2013 King Hall Day 2 Session 2 - 2

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2013 King Hall Conference Proceedings

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2013 King Hall Day 2 Session 2 - 2

  1. 1. FIRST FLIGHTS: AVIATION IN THE RAN 1914 - 1918 The Ship’s Flight 1
  2. 2. EARLY NAVAL DEVELOPMENTS • Continental vs Maritime Strategies • The Empire Navy vs Local Dominion Forces • The Naval Agreement Act 1903 • Deakin and Creswell RADM Sir William Creswell 2
  3. 3. EARLY NAVAL DEVELOPMENTS • The RAN Fleet Unit • Submarines? • Henderson Report • Force Structure Ambitions • Aviation – not at first HMAS Huon 3
  4. 4. AVIATION DEVELOPMENTS • Army prize for flying machine – 1909 • First Australian powered flight – March 1910 • AFC – 22 October 1912 • CFS Pt Cook – 1914 • Progress slow…isolation… resources…priorities RAAF Point Cook 4
  5. 5. NAVAL AVIATION STIRRINGS • Potential for scouting and attack • „Water planes‟ for northern defence • Seaplanes for bases in the north • Joint naval and military flying school • Lack of local expertise Bristol Boxkite 5
  6. 6. NAVAL AVIATION STIRRINGS • Looking for a few good men… • Education • Temperament… • “…the best pilots were usually highly strung individuals…a bundle of nerves…”. • 1914-15 Estimates to fund training • Four small „sea planes‟ plus depot ship to be the start HMAS Australia – trial and error 6
  7. 7. THE FIRST WORLD WAR • Admiralty control • RNAS – defence of the homeland • RN initiatives • Major combatants and aircraft HMS Engadine – seaplane carrier 7
  8. 8. THE FIRST WORLD WAR • HMAS Brisbane – Embarked Sopwith Baby in Indian Ocean – CO then wanted to carry two – Reported on their utility in defence of Australia Sopwith Baby 8
  9. 9. THE FIRST WORLD WAR • The Otranto barrage • RAN involved from late 1917 • Surface patrols north of the fixed barrage • Land based air in support The Otranto barrage 9
  10. 10. THE FIRST WORLD WAR • Yarra, Huon and Parramatta • Manned balloons • At least two submarine sightings • No successful actions • Cumbersome and unreliable HMAS Yarra with observation balloon 10
  11. 11. THE FIRST WORLD WAR • HMAS Sydney – Dumaresq in command April 1917 – Wanted aircraft on light cruisers to counter Zeppelins – Mods to Sydney completed November 1917 Rear Admiral J.S Dumaresq 11
  12. 12. FIRST WORLD WAR • HMAS Sydney – First flight 8 December 1917 – Sopwith Pup – Aircraft had to land in the water – Further trials also successful – Sydney had a Sopwith Camel by April 1918 Sopwith Camel launching 12
  13. 13. FIRST WORLD WAR • HMAS Sydney – 1 June 1918 operating in North Sea – Force attacked by German aircraft – Sydney and Melbourne launched Camels – Melbourne’s Camel returned without sighting enemy Sopwith Camel cockpit 13
  14. 14. FIRST WORLD WAR • Sharwood chased and engaged • Claimed a probable • Might have been a first • German use of aircraft for strike direction HMAS Sydney’s Camel 14
  15. 15. FIRST WORLD WAR • Sharwood …”…the Camel was brought down to about four or five feet above the wave tops and held off until it stalled. Then the fun began. The safety belt had been released and when the wheels …struck the water perhaps at 40 or 45 knots the tail went up like greased lightning and the nose…plunged down into the sea…the pilot was flicked out as the tail went up…and he went into the water head first with a lifejacket and a leather coat on, about 20 yards ahead of the Camel”. Sopwith Camel 15
  16. 16. FIRST WORLD WAR • HMAS Melbourne’s experience: – Pilot had great difficulty finding the German aircraft – Never sighted Sharwood – Wasn‟t aware Sharwood launched at same time • Aircraft needed to be already airborne for successful intercept HMAS Melbourne and HMS Southampton from HMAS Sydney 16
  17. 17. FIRST WORLD WAR • HMAS Australia – First launch from deck vice platform – Also launched from turret platforms – First launch of a two seater – Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter 17 Report of deck launch from HMAS Australia
  18. 18. FIRST WORLD WAR • The battle cruisers each carried two aircraft: – fighter forward for anti – Zeppelin work – two seater aft for scouting HMAS Australia with Sopwith Pup 18
  19. 19. PREPARING FOR A NAVAL AIR SERVICE • RAN aims – December 1917 - 4 Sopwith Babies – May 1918 – seaplane carrier – May 1918 – airships and balloons • Look to US for aircraft • RN unable to supply Sopwith Baby 19
  20. 20. POST-WAR DEVELOPMENTS • Lack of existing organization… • Government hesitant • Inter-Service rivalry – Army and then RAAF • Revulsion at WW1 costs • Severe funding cuts • 1928 – RAAF won argument Fairey IIID 20
  21. 21. CONCLUSIONS • RAN relatively quick to see potential of aviation but failed to establish an organization before or during the War • Isolation a problem – had to rely on RN • Gained significant operational experience during the War • RAN sought to establish Air Service postWar but beaten by: – Competing priorities – Lack of funding – Inter-Service arguments 21

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