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Title: Defending the Nest: A History and Analysis of Airfield Defence Policy in the Royal Australian Air Force
Contributor(s): Carwardine, Sean Stuart (author); Warwick, Nigel  (supervisor)orcid ; Wise, Nathan  (supervisor)orcid ; Holman, Brett  (supervisor)orcid 
Conferred Date: 2020-11-04
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: It was not long after the invention of aircraft that they became powerful weapons in the third dimension, with unrestricted ability to cross borders, over sea or land, and attack seemingly at will and with great devastation of any enemy target within its range. Aircraft are precision weapons of destruction of any battle and can be the turning point of any war. The majesty and power of these birds of war, and the claim of air power they bring, is an asset to any nation at war. Yet, on the ground these powerful machines become vulnerable, and it is in this form that they broadcast their fragility. They become thin-skinned, soft targets, lacking agility and ease of movement, in short, they become very easy targets themselves. Therefore, an enemy is more likely to recognise that the best way to gain air control is to destroy or at least harass these military machines on the ground. For any military force, especially one with expensive war machines and large areas of land that are key tactical terrain, airfield defence cannot be overlooked. This vulnerability of aircraft, and the network that surrounds them, to ground or air attack has been recognised in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) from as early as 1929. It was at that time that airfield defence first became a RAAF capability.
The evolution of the history of RAAF airfield defence has never before been studied in depth through a robust academic process. An overview of the writings of Australian Air Force historians to date show that there is a focus on aviation, aircraft themselves and pilots. Apart from a few sentences, Australian RAAF histories very rarely acknowledge a key facet of airoperations; the protection of the airfields. This thesis aims to capture a significant area of Australian military history and analyse its development, influences and evolution.
This thesis will investigate all aspects of RAAF airfield defence from 1921 until 1970. This will include an examination of the evolution of security and defence policy, often challenged by global hostilities and subsequent times of peace. This study will uncover debate and inconsistency across the RAAF, since its inception, regarding the need to protect its airfields, and which arm of the Defence Force should be responsible for doing so. The views and influences of key personalities on the development of an Australian airfield defence capability will also be examined. This thesis will demonstrate the impacts of those policies on the ground, on Australian bases and overseas airfields and highlight the activities of airmen performing the role.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 160604 Defence Studies
210202 Heritage and Cultural Conservation
210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 430203 Cultural heritage management (incl. world heritage)
430302 Australian history
440804 Defence studies
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 810101 Air Force
940301 Defence and Security Policy
970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 140101 Air
230301 Defence and security policy
280113 Expanding knowledge in history, heritage and archaeology
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
Description: Access to the Dataset for this Thesis provided at the following link:
Appears in Collections:School of Environmental and Rural Science
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Thesis Doctoral

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