The Birth of the Royal Air Force, Wing Commander Ian Philpott

The Birth of the Royal Air Force, Wing Commander Ian Philpott

An Encyclopedia of British Air Power Before and During the Great War - 1914 to 1918

This book isn’t designed to be read through, but instead to serve as a drop-in reference book on British air power during the First World War. Having said that large parts of the book are perfectly readable, including the initial section on the formation of the air services, the sections on military operations during the war (split by period and then into home front, western front and other front sections) and the history of aircraft design year by year.

The reference material includes a chapter on the airfields, landing grounds and seaplanes bases in use to 1918, the section on training, personnel and administration (including a section on four leading aces), the technical and supply chapter (which includes interesting sections on aircraft engines and armament).

There is more data in the appendices, with the largest two looking at aircraft and squadrons (the first covers 82 aircraft types, each with a short description of the type, at least one picture and representative stats, while the squadron history gives lists of locations and aircraft in use). The smaller appendices include a useful section on German naval airship raids of 1915, air patrol instructions from 1916 and the draft air force act of 1917, which gives an idea of how the RAF was formed.

This is a very useful reference work, covering a wide range of topics, but also starts with a readable history of British air power to 1918, with the first seven chapters part of the readable section and the rest of the book more of a reference work.

Part I: Operations
1 - Balloons, Airships and Aircraft at War
2 - Events Leading to the Formation of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service
3 - Military Air Operations, 1914 and 1915
4 - Military Air Operations, 1916 and 1917
5 - Military Air Operations of 1918 and the Formation of the RAF
6 - Operations of the Independent Bomber Force in 1918

Part II: Organization
7 - Aircraft Design and Development
8 - The Development of Training
9 - Airfields, Landing Grounds and Seaplane Bases
10 - Personnel and Administration
11 - Technical and Supply Matters

Epilogue: Some Thoughts on the Career of Air Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard

A - Aircraft Technical Specification Sheets
B - RAF Squadron Histories - Aircraft and Locations 1912 to 1918
C - Duties Assigned to Officers of the Air Department, March 1914 - Naval Wing
D - War Establishments of an Aeroplane Squadron (Provisional)
E - Raids by German Naval Airships during 1915 - Bomb Damage and Casualties
F - Contact Air Patrols Instructions Issued by GHQ (France) on 26 May 1916
G - Deployment of RFC Squadrons on the Western Front - January 1917
H - Deployment of RFC Wings/ Squadrons on the Western Front - 2 March 1918 (AH 228/6)
J - Draft Air Force Act 1917
K - Testing of Military Aircraft at the Experimental Aircraft Flight - Martlesham Heath 1917
L - Admiralty Air Board Specification for Aeroplanes Type A3b
M - List of Military Officers Selected to Attend the Course of Instruction at the Central Flying School, Commencing 17 September 1913

Author: Wing Commander Ian Philpott
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 480
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2013

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