RAF Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder knew better. He wrote, “Pantelleria is becoming a perfect curse.” The “curse” was the idea that air power alone had replaced land forces as the war winner of the future. The fact remained that air power continued to be a blunt instrument. Thousands of tons of bombs would need to be dropped to achieve strategic effect.
It was not until half a century later that the promise of air power first revealed at Pantelleria was finally realized. From March to June 1999, NATO air power in Operation Allied Force caused Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw Serbian forces from Kosovo after 38 days of intensive bombing with precision munitions.
Generals Arnold, Spaatz, and Doolittle would have been proud.
This article by Jeff Patton originally appeared on Warfare History Network.