory, such as airplane factories, oil refiner- ies, steel mills, aluminum plants, submarine pens, Navy yards, etc.”

6. “In addition to our strategic bombing, we must carry out tactical operations in cooperation with ground troops. For that purpose we must have fighters, dive bombers, and light bombers for attacking enemy air- fields, communication centers, motor convoys, and troops.”

7. “All types of bombing operations must be protected by fighter airplanes. This was proved to be essential in the Battle of Britain, and prior to that our own exercises with bombers and fighters indicated that bombers alone could not elude modern pursuit, no matter how fast the bombers traveled.”

8. “Our Air Force must be ready for combined opera- tions with ground forces, and with the Navy.”

9. “We must maintain our research and development programs in order to have the latest equipment it was possible to get, as soon as it was possible to get it.”

10. “Airpower is not made up of airplanes alone. Airpower is a composite of airplanes, air crews, maintenance crews, air bases, air supply, and sufficient replace- ments in both planes and crews to maintain a constant fighting strength, regardless of what losses may be inflicted by the enemy. In addition to that, we must have the backing of a large aircraft industry in the United States to provide all kinds of equipment, and a large training establishment that can furnish the personnel when called upon.”

This article is part of our larger resource on the history of aviation in World War Two. Click here to read more about WW2 aviation.

Hap Arnold

Hap Arnold's Legacy

US Air Force History

History of US Air Supremacy

Allied Air Strategy in the Pacific Theater

Allied Air Strategy During World War Two