Air power’s midwife ‒ logistics support for Royal Flying Corps operations on the Western Front 1914-1918

Dye, Peter John (2014). Air power’s midwife ‒ logistics support for Royal Flying Corps operations on the Western Front 1914-1918. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The development of the British air weapon on the Western Front during the First World War represented a revolution in the way that national resources were employed in exploiting a technological opportunity to achieve tactical and operational advantage. Logistic competence was the precondition for air superiority and the 'modern style of warfare' — indirect, predicted artillery fire. The Royal Flying Corps' logistic staffs, led by Brigadier-General Robert Brooke-Popham, demonstrated considerable agility in meeting the demands of three-dimensional warfare. Sustaining adequate numbers of front-line aircraft required substantial numbers of skilled and semi-skilled personnel, located largely beyond the battle zone, operating at a continuously high tempo while coping with rapid technological change and high wastage. These elements formed a complex, dynamic and integrated network that was also partly self-sustaining, in the form of salvage and repair, with the ability to compensate for shortfalls in aircraft and aero-engine production as well as unpredictable demand. The logistic principles developed on the Western Front provided the foundation for Royal Air Force success in the Second World War and anticipated the management practices that underpin today's global supply chain - as well as demonstrating the enduring interdependence of logistics and air power.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Department of History
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)


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