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From the Grand Fleet to Gallipoli: The Origins of

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Topic: From the Grand Fleet to Gallipoli: The Origins of
Posted By: RossM
Subject: From the Grand Fleet to Gallipoli: The Origins of
Date Posted: 03 Nov 2015 at 10:02
Dr Ben Jones of the Portsmouth Business School at the RAF College at Cranwell will discuss 'From the Grand Fleet to Gallipoli: The Origins of Maritime Air Power' as part of the RAF Museum's First World War in the Air Lunchtime Lecture Series.


This paper will explore a landmark year for British naval aviation, 1915. For the first time the Royal Naval Air Service focussed upon the submarine threat with the swift development of the Sea Scout airship at Admiral Fisher’s behest and its first substantial expeditionary operation employing aeroplanes, seaplanes and kite balloons took place at Gallipoli. As First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill laid the foundations for future strategic bombing raids, not usually associated with maritime air power, demanding a very large fleet of aircraft capable of delivering a series of ‘smashing blows’ on the enemy. However, following the removal of Churchill and Fisher from office, Rear-Admiral Vaughan Lee, an officer with no air experience, was appointed to the post of Director of Air Services, heralding a period when British naval aviation lacked innovation and urgency, especially regarding its core role of supporting the Grand Fleet. While the fast liner Campania entered service as a seaplane carrier and a Bristol Scout became the first British aeroplane to be launched at sea from HMS Vindex, technological challenges and the RNAS’ range of priorities precluded greater progress in enhancing air support for the fleet.

This lecture will be held in the RAF Museum lecture theatre at 12:30PM on Friday 13 November 2015.

This lecture is free of charge however we do ask that you pre-book a free ticket as seats are limited. Booking is quick and easy, we just need some basic contact information." rel="nofollow - BOOK YOUR TICKET HERE TODAY

Dr Ben Jones is a Senior Lecturer in Portsmouth Business School based at RAF College Cranwell. His research interests include maritime air power, naval logistics during the Second World War and British defence policy East of Suez in the post-war period. Dr Jones is General Editor of the Navy Records Society and is writing a three volume series on The Fleet Air Arm in the Second World War, the first of which was published in 2012.


Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 04 Nov 2015 at 10:44
Sounds fascinating, particularly the inference that, under Churchill, the core role of aviation in supporting the Grand Fleet was pursued with both innovation and urgency..

Posted By: RossM
Date Posted: 10 Nov 2015 at 08:27

It should be a good talk with a good turnout.


Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 10 Nov 2015 at 08:57
I'm sure that it deserves to be.
My comment relates to:

In April, 1915, the First Lord was reviewing the minutes of a conference held in October, 1913, “to discuss the question of employment of aircraft in war, and what types were best suited to the different duties required.” While recognizing that “the possibility of working a squadron or squadron of aeroplanes from an oversea base had not been foreseen; the operation was now being carried out with great success, and had materially altered preconceived ideas as to the means of employment of aircraft”, he went on to note that “the employment of aircraft in co-operation with the Fleet at sea had not been developed as much as it had been anticipated would be the case.” Commodore Murray Sueter (Director of the Air Department) agreed that “before the war practically no experience had been gained in the working of seaplanes from specialist ships.” .” (quoted in Stephen Roskill, Documents Relating to the Royal Naval Air Service).

This doesn't quite fit with the premise that everything was wonderful when Churchill was in charge, and fell apart after he left. I rather think that the issue is that, under Churchill, the Navy failed to concentrate on the key function for maritime airpower - operation in direct support of the Grand Fleet - and, instead, squandered resources on lesser projects of limited relevance to the Navy. The 'RNAS' range of priorities' - cited in the blurb - was, after all, Churchill's legacy.

So, all the more reason to hear what Ben has to say, and approach him for a Journal article, perhaps ?

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