Patton's Air Force (Hardcover)

Forging a Legendary Air-Ground Team

By David N. Spires

Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 9781588340870, 377pp.

Publication Date: September 17, 2002

List Price: 39.95*
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From the time the Third Army became operational on August 1, 1944, until the guns fell silent on May 8, 1945, Lt. Gen. George S. Patton's troops covered more ground and took more enemy prisoners than any other Allied army in northwest Europe. Brig. Gen. Otto P. Weyland's XIX Tactical Air Command (TAC) provided air support every step of the way. Their combined success is something of an anomaly; air-ground relationships are notoriously confrontational and plagued with inter-service competition. How did Patton and Weyland work together to achieve such astounding success? Drawing on exclusive access to official records, David N. Spires finds that this success was due to four key developments: the maturation of tactical aviation doctrine, effective organizational procedures, a technical revolution in equipment, and, above all, the presence of pragmatic men of goodwill who made the system work. He focuses on the highly effective personal relationship between Patton and Weyland -- men who respected, trusted, and fully relied on each other and their respective subordinates. This collaboration extended all the way down the chain of command: Patton's ground troops and Weyland's airmen trained together in England, and so by the time they entered combat, they operated together as a single unit. Contrary to conventional wisdom, air-ground relationships in the field can be cooperative rather than confrontational. Today's air and ground officers can continue to benefit from the amazing success of the Third Army and the XIX TAC.

About the Author

David N. Spires is the author of Image and Reality: The Making of the German Officer, 1921-1933 (1984) and Beyond Horizons: A Half Century of Air Force Space Leadership (1997). He is a senior instructor in the Department of History at the University of Colorado at Boulder.