Tug of War: World War II, the B-29, and the Invention of Strategic Military Thinking
Since 1945, the traditional thought about the USAAF’s vision of heavy bomber combat was one of “strategic bombardment,” a term often used but rarely well-defined. HH “Hap” Arnold is the best known advocate of the concept, but it was so foreign at the time that few outside the small circle of bomber enthusiasts who had been at the Tactical School knew anything about it. With the coming of the B-29, however, Arnold had the first tool that, he thought, was truly capable of strategic bombing. But the Superfortress was plagued with manufacturing problems, and the initial missions from China were, to be charitable, disappointing. Gradually the issues were solved, the island bases in the Marianas became available, and the B-29 was thought by some to have won the war in the Pacific.
If only it was that simple. Boeing’s big bomber was first designed by a firm that had very little experience in designing bombers, and was better known for building airliners. Most of the Army and Navy hierarchy saw the B-29 as merely another “bomb truck,” and wanted the long-ranging, big-bellied airplane for their own uses. Tug of War is the story of the development of both a new concept and a new airplane, and the selling of both to very dubious, very hidebound defense establishments during the desperate days of WWII.