Walker, Kenneth N., 1898-1945

Alternative names
Birth 1898-07-17
Death 1945-01-06

Biographical notes:

Kenneth Walker was one of the leading authorities on air power in the years before World War II and later became a key player in the formation of strategic bombardment doctrine. He enlisted in the U. S. Army in 1917 and received his flying wings and commission in 1918. In the early 1930s, Walker attended the Air Corps Tactical School where he participated in a study on the accuracy of low-altitude bombing. He discovered that, while targeting was more accurate at low altitude, damage was reduced because of ricochets and other factors. Walker learned that delayed-fused bombs and bombs dropped from high altitude caused more damage. Subsequent tests justified his idea of a new high-altitude daylight precision bombing doctrine. By 1935, Walker served as Intelligence and Operations officer of the 7th Bomb Group in California. Walker returned to Washington in 1941 and then served as Deputy Chief of the newly created Air War Plans Division where he assisted in creating the blueprint for the upcoming war against Germany. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1942 and assigned to combat duty in Douglas MacArthur's Southwest Pacific Theater. He regularly accompanied his bombers on their raids against enemy targets, particularly the port of Rabaul, New Britain. He was eventually ordered not to go on the bombing raids by General George Kenney, but Walker disobeyed those orders and climbed into the cockpit of B-17 San Antonio Rose for a mission against Rabaul on January 5, 1943. His plane was shot down by enemy fighters during this mission, but neither the wreckage nor his body was ever found. In late March of 1943, the Medal of Honor was presented by President Roosevelt to Walker's oldest son for his father's service with the Fifth Air Force.

From the description of Walker - Byrd collection, 1918-1992. (US Air Force Academy). WorldCat record id: 317972521


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  • Strategic forces--History
  • Generals--Biography
  • World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns
  • World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations, American
  • Bombing, Aerial--History


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  • Pacific Ocean (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)