Archive for the 'Air Power Theory' Category

Are you an Air Power Studies MPhil/PhD Student?

As I have mentioned previously one of my roles is that I am the Student Representative on the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Air Power Group Committee. In order to help me in this role it would be useful to establish a mailing list for postgraudate researchers working in the field of Air Power Studies so that we may discuss issues that may be taken to the committee. I am also interested in finding out who is currently engaged in doctoral research in order to illustrate the diversity of work that is ongoing. The list would also be a useful way of networking and providing you with information of events and publications that may be of interest. You do not need to be a member of RAeS for this, though membership does give you access to the publications such as the Journal of Aeronautical History.

If you wish to be added to the list, please email me at with the following details:


Working Thesis Title



Date of Completion


I would like to hear from as many scholars as possible. Air Power Studies, as a sub-set of the broader War Studies field, encompasses all aspects of History, Strategic Studies, Economics, Law, Ethics, Philosophy and International Relations.


Shock and Awe: A Conference on the History of Aerial Bombing

Details of an interesting conference on bombing at the London School of Economics and Goldsmith College.

A Hundred Years of Bombing from Above

November 2011 marks the centenary of a world-historic event.

An Italian pilot, Guilio Cavotti dropped the first bombs from an aeroplane on to the oasis of Tagiura outside Tripoli.

The development of aerial bombardment was more than just a military revolution.

It changed both war and peace.

It redrew the legal and moral boundaries between civilians and combatants, spread the theatre of war into new environments and expanded the battlefield, making cities into places of mass death and taking warfare into private, domestic spaces.

The conference Shock And Awe: a hundred years of bombing from above will mark this anniversary and explore important elements of the century of bombing that followed the fateful attack on Tegura.

This multi-disciplinary event brings together internationally renowned critics, sociologists, geographers, philosophers and historians to reflect on all aspects of a hundred years of bombing from above.

It will develop a conversation between very different historical experiences and cases of bombing and establish a cosmopolitan conversation about these difficult issues.

The conference will be held at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Goldsmiths, University of London.

More details, including the registration details and programme, can be found here.

Tweeting Exploring the Frontiers of Air Power Research Workshop

Today is the first day of the Air Power Workshop at the Centre for War Studies at the University of Birmingham. This is an important and exciting event that seeks to explore future avenues of research in the field of Air Power Studies.

Rather than write a report on the two days activities I am tweeting some key points that are raised during the course of the workshop. You can follow these tweets by following the hash tag #airpowerresearch. Hopefully this works.

Britain and Douhet’s influence pre-1914?

It is difficult to establish conclusively if Gulio Douhet’s notion of the command of the air, the title of his famous treatise, had any influence upon the creation of a specialist aviation language in Britain during the period under study.[1] Eric Ash’s reference to the influence of Douhet upon Frederick Sykes is interesting although the similarity of their taxonomy could be explained as being largely coincidental.[2] In contrast, Higham abhors the suggestion that Douhet had any influence over the development of British air power theory. At most, he concedes that Douhet may have been having similar thoughts to other practitioners of air power but that his direct influence was negligible.[3] In keeping with the conclusions of Robin Higham, Tony Mason offers a similar critique.[4]

However, Michael Paris stresses the similarities between the thinking of Sykes and Douhet whilst conceding that evidence for the influence of the latter over the former is circumstantial. Paris is rather persuasive in his argument, noting the closeness of the aviation community and the ease at which ideas were able to travel through this group. Moreover, Paris, along with Ash, notes Sykes’s links to Italy during the period.[5] In general, the term ‘command of the air’ had been in common circulation since at least 1909 whilst Paris traces the origins of such language to the late Ninetieth Century.[6]

By James Pugh

[1] For an abridged copy of The Command of the Air, see D. Jablonsky, ed., Roots of Strategy: Book 4 (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999). This work contains a useful introduction and commentary upon Douhet’s text.

[2] E. Ash, Sir Frederick Sykes and the Air Revolution, 1912 – 1918, pp.223 – 224. More generally, see P. Meilinger, Airmen and Air Theory: A Review of the Sources (Alabama: Air University Press, 1988), pp.103 – 106.

[3] See R. Higham, The Military Intellectuals in Britain, 1918 – 1939 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1966), p.132, pp.257 – 259.

[4] T. Mason, Air Power: A Centennial Appraisal, pp.44 – 45.

[5] See M. Paris, Winged Warfare, pp.114 – 115, pp.189 – 190.

[6] M. Paris, Winged Warfare, p.185. For example, an article in Flight in May 1909 discussed the importance of establishing the ‘command of the air.’ See ‘Command of the air,’ Flight, Vol.1, No.20 (May 15 1909): p.272. The article used the term in the general sense, with reference to establishing ascendency over Britain’s global rivals, in a similar manner as Britain strived for command of the sea.

Air Power Studies Debate Series

A new series of Air Power Studies Debates are being organised by the Air Power Studies Division of King’s College London.

The inaugural debate will be on the motion:

‘Autonomous weapons and morality in war are incompatible’

Professor Noel Sharkey, University of Sheffield

(For the motion)

Professor Tony Gillespie, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

(Against the motion)

The debate will be held in the Edmund J Safra Lecture Theatre, Kings College London, Strand Campus, London on Thursday 14 April 2011

1845 Complementary refreshments in “Chapters”

1930 Lecture Theatre (doors open 1915)


Please confirm your intent to attend by contacting:

Ms Debra Aitkenhead

Telephone: +44 (0) 1400 266334

DFTS: 95751 6334

Fax: +44 (0) 1400 266265


War Studies Seminar at the University of Birmingham

Next weeks War Studies Seminar at the University of Birmingham is as follows:

Ian Shields
(University of Cambridge)
Airpower and Ethics

The event will be on 1 March. The Seminar meets on TUESDAYS at 5.30 p.m. in Lecture Room 3, 1st Floor, Arts Building.

Exploring the Frontiers of Air Power Research

Exploring the Frontiers of Air Power Research

A University of Birmingham War Studies Workshop

7-8 September 2011

This workshop, organised by War Studies Group at the University of Birmingham, intends to examine explore the wider frontiers of military history research generally air power in particular. The impact of ‘New’ Military History has highlighted the need to push the frontiers of research from the more usual diet of tactical and operational history and explore the broader implications of air power. The workshop will be held in the Arts Building at the Edgbaston campus of the University of Birmingham.

The workshop gives delegates the opportunity to present aspects of their research to a wider audience and engage with the academic community in the field of air power studies. The workshop programme is attached; it includes panels dealing with Legal and Ethical aspects of Air Power, Air Power Historiography, Culture and Gender, and Analytical Tools and their application to Air Power Studies. Keynote addresses will be delivered by Professor Richard Overy, Chair of History at the University of Exeter, and Professor Philip Sabin, Chair of Strategic Studies at King’s College London. Air Vice-Marshal (ret’d) Professor Tony Mason CB CBE will provide commentary on Professor Sabin’s address. Confirmed speakers include Sebastian Cox, Head of the Air Historical Branch, and Dr. Joel Hayward, Dean of the Royal Air Force College and King’s College London.

More information to follow…

Workshop poster

More information will be published here.


Welcome to The Aerodrome, the unofficial blog of the Air Power Studies students at the University of Birmingham.

Please note all opinions expressed are those of the contributors and should not be taken to be those of the University of Birmingham, the Ministry of Defence or any other organisation or body.

Non-students will from time to time contribute to this blog.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about either this blog or about studying Air Power at the University of Birmingham please email us at The Aerodrome

The Aerodrome Forum

As an adjunct to this blog we have set up an Air Power Forum for students and academics working in the field of Air Power Studies.

You can find the forum here.

If you have any questions please Email us.

You can also find an Air Power Studies networking group on LinkedIn

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