Operation Moonlight Sonata: The German Raid on Coventry

By Allan W. Kurki | Go to book overview
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7
RAF Fighters and British Defenses

The bomber will always get through." Prime MinisterStanley Baldwin November 10, 1932


BACKGROUND

Unlike the GAF which enjoyed substantial government backing and support during the 1920s and 1930s, the British government provided only limited financial backing to the RAF during this same period. This lack of support for the military was due to a number of different factors. There was, at the time, an antimilitary or appeasement or fatalism attitude among many British politicians and citizens. World War I had been won by the Allies, and in the eyes of many in Britain there was now no visible threat to Allied security. Great Britain was swept by a wave of antiwar feeling brought about largely by the horrendous casualties and prolonged trench-style warfare of the First World War. There was also a perception among many individuals that little could be done to protect against bomber attacks. Furthermore, there seemed to be a feeling among many of the British politicians that if Britain rearmed, this would automatically bring about an arms race in the rest of the world. These factors together with the severe economic impact of the worldwide depression greatly restricted funding for the British military effort.

Many British government officials also had a genuinely conservative or traditional attitude that did not encourage innovation. For example, some still felt that the biplane was much safer than a single-winged monoplane, and consequently the fighter aircraft the RAF had in the early and mid 1930s were all biplanes. These included the Hawker Demon, the Hawker Fury, the Bristol Bulldog, the Gloster Gauntlet, and its 1936 replacement, the Gloster Gladiator. It is interesting to note that the Gloster Gladiator was still in operational use as a fighter with some units of the RAF at the time of the Battle of Britain.

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