When the Navy took to the air

The Experimental Seaplane Stations of the RNAS by Philip Macdougall

The early days of aviation in Britain were dominated by the efforts of the Royal Navy; more specifically in the shape of the fledgling RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service) which was formed on July 1, 1914 while the more conformist RFC (Royal Flying Corps) was formed two years earlier. It was the Navy who appeared to be more experimental with their approach to aviation while the Army simply dismissed the RFC as a mere novelty at the beginning of WW1. The Royal Navy went on to establish experimental stations at Eastchurch and Calshot and this book focusses on those pioneering days.

The book is mainly text and is only broken by 30-image strong A-section in the centre of the book. Chapters look at Eastchurch, Calshot, Cdr Sneddon, Navalising land fighters, dummy landing decks, towed lights and airship experiment sot name a few. I was a little concerned with the standard of the book when I saw that RNAS Pulham in Norfolk was referred to as ‘Pulhan’ throughout the book and that a ‘Sopwith Torpedo Bomber’ was clearly a Cuckoo; I know, it’s an ‘anal’ aviation thing but these are mainstream errors on this subject. The author has presented a good overview of this experimental period backed up by a good solid list of documents referenced from the National Archives at Kew. A decent book if you are new to the subject; if you’re not, you’ve probably got everything already covered in your library.    

Thanks to Jay Slater at Fonthill Media for our review copy.


ISBN: 978-1-78155-572-9


Price: £18.99

Pages: 160

Format: softback – 234mm x 156mm

Publisher: Fonthill Media

Website: www.fonthillmedia.com