Fading Eagle – Politics and Decline of Britain’s Post-War Air Force looks at the rise and fall of British air power from a more critical than usual angle, in particular the impact of political ineptitude. The Royal Air Force, following a troubled start as a result of resentful contention by the other services, rose to prominence during the Second World War countering imminent invasion and striking at Hitler’s army and industrial complex before the Normandy landings. Air power also proved a vital factor in support of both land and sea operations.
Post-war, the RAF continued its newfound prominence among the armed forces, again as the principal defender of the United Kingdom from likely Soviet air attack and as the principal means of delivering the nuclear deterrent, countering the submarine threat and providing rapid comprehensive air support across the globe. Despite this, the change in political aspirations and priorities led to decisions and policies which resulted in unintended and unnecessary weakening of the RAF and other services.
When the Cold War ended in 1991, many western nations, Britain not least among them, were determined that modern warfare as understood was at an end, air power quickly became sidelined despite being relied upon extensively since. In an era of high demand on the armed forces in tandem with less and incompetently managed funding, there have been calls for the RAF to be disbanded, as had been so during the early years of its existence.
Ian Smith Watson was born in 1960 and served in the RAF from 1977 to 1990 as an Air Defence Radar Operator. He also worked in Saudi Arabia from 1991 to 1993 on contract to the RSAF under the GENA programme and received the FAA Flight Despatch Licence in 1993. His first book was The Royal Air Force At Home.
Dimensions: 238 x 172 mm
Illustrations: 60 b/w photographs