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In an inward-looking era the central issue in British aviation was the defence of the island against foreign (especially German) air attack. During the first decade of the twentieth century aeronautical developments posed a new threat to one of Britain's most enduring concerns: protection from invasion. In view of the boost given to aviation by the First World War, the British Government decided to examine the post-war prospects for civil aviation and the possibility of employing demobilised personnel and surplus wartime aircraft. Some of the first peacetime applications of flying overseas were patrol, policing and defence of imperial space newly enlarged to more than two million square miles by post-War territorial mandates. The thought of using aviation to modernise and perpetuate Britain's glorious maritime Empire dovetailed with the revival of a spirit of imperialism in Britain after the First World War.

Air empire

British imperial civil aviation, 1919–39

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