I had some good news today. I heard that my paper, part of a panel proposal entitled ‘A New (?) Way of War: Reflections on the 100th Anniversary of the Airplane‟s Wartime Debut’, had been excepted for this years Society for Military History conference. I am very pleased as this is a major international conference with sixty-four panels over the four of the event.

My paper is entitled ‘Trafford Leigh-Mallory and the Devlopment  of Tactical Air Power, 1918-1931.’ This is part of my ongoing research for my PhD and here is the proposal that was excepted:

Traditional analyses of the RAF in the inter-war years have tended to stress its relationship with the evolution of strategic bombing to the abandon of other areas of development. However, this interpretation fails to recognise the work that was undertaken by the service about other areas of air power employment. One area that has received scant attention from historians is the development of tactical air power and in particular its employment in support of mechanised forces at the end of the First World War and in the 1920s. Indeed most works that examine the subject recognise the work of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Slessor in the 1930s but ignore the important work undertook by the School of Army Co-Operation in the previous decade and in particular the work of Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory. This has been partly due to problem of records but also arguably because of the problem of reconciling Leigh-Mallory’s work in the 1920s with the latter image of him during the Second World War.

Therefore, this paper seeks to offer a re-analyse the role of Leigh-Mallory in the development of tactical air power in Britain. As a starting point, it will analyse his role as commander of No. 8 Squadron in 1918 and the development of co-operation methods with the Tank Corps that was used successfully in the Hundred Days Campaign. It will then examine his service at the School of Army Co-Operation during the 1920s. Of particular importance will be an examination of his command of the school between 1927 and 1930, a period when the British Army were experimenting with mechanised forces. Of importance is the writing that Leigh-Mallory produced on the subject in this period, which offers and insight into RAF thinking of the subject. Finally, it will look at Leigh-Mallory’s time at the Army Staff College and his relationship with Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Hugh Trenchard. Thus, this paper no only offers a new insight into one of the RAF most controversial commanders but it also offers a reinterpretation of the state of the development of RAF doctrine in its early years.

As I say it will form part of an air power panels. Here is the line-up:

Chair: Sebastian Cox, Air Historical Branch (RAF) in the UK Ministry of Defence

The Continuing Debate Over the Role of Aviation in the American Military Services – Dennis H. Berger, Texas Tech University

Six Ways of Aerial Warfare: A New Approach to the History of Military Aviation – Roger Horky, Texas A&M University

Trafford Leigh-Mallory and the Development of British Tactical Air Power, 1918-1931 – Ross Mahoney, University of Birmingham

Commentator: Mark E. Stout, Johns Hopkins University

There are a few other air power panels in what appears to be an interesting line-up this year.


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