Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to 1945
By Ray Sturtivant, Mick Burrow
Publisher: Air Britain Historians Ltd 1995 512 Pages
PDF 94 MB
This book is one which, like the companion work "The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm", should have been impossible to compile. Until comparatively recently, the Royal Navy tended to regard aircraft as pieces of equipment, and therefore saw do necessity to retain relevant documentation for any length of time once an aircraft had gone out of service. Consequently there are no surviving recorded histories of individual wartime naval aircraft, as is the case with the RAF. This is a considerable handicap to researchers, and much of the wartime history of the Fleet Air Arm's aircraft has remained unrecorded until now.
Things could have been quite different. Between the two world wars, the Navy fought to regain its air arm, the Royal Naval Air Service having merged into the newly-formed Royal Air Force on I April 1918. As readers of 'Royal Navy Aircraft Serials and Units 1911 to 1919* will know, the RNAS, together with successor units of the RAF. was in its own right a sizeable Air Force. It had about 15,000 aircraft during thai period and pioneered many aspects of military and naval aviation.
Attempts to regain a separate air arm eventually succeeded. On 24 May 1939 all Fleet Air Arm squadrons and a number of naval training units were transferred from the RAF to the Royal Navy. Sadly, the Admiralty did not adopt the excellent systems for recording unit and aircraft histories.