Lieutenant Colonel Michael C. O'Malley served in the Air Corps, as a flying officer, from 1961 to 1999 and holds a doctorate in history from NUI, Maynooth.
"Military Aviation in Ireland" charts the history of the Air Corps from its early days as the Military Air Service established by Michael Collins in 1922 to the ineffective air operations conducted during the Second World War period. The Air Service came about when the Civil War caused the postponement of Michael Collins' plans for a civil air service. After participation in the war of 1922-3 a small Air Corps was confirmed as the token air element of a substantially infantry army. The Army Air Corps survived the 1920s and 1930s, despite the absence of government defence policy and the Army leadership's great indifference to military aviation. In the Second World War period, two squadrons of the Air Corps were given air force tasks for which they had little aptitude and for which they were totally unprepared in terms of personnel, airmanship, aircraft and training, failures which led directly to the demoralization of the Corps. During most of this period the Air Corps, on secretive government orders, carried out tasks aimed at assisting the war effort of the Royal Air Force. Using extensive archival research, Michael C.O'Malley throws new light on the people and operations of Ireland's early aviation history.
- Early aviation in Ireland
- Civil aviation developments in Saorstat Eireann
- Michael Collins, the Military Air Service and the Civil War
- From Civil War to Army mutiny
- Organisation, policy and command, 1924-36
- Pilot intake, 1922-45
- Aviation policy and planning, 1935-40
- Support services
- The Air Corps' Emergency
- Services rendered
- The Air Corps investigation of 1941
- Re-equipping, reorganisation and demobilisation
- Summary of expenses - Capt. C. F. Russell
- Telegram received in the Irish Office
- Statement of expenditure - Maj. Gen. McSweeney
- Department of Civil Aviation - 20 July 1922
- Department of Military Aviation - 22 July 1922
- Aviation department of the Army - 18 October 1922
- Col. P. A. Mulcahy' pre-invasion address - 4 July 1940
- Col. P. A. Mulcahy - Flying training
- Damage to army aircraft
- Majority report on Col. P. A. Mulcahy
- Minority report on Col. P.A. Mulcahy
'The vast majority of aviation literature from the interwar period is filled with stories of daring heroic pilots and their epic flights, technological advances, the decline of military air power in the post-war period and its incredible growth on the pathway to the Second World War. Aircraft became critical battlefield tools that laid waste to military and civilian targets. As one reads through the pages of this book you will encounter none of these tales. Therein lies the importance of O’Malley’s work.
It is a well-researched book on a topic that seems to have limited documentary evidence. … He breaks new ground in aviation history by avoiding a triumphant story.'
Irish Economic and Social History Vol. XL 2013
'Meticulously researched by a man with first-hand knowledge of flying, the book records the struggles and adventures of the Irish Air Force from the stirring 1920s to the end of the Second World War ... O’Malley’s book is an entertaining and rewarding read for the general bookworm as well as a comprehensive one for the historically inclined. The book is a fitting tribute to the pioneer conquerors of the Irish skies.'
The Irish Catholic
7 July 2011
'In this groundbreaking organisational history, retired Irish Air Corps pilot O’Malley treats the problems affecting his service from the Free State’s founding through ‘the Emergency’ of 1939–45. The usual symbiotic relationship between interwar civilian and military aviations noted by Robin Higham and others was glaringly absent in Ireland, where both Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera favoured the former. Budgetary constraints, politicised selection of pilot cadets, haphazard aircraft procurement, and undue influence of infantry officers who little understood or cared about air operations further undermined professionalisation and morale. By 1939, the Air Corps still lacked an operational purpose distinct from that of the ground forces, and the Irish government’s decision to subordinate its defensive strategy to that of the British – despite its own neutrality – removed any sense of direction at the strategic level. Not until the adoption of an air-sea rescue mission in 1963 would the Air Corps have a valid raison d’etre.'
Choice, 48 (10) 2011
'the coverage is impressive, covering policy and planning, economics, organisation, administration, equipment, operation, recruitment and training ... any serious student of military aviation should have this volume to hand.'
'Military aviation is a subject that has been ignored or only mentioned in passing by most Irish historians of the 20th century. Yet, as O’Malley illustrates, it was of some significance and worthy of an in-depth study. ...
This is a detailed, insightful and well written account of an important wing of the Irish defence forces.'
'At last we have a book that looks at the personnel and the operations. … This is an excellent book. It is an important addition to the growing historiography of the Irish Defence Forces. Its analysis of the infighting that blighted the Corps during the 1930s could only be written by someone with an insider’s feel and access to sources. For any student of the Irish Defence Forces, and for anybody interested in Irish military history or the history of Irish aviation, it is highly recommended.'
The Irish Sword