Virtual Lecture: Desert Air Force: Crucible of Air Power

04 August 2022

At 6PM on Thursday 4 August 2022, Ken Delve will discuss the Desert Air Force, the development of tactical air power, and the leadership strategies and execution that made it effective and the key to success in the Desert War. The lecture will be live-streamed online via Crowdcast.

Talk Outline

In the vast area covered by the ‘Middle East’ theatre – stretching from the western Mediterranean to the centre of Africa, air power played a crucial role in almost every campaign. Campaigns within the Middle East / Mediterranean theatre went well for the British whilst they were engaged against the Italians, although these forces were invariably larger and better equipped; however, the arrival of combat experienced German forces in 1941 was a turning point which almost brought disaster.

A point that must be made is the degree of contribution made by the South African Air Force (SAAF) in most of the campaigns in this theatre; in the later stages of the war in the Middle East and into Italy numerous SAAF squadrons operated within the Allied Air Forces, often as integral parts of RAF Wings (or vice versa).

The main battle ground was a narrow strip adjacent the coast, and which stretched for over 1,000 miles; the distance from Alexandria (in the East in Egypt) to Tripoli (in the West and 100 miles or so from the border with Tunisia) was roughly the same as Berlin to Moscow. The ‘war of logistics’, the need for airfields, the protection or disruption of logistic routes and hubs, were of critical importance in this theatre.

The development of tactical air power, and the leadership strategies and execution that made this effective were key to success in the Desert War, and the lessons were subsequently applied in the North Africa and NW European campaigns.

Location

The lecture will be live-streamed on the RAF Museum Crowdcast channel on Thursday 4 August 2022. This lecture will begin at 6PM.

Tickets

This lecture is free to attend via the RAF Museum’s Crowdcast channel but registration is required. Booking is quick and easy:
Book Now for this free lecture

To access the lecture you may need to check your internet browser is compatible. It is currently reported that Google Chrome provides the best experience for using Crowdcast.

About Ken Delve

Ken Delve served 20 years in the Royal Air Force as a Navigator and during that time developed his passion for aviation and military history. Tours included the Canberra PR.9 (39 Sqn), Tornado GR.1/1A (IX Sqn and II Sqn), as well as time as a Navigation Instructor, and attachment to the RAF Museum for the Bomber Command Museum Appeal.

From researching and publishing the history of his first squadron – 39 Squadron, he has subsequently written over 50 books and numerous articles. His most recent work is a 3-volume set covering the Desert War, Malta’s offensive role, and the campaign in Italy.

Having left the RAF he became editor of FlyPast magazine, and later Editor in Chief at Key Publishing. This was a fascinating period with opportunities to meet veterans, warbird owners and enthusiasts. Ken is also the founder of the Aviation History Research Centre, which aims to provide a sharing forum for information and the preservation of historic documents and photographs relating to the RAF. He is a Trustee of the RAF Heraldry Trust, a researcher and guide at the RAF Museum Aviation Heritage Centre, and coordinator of the Military Aviation Heritage Networks.

About the RAF Museum Research Programme

The RAF Museum’s 2022 research programme includes Lunchtime Lectures at the RAF Museum, Cosford; Air Power Lectures, co-organised with the Centre for War and Diplomacy at Lancaster University; Air Power Seminars, co-organised with the University of Wolverhampton; and the Trenchard Lecture series, hosted at the Royal Aeronautical Society. You can attend these lectures in person or join us online as we live-stream from the venue.

The RAF Museum will also be hosting virtual only lectures throughout 2022. You can find more information on our virtual lectures, and our Crowdcast Channel, by visiting https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/virtual-events/virtual-lectures/


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