Sir Frederick H. Sykes and the Air Revolution: 1912-1918

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This dissertation is a study of Sir Frederick H. Sykes, first Chief of the Air Staff of the Royal Air Force. It argues that historians have overlooked and misinterpreted Sykes and, therefore, have left a gap in the story of British flying during the First World War. Contrary to historiography, Sykes was not a secretive intriguer and not a tangential subject in RAF history. This dissertation describes Sykes's fundamental part in organizing and leading British aviation from 1912 to 1919--his visionary guidance and efficient administrative control of the fledgling service that was trying to survive infancy and contribute to victory. Sykes assumed command of the air staff at a critical time--the German spring offensives in 1918--when he worked harmoniously with the Air Minister, Lord William Weir, to maintain control of the air force and establish the strategic Independent Air Force. Sykes battled against fellow airmen, military traditionalists, and French commanders to lead an incipient air revolution in warfare by instituting "air minded" use of new technologies to economize manpower and apply air power tactically, strategically, and independently from inefficient army and navy competitive control. Aircraft have transformed the modern battlefield, and Sykes was important to that revolutionary beginning.
Bibliography: p. 472-482.
Ash, E. A. (1995). Sir Frederick H. Sykes and the Air Revolution: 1912-1918 (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/21899