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Military Air Power in Europe Preparing for War (Hardback)

A Study of European Nations’ Air Forces Leading up to 1939

WWII Aviation British History Aviation in WWII Royal Air Force

By Norman Ridley
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 16 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399066853
Published: 30th October 2022


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RRP £25.00

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The First World War had seen the mechanisation of warfare. Battle fronts had become immobilised in the grip of machine-guns and heavy artillery, leading to slaughter on an unprecedented scale.

The end of the war saw exhausted governments extricating themselves from the carnage, but some leaders were concerned that, sooner or later, another major war would follow. As France’s Marshal Foch put it, the Treaty of Versailles was only a ‘twenty-year truce’. The overriding concern was to find ways in future of avoiding the kind of static battle fronts that had consumed so many in such futile efforts.

Military aviation was seen as the one great innovation that had the potential to do this by revolutionising warfare. It would not only augment the effectiveness of ground forces in a tactical role, but it also had the means of reaching out strategically beyond the battlefronts to strike at the enemy’s trade, supplies, communications and industrial production. All through the war, military aviation had been firmly under the control of army commanders but there was soon a fierce debate over the way it should develop. The development of an ‘air doctrine’ within each of the major European powers was fraught with difficulty as the nascent air arms struggled, with varying degrees of success, to free themselves from army control to find a new, independent identity.

This book examines the way in which these air arms competed for prominence within the military structures of six major European nations – Germany, Britain, France, Soviet Union, Poland and Italy – with different resources, ambitions and philosophies, in the years from the beginning of aviation right up to the start of the Second World War.

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About Norman Ridley

NORMAN RIDLEY, an Open University Honours Graduate, sold his business and retired to devote himself to a study of the less well covered aspects of 20th Century history. He lives in the Channel Islands, surrounded by his family, and is a regular contributor to local media.

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Almost since the advent of warfare, civilians have suffered ‘collateral damage’, but the concept of Total War – a war without limits – only surfaced in the early part of the twentieth century. The idea of huge numbers of aircraft raining death upon defenceless cities was seen by many as not only barbaric but, in practical terms, quite unrealistic given the logistical challenges that would have to be overcome in order to put them into practice. Any complacency over the threat, however, was rudely shattered on 26 February 1935, when Adolf Hitler officially signed a decree authorizing the…

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