Welcome to Naval Air History

Naval Air History is a blog about marine and maritime aviation through the ages as explored by journalist Matt Willis.

Naval aviation has always presented unique problems which have been solved by fascinating machines and ingenious people. Politically, naval aviation has faced a more challenging time than any other service. In Britain at least, the naval air service has had to be rebuilt almost from scratch on several occasions after political decisions and inter-service rivarly laid it low.

The Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy is currently at a low ebb – it has no fixed-wing carrier aircraft for the first time since the middle of the First World War. For its future, it relies upon two new aircraft carriers and a small fleet of highly complex multi-purpose aircraft that are at best years from reality and at worst destined never to arrive. Observers might be forgiven for thinking that this was unfamiliar territory for the Royal Navy. In fact this is not so different from the situation the service faced in the mid 1930s.

In my next blog post, I’ll be looking at the similarities and differences between the Fleet Air Arm of 2012 and its forebear in the 1930s.

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