Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsDr Emmett Sullivan: Greetings and welcome to "From World War

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsto White Heat: The RAF in the Cold War." I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to you from the RAF Museum in London. And I'd like to introduce you to the aviation historian at the RAF museum, Dr. Ross Mahoney. Hi Ross.

Skip to 0 minutes and 29 secondsDr Ross Mahoney: Hi, Emmett.

Skip to 0 minutes and 31 secondsDr Emmett Sullivan: We thought about how to actually approach the topic of the RAF in a broader context. And decided the Cold War period was one that works for both of our interests. I teach a course at Royal Holloway, University of London,

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsunder the title of "The Bomb: Atomic Weaponry and Society in the 20th Century." And there are aspects of this course which are going to feed into that broad course for my students as well as for yourselves. Ross pointed out with the National Cold War exhibition RAF Cosford, we had a very good basis to develop something around the Cold War for this course. Ross.

Skip to 1 minute and 19 secondsDr Ross Mahoney: Yes, of course the Cold War, a major period in the RAF's history. Half of the RAF's history, if we think about it in that respect. 50 years of preparing for a war that never happened. And of course, from my own personal perspective, starting some research on the Royal Air Force in Germany and its place in Britain's defence landscape and that changing role, especially as Britain moves from-- the RAF moves from having a strategic nuclear deterrent to focusing on the central front with NATO. So, the Cold War is a really, really interesting period of history from my perspective, but also that of the service.

Skip to 2 minutes and 0 secondsDr Emmett Sullivan: Thank you. Now, one of the themes which is going to be underlying this course is the idea of memorialisation. So in the last week, we're going to be dealing with the museums, and to a certain degree, the exhibits in London in particular that commemorate the RAF and other air forces. And that's something that we will touch upon in the earlier weeks. But, we'd like to think about how in the Cold War, the establishment of this museum and then later, RAF Cosford as a Royal Air Force Museum helped to bring the RAF into the public's mind from a public history perspective.

Skip to 2 minutes and 41 secondsDr Ross Mahoney: Yeah, of course the museum itself is an active memorialisation and commemoration. It's eventual opening in the 70's. A really important point for understanding how we commemorate the RAF and its antecedents, the Royal Flying Corps or the Royal Naval Air Service. And of course, more recently, the opening of the National Cold War Exhibition at the museum in Cosford is all about how we commemorate the Cold War. And the RAF's involvement in that sort of aspect such as the the Berlin air lift, life in Germany during the Cold War, but also more broadly, the RAF's operations around the globe, which is a theme we'll come back to more and more as we go through the course.

Skip to 3 minutes and 20 secondsIs that the RAF during the Cold War is not just focused on delivering nuclear weapons or operations in the central front in Germany, but the withdrawal from empire and the role that the RAF plays there in counter -- what today we call counter-insurgency campaigns. But more commonly, small wars, especially in places such as Malaya and Kenya.

Skip to 3 minutes and 40 secondsDr Emmett Sullivan: And we're going to be picking up on those themes from next week. Principally, we're going to be dealing with this week the period from 1945 and the early years of the Cold War, including the Berlin Air Lift. And then next week, to make sure the course doesn't have too much of a eurocentric focus, considering the wider role of the RAF, including Malaya and its humanitarian function, as you mentioned. Thereafter we will be concentrating on some of the central Cold War events.

Skip to 4 minutes and 16 secondsThe development of the independent nuclear deterrent, the V-force, defending Britain, and ultimately from 1965-- and of course, the second part of the quote comes from Harold Wilson's speech in 1963 about having Britain at the technological forefront of the white heat of technological change. And actually seeing what happens after 1965 to government policy and then the role of the RAF in that regard. So we are looking to develop those themes, and then to round off the course by considering how the RAF is represented within the public sphere. So thank you very much. My name is Emmett Sullivan. And we are going to move on from this point.

Skip to 5 minutes and 5 secondsThe first topic we're going to be dealing with in depth is actually in the RAF in 1945. Thank you very much.

Course introduction

Welcome to the course!

Dr Ross Mahoney and I will be hosting the discussion for the six weeks of the course. Ross is the Aviation Historian for the RAF Museums, and he is based in Hendon, London. I am a Senior Lecturer in History at Royal Holloway, University of London, based in Egham, Surrey.

We conceived of this free online course as a way of exploring the role of the RAF in the Cold War for the public more generally. Ross is developing a research project around the topic; and I teach a University of London Special Subject (a final year undergraduate double unit) under the title ‘The Bomb - A History’, which deals in part with the development and deployment of Britain’s atomic and nuclear deterrent during this era. We have tried to make the course as accessible as possible, and we hope you enjoy learning more about the RAF and its role in this period.

Please feel free to view our profiles and “follow” us if you would like to stay up to date with the comments we make in this course:

Dr Ross Mahoney
Dr Emmett Sullivan

As well as Ross and myself, Catherine Dexter will be the discussion manager for the course. Catheine completed her degree at Royal Holloway ((BA(Hons) in History) last year, and is now reading for her MA in Public History. Catherine took my ‘Bomb’ course as an undergrad; and works on our e-Degree via the University of London International Programmes. Catherine also helped prepare some of the text for the course (in week four).

Periodically during each of the weeks we will be interviewing a range of people who have an association with the topic. Here, in the first week, we will be talking to Flight Lieutenant Roger Wilkins about his experiences in the RAF under National Service. Roger stayed on to fly Meteor and Hunter jets around the world in the service of the UK. We will have other guests popping up as the weeks go on.

There is a Facebook page for the course, where we will adding some additional material as we go along; and there is also a Twitter account as well. The hashtag for the course is #FLcoldwarRAF.

We hope you enjoy the course, and please engage with the discussions whenever you can.

Emmett Sullivan

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This video is from the free online course:

From World War to White Heat: the RAF in the Cold War

Royal Holloway, University of London