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Books and films conveyed the bare history of air Empire, its technologies, organisation, key 'commercial' operator and spheres of operation. In interwar Britain, the pursuit of long-distance civil aviation was about the wish to maintain national standing and imperial interests in the face of competitive international industrial progress. Britain's designated imperial flagship civil airline was conceived during the world's first air war, and was part-seeded by anxiety about a second. The designated imperial airline was also a share-stock business part subsidised for ideological purposes. Only small numbers of people and small quantities of cargo circulated by air through imperial skies in the 1930s. But Imperial Airways did more than convey passengers and commodities; it facilitated and advanced British imperialism in a new technological setting. British imperial aviation helped to revive imperial ambition and pretensions in Britain in the third and fourth decades of the twentieth century.

Air empire

British imperial civil aviation, 1919–39


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