This study investigates the employment of British aircraft against German submarines during the final years of the First World War-an issue that appears only marginally in other studies because it does not clearly fall into either naval or air power history. A single, focused study is needed to measure the effectiveness of the effort, place the campaign within the greater context of the naval and air wars, and assess the veracity of the secondary literature. This book also places the air anti-submarine campaign in the wider history of the First World War.
Early chapters examine the aircraft and weapons technology, aircrew training, and aircraft production issues that shaped this campaign. Then, a close examination of anti-submarine operations-bombing, patrols, and escort-yields a significantly different judgment from existing interpretations of these operations. A chapter on the British official assessments, which provided a basis for much of the secondary literature, demonstrates that this campaign was often misrepresented because it was either used to promote specific agendas or it was inappropriately employed as evidence in unrelated historical arguments. This study would be the first to take an objective look at the writing and publication of the naval and air official histories as they told the story of naval aviation during the Great War. The next chapter examines the German view of aircraft effectiveness, through German actions, prisoner interrogations, official histories, and memoirs, to provide a comparative judgment. The conclusion closes with a brief narrative of post-war air anti-submarine developments and a summary of findings.
The book concludes that despite the challenges of organization, training, and production the employment of aircraft against U-boats was largely successful during the Great War.