Combined Arms
New Advance

Combined Arms



  • Aerodynamics
  • Mobile Warfare



  • Ranger
  • Dive Bomber


Combined arms results from the combining of air and land warfare to achieve military objectives. The Dive Bomber is the quintessential aircraft unit for direct support of ground attacks, while the Ranger is a modern special-forces unit.


Combined Arms is not a modern concept. Although occasionally a single weapon or fighter can dominate a battle or a war, like the Greek armored phalanx or the nomadic horse archer or the European mounted knight, in most cases battles and wars are won by combining weapons and effects: the phalanx was even more effective with light missile troops in support, the horse archer more fearsome when armored lancers could follow up his shooting, the knight’s charge even more deadly when archers ’softened up’ the enemy first. Once warfare moved into the skies, though, combined arms took on an entirely new meaning. By the end of World War One a growing debate was already waging as to the best way to combine air and ground warfare. Aircraft had started as merely new ’eyes in the sky’, but as early as 1912 an Italian airman was dropping small picric acid bombs on his opponents. During World War One, bombing and strafing of both military and civilian targets from the air became common over both land and sea. Basically, airmen did not want to get very involved in the ground war directly. Based on Douhet’s theories from Italy and Trenchard’s strategic thinking in Britain, the preferred air war was one in which enemy civilians were bombed until the enemy surrendered without having to engage his armies directly from the air. The United States Marine Corps, however, had a very specific tactical assault role with little money for heavy artillery and its own air arm. By the early 1930s Marine aviators had perfected the technique of dive bombing - aiming the entire aircraft directly at the ground to release a bomb with pinpoint accuracy - as a substitute for long-range artillery fire close to their own ground troops. When Ernst Udet of the fledgling Luftwaffe saw a demonstration of this technique, he took it back to Germany and started development of the Ju-87 "Sturtz Kampf Flugzeuge", or Stuka. In the first years of World War Two this aircraft became the Flying Artillery of the German Blitzkrieg, able to provide direct fire support to fast-moving panzer forces well ahead of the heavy artillery. By 1944 virtually all major combatants, the British, Germans, Americans and the Soviets, had officers riding in their leading tanks in an advance that could talk directly to dive bombers, ground attack Stormoviks or fighter-bombers flying overhead and order them to attack targets at a moment’s notice, the closest possible combined arms air-ground combat team.