Skip to main content

Ground Attack Aircraft

Ground Attack Aircraft. World War I established the requirements for ground attack airplanes: armored aircraft, capable of high speed but also maneuverable and agile at low speeds and altitudes, equipped with multiple machine guns and bomb delivery capability. In World War II, the German Ju‐87 “Stuka” dive‐bomber spearheaded the early success of blitzkrieg operations and triggered increased interest in ground attack aircraft. Improved air defense capabilities and changes in battlefield doctrine created a less permissive operating environment, making the advantages of designated ground attack aircraft less obvious as World War II progressed. The Korean War revived the controversy over fast versus slow air speeds, high‐ versus low‐altitude strikes, air‐ground communication, and air control links.

In recent years, the U.S. Air Force has preferred to build air‐ground capabilities into its general purpose fighter and medium bomber aircraft, like the F‐111 and the F‐16. Still, its fixed‐wing gunships (the AC‐47 and the AC‐130) played an important role in the Vietnam War, and the A‐10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft did yeoman's duty in the Persian Gulf War. The army has developed the AH‐64 “Apache” attack helicopter and other rotary‐wing aircraft; the Marine Corps has acquired both fixed‐wing ground attack aircraft, including the AV‐8B “Harrier,” and attack helicopters such as the AH‐1 “Cobra.”

Airmen and soldiers agree on the potentially decisive nature of air‐ground attack, but have reached no consensus on the best platform for delivering such firepower. The increasing lethality of the modern battlefield for all aircraft in the era of heat‐seeking technology and laser‐guided missiles keeps the debate over air‐ground aviation alive.
[See also Air Force Combat Organizations: Tactical Air Forces; Air Warfare.]

Bibliography

Richard P. Hallion , Strike from the Sky: The History of Battlefield Air Attack, 1911–1945, 1989.
Benjamin Franklin Cooling, ed., Case Studies in the Development of Close Air Support, 1990.

Caroline F. Ziemke

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ground Attack Aircraft." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ground Attack Aircraft." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ground-attack-aircraft

"Ground Attack Aircraft." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved December 10, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ground-attack-aircraft

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.