Allied air power and intelligence in the Mediterranean, June 1940-December 1943.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts (Hons)
Between 1939 and 1945, the development of air power as an independent weapon ushered in a new age of three-dimensional warfare. Air forces were recognised increasingly as having an integral part to play in military operations alongside the traditional armed services, armies and navies. However, in comparison the importance of intelligence in the conduct of World War II aerial operations has been, until only recently, sadly neglected. In part, this oversight was unavoidable because some sources (particularly Ultra) remained a closely-guarded secret until the mid-1970s; yet other sources simply were omitted, even though their existence was unconcealed. Yet it is arguable that without an appreciation of the contribution of intelligence, a proper understanding of these campaigns is impossible. This thesis aims to fill this gap by exploring the combination of air power and intelligence in a specific setting. The choice of the Mediterranean theatre during the period June 1940 to December 1943 is salient for two reasons. Firstly, it represents the formative years of the air arm, as it was employed in a variety of roles on a progressively expanding scale. Secondly, the Mediterranean conflict anticipated the utilisation of intelligence on a similarly widespread scale, in a diverse manner of forms and guises. The parallel paths followed by both of the embryonic services were to cross many times and ultimately become permanently intermeshed. Throughout this process, intelligence would gradually exercise a major influence on the planning and implementation of air operations, and even assist in the shaping of a revolutionary doctrine for Allied air power.