The Battle for Britain

Interservice Rivalry between the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, 1909-1940

Hardcover $17.98
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The Battle for Britain is a provocative reinterpretation of both British air and naval power from 1909 to 1940. Anthony Cumming challenges the view that the Battle of Britain was a decisive victory won solely by the Royal Air Force through independent airpower operations. By re-evaluating the early stage of the Mediterranean conflict and giving special emphasis to naval battles such as Calabria and Taranto, Cumming argues that the Royal Navy played an equally important role in defeating Hitler’s early advances, buying critical time until the Americans could make a decisive contribution. His argument holds that the RAF’s role as an independent arm has been exaggerated and that contemporary strategists can learn from investing too much confidence in independent airpower.

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Editorial Reviews

"This book argues that the interservice battle between the navy and air force between 1909 to 1940 was decisively won by the air force as early as 1917." The Historian
"An insightful assessment of the often negative role of the RAF in the development of British air power." The NYMAS Review
"...this book is a definite buy for libraries and specialists in military and naval aviation. Its value lies in the author's distillation of the mass of civilian sources underlying decisions and the addition of the dimensions of media for affecting policy. The work provides a rounded picture of issues around air and naval forces that are likely to remain with us for the foreseeable future." The Northern Mariner
"Cummings offers an outstanding account of how inter-service conflict played out before, during, and after the Battle of Britain. His careful analysis of the brutal bureaucratic fights between sailors, civilians, and aviators leads inexorably to his final question: 'What is the purpose of independent air power?'" ROBERT M. FARLEY, author of Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force
"Anthony J. Cumming's book examines the rise of airpower in the inter-war period and the competition for resources between the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. This vital passage of history has been subject to much myth making, especially by the champions of airpower. Cumming dispels the myths, and challenges the accepted views, in a provocative and challenging analysis. This is a good book, and an important one." G. H. BENNETT, professor of history, Plymouth University
"Anthony J. Cumming's thought-provoking book sheds new light on the British government's hasty decision, taken after the Smuts Report of 1917, to create an independent Air Force that came to influence every aspect of British defense policy between the wars. He describes how the untested theories of a few air power protagonists which literally forgot the importance of sea power and failed to give due credit to the hard-won wartime experience of the RNAS and RFC were accepted with insufficient study by politicians. Cumming stresses the undoubted bravery of the aircrew but explains how these misplaced priorities hampered the development of carrier-borne aircraft for the Royal Navy and limited British operational capability in the opening phases of the Second World War." David Hobbs, author of British Aircraft Carriers: Design, Development and Service Histories
"Cumming's analysis can genuinely be said to break new ground in explaining the reality behind events that were described, for whatever reasons, in ways that distorted public perceptions and which still have an influence on defence policy in the UK and Australia today. I thoroughly recommend The Battle for Britain." Australian Naval Institute
"Cumming has laid down a powerful challenge to the orthodox narrative of British air power in the early years of World War Two. By tracing the politics, the inter-service maneuvering and propaganda which accompanied the transition of the Royal Air Force from its origins in a crisis during 1917 to being lauded as the savior of the nation in 1940, Cumming exposes both the hysteria of public perceptions and the distortions it created in defense policy - the ramifications of which are still being felt today." Richard Harding, editor of The Royal Navy, 1939-2000: Innovation and Defence