Welcome to The Aerodrome the blog of the Air Power Studies group at the University of Birmingham.
The blog exists to promote Air Power Studies and has the following key aims:
- To discuss developments in Air Power Studies
- To discuss key debates in the contemporary use of Air Power
- To discuss key debates in Air Power History
- To act as a gateway to the study of Air Power at the University of Birmingham by highlighting current research in the department
- To keep readers up to date with events and publications on Air Power
The blogs authors are:
Air Commodore (ret’d) Peter Gray
Peter joined the University of Birmingham September 2008 as a Senior Research Fellow in Air Power Studies. He retired from the Royal Air Force in June 2008 after a full career. His early flying career as a navigator was spent in air defence duties on the Phantom F4; he later commanded 101 squadron flying VC10K tankers. Staff appointments included 3 years in the Cabinet Office, Strategic Plans in MoD and as Director of Defence Studies for the RAF. In this last appointment Peter taught on the Higher Command and Staff Course (HCSC). His final job was as Director of the Defence Leadership and Management Centre within the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. His first degree was a BSc in Maths and Physics from the University of Dundee; he later gained an LLB from London. He then completed an MPhil in International Relations at the University of Cambridge. Gray is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Institute of Leadership and Management.
Currently Peter is researching strategic leadership in Bomber Command during the Second World War for his PhD. He teaches on all years of the BA in War Studies and has two Research Groups. He is actively involved in the MA programmes for the First and Second World Wars. Gray had developed an MA in Air Power Studies and plans to offer an undergraduate option in Air Power History in 2009/2010. He is available to supervise, or advise, on air power issues specifically. He is also happy to be consulted on intelligence topics and strategic decision making. He also has some background in international law and the ethical use of armed forces.
Ross is an Air Power historian reading for his PhD at the Centre for Second World War Studies under the supervision of Professor Gary Sheffield and Air Commodore (ret’d) Peter Gray. He is researching the leadership effectiveness of Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory. Prior to this he completed an MPhil examining the use of Air Power during the raid on Dieppe.
Before starting his PhD Ross was a Lecturer in History teaching ‘A’ Levels having completed his PGCE in Post-Coompulsory Education at the University of Wolverhampton. His first degree is in History and War Studies from the University of Wolverhampton. His research interests include Air Power History, Theory and Doctrine, British Military History of the 20th Century, Joint Warfare, the Development of Military Technology, Leadership and Military Operational Research.
John starts a part-time PhD at the University of Birmingham in October 2010 under Peter Gray’s supervision. He has an MSt (Cantab) in International Relations, an MBA (Open), and a BA (Hons) in Geography from Newcastle Upon Tyne, and is reading for an MA (Open) in History. He is a Group Captain in the RAF and currently leads the joint concepts team at the MOD’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre. He has served with the RAF Regiment world-wide and commanded 37 Squadron RAF Regiment; with the USAF and Sultan of Oman’s Air Force; in various staff appointments in the UK and on operations; and in air power appointments including the Joint Air Power Competence Centre.
John’s research interests include air power in counter-insurgency and interwar British strategy. His PhD will research Britain’s use of air power in Iraq, 1918-1959, examining the use air control as a substitute for ground forces; its impact on Iraqi state development, British public opinion and the RAF’s independence; and the RAF’s presence after Iraqi independence in 1932. For his MSt he researched the Arab Revolt in Palestine, 1936-39, contending the RAF rapidly implemented a sophisticated concept for air-land integration that enabled on call close air support to play a critical role in the suppression of the revolt. His MA dissertation he argued the RAF continuously developed air defence in the interwar period and did not neglect it in favour of strategic bombing.
Dilip Sarkar MBE
Dilip has been fascinated by the Battle of Britain and the Spitfire for a lifetime, being particularly moved by the sacrifice of casualties and the ‘human’ experience involved. Although he was a serving police officer between 1983-2005, his first book on the Battle of Britain was published in 1990, this being followed by over 20 more between that date and 2007. These include the only family-authorised works on both Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader and Air Vice-Marshal Johnnie Johnson, but more importantly, perhaps, is the fact that Dilip provided a platform from which the ‘also rans’ (as Peter Fox, one of the Few described himself!) to share their wartime experiences. In 2008, Dilip began writing for Amberley PLC, which has already produced a number of his latest titles including ‘The Few: The Battle of Britain in the Words of the Pilots’; an account of over 100 Battle of Britain survivors to mark the 70th anniversary. Dilip has also spoken extensively on his work at such venues as St Margaret’s College, Oxford, and the Imperial War Museum. He was made an MBE for services to aviation history in 2003, and elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society in 2006. In 2008, Dilip began his long overdue history degree at University Worcester, as a full-time ‘mature’ student, which he completed in two, as opposed to the usual three, years. He is currently poised to begin his Phd later this year.
For the record, Dilip is not a one-dimensional historian, having also produced orginal historiography concerning the English Civil War; he is founder member of the Battle of Worcester Society. He is also heavily involved with the annual Wars of the Roses re-enactments at both Tewkesbury and Mortimer’s Cross. His first maritime military history book, ‘Hearts of Oak: The Human Sacrifice of HMS Royal Oak’, is about to be published, meaning that his published work embraces conflict on land, sea and air. You can find his website here.
Air Vice Marshal (ret’d) Peter Dye OBE
Matthew currently holds an MA in Intelligence and Security Studies and a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Military and International History from the University of Salford, and is due to begin his PhD at the University of Birmingham in October, 2010 where he will be examining the development of the RAF’s Army Co-Operation Command during the Second World War. His research interests include the development of tactical air power doctrine, Army Co-operation Command, the First World War, particularly its origins and the actions of the Western Front and the European and African theatres of the Second World War.
He is currently awaiting the publication of his first article detailing the actions of the 38th [Welsh] Division in the First World War in the Western Front Association’s journal Stand To!.