Course From World War to White Heat: the RAF in the Cold War


Programme Description

Course From World War to White Heat: the RAF in the Cold War


This free online course is a collaboration between the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museums and the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London. It will introduce you to some of the major turning points in the history of Britain in the post-1945 era.

Explore the changing role of the RAF during the Cold War

Guided by Dr Ross Mahoney, Aviation Historian, RAF Museum, and Dr Emmett Sullivan, Senior Lecturer in History, Royal Holloway, the course will examine:

  • The role of the RAF in the early Cold War period;
  • RAF’s operations across the globe in an era of decolonisation;
  • Britain’s decision to develop a nuclear deterrent;
  • The development of the RAF’s strategic nuclear capability, the V-Force;
  • The role of the RAF in defending UK airspace;
  • The re-focus on NATO after East of Suez and the transfer of the strategic nuclear role to the Royal Navy;
  • The RAF’s contribution to NATO.

Consider how the RAF is remembered and memorialised

Finally, we will consider how the RAF has been remembered and memorialised through the Cold War and beyond, with the establishment of the RAF Museums at Hendon and Cosford, the National Cold War Exhibition, and the erection of statues and monuments after 1945.

The course makes extensive use of material from the archives of the RAF Museum to illustrate the Cold War history of the RAF and was filmed on-site at RAF Museum Hendon and Cosford.

What will you achieve?

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the RAF at the end of the Second World War.
  • Assess the role of the RAF as it developed in the early Cold War years.
  • Compare the RAF’s responsibilities with respect to Britain’s nuclear deterrent before and after 1968.
  • Debate with educators and learners Britain’s motivation in holding a nuclear arsenal in the Cold War.
  • Develop a knowledge of the Government’s strategy in procuring RAF aircraft from British industry.
  • Discuss the responsibilities of the RAF in an era of decolonisation overseas and with NATO.
  • Evaluate what the Government’s priorities were for the RAF in defending the ‘Home Front’ in the Cold War.
  • Explain why the Royal Navy were destined to deploy Britain’s nuclear deterrent after the Nassau Agreement.
  • Identify key turning points in the Cold War, and how the RAF responded to these.
  • Reflect on the way the public considers the history of the RAF through its museums and public monuments.

Who is the course for?

This course is intended for anyone with an interest in 20th-century history, the Cold War or the history of aviation. It doesn’t require any reading before you start or previous experience of studying the subject.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated February 17, 2018
Duration & Price
This course is Online
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Open Enrolment
Part time
United Kingdom - UK Online
Start date : Open Enrolment
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Open Enrolment
United Kingdom - UK Online
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info