Inter-War Aviation

The use of airplane technology during the First World War had a lasting effect on the development of air warfare. Not only were airplanes discovered to be highly useful for reconnaissance missions but also as a tactical bombing weapon. With airplanes, each side could now attack the other’s rear guard positions along with the factories and supply routes vital to the army. The effect of the bomber made it a much feared and inspiring weapon and its development continued after the Great War. Fighter planes were also recognized for their potential in defending infantry positions and engaging the enemy in air battles.


After the war, Great Britain along with Germany and countless other countries continued to explore and develop airplanes to add to their strategic arsenals. But in Britain, the Royal Air Force shrank drastically in strength after the Great War and the meager funds allotted it were mainly spent on bomber production. The only combat practice the RAF had during the inter-war period was colonial policing where bombers would control tribal activity through bombing raids. The spirit of the air force at home consisted of an atmosphere of romance and gracious living that did not always work in conjunction with combat training and airplane efficiency. Up until the mid-1930’s, many RAF pilots were still flying obsolete planes.


In Britain, brilliant airplane designers such as Reginald Mitchell and Sydney Camm worked to improve upon the biplanes of the first world war by creating monoplanes, which were fitted with powerful engines, used higher octane fuels, were more streamlined, and could reach speeds of up to 400 mph. Their designs contributed immensely to the British war effort. By 1936, the Royal Air Force was under the new leadership of Sir Hugh Dowding, and the RAF was expanded in response to the growing strength of Germany’s aerial forces. Bombers were still highly prized over fighters but with the introduction of Mitchell’s Spitfire and Camm’s Hurricane fighter planes, the British had aircraft comparable to the superior German Luftwaffe and production increased in preparation for the impending war.

Link: Air Power