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20,000 Feet above the Western Front: Britain’s Aerial War, 1917-18

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Avenue Campus

Highfield Road

Southampton

SO17 1BF

United Kingdom

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Professor Adrian Smith

Join us for this lecture as part of the Great War: Unknown War programme. All welcome. Joining instructions will be sent out shortly before the event.

April 1917 proved the deadliest month for the Allies in the air war waged against the Germans high above the trenches of Flanders and Picardy. Yet twelve months later the tide had turned, and, although the attrition rate remained high, the quality and quantity of air frames and aero-engines ensured the advantage now lay with the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. By 1918 British factories were supplying the future RAF with over two thousand aircraft every month, including the deadly SE5a, flown by battle-hardened pilots who embraced the new technology and pioneered a more combative approach to aerial warfare. Most influential were Albert Ball, and the working class air aces James McCudden and ‘Mick’ Mannock, on whom this lecture focuses. Air supremacy in the skies over the Western Front is seen as dependent on aeronautical innovation, industrial mobilisation, and front-line squadrons’ ruthless employment of fresh tactics rooted in harsh experience and unforgiving analysis.

Adrian Smith’s publications re British aviation include Mick Mannock, Fighter Pilot: Myth, Life and Politics (2001/2015) and The Man Who Built The Swordfish: the Life of Sir Richard Fairey, 1887-1956 (2018).

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Avenue Campus

Highfield Road

Southampton

SO17 1BF

United Kingdom

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