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A Historical View of Air Policing Doctrine Lessons from the British Experience between the Wars, 1919-1939

By Major Michael A. Longoria, USAF

This paper reviews the historical accounts of the Royal Air Force (R.A.F) experiences in air policing during the interwar period, 1919-1939. It analyzes the evidence from the view of operational doctrine and applies an in-depth look at the basic tenets of R.A.F. air policing campaigns. It seeks to answer the question: to what doctrine did air commanders subscribe? It further analyzes the development of air policing tactical doctrine throughout the interwar period. It summarizes the conclusions and then offers this insight as it may apply to contemporary operations. This work seeks to provide an insightful view of the British experience and attempts to explain what has never been explained before, namely “how” air policing worked from the vantage point of those who conducted it. By tracing the R.A.F. operations during the more significant air policing examples and looking at the indigenous response, it describes the actual operational mechanism at work.


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