But when the Navy first came up with the idea, the Striking Force wasn’t a harebrained scheme. It was a serious—and radically unconventional—solution to several serious problems.
In 1950, seaplane design was leaping forward even as the Navy faced grave challenges to its purpose and identity. The same year, putting ballistic missiles on submarines capable of remaining submerged for months was outright science fiction. So much changed a decade later.
But the legacy of the Seaplane Striking Force is more than just its awesomely cool aircraft. It’s a cautionary tale of technological change.
“Planners and strategists would do well to take the lessons of the SSF to heart,” wrote William Trimble in Attack From the Sea, “before forging ahead with costly technologies based upon preconceived expectations that they will provide swift and simple solutions to difficult military problems or bring about a revolution in the way wars are fought and won.”
Weapons systems today take even longer and cost far more than they did 60 years ago. It’s far more difficult to kill off weapons programs. But the same kind of inter-service rivalries that led to the jet-powered seaplanes still exist.
This first appeared in WarIsBoring here.