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Published on: 10 February 2016
The Royal Air Force Museum is delighted to announce an exciting collaborative research project on ‘The Business History of the British Aircraft Industry’ which will make use of its unrivalled archival resources and expertise. This PhD project with the Department of History and the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War at King’s College London is funded by King’s College’s Professor Sir Richard Trainor Scholarship scheme, honouring its former Principal, Sir Richard Trainor, and which aims to support research in collaboration with external partners. Karen Whitting, the Museum’s Director of Public Programmes, said:‘The RAF Museum is delighted to be supporting this exciting partnership as part of our Research Programme. It will draw on the Museum’s extensive archive collection and develop our understanding of this important area of aviation history.’
The core of this project will be focused on the aviation company records held by the Museum. The aim of this research is to provide the first archive-based account of the history of British aircraft companies. The research seeks to address the many important issues left open in the histories which have transformed our account of this industry over the last generation, particularly about leadership, ownership, politics and innovation. In the older histories, whether by historians of the air force, airlines, British war production or the British economy, the story was told of a weak peacetime industry which rose to great heights in wartime but which, not least through government incompetence, was unable to reap the rewards due to it in peacetime. By contrast, in the last generation, historians have told a very different story, in which the industry was primarily military and strong in both peace and war. Indeed, the strength of the industry followed from the particular warlike strategy of the British state, throughout the twentieth century.
The industry was strongly committed to innovation, to new methods of production, to pushing the boundaries of aviation. In each of these areas, the research will draw on new work which has changed our understanding of the nature and ideology of the British business/technical elite, the history of production and the nature of innovation in the aircraft industry.The PhD student will be supervised by Professors David Edgerton and Joe Maiolo from KCL with Dr Ross Mahoney, the Museum’s Aviation Historian as the partner organisation supervisor. Professor David Edgerton, a world leading expert on Britain’s aviation industry and a member of the RAF Museum’s Research Board, said: ‘This is a wonderful opportunity for a historian to work on a topic of obvious significance and interest to the history of twentieth-century Britain – the British aircraft industry – and to do so in collaboration with a great museum.’
Dr Ross Mahoney said:
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