. . . .
The FAA was crippled throughout the 1920's and 1930's by their subordination to the RAF. . . Air-mindedness could not sufficiently penetrate the upper levels of the RN because of the malformed nature of the RAF. First off, because of the Balfour committee 25% of all carrier aviators were straight up RAF, so the number of experienced naval aviator officers was only 75% of what it 'should' have been, and like baby turtles trying to get off a beach, you need a lot of fresh young midshipmen to make a few admirals- the attrition rate is high for all types, but especially so among pilots in the 1930's. For the remainder, the pilots were 'dual hatted' in both the RAF and the RN, with separate ranks, promotion boards, and everything. While they were technically independent and you could be an Admiral and a flight lieutenant, according to Swinton, _Carrier Glorious_ the two boards generally tried to keep your two ranks +/- 1.
Imagine you are an ambitious officer, determined to have your flag. Your choice is either to go do flight school, and now have to deal with twice as many promotion boards, or go do anything else and only have one to deal with. Of course most of them chose the easier path, which is why Reg Henderson stands out so strongly in the 1930's. . . Yes, he basically ran the FAA as his own fiefdom for almost a decade, until he died, but one reason that happened was that the RN had a weak bench of aviation people. And Henderson (I believe) saw that this was an unsustainable course. More RN officers needed to understand aviation in order to really integrate it into the fleet. So they had to take back total control of the FAA. Hence the emphasis on how flying off a carrier was so very different from land based operations, that led to the Inskip Award and the pure RN pipeline, while also convincing the RN that they needed to build their airplanes differently, and that no more land conversions would work.
So if the end result was such terrible airplanes, then I must think that Henderson screwed up, right? Actually, I think that he was exactly correct [Discussion of the sinking of Glorious follows].
Compare that with the ambitious (and experienced mid- and late career guys) like Bull Halsey, Aubrey Fitch, R.K. Turner, John McCain Sr., who all went through Naval Aviator pilot school and left with a much stronger understanding of how the stuff worked and we can see that the RN's biggest problem with the dual-hatting formula was simply that they weren't producing enough understanding of naval aviation in their brass, and that needed to get fixed, fast. Hence I think that on balance Henderson made the right decision. . .
For All Other Branches, 139 retired or died with terminal rank of Commander or less, 58 Captain, and 40 Admirals.
For the Fleet Air Arm, 21 , 8, 4.(1)
For the Engineering Branch, 11, 6, 4.
here is no evidence that opting for aviation reduced an officer of the 1900--1905 cohort's chances of reaching Captain. Depending on how much faith you want to put in my counting, it reduces, but certainly does not eliminate your chances of reaching flag rank.
Now let us look at the four FAA admirals in more detail. Wikidump!
1911 to 1919 2,834
But what about learning about carrier aviation? The coronation review is one thing. Mussolini running amok in the Mediterranean is another. A few weeks after the review, Fraser will be one of Laurence's captains for what A. El Barlow, The Aeroplane's correspondent coyly characterises as a summer cruise of the Mediterranean. Remember how Caspar John is spending the year on a wind blown airstrip west of Cairo? Yeah, it's about that.(3.)
|They have planes on ships now? Get out of town!|