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Legacy of War Lunchtime Lecture: Britain and the Commonwealth's War in the Air

17 April 2020

Lecture now cancelled
The health and wellbeing of our visitors, volunteers and staff is always our highest priority. In line with the latest advice from Public Health England, the Royal Air Force Museum at London, Cosford and Stafford will be closed temporarily until at least 1 May 2020.
 
Therefore we have decided to cancel this lecture. We hope to rearrange all the lectures which have been effected in this way to a date later in the year.  

We are still working with our various partners to ensure that all Museum events after 1 May including our lectures continue as planned. This decision will be reviewed and updated as required.
 
Should any further changes occur to our lecture series these will be communicated to the public via our website and social media channels.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.


Ben Kite will reflect on Britain and the Commonwealth's War in the Air, 1939-45 and explain the factors which hindered or assisted their prosecution of the air war.

Miles Master of the Royal Canadian Air Force c.1940


Talk Outline

This talk identifies six themes in Britain and the Commonwealth’s war in the air and explains why they either hindered or assisted the RAF and its Commonwealth allies in prosecuting the air war. These include:

Flawed pre-War operational concepts. How the pre-war dominance of the strategic bomber offensive marginalised operational concepts in other areas, including air-ground cooperation and air-maritime cooperation. How continued faith that the strategic bomber offensive could independently win the war persisted throughout the conflict with negative consequences.

Prepared for a long war. An explanation of how the RAF prepared for the long war by producing shadow factories, the British Commonwealth Air Training Programme and a resilient manpower structure that allowed it to man and equip an Air Force that would peak at over 1.1m personnel.

The impressive ability for the RAF to innovate in contact. It is essential that militaries adapt to the changing character of conflict. The RAF demonstrated skill in harnessing tactical and technological innovations, disrupters and the talent within their service. The operations of Coastal Command and the development of RAF PR/PI are given as positive examples.

Poor strategic prioritisation of units and air assets. The failure to reinforces Malta and the Far East with high performance fighters, or provide Coastal Command with sufficient VLR aircraft highlight occasionally poor judgement in correctly matching resources to strategy.

How Air is most successful when applied in a joint context. Highlighting the successful C2 mechanisms and behaviours established between the Eighth Army/Desert Air Force and Coastal Command/RN and explaining how these helped deliver a decisive air contribution to the war.

The RAF as a successful leader of allies. The Service’s success in incorporating personnel from Commonwealth and Occupied territories is profoundly impressive – how did they do it?

Location

The lecture will be held at the Royal Air Force Museum on Friday 17 April 2020.

Please note this lecture will begin at 12.30pm.

TICKETS

The RAF Museum regrets that this lecture has been cancelled.

ABOUT BEN KITE

Ben Kite is a serving, senior British Army Officer and author, he attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1989 and was commissioned into the Intelligence Corps. He has completed operational deployments in Belize, Bosnia, Kurdistan, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as helping integrate ANC soldiers into the post-apartheid South African National Defence Forces and intelligence community.

Ben has a broad military background serving in armoured, infantry and airmobile units as well as with the Royal Air Force and Royal Marines. He also remembers, with great affection, his time spent with US forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and at US Cyber Command.

Ben Kite has instructed at Sandhurst and passed the Higher Command and Staff College, he has commanded both 4 Military Intelligence Battalion, for whose work in Afghanistan he was awarded the OBE, as well as the UK’s Joint Force Intelligence Group.

Ben Kite is the author of the widely acclaimed ‘Stout Hearts – The British and Canadians in Normandy 1944’ a book that forensically examines the British Army in Normandy and explains how an army actually operates in War. It has played an important part in re-appraising the under-valued role and performance of the British Army in this campaign and brought the personal experiences of many veterans to life.

His new two-part work is Britain and the Commonwealth’s War in the Air 1939-45’, Volume 1 – ‘Through Adversity’ was published in November 2019 and Volume 2 - ‘Undaunted’ will be released in May 2020. This work covers the actions of the RAF and its sister air forces in the Second World War in all theatres and in many different types of operations.  

Ben is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and is a regular international public speaker on intelligence, military, leadership and historical subjects including Chalke Valley History Festival, Kings College University, Southwick Revival, the Royal College of Defence Studies, as well as many private companies and businesses.

ABOUT THE RAF MUSEUM RESEARCH PROGRAMME

The Legacy of War Lunchtime Lectures form part of the RAF Museum’s Research Programme for 2020. The full programme can be downloaded here

The 2020 programme consists of the evening Trenchard Lectures in Air Power Studies — held at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London — the Legacy of War Lunchtime Lectures and Battle of Britain Lunchtime Lecture — both held at our London site — and the Cold War Lunchtime Lectures — held at our Cosford site.

New to 2020 the Museum will also host evening seminars at the University of Wolverhampton and Lancaster University. 

In 2020 the Museum's research conference will examine The RAF in a World Transformed, 1945–49.

Please note that lectures are subject to change.


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