THIS IS AN ONLINE EVENT
As some of you may know, we do not normally hold meetings in August, due to summer holidays. However, with the advent and subsequent success of 'Zoom' meetings during the Covid shutdown, we have decided that this year we would hold another online meeting during August.
The Troubled Birth of the British Fighter 1911-1918
By Greg Baughen
A talk based on themes in Greg’s book ‘Blueprint for Victory’
This talk destroys many myths about British aviation before and during the First World War. The general perception is that Britain entered the war without understanding the importance of air power. Quite the opposite is true. The War Office were very aware of its importance and were striving to create an effective air force long before war broke out.
Part talk, part detective story, Greg Baughen describes how Army generals knew that some way of shooting down enemy planes had to be found. Designers and engineers were soon struggling to find a way of doing this. The talk describes the story behind British efforts to overcome the problems. Inspired by the Royal Navys dreadnoughts, the Royal Flying Corps planned to rule the skies with their own aerial battleships. The talk describes how this delayed the development of the single-seater dogfighters like the Camel and SE5a and tracks down the mysterious Fighting Experimental dreadnoughts that the Royal Flying Corps wanted to use instead.
The Pup, Camel and S.E.5a eventually emerged to save the day, but the idea of a battleship fighter was never abandoned entirely. Even at the end of the war, there were still plans to develop them and the concept would continue to influence British fighter design long after the First World War.
Greg Baughen (pronounced “Born”!!) was educated at Sussex University where he obtained a degree in Mathematics. In a varied teaching career, he has taught Maths and English as a Foreign Language, to children and adults, in Britain and abroad. His interest in military aviation was sparked at a very early age by curiosity over the defeat of British and French air forces in the Battle of France in 1940.
For fifty years, he has delved though public archives in Britain and France seeking explanations. The quest has taken him back to the origins of air power in both countries and forward to what might have been in the Cold War. In between marking homework and bringing up a family, he set about compiling a history of British and French air power. Retirement allowed him to turn this work into a series of books.
The first of in the series (“Blueprint for Victory”) covers the history of British air power before and during the First World War. It describes how, after a problematic start, the force that existed by the end of the war was indeed the blueprint for a modern 20th century air force.
For details of all books in the series see: Blueprint for Victory
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