The Air Department of the British Admiralty was established prior to World War I by Winston Churchill. Its function was to foster naval aviation developments and later to oversee the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). Its first director was Captain Murray Sueter. In 1915, with the growth of the Naval Air Service, the position of Director of the Air Department was abolished and replaced by that of Director of the Naval Service. This new post was a flag officer appointment and the first Director was Rear-Admiral Charles Vaughan-Lee.
Originally, British naval aviation came under the authority of the Commander-in-Chief, The Nore. In February 1915, the RNAS was placed under the command of the Director of the Air Department (Captain Murray Sueter), although disciplinary powers over RNAS personnel were not granted to the Director. In July 1915 a further reorganization occurred when the post of Director of the Air Department was abolished and replaced with that of the Director of the Air Service (Rear-Admiral Charles Vaughan-Lee).
The Air Department produced a few of its own designs for aircraft between 1915 to but these were built by established external aircraft manufacturers
- AD Flying Boat - built by Supermarine
- AD Navyplane - built by Supermarine
- AD Scout - built by Blackburn and by Hewlett and Blondeau
- AD Seaplane Type 1000 - built by J. Samuel White
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