The Political Implications of Air Fleets
German Naval Intelligence Summary, Admiralty Strategic Oversight Board
Admiral Von Tirpitz, Classified.
25 May 1890.
Copy to Foreign Office Secretary.
An Original Document.
The potential of airship fleets of Leviathans introduces an opportunity that has long-term political implications. If we were limited to traditional navies we risk having a fleet bottled up by the geographic barriers of the North Sea. The true might of the British Empire has been the Royal Navy and its domination of the sea lanes. The introduction of Leviathans alters this.
We have viewed armored fighting ships as the epitome of strategic weapons but have been forced to adopt strategies that are limited by the seas themselves. No longer are strategic weapons such as air ships limited to geographic barriers. Indeed the British isles which have always been safe and surrounded by a strong navy, is now as open and potentially accessible as France and even our country.
A fleet of armored air ships could strike, potentially anywhere in England. Where we have been limited to coastal operations, the introduction of this new form of combat opens new avenues for penetrating the defenses of another nation and striking far beyond the traditional barriers and coastal fortifications. Movement of fleets is no longer limited to naval geography with the use of these vessels as part of our strategic arsenal. Leviathan class vessels can cross national boundaries to reach objectives. A blockade of the Mediterranean might cut off our ability to reach our colonies in African but an aerial blockade is all but impossible.
Our capability to extend our military might to Africa and the Far East is now more possible than ever. Our traditional naval forces have been tied to their coaling stations which has limited our capability to expand in regions where coal has been controlled by the British Empire. This changes dramatically now. Yes, we will still need stations that can support our High Skies fleets, but these are not bound by the natural resource access to coal, fixed ports, etc..
Out of respect for the Kaiser, the view that air fleets area of limited value does not portend the strategic and political implications. The immediate creation of a “High Skies Fleet” as a functional part of our strategic military ensures not only the safety of our empire, but the means to expand it. Moreover it enables us to be poised to challenge the French and the English with parity, if not, superiority.