Searching for supply: RAAF expansion and US Operational Aircraft, 1935-1941

Event details

SDSC War Studies Seminar Series

Date & time

Monday 20 June 2022


HC Coombs Extension 1.04


Dr Liam Kane


Bell School Marketing Team

When Japan attacked European and US possessions in the Asia-Pacific on 7-8 December 1941, the Australian government had more combat aircraft on order from American firms than Australian and British sources combined. The US was thus critical to the equipping and expansion of the RAAF.

This presentation assesses the Australian government’s approach to procuring US aircraft from 1935 to 1941, and finds that, ironically, the framework of imperial defence provided a means to secure American supply. Ultimately pressures on US industry delayed the RAAF’s modernisation and expansion program in 1940—41, but the war with Japan opened opportunities for a more direct Australian-American relationship.

Dr Liam Kane has a PhD from the University of New South Wales and is a lecturer at the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, where he teaches at both the Australian War College and the Acton campus. He is writing a book about Australian-US cooperation in aerial warfare in the Pacific War, based on his thesis and new research. His articles have been published in War in History and the Journal of Intelligence History. He lives in Canberra (Ngunnawal country) with his partner and their feline overlord, ‘Monkey’.

Image credit: Australian War Memorial 0G0267.

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