Talk:Royal Naval Air Service

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Category "Disbanded Air Forces" inappropriate?[edit]

An unnamed editor has added the above category to the RNAS page. IMO this is inappropriate, since the RNAS was not disbanded but rather amalgamated with the then RFC to form the RAF. Since it has since been reincarnated as the Fleet Air Arm, this category is doubly inappropriate. I propose that this category be removed. Any objections? --TraceyR (talk) 14:52, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Neither date of creation of the RNAS nor Churchill's involvement mentioned[edit]

The article does not mention the date of formation of the RNAS prior to WWI, nor is the role of Winston Churchill during his time as First Lord of the Admiralty mentioned. In Churchill's biography by his son Randolph (Vol. II, p. 687) it states "One of the [Churchill's] most enterprising and successful roles was as founder of the Royal Naval Air Service." Is this perhaps an over-enthusiatic interpretation by the son of his father's role, or was he personally responsible for the creation of the RNAS? Churchill was undoubtedly enthusiastic about aviation (he took lessons and was a keen student but never flew solo) and more aware than most politicians at the time of its military potential in areas other than reconnaisance. He was no doubt instrumental in supporting the RNAS and in pushing for advances in military aviation (e.g. the use of aircraft to launch torpedos) and involved himself with much detailed work on e.g. the development of maps for aircraft navigation, the provision of landing strips along well-marked flying routes etc. Perhaps Churchill's active involvement in the creation of and support for the RNAS deserves more mention here. --TraceyR (talk) 10:18, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

As far as I am aware (and I am happy to be corrected on this) there isn't a particular cut-off point for when the Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps officially became known as the Royal Naval Air Service. The name is mentioned in Admiralty Circular CW.13963/14 on 1 July 1914, entitled "Royal Naval Air Service—Organisation", and the circular begins, "The Royal Naval Air Service, forming the Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps, will comprise all naval aircraft and personnel, either for active duty or reserve service, and will be administered by the Admiralty. This is what is cited as note 15 in the article's text.
Officially, the RNAS became "an integral part of the Royal Navy" on 1 August 1915, as stated in Admiralty Weekly Order No. 1204/15 of 29 July 1915, reproduced in Roskill, Documents Relating to the Naval Air Service, pp. 212-213.
As to Churchill, there is no doubt he was enthusiastic about the RNAS but Randolph goes too far to label him the founder. As shown in this article the Navy already had a flying school and aircraft before Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty in October 1911 and the creation of the Royal Flying Corps had been under discussion for a long time and Churchill's contribution can be called minimal. Sir John Jellicoe as Second Sea Lord was directly responsible for the Naval Wing and a read of any one of his biographies will show he showed an interest in it, until Churchill's meddling forced him to threaten to resign and the Fourth Sea Lord then took over administration of the Naval Wing at Jellicoe's request. The RNAS didn't officially become part of the Royal Navy until after Churchill's departure from the Admiralty in 1915.
There is certainly scope to include more on Churchill's role, but then again this article needs more detail on everything really. --Simon Harley (talk | library | book reviews) 10:56, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

"Cornered" production[edit]

The author states: "Urgently required Sopwith 1½ Strutter two-seaters had to be transferred from the planned RNAS strategic bombing force (for which the type was in any case quite unsuitable) to RFC squadrons on the Western Front because the Navy had 'cornered' Sopwith production."

HOW did the Royal Navy get this favored treatment?

I don't dispute that the situation was scandalous, but even a valid accusation should be explained.

One of the few explanations I've read is in an appendix in Arthur Gould Lee's "No Parachute." According to him, the Royal Flying Corps decided before the war to rely on the Royal Aircraft Factory for aircraft. They left private firms sitting on the corner, so to speak, and that's where the navy found them.

If Lee's right, then an argument could be made there would have been no 1½ Strutters, Pups, Triplane, Camels, etc., etc. for anyone if it had not been for the RNAS.

After the war started, RFC policy still didn't change nearly fast enough, according to Lee. Contributions/12.9.217.229 (talk) 20:52, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

Lee's book is really a better as a primary source than as a secondary one. The most valuable part of it is based on Lee's own letters home and diary entries, which give a unique picture of what it was like to be a fighter pilot in the RFC in 1917. His "historical" discussions about the Royal Aircraft Factory - RFC procurement policies etc. are unfortunately very biased recollections of what some people believed at the time rather than researched historical assessment - and their accuracy is very questionable. The idea that the Royal Aircraft Factory (which was always primarily a research organisation) somehow "inhibited the development" of the "trade" (private aircraft producers in Britain) has in fact been conclusively shown (in several texts - but particularly in Paul Hare's "The Royal Aircraft Factory" 1990) to have been part of a systematic vendetta by a prominent aviation journalist (C.J. Grey, foundation editor of The Aeroplane) which began as early as 1911 and was plainly partly ideological, and partly based on personal animosity to the directory of the "Factory". The Royal Aircraft Factoryarticle really needs a complete rewrite in view of Hare's research actually. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 14:54, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

That sounds reasonable. Thanks for the new information, Soundofmusicals.

I authored the part that was based on Lee and was deleted Feb. 4, and accept that there are better sources out there. However, the original question still hangs out there: HOW did the RNAS "corner" Sopwiths and so forth. It seems to a layman completely indisputable that the Army "cornered" Royal Aircraft Factory types -- which were scandalously inadequate. Blaming this shortage on another branch of the service -- one that apparently made a far better judgment of what was needed -- seems extremely biased. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 99.3.38.116 (talk) 04:27, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Basically - Sopwiths were contracted to supply aircraft exclusively to the navy at a very early date. This situation was a sensible one, at the very least up to early 1916 - since most early Sopwith types were seaplanes, or otherwise designed for "naval" use. After that time Sopwith types were almost all single seat or two seat fighters. It would have been logical for the hard-pressed RFC fighter squadrons to have first crack at these, but the Navy held Sopwiths to their contracts to suppy the navy exclusively - which meant that the RFC had to get their Pups (and, eventually, Camels) by ordering them from sub-contractors. These generally delivered late, and somewhat unreliably. "Cornered" is the right word for this - but I concede that it IS a bit loaded.
As for the idea that the RNAS encouraged private firms, and bought their products from an early date, while the RFC bought exclusively Royal Aircraft Factory types - the germ of truth in this is pretty tiny. In spite of its name, the "Factory" was always principally a research establishment (as it later became in name as well as function). Very few production types were actually built there - private firms built nearly all the B.E.2s, F.E.2s, R.E.8s and S.E.5s, for instance. And all of these types proved very useful indeed (although the poor old B.E. had to soldier on long after it should have been replaced). On the other hand many important RFC types (the S.3 and Elephant from Martinsyde, the F.K.3 and F.K.8 from Armstrong Whitworth, the D.H. types from Airco, and the F.2b from Bristol) all originated with private firms. Avro sold thousands of 504s to both services. No one in either the RNAS or the RFC predicted the coming importance of air-to-air combat - nor did any private company except for Vickers (incidentally yet another private company that supplied the RFC from an early date). --Soundofmusicals (talk) 14:17, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the explanation. The wording in the article now is entirely satisfactory — and I learned a lot. I hope you make the revisions you suggested to the Royal Aircraft Establishment article. I'll also try and look up the reference you mentioned, particularly Paul Hare's "The Royal Aircraft Factory" 1990. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.172.7.178 (talk) 17:13, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Aircraft list[edit]

There were only three types here, so I have bashed through Thetford's book, entering more. I've tried to decide which side of the RNAS/RAF watershed they fall, but quickly and without expertise so there may be aircraft missed out or wrongly included. Some redlinks may be because I've not got the Wikiname right, though there are not many. Still to do are the aircraft in Ap.A and the airships of Ap.BTSRL (talk) 21:42, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Those redlinks sorted.TSRL (talk) 21:55, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

George Cyril Colmore[edit]

No mention of George Cyril Colmore the first RN aviator who payed for his own lessons at Eastchurch with the RAeC and probably encouraged the RAeC offer to train more naval officers. MilborneOne (talk) 22:35, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Arthur Roy Brown[edit]

I'm pretty sure that the statement "Shot down the Red Baron" should be removed or altered to alleged as it's been near catergorically proved that it was nigh impossible for Brown to have fired the fatal round. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 213.86.71.241 (talk) 08:45, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

A thorough account of the various theories about who fired the fatal shot is given here, summarised at the end of the page. It would justify changing the claim to e.g. "is one of several persons who could have fired the shot which killed Manfred von Richthofen".--TraceyR (talk) 10:02, 5 January 2011 (UTC)
Have fixed this - with ref. to our own article on the subject --Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:23, 6 January 2011 (UTC)