Academic journal article Air Power History

The RAF, Small Wars and Insurgencies in the Middle East, 1919-1929

Academic journal article Air Power History

The RAF, Small Wars and Insurgencies in the Middle East, 1919-1929

Article excerpt

The RAF, Small Wars and Insurgencies in the Middle East, 1919-1929. By Sebastian Ritchie. London UK: Air Historical Branch (AHB), Ministry of Defence, 2011. Pp. 94 ISBN: none

Dr. Sebastian Ritchie, an historian at the Ministry of Defence in London (and the author of Industry and Air Power: The Expansion of British Aircraft Production, 1935-1941 published in 1997), has produced a short official history which should be of great interest to Allied airmen. While, admittedly, the period barely covers two decades, and the aircraft in service for most of the time were single-engine, two-seater derivatives of World War I types, useful and enduring lessons were learned from sorties over, and operations in, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine.

Command, control, communications, and psychological sorties were flown, weather permitting. Observations, photos, and W/T (wireless telegraphy, or radio) were in use as well as no-fly zones. An essential part of the RAF's success in the interwar years was the excellent training from 1923 at Halton of the ground crew who kept the aircraft serviced in all weather conditions.

Equally important were the close-liaison with the surface naval and army commanders, intelligence, and the activities of political officers, quite often ex-servicemen themselves.

This AHB volume starts with the ground-breaking 1919 operations in Somaliland in which six RAF aircraft and crews took a successful part, setting the precedent for the 1920 Cairo decision to use the RAF in colonial campaigns to gradually replace the slow, cumbersome Army garrisons. …

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