Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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de Seversky, Alexander Procofieff (1894–1974)

U.S. airpower advocate and aircraft designer. Born in Tbilisi, republic of Georgia, on 7 June 1894, Alexander Procofieff de Seversky was the son of a wealthy Russian sportsman and pilot. In 1914, as a young pilot flying his first combat mission for the Imperial Russian Navy, de Seversky was shot down, losing his right leg. He later flew 57 additional missions, downing 13 German aircraft and becoming chief of Russian naval fighter aviation in the Baltic. In 1917, the Russian provisional government named de Seversky assistant naval attaché for air at its embassy in Washington, D.C. After the Bolsheviks seized power in late 1917, de Seversky offered his expertise to the U.S. military, serving as a test pilot and consulting engineer.

Following the war, de Seversky remained in the United States. He became a U.S. citizen in 1927, whereon he was commissioned a major in the Air Corps Specialists Reserve. He became a prominent aircraft designer, developing numerous significant technical improvements and innovations. In 1922, de Seversky formed the Seversky Aero Corporation, reorganized and expanded in 1931 as the Seversky Aircraft Corporation.

From the 1920s until his death, de Seversky was a dedicated advocate of the strategic importance of airpower, working relentlessly to enhance U.S. aviation and eventually its missile and satellite capabilities. Between the wars, he collaborated with Brigadier General William "Billy" Mitchell on tests designed to prove the superiority of airpower over battleships, efforts that de Seversky's close ties to the American military, flair for publicity, and continuing record-breaking flying feats greatly facilitated.

World War II and its aftermath won de Seversky's message a favorable hearing. Besides lobbying politicians and the military, he published numerous newspaper articles and three books on the indispensability of airpower to modern warfare—all urging that the U.S. Air Force become the world's strongest. Victory through Air Power (1942) became a Walt Disney film that both President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston L. S. Churchill admired. Air Power: Key to Survival (1950) and America: Too Young to Die! (1961) reiterated the themes. De Seversky died in New York City on 24 August 1974.

Priscilla Roberts


Further Reading
de Seversky, Alexander P. Victory through Air Power. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1942.; Griffiths, David R. "De Seversky, Alexander Procofieff." In John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography. 24 vols. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, vol. 6, pp. 480–482.; Leary, William M., ed. Aviation's Golden Age: Portraits from the 1920s and 1930s. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1989.; Warner, Edward. "Douhet, Mitchell, Seversky: Theories of Air Warfare." In Edward Mead Earle, ed., with Gordon Craig and Felix Gilbert, Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1943, pp. 483–503.
 

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