In his comment on my previous post, Alex mentions the "bolt from the blue" strategy as possibly related to the knock-out blow that is my current obsession (and he's right, in my opinion). My reply started to get long, so I decided to turn it into a post instead ...
In Edwardian debates about the defence of the UK, the "bolt from the blue" school of naval strategy believed that the German navy could temporarily gain local superiority and throw a few hundred thousand soldiers ashore in Norfolk or somewhere, and Britain's puny army would be no match for those efficient Prussians. (Read: we need conscription!) It was opposed by the "blue water" school who argued that a strong Royal Navy would be sufficient to stop the Germans from getting ashore in any numbers. (Read: we need more dreadnoughts!) Of course, the dramatic and frightening bolt from the blue was the one favoured by Edwardian war-scare novelists like le Queux and Childers.
There's certainly some similarity between the bolt from the blue and the knock-out blow, though how much the one influenced the other is difficult to say. Both were surprise attacks, and both evaded existing defences (the Royal Navy and the North Sea/English Channel). And both struck directly at the heart of Empire, rather than fighting the war at a safe distance, in Europe or the edges of empire. I think the major difference is that the bolt from the blue was still a military strategy: a way for Germany to bring its overwhelming military superiority to bear on the British army, defeat it and force Britain to surrender.
But now I'm getting ahead of myself!
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