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air transport auxiliary,women,ATA,
30 April 2019
The lecture will be held at the Royal Aeronautical Society, London Edward Young, currently undertaking a PhD at Kings College London in collaboration the Royal Air Force Museum, will discuss the mass production methods of aircraft engine in the Second World War.
Air power made a vital contribution to Allied victory in World War II. What is missing from so many of the narratives on Allied air power, however, is much substantive discussion, or even mention, of the production of the most vital component of all aircraft, the aircraft engine. While there are many studies of British and American war production in the Second World War, most do not go beyond celebrating what is often referred to as ‘the miracle of mass production”. The UK and USA built aircraft in prodigious numbers. Between 1939 and 1945, the UK produced 131,549 aircraft while the USA built 324,750 aircraft for the American military services and Allied nations. This production record has become, especially in America, part of the story of the fabled ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ that turned the tide in World War II. Yet if the production of aircraft engines had not been equally successful, this air armada would have amounted to little more than a mass of useless aluminium.
As Paul Kennedy has noted, the implementation of grand strategy is often taken for granted. ‘We rarely inquire deeply’, Kennedy says, ‘into the mechanics and dynamics of strategic success and failure, yet it is a very important realm of inquiry, though still rather neglected.’ The standard narrative of wartime production is that the mobilisation of British and American industry was straightforward, a matter of applying more money, more labour, and mass production methods to convert what were essentially civilian industries and civilian technologies to the production of war material. In fact, the manufacture of aircraft engines was far from a straightforward case of mass production. The production of aircraft engines was not readily adaptable to automotive methods of mass production and required a mode of production incorporating greater flexibility to allow for the complexity of aircraft engine construction, continuous improvements in existing designs and the development of new engine models. Critical to the success in achieving quantity production of aircraft engines was the careful adaptation of mass production methods to aircraft engine production, specifically the introduction and adaptation of flow production methods, the effective use of general and specialised machine tools to replace skilled labour and the simplification of the production process to allow the progressive de-skilling of the work force. The record of Allied aircraft engine production in World War II was remarkably successful, but it required more hard work and coordinated effort than most realise.
This lecture is free of charge however we do ask that you pre-book a free ticket as seats are limited. Booking is quick and easy:
The Trenchard Lectures in Air Power Studies form a part of the RAF Museum’s Research Programme for 2018. This programme consists of the First World War in the Air Lunchtime Lectures at our London site, the Cold War Lunchtime lectures at our Cosford site and other events such as conferences. For further details about the Research Programme please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Trenchard Lectures in Air Power Studies are held in conjunction with the Royal Aeronautical Society and the War Studies Department at the University of Wolverhampton.
Please note that lectures may be subject to change.
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