Jeffrey A. Engel
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Harvard University Press
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    COLD WAR AT 30,000 FEET
    Book Description:

    In a gripping story of international power and deception, Engel reveals the "special relationship" between the United States and Great Britain. As allies, they fought Communism; as rivals, they clashed over which would lead the Cold War fight. In the quest for sovereignty and hegemony, Engel shows that one important key was airpower, which created jobs, forged ties with the developing world, and ensured military superiority, ultimately affecting forever the global balance of power.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-02704-6
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    This is a story about power. Power enough to shape nations and the world. It is an examination of the bitter battles fought by British and American officials over the proper maintenance of the international system following the horrors of World War II, and ultimately of their contest to see which nation would lead the Western crusade against global Communism during the ensuing Cold War. The contest would determine which nation was best equipped to lead the world in its long search for stability, peace, and prosperity in the second half of the twentieth century. The competitors were not always...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Arsenal of Democracy versus British Planning
    (pp. 17-52)

    World War II was an airman’s war. Infantry and tanks took the land while sailors controlled the seas. Yet observers the world over equated victory with the roar of planes and the swagger of pilots. Planes thrust the United States into the war one sunny morning at Pearl Harbor and just as suddenly ended the conflict in the swirl of dust over Hiroshima and Nagasaki four years later, and they dominated every theater of combat in between.

    British and American leaders, though equal converts to airpower’s importance, conceived of their governments’ roles in securing postwar airpower in diametrically opposed ways....

  6. CHAPTER 2 Selling Jets to Stalin
    (pp. 53-89)

    As predicted in 1942, American firms dominated postwar commercial aviation. They sold more than a thousand transport planes to foreign and domestic customers in 1945. British sales totaled less than two hundred for the whole of 1945 and 1946. Having jolted Churchill’s conservatives from power, the newly formed Labour government of Prime Minister Clement Attlee inherited an aviation industry vital to national security and international prominence but faced with a difficult uphill climb. There would be no change of course despite a different hand at the helm, however, as Labour accepted the Brabazon program without revision. Attlee and his advisers...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Death by Nene
    (pp. 90-124)

    The Cold War threatened to erupt into an atomic war during the 1948 Berlin blockade. Soviet troops surrounded the beleaguered city first in April, for eleven days, and then again in June. Their siege ultimately lasted more than ten months. Roads were closed and railways blocked, leaving nearly three million people hostage to Moscow’s will with less than a month’s supply of food and six weeks of coal. This was an act of war designed to drive the Western powers from Europe’s heart, and both superpowers girded for battle. “How long do you intend to keep it up?” a top...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Comet Dreams
    (pp. 125-158)

    Britain won the race to jets. In 1952, a decade after the Brabazon committee’s initial vision for Britain’s aviation future, De Havilland Aviation introduced its innovative Comet, the world’s first commercial jet airliner. Sleek, fast, and a full five years ahead of any similar American model, the plane promised to revolutionize air travel and monopolize aircraft markets for years to come, bringing the prominence and prosperity Winston Churchill’s cabinet deemed vital if their country was ever to reassert an independent foreign policy. It is no exaggeration to say that British leaders projected their nation’s very future upon the Comet’s success...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. CHAPTER 5 A Lead Lost
    (pp. 159-186)

    Britain’s leaders were not about to let their long-sought aviation lead go without a fight. Neither were American leaders eager to have their closest ally jeopardize American security for the sake of profit. Washington’s August 1953 proposal to have advanced axial-flow engines declared a Burns-Templer combined field received Whitehall’s highest attention. Prime Minister Winston Churchill met repeatedly during October and November with a select committee, including his foreign secretary, the ministers of supply and defense, the chancellor of the exchequer, and the president of the Board of Trade, in search of some way to retain their country’s freedom to export...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Approaching China
    (pp. 187-215)

    Anglo-American aviation relations appeared calm after the Comet, yet the two countries were never farther apart. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, both countries transitioned from controls designed to keep technologies from the Soviets to controls for China, yet divisions still ran deep over their views of trade and technology’s role in waging the Cold War. Suez laid bare their divisions in 1956, prompting Anthony Eden’s ouster from office, followed by a Whitehall power struggle that eventually saw Harold Macmillan installed at 10 Downing Street. Quietly in the midst of such international upheaval, their aviation industries traveled on distinctly...

  12. CHAPTER 7 The Viscount Conspiracy
    (pp. 216-251)

    Fulfilling the fears British leaders had held since World War II, by the start of the 1960s American aerial supremacy appeared poised to become a diplomatic hammer, leading to the climax of Cold War aviation relations between the two nations. The scene was primed for confrontation. “Rationalization” had left only three major British aviation firms alive by 1960, when twelve had existed only a year before. Macmillan’s government wasted little time in rewarding the survivors. In February 1960, Aviation Minister Julian Amery announced “launch aid,” promising timely infusions of government cash for promising civil aviation projects. Whitehall had already embarked...

  13. CHAPTER 8 Aviation on the New Frontier
    (pp. 252-289)

    Two Cold Wars existed by the 1960s—one in Asia, the other in Europe. While Macmillan’s government struggled to preserve what was left of Britain’s waning global power, Kennedy’s New Frontiersmen took office in 1961 with plans for victory in Asia, Europe, and beyond. Aviation figured prominently in their plans. They considered it as much a valuable symbol of power and modernity as their predecessors had, yet they hoped to infuse their aviation policies with the same new spirit of vigor and analysis they promised for the entirety of their foreign policy endeavors. Kennedy vowed in 1961 that America would...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 290-304)

    Britain never did win its long-sought aerial monopoly in China. Its follow-on sale to the Viscount did not occur until 1971, a decade after the initial breakthrough. Beijing agreed to purchase six Tridents that August, worth $48 million, nearly double the value of Britain’s exports to China during the preceding six months. The following year, amid ceremonies marking the handoff of the first Trident, China’s ambassador to Britain announced plans to purchase eight more. Beijing even placed a conditional order for three supersonic Concordes, though these were never delivered. By the start of 1972, China was no longer isolated, and...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 305-330)
  16. Archives, Manuscripts, and Private Interviews
    (pp. 331-334)
  17. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 335-336)
  18. Index
    (pp. 337-351)