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Great War: Unknown WarNews and Events

20,000 Feet above the Western Front: Britain’s Aerial War, 1917-18 Event

War Plane
17:00 - 19:00
22 February 2018
Avenue Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this event, please email Mary Andrew at .

Event details

Part of the Great War: Unknown War Programme

April 1917 proved the deadliest month for the Allies in the air war waged against the Germans high above the trenches of Flanders and Picardy.  Yet twelve months later the tide had turned, and, although the attrition rate remained high, the quality and quantity of air frames and aero-engines ensured the advantage now lay with the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.  By 1918 British factories were supplying the future RAF with over two thousand aircraft every month, including the deadly SE5a, flown by battle-hardened pilots who embraced the new technology and pioneered a more combative approach to aerial warfare.  Most influential were Albert Ball, and the working class air aces James McCudden and ‘Mick’ Mannock, on whom this lecture focuses.  Air supremacy in the skies over the Western Front is seen as dependent on aeronautical innovation, industrial mobilisation, and front-line squadrons’ ruthless employment of fresh tactics rooted in harsh experience and unforgiving analysis. 

Adrian Smith’s publications re British aviation include Mick Mannock, Fighter Pilot: Myth, Life and Politics (2001/2015) and The Man Who Built The Swordfish: the Life of Sir Richard Fairey, 1887-1956 (2018).


The Great War: Unknown War Programme Webpage

Speaker information

Professor Adrian Smith,Professor Adrian Smith is an Emeritus Professor of Modern History at the University of Southampton. Late 2017 will see publication (by I.B. Tauris) of my biography of a key figure in British aviation. Until his death in 1956 - the year Fairey Aviation built the first aircraft to fly at over 1000mph – Sir Richard Fairey ran one of Britain's largest and most innovative aircraft companies. In wartime Washington he headed the British Air Commission. ‘CRF’ also founded Fairey Marine, reflecting his accomplishments as a yachtsman whose challenge for the America's Cup was thwarted by the Second World War.

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