The 1930s

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Politics of control in the Inter-War period

The interwar period was dominated by a lack of resources for all the fighting forces and the Fleet Air Arm was no different. The control of the Fleet Air Arm by the Air Ministry led to its own set of problems. No aircraft were designed for carrier operations and all were conversions from RAF designs. In 1934 the international situation changed as Germany and Italy rearmed. As Britain rearmed, the Fleet Air Arm increased by one and half squadrons, bringing the front line total of aircraft to around 200, of which three-quarters were for her half dozen carriers. The Air Ministry also refused to allow the Royal Navy to provide aircrew reserves against early losses and they became more resolute once the RAF began to expand in the late 1930s. These specific grievances mixed with a lack of dialogue between the Admiralty and Air Ministry meant both forces missed out on the other's expertise.

As war loomed large on the horizon the Admiralty once again vied for control of the Fleet Air Arm. Sir Thomas Inskip headed the committee set up to arbitrate in 1937. The “Inskip Award” returned full control of training, organisation and equipping back to the Admiralty. The next two years were devoted to the development of the small service into a force ready for war. The lack of interest in carrier-borne aircraft design in the interwar years could not be addressed before the outbreak of war and in 1939 the Fleet Air Arm went to war well behind in capability to its counterparts in the RAF and US Navy.

Gloster biplane (FAAM)
Gloster biplane (FAAM)

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The 1920s

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The 1930s

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