Pen & Sword Books

Monday, July 25, 2022

Rearming the RAF for the Second World War

Rearming the RAF for the Second World War written by Adrian Phillips and

published by Pen & Sword Books - £25.00 - Hardback - Pages 368

When the RAF rearmed to meet the growing threat from Nazi Germany's remorseless expansion

in the late 1930s, it faced immense challenges. It had to manage a huge increase in size as well

as mastering rapid advances in aviation technology. To protect Britain from attack, the RAF's

commanders had to choose the right strategy and the right balance in its forces. The choices

had to be made in peacetime with no guidance from combat experience. These visions then

had to be translated into practical reality. A shifting cast of government ministers, civil servants

and industrialists with their own financial, political and military agendas brought further dynamics

into play. The RAF's readiness for war was crucial to Britain's ability to respond to Nazi

aggression before war broke out and when it did, the RAF's rearmament was put to the acid

test of battle. Adrian Phillips uses the penetrating grasp of how top level decisions are made

that he honed in his inside accounts of the abdication crisis and appeasement, to dissect

the process which shaped the RAF of 1940. He looks beyond the familiar legends of the

Battle of Britain and explores in depth the successes and failures of a vital element in British

preparations for war.

I have to say what a fascinating book and the subject I find is so interesting. Primarily this is a book that looks at the competition and infighting in and amongst the RAF, but not only that, but also the unnecessary fighting with the other arms of the armed forces and other organisations. Quite a bit of the book revolves around what the RAF stood for or what it wanted to concentrate on, for example, it was torn between infighting over whether to concentrate on prioritising small fighter aircraft of big heavy bombers. Basically, it’s like having a kitchen and someone has employed a lot of chefs and they all have to try and work together with the right menu. 

A very good book and quite thought-provoking and sometimes I was left thinking how on earth did the RAF succeed, but I really enjoyed reading it because there was lots of research and because it made me think. Plus I’m not sure the average joe in the street realises this was how the armed forces were run, we never hear about this in the mainstream media. A blinking good read by author Adrian Phillips, one I most certainly recommend.

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