Dr Matthew Powell will examine the development of tactical air power in Britain during the early years of the Second World War.


The history of tactical air power development in Britain during the Second World War has largely neglected the work done by Army Co-operation Command. The Command was influential in developing the theoretical air support system that would be used to such effect in the Western Desert, North Africa, and Europe. The Command was responsible for the codification into doctrine of experiments conducted in the wake of the Battle of France, 1940. They also worked closely with the army’s School of Artillery to develop the Air Observation Post Squadron, which would be used to great effect in several different theatres of the Second World War. This history of Army Co-operation Command also demonstrates the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) attitude to the development of tactical air power in Britain. The RAF had neglected the development of tactical air power during the inter-war period and this impacted on their ability to provide this support. The army’s experiences in the Battle of France and the subsequent investigations, which placed the blame firmly on the shoulders of the RAF, forced the hand of the RAF regarding taking tactical air power development more seriously. To demonstrate this, they created Army Co-operation Command. It was created to be as toothless as possible while appearing to be what the army wanted. Tactical air power development moved at a fast pace in 1942 when a new formation was discussed: the Army Air Support Group (AASG) and the rise of Fighter Command in this area. There was a large argument between the Air and General Staffs over the correct command the AASG should be placed into Fighter or Army Co-operation Command. This argument ran for the whole of the spring and summer of 1942 and was only resolved by Winston Churchill. Army Co-operation Command was disbanded in 1943, the new formation created to replace it was, however, an upgraded Army Co-operation Command with the responsibilities it had been denied during its existence.


Please note that this lecture will be held in the main lecture theatre (MC001) at the University of Wolverhampton, Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1LY at 18:30PM on Thursday 9 June 2016.


This lecture is free of charge however; we do ask that you pre-book a free ticket, as seats are limited. Booking is quick and easy, we just need some basic contact information.



Matthew Powell is an independent scholar who has taught at the University of Birmingham, UK. He has published on Army Co-operation Command in Canadian Military History, Air Power Review and the British Journal for Military History. His first book, The Development of British Tactical Air Power, 1940-1943: A History of Army Co-operation Command, will be published by Palgrave in 2016.


The Trenchard Lectures in Air Power Studies form part of the RAF Museum’s Research Programme. This programme consists of the First World War in the Air and Cold War Lunchtime Lectures and other events such as conferences. Details of further lectures can be downloaded here.

For more details about the RAF Museum’s research programme, please email me at ross.mahoney@rafmuseum.org

The Trenchard Lectures in Air Power Studies are held in conjunction with the Royal Aeronautical Society and the War Studies Department at the University of Wolverhampton.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s