The Plan Put into Practice - USAAF Bombing Doctrine and the Ploesti Campaign

Sean Seyer, University of Missouri-St. Louis


This thesis is a contribution to the continuing study of the development of American daylight precision strategic bombing doctrine. Using the multiple USAAF bombing attacks on the oil targets of Ploesti, Romania, it concludes that the USAAF entered the war with preconceived, untested notions regarding the effects of bombing and, because of bureaucratic inertia, failed to adjust to German passive and active defenses. The new technology of bombardment aviation therefore did not result in the desired destruction of the industrial targets, but only inflicted damage at high costs to the attackers. Resting on extensive archival research, the study brings to light several previously unrecognized aspects of the Ploesti campaign and also calls into question the fundamental assumptions which underlay American strategic bombing missions in World War Two.