The Bismarck Sea operation proved to be the most important achievement for American air power since its inception as a combat weapon. It was the first time that aircraft, operating from land bases and without naval support, had attacked and destroyed a naval armada on the open seas. Until this battle, the worth of air power had always ignited controversy among military leaders. The most outspoken of the advocates for an air force independent of other branches of the armed forces, like General Billy Mitchell, often suffered persecution by textbook strategists who considered air power a mere supporting arm for other military departments.
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