Interview with Group Captain Leonard Cheshire

The RAF Centre for Air Power Studies continues to make available interviews that have been conducted over the years at the RAF Staff College. In this video, Group Captain Tony Mason interviews Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, Baron Cheshire. At this point, Mason was Director of Defence Studies and conducted a number of these interviews including … Continue reading Interview with Group Captain Leonard Cheshire

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What Value Writing?

I have just started working on an aspect of one of my next major research projects, which is about the culture, ethos and ethics of the Royal Australian Air Force. Specifically, I have started mapping the contributions that RAAF personnel have made to the Australian Defence Force Journal since its establishment in 1976. In short, … Continue reading What Value Writing?

Research Note – Air Power and the Challenge of Professional Military Education

Here is a piece on ‘Air Power and the Challenge of Professional Military Education’ that are based on my recent attendance at a conference at the Royal Military College of Canada on the theme of the ‘Education of an Air Force.’ This post can also be found at The Central Blue, the blog of the Sir Richard Williams Foundation in Australia.

From Balloons to Drones

By Ross Mahoney

I have just come back from a conference at the Royal Military College of Canada on the theme of the ‘Education of an Air Force’ that was well worth the visit. I am sure most readers will agree that the subject of education is of vital importance and this is something that has been increasingly realised in recent years as modern air forces seek to grapple with the challenges that confront them in the operational sphere.

Ideas such as conceptual innovation have become catchphrases for efforts such as the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Thinking to Win programme, the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Plan JERICHO and the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) AIRpower in Formation process. Underpinning these, to a greater or lesser degree, is the importance of air power education. Indeed, as Lieutenant-General Michael Hood, Commander of RCAF, recently noted in the introduction to an article…

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Commentary – A Rose by Any Other Name…

Here is a piece I have written for From Balloons to Drones about some of the potential challenges associated with linking technology and buzzwords to conceptual thinking.

From Balloons to Drones

By Ross Mahoney

In a recent piece for The Central Blue, the blog of the Sir Richard Williams Foundation in Australia, Robbin Laird has suggested that rather than describing the F-35 Lightning II as a 5th Generation aircraft, we must think of it as ‘a first generation information and decision making superiority “flying combat system”.’[1] (Emphasis in original)

Arguably, this is an important shift in how we think about the capabilities of this new platform and the implications this has regarding how we think about air power. However, this labelling of platforms and capabilities raises several interesting observations and what follows are some personal opinions on the issue of ‘labels.’

First, and while we should always be careful of generating faulty parallels, as a historian, I am quite certain I have heard similar phrases before namely Giulio Douhet’s ‘battleplane’ concept. In short, in the second edition…

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Useful Sayings for the D.S.

One of the great joys of my job is getting to look at what is in the archive and library at the RAF Museum. I am always amazed at the gems that I find and, arguably, it illustrates how underused these resources are by researchers, both academics and non-academics alike. Indeed, while I know that … Continue reading Useful Sayings for the D.S.

Dowding, Command Culture and the Challenge of Empowerment

The question of leadership styles adopted in organisations relates to the institutions culture. This culture is shaped by the values, beliefs and assumption that underpin institutional thinking and encompasses conceptual as well as physical concerns. For the RAF this has often be shaped around three broad areas; ‘Command of the Air’ (in both conceptual and … Continue reading Dowding, Command Culture and the Challenge of Empowerment

Comparing Apples and Oranges…Or the Challenge of Comparative History

Comparative history is one of the key historiographical trends to have emerged during the twentieth century and more recently has been joined by transnational history.[1] While comparative studies of countries, institutions or experiences have its advantages, it is a field fraught with difficulties. On a practical level, there is the challenge of being competent in … Continue reading Comparing Apples and Oranges…Or the Challenge of Comparative History

The RAF Staff College and Learning from the French – Sacrebleu!

The RAF Staff College stood up at RAF Andover in November 1921 where it was co-located with its parent headquarters, No. 7 Group. Its formation marked an important step in the evolution of the RAF and its organisational culture. Much of the historiography on the Staff College has focussed on a narrow element of Andover’s … Continue reading The RAF Staff College and Learning from the French – Sacrebleu!

Acquisitions

A couple of important books have comes through for review recently... Harry Dickinson, Wisdom and War: The Royal College Greenwich, 1873-1998 (Franham: Ashgate, 2013) An important history of Greenwich and the role it has played the provision of Provisional Military Education for the Royal Navy since its opening in 1873 through to its closure in … Continue reading Acquisitions