When the Navy Took to the Air: The Experimental Seaplane Stations of the Royal Naval Air Service

Author(s): Philip MacDougall 

ISBN: 9781781555729
£11.89 £16.99
The true story of how the British Navy, under pressure of war, pushed the envelope of aviation to the limit.
Trust Badge
  • Profusely illustrated with many rare and unpublished photographs

  • The never-before told story of the Royal Navy’s experimental First World War air stations

  • New weapons, experimental aircraft and test pilots who often sacrificed their lives

  • Now forgotten, these experimental air stations were the equivalent of Farnborough, the US Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB and Russia’s Gromov Flight Research Institute

During the First World War, the Royal Navy was at the forefront of aviation developments, concerned not just with the use of aircraft and airships to defend the fleet, but securing the homeland against Zeppelins and air strikes. Several airfields, seaplane and airship stations became crucial to the success of these experiments with Calshot, Eastchurch, Felixstowe and the Isle of Grain developing new aircraft and weapons as well as pioneering navigational systems, air-to-ground radio communication and deck-board ship landings while at Cardington, Kingsnorth and Pulhan, concentration was on the development of airships.

These stations saw the assembly of groups of experts who, in pushing the envelope to the extreme, sometimes sacrificed their own lives. That little is known about this highly advanced aerial experimental work is a result of the Navy’s air wing – the RNAS – having been subsumed into the RAF and the resulting emphasis on the aeroplane as a weapon of land warfare rather than its value for fighting the war at sea.

BOOK ISBN 9781781555729
FORMAT 234 x 156 mm
BINDING Paperback
PAGES 276 pages
ILLUSTRATIONS 30 black-and-white photographs



A graduate of the University of Lancaster and former lecturer at the University of Kent, Philip MacDougall has written extensively on the theme of nations preparing for war, delving into inter-war aviation records, looking at various air wars and how different nations interpreted the tactical lessons resulting from those conflicts. MacDougall has edited Kent Airfields in the Battle of Britain (Meresborough Books) and has written many articles and books on military aviation as well as naval support facilities.