Publication: ‘The shadow of the airliner’

It was less than two months ago that my peer-reviewed article 'The shadow of the airliner: commercial bombers and the rhetorical destruction of Britain, 1917-1935' was accepted by Twentieth Century British History, but it's already available online, thanks to the journal's advance access policy. (So while the article has been typeset, the page numbers are only temporary, pending its formal publication at a later date.) This is great; otherwise it could easily take six months before making its appearance.

The publishers of Twentieth Century British History, Oxford Journals, also have an enlightened policy of allowing authors to put a free-access URL to the article on their own website: 'The article should only be viewed from the Oxford Journals site, and not hosted by your own personal/institutional web site or that of other third parties, though you or your co-authors may post the URLs on your own sites or those of your institutions/organizations'. What this means is that if you follow this link (abstract), this link (full text) or this link (PDF) you can read the whole article for free! Technically I suppose this is a form of Green OA, but no money changes hands; it's just part of the service. I suppose they realise that library subscriptions represent the vast bulk of their income, and letting authors provide free access to their articles from their websites is not going to undercut this. This also is great.

Here is the abstract:

Aerial bombardment was widely believed to pose an existential threat to Britain in the 1920s and 1930s. An important but neglected reason for this was the danger from civilian airliners converted into makeshift bombers, the so-called 'commercial bomber': an idea which arose in Britain late in the First World War. If true, this meant that even a disarmed Germany could potentially attack Britain with a large bomber force thanks to its successful civil aviation industry. By the early 1930s the commercial bomber concept appeared widely in British airpower discourse. Proponents of both disarmament and rearmament used, in different ways and with varying success, the threat of the commercial bomber to advance their respective causes. Despite the technical weakness of the arguments for convertibility, rhetoric about the commercial bomber subsided only after rearmament had begun in earnest in 1935 and they became irrelevant next to the growth in numbers of purpose-built bombers. While the commercial bomber was in fact a mirage, its effects on the disarmament and rearmament debates were real.

Here endeth the tale of the Unpublishable Article of Doom.

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14 thoughts on “Publication: ‘The shadow of the airliner’

  1. Fantastic stuff. I do love the advance reading function on TCBH and their open access policies. Huzzah!

    I also love the phrase 'the unpublishable article of doom'. I have a few of those myself!

  2. Post author


    Thanks! Yes, if only every year could end this way...


    I must admit I wasn't aware that they did either of these things and so it came as a very pleasant surprise. Seems like a standard feature across the Oxford lineup, hopefully it sets a trend.

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