I am currently the Royal Air Force Museum’s resident Aviation Historian where I am responsible for enacting the museum’s academic aspirations through its research strategy. I am responsible for promoting and co-ordinating research by developing a culture conducive to study both at the RAF Museum and in conjunction with external stakeholders. My key job functions are split over three areas; research, exhibitions and administration and includes maintaining a strong and active research profile and providing consultancy on exhibitions and the RAF Museum’s collections strategy. My expertise lies in Air Power History, Theory and Doctrine, Leadership, Command and Morale, Military Innovation, Military Culture and the history of Professional Military Education. In 2011, I was appointed a West Point Fellow in Military History at the United States Military Academy. I am a member of the Centre for War Studies, Society for Military History, British Commission for Military History, and the Royal Air Force Historical Society. Additionally I am the convener of the The Second World War Military Operations Research Group.
In 2014, I passed, with corrections, my PhD in Modern History at the Centre for War Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK. My corrections were accepted in 2015. My thesis is entitled ‘The Forgotten Career of Air Chief Marshal Leadership Development in the Inter-War Royal Air Force’. I studied under the supervision of Air Commodore (ret’d) Dr Peter Gray. My thesis was examined by Dr Peter Lee and Dr Armin Grünbacher.
My thesis examined how an officer with so many perceived detractors reached senior leadership positions in the Royal Air Force of the Second World War; that officer was Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory. Utilising prosopography as a methodology, and grounded in an understanding of leadership theory, though recognising the limitations of applying modern language to historical analysis, the thesis surveyed the development processes used by the RAF to nurture officers for senior positions. Furthermore, the thesis argued that the RAF, bounded by the Service’s culture and ethos, took an interest in the leadership development of its officer class as it had a stake in producing able leaders capable of defending its independence. This was done through modern conceptions, such as socialisation, job assignments, action learning and nurturing. These concepts formed the basis of nurtured officers shared experiences, and this thesis illustrated how Leigh-Mallory was representative of the type of officer the RAF wanted to lead the Service. The experiences outlined in the thesis focused on training, education and job assignments, which included aspects, such as the importance of Staff College attendance, command experience and staff duties. Participation in these key shared experiences made officers such as Leigh-Mallory ‘visible’ to those able to further nurture officers careers while giving them the knowledge required to lead at the senior level. By understanding the culture and context of the development of the senior leadership of the RAF of the Second World War, this thesis now allows for a more considered understanding of the effectiveness of officers such as Leigh-Mallory during that conflict.
Dr Ross Mahoney