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Seversky, Alexander De

Seversky, Alexander De (1894–1974), airpower activist.Born in Tiflis, in Georgian Russia, de Seversky served in the Imperial Russian Naval Air Service during World War I. A combat accident in 1915 claimed his right leg, but he continued flying. The Russian Revolution made de Seversky's temporary assignment to the United States permanent in 1917. Four years later, he sold an new bombsight to the U.S. government. He also met Billy Mitchell, and for the rest of his life would champion Mitchell's doctrine that strategic air power could win wars, rendering armies and navies superfluous.

In 1939, de Seversky began writing full time. Victory Through Air Power, his most influential work, was published in April 1942, following a string of Allied defeats. Readers eager for an antidote to Axis domination bought at least 350,000 hardcover and paperback copies. Reader's Digest released a condensed version and many newspapers carried installments. Walt Disney was inspired to make a film using animation to transfer de Seversky's theories to the screen. In his book, Seversky extended Mitchell's vision of airpower to argue that even if bombing could not achieve quick victory, it could obtain total victory through unconditional surrender. He also openly criticized military leaders for slowing development of very long‐range bomber aircraft in order to promote more conventional weapons such as aircraft carriers and fighter airplanes. Army air force and navy leaders and public relations officers campaigned to discredit de Seversky, his book, and the film. They were largely unsuccessful. By war's end, de Seversky had stimulated popular awareness and driven the national debate on strategic airpower further than any previous writer.
[See also Douhet, Giulio; World War II, U.S. Air Operations in.]


Russell E. Lee , Impact of Victory Through Air Power—Part I: The Army Air Forces Reaction, Air Power History (Summer 1993), pp. 3–33.

Russell E. Lee

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