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War Thunder Historical Board: "Britain's Air Power in 1939". Part 1
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"Britain’s Air Power in 1939", Part 1

by Mark Barber


When war broke out in Europe in 1939, Britain’s Royal Air Force was a relatively young organization. Britain had fought the vast majority of her air war during the First World War with aircraft and crews from the British Army and Royal Navy. In April 1918 the army’s Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service were amalgamated to form the Royal Air Force, which saw out the remainder of the war as Britain’s only air arm.


The inter-war period began with a vast war-weariness in the wake of the First World War. Defense cuts were colossal, resulting in the RAF being cut down from 290,000 personnel to 30,000. British Parliament operated within the confines of the ’10 Year Rule’ guidelines, which dictated that the British armed forces should be formed and maintained on the assumption that Britain would not become involved in a major war for at least a decade.


The fighter squadrons of the RAF (formally amalgamated into RAF Fighter Command in 1936) had many hurdles to overcome during the interwar period.  In November 1932, Conservative Member of Parliament Stanley Baldwin gave a speech to the British House of Commons which echoed the worldwide sentiment towards Air Power at the time:


“In the next war you will find that any town within reach of an aerodrome can be bombed within the first five minutes of war to an extent inconceivable in the last war…I think it is well also for the man in the street to realise that there is no power on earth that can protect him from being bombed, whatever people may tell him. The bomber will always get through.”


This prevailing attitude pushed a great deal of the British Air Ministry’s budget into the development of the RAF’s bomber force at the cost of other areas, fighters included. This was highlighted by the aircraft which were in service with the RAF during the mid to late 1930s, in the build up to the Second World War.


Read the full text on the War Thunder offcial forums!


War Thunder Team

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