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'The development of airpower roles and missions in the First World War “Biggles” stories of Captain W.E. Johns’

Horwood, Ian (2017) 'The development of airpower roles and missions in the First World War “Biggles” stories of Captain W.E. Johns’. In: de Almeida, Jose Domingues, Faria, Dominique, Outeirinho, Maria de Fatima and Monteiro, Antonio, (eds.) Aviateurs-écrivains: Témoins de l’histoire. First ed. Exotopies . Paris, Le Manuscrit, pp. 147-165

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While not an uncommon image in the popular culture of the inter-war period, the choice of that of a fighter pilot for Captain W.E. Johns’s fictional aviation hero ‘Biggles’ is perhaps a little surprising. A former bomber pilot with the Royal Air Force’s Independent Air Force, tasked with attacking strategic targets in Germany, Johns wrote the First World War Biggles stories, under ‘the shadow of the bomber’ in the 1930s. The primary objective of the RAF after the First World War was to wage strategic air warfare against the enemy homeland, and Johns stayed on in the service until 1927, before becoming an aviation journalist.
Despite his ‘bomber’ background, Johns chose to explore all the new tactical fighter air combat roles in the Biggles stories, while largely ignoring the development of strategic airpower. This paper explores Johns’s commentary on the development of airpower roles and missions through the vehicle of his First World War Biggles stories, with particular emphasis on the relationship between the types of missions undertaken by Biggles in the stories, and the prevailing attitudes to airpower between the wars.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: Published
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain > DA566 20th century
School/Department: School of Humanities
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/2129

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