Under the leadership of Colonel Davenport, the 918 Bomber Group is an inefficient operation, unable to successfully complete its missions of daylight precision bombing. Internally, the group blames its problems on “hard luck”, but General Pritchard recognizes that the true source of ineffectiveness is Davenport himself and replaces him with General Frank Savage. As a result of General Savage’s leadership style, which varies widely from Colonel Davenport, the 918 is transformed into an efficient model of success.
Wholly and individually, the members of the 918th Bomber Group reflected the personality and leadership traits of its commanding officer, Colonel Davenport. This is evidenced by the despondent atmosphere emanating throughout the base. Following several unsuccessfully bombing runs, team morale is low and the group is hopeless. Davenport unwittingly encourages this behavior with his constant complaints aimed at superiors and with his assertion that the team’s poor results are because of hard luck. But hard luck is not the source of the problem, but merely a cover for Davenport’s poor leadership skills.
Davenport had many deficiencies as a leader. First, he lacked the vision to successfully lead the bomber group. His focus was on the smaller details, such as the individuals in his unit, rather than on the greater mission of successful daylight precision bombing. As a result, he grew too close with his men, or to paraphrase General Savage, “he over-identified with them”, often assuming blame for their missteps and refusing to discipline them for these mistakes. Additionally, he would not push his men to maximum effort, though this was an important goal conveyed by his superiors, as he was afraid of burning them out. Typically, compassion and loyalty in a man are viewed positively, but in these extreme circumstances, the consequences proved fatal.
Additionally, Davenport indirectly encouraged his men to break...