The trial of Billy Mitchell

Essay by Anonymous User October 1996

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My report is on the trial one of the all-time greatest pilots of the early nineteen-hundreds, Billy Mitchell. Billy became the first uniformed pilot to fly over enemy lines. He commanded one-thousand five-hundred fifty allied planes. He set the air speed record for that period of time of a screaming two-hundred and twenty-four point five miles per hour. He went on trial for speaking out about the Navy.

Mitchell promised Congress, and the rest of the world, as well as the Army that him and all of his men would be the first to sink a battleship. No airplane had ever crippled a battleship not to mention sunk one. But Mitchell was certain that him and his men could accomplish this goal. Mitchell¹s bombers did hit the 546-foot dreadnought. But she didn¹t sink. Billy Mitchell then had his men purposely miss by as much as fifty feet. He knew that the violent movement of water would split the ship¹s hull like a nut.

The ship could not handle the fatal blow and sunk.

This would be one of Billy Mitchell¹s biggest accomplishments and a first step towards trying to prove that the nation needed an improved defense system. Billy Mitchell would tell what would and later did happen if the defense system was not changed. He foresaw the ascent of bombers and the decline of battleships, but most of all, the attack on Pearl Harbor. He warned that if U.S. ships at Pearl Harbor "were to be found bottled up in a surprise attack from the air, and our airplanes destroyed on the ground, nothing but a miracle would enable us to hold our Far East possessions."

Billy Mitchell went on trial a little while later with charges of insubordination under the Ninety-Sixth Article of War. It mandated court-martial for...