Through Adversity to the Stars

Well, in featuring our Easter series, we missed something yesterday. Yes, we missed April Fools Day, but that is not what I had in mind.

1 April 2018 was the centenary of the Royal Air Force. Almost the oldest air force in the world. Apparently, Finland’s is a  few months older, but was in a civil war at the time and had very few aircraft. Even then Britain Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service were formidable air forces. Here’s a bit about how it came about.

You have no doubt noticed that Britain consolidated the Navy and Army air services in forming the RAF, something America never did. In fact, to this day, we have three full-scale air forces: The US Air Force, the Navy’s air force, and the Marine’s air force. They all are multipurpose but have different emphases. USAF is ground-based, USN mostly carrier based, and USMC again mostly carrier based but geared toward air support of ground forces. But the US services are quite a lot bigger than Britain’s, and by the time the USAF was formed, in 1948, well, the various air services were far too entrenched and had much too much history for it to happen.

Then this, where the RAF saved Britain and the free world. If they had lost, it is highly unlikely that the war would have been won.

Churchill was never known for understatement, but truly he did when he said –

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

That is part of the story, the easy part, defending one’s home. But defending oneself does not win wars. Wars are won by destroying anything that supports the enemy’s war effort. And Britain did superbly at that. That it is still controversial is appalling, wars, especially existential wars for survival, are fought with any available weapon. Bomber command did nothing that the Wehrmacht did not do at Stalingrad or the Red Army at Berlin. This is a fairly non-biased story of that.

Like the 8th United States Army Air Force, Bomber Command took horrendous casualties but saved many British and American soldiers lives. Was it as effective as they hoped? No. Giulio Douhet was wrong. Wars are not won by air campaigns, they are won by men with rifles and bayonets. But many of those soldiers lived because of the men in the bombers. And we didn’t have to fight the third round, against the Soviet Union, because those same men went on to convince the Soviets that they would be destroyed, as the Germans had been.

And it continues, we saw an example in our own time when a British Vulcan bomber strike mission launched in England struck Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, disrupting the Argentinian command and control, easing the way for the ground forces to recover the island.

And now, a hundred years from its founding, the RAF is still looking to its future, as it too welcomes the F35 Lightning II into the inventory.

One of the things that caught my eye, that F35 on display bears the markings of one of the US Marine Corp squadrons (VMF). And that too is appropriate, since US Marine Corps wings will sometimes be assigned to Britain’s new carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, which looks like it will be second only in power to an American fleet carrier. And note this, the United Kingdom is the only power that the United States trusts enough to place entire units of our military under their command. Ever, this is the first time it has happened.

Congratulations to the Royal Air Force, and here’s to many more years of keeping the peace and fighting the wars of a free people.

The title is the accepted translation of the RAF motto.

And the final installment of our Easter series will come up at noon today.


About Neo
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

2 Responses to Through Adversity to the Stars

  1. Memory Eternal for my father, RAF, one time spit-pilot WW II! Just one of that Greatest Generation! RIP to all of them!

    Liked by 1 person

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