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Quicklook at Defence by Stuart Middleton

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Chapter Eight: The Royal Air Force (RAF)

“If we lose the war in the air, we lose the war, and we lose it very quickly.” Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery

History

The history of aviation is relatively short. Although the Mongolfier brothers first achieved manned balloon flight on 21st November 1783, it was not until the Wright brothers achieved their first 120 foot long flight in December 1903 that aircraft history really began. The military potential of aircraft was quickly recognised: for example, the Italian Army deployed a small aviation battalion at the start of the Turko-Italian War in 1911.

By the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, both sides already had rudimentary air arms. The concept of air power had been born and developed ...

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