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Download Cold War at 30,000 Feet: The Anglo-American Fight for Aviation Supremacy epub

by Jeffrey A. Engel

In a gripping story of international power and deception, Jeffrey Engel reveals the “special relationship” between the United States and Great Britain in a new and far more competitive light. As allies, they fought communism. As rivals, they locked horns over which would lead the Cold War fight. In the quest for sovereignty and hegemony, one important key was airpower, which created jobs, forged ties with the developing world, and, perhaps most importantly in a nuclear world, ensured military superiority. Only the United States and Britain were capable of supplying the post-war world’s ravenous appetite for aircraft. The Americans hoped to use this dominance as a bludgeon not only against the Soviets and Chinese, but also against any ally that deviated from Washington’s rigid brand of anticommunism. Eager to repair an economy shattered by war and never as committed to unflinching anticommunism as their American allies, the British hoped to sell planes even beyond the Iron Curtain, reaping profits, improving East-West relations, and garnering the strength to withstand American hegemony. Engel traces the bitter fights between these intimate allies from Europe to Latin America to Asia as each sought control over the sale of aircraft and technology throughout the world. The Anglo–American competition for aviation supremacy affected the global balance of power and the fates of developing nations such as India, Pakistan, and China. But without aviation, Engel argues, Britain would never have had the strength to function as a brake upon American power, the way trusted allies should.
Download Cold War at 30,000 Feet: The Anglo-American Fight for Aviation Supremacy epub
ISBN: 0674024613
ISBN13: 978-0674024618
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Author: Jeffrey A. Engel
Language: English
Publisher: Harvard University Press; First Edition (1st printing), edition (March 31, 2007)
Pages: 384 pages
ePUB size: 1385 kb
FB2 size: 1333 kb
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 399
Other Formats: azw lrf lit mbr

A very thoroughly-researched historical treatise on the little-known manoeuvrings, rivalries, and occasional eruptions of unadulterated blazing anger between the postwar British and US aviation industries. While Britain struggled to repay its wartime debt to America, to catch-up on its lag in heavy aircraft production, and to divest of its Empire, America took giant strides ahead due to its massive home market and much greater human potential.

Britain was tempted to export all it could to whoever would buy it. America, on the other hand, insisted on a strict embargo on the USSR, China, and their blocs. By diplomatic effort (and often subterfuge), the British did manage to sell both to the Soviets and the Chinese -- arousing huge US wrath in each case. These exports also allowed the Soviets to reverse-engineer and copy what they had bought -- particularly the pioneering 1940s Rolls-Royce jet engines, the Nene and the Derwent.

The US was far from a shining guardian of freedom in attempting to keep aviation technology from the Communists, however. Attaining world market dominance was often the true motive behind US policy. In fact, America often exhasperated the British by selling (particularly to China) after it had stopped the British from doing so. The USA also undermined promising British projects like the TSR2 strike aeroplane, offering to supply off-the-shelf products which turned out to be inferior, behind schedule, and over budget.

In the end, rightly or wrongly, America won and Britain ended up with a mere shadow of an indigenous aircraft industry by the 1990s. The book also contains asides on US-French aviation rivalries.

The book contains a fair number of imprecisions and a surprising number of minor errors. Its least-forgivable failing is, sadly, in the title which is hugely misleading, making potential readers think of the Cold War in the accepted meaning of the non-military postwar conflict between between East and West. The Special Relationship in Aviation would have summer it up better. All this, nevertheless, fails to spoil the study. It is extremely cogently and densely argued and throws little-known new light on a little-known area of postwar history. Thoroughly recommended to all who are interested in the more arcane aspects of aviation politics.
Overall, I found the book interesting ---- particularly the data on
the British sale of Vickers Viscount airliners to the Peoples' Republic of China ---- a tad overwritten, particularly the repeated references to "the New Jerusalem." Was that phrase really in vogue in Whitehall at the time?
The author's thesis is that Britain needed to export airplanes and engines after the end of World War 2 in order to justify their development expense for the home market; that the best export market for its products was in countries that flew airliners into the USSR and PRC; that the USA prohibited such sales through COCOM, the Coordinating Committee, out of stubborn anti-Communism and to protect the US market dominance in aviation; and that therefore the British industry lost permanently its technical lead in jet engines and airliners.
What Engel does not address is that politics aside, British engines
and airliners did not prevail in the non-Communist market against more efficient and more productive American competitor products. When British products were competitive, they found a home in America, e.g. the Rolls-Royce Tay was built under license by Pratt & Whitney, the Armstrong-Siddeley Sapphire by Wright Aeronautical, the RR Spey and Adour by Allison (which was later bought by RR,) the Canberra bomber. Viscounts went into service with Capitol Airlines.
It is true that the size of the internal US military and civil aviation market was such that American firms inevitably developed competitive product to serve it, and achieved economies of scale and productivity not open to the smaller British firms. The reason for the
subsequent dominance of the American airliners was that they were more attractive to airline customers around the world in terms of productivity.
When Airbus Industrie was created later to design truly competitive airliners, and to make, sell, and service them on a scale comparable to that of the American firms, it became an economic success and a major competitive factor in the market. In other words, it is not impossible to make a better product and win market share. It just ain't easy.