The Royal Navy had achieved its own air arm almost in a series of inspired experimental lurches. “Empress”, “Engadine” and “Riviera” were converted cross-Channel ferries. “Ark Royal” was a collier, bought off the stocks at Blyth in Northumberland and completed as a seaplane carrier. “Manxman”was a converted packet, “Nairana” an Australian mail steamer, “Pegasus” the Great Eastern steamer “Stockholm”, “Campania” a converted Cunard liner.
In March 1917 the large cruiser “Furious” had her forward 18-inch gun removed and replaced by a flying off deck, on which Squadron Commander Edwin Dunning made his historic first deck landing, off Scapa Flow, on 2 August 1917. “Argus” the word’s first true carrier, with a flush flight deck 550 feet (168 m) long from Stem to Stern, was converted from the ex-Italian Liner “Conte Rosso”; from “Argus’s” deck in October 1919, Commander Richard Bell Davies lead the fist squadron to be embarked on a carrier. But by then, the Royal Naval Air Service had ceased to exist.
When the case for a “unified air service” was debated in 1917, the Admiralty through indifference, or lingering doubts about the value of air power at sea, did not fight the Navy’s corner with any force or conviction. When the Air Force Bill became law on 1 April 1918, the Royal Naval Air Service was abolished at stroke, and all its resources – more than 100 air stations, some 55.000 officer and men, any over 2.500 aircraft – were transferred to the newly-created Royal Air Force.
“Air” officer who stayed in the Navy, with dual RNRAF ranks, suffered perennially from an occupational unease, constantly aware that their long-term career prospects were in Jeopardy because they were aircrew. Having let control of their air arm go the RAF, the Navy spent the best part of the next 20 years trying to wrest it back.
1) a packet – суденышко, посудина
2) unease = uneasiness – неудобство, беспокойство, стесненность
3) perennially – всегда, вечно, постоянно
4) to wrest – (1) вырывать, выдергивать; (2) получать ценой больших усилий; вырвать (победу у врага); (3) искажать, извращать
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