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The Air Ministry
Air Ministry
was a department of the Government of the United Kingdom with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the Royal Air Force, that existed from 1918 to 1964. It was under the political authority of the Secretary of State for Air.

Contents

1 Organisations before the Air Ministry

1.1 The Air Committee 1.2 The Joint War Air Committee

1.2.1 Membership

1.3 The Air Board

1.3.1 The first Air Board 1.3.2 The second Air Board

2 Establishment of the Air Ministry 3 History – from 1918

3.1 1918-1921 3.2 1921-1927 3.3 1927-1929

4 Activities

4.1 Aircraft production 4.2 Weather Forecasting 4.3 World War II technology

5 Abolition 6 See also 7 External links 8 References

Organisations before the Air Ministry[edit] The Air Committee[edit] On 13 April 1912, less than two weeks after the creation of the Royal Flying Corps (which initially consisted of both a naval and a military wing), an Air Committee was established to act as an intermediary between the Admiralty
Admiralty
and the War Office
War Office
in matters relating to aviation. The new Air Committee was composed of representatives of the two war ministries, and although it could make recommendations, it lacked executive authority. The recommendations of the Air Committee had to be ratified by the Admiralty
Admiralty
Board and the Imperial General Staff and, in consequence, the Committee was not particularly effective. The increasing separation of army and naval aviation from 1912 to 1914 only exacerbated the Air Committee's ineffectiveness and the Committee did not meet after the outbreak of the First World War. The Joint War Air Committee[edit] By 1916 the lack of co-ordination of the Army's Royal Flying Corps
Royal Flying Corps
and the Navy's Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Naval Air Service
had led to serious problems, not only in the procurement of aircraft engines, but also in the air defence of Great Britain.[citation needed] It was the supply problems to which an attempt at rectification was first made. The War Committee meeting on 15 February 1916 decided immediately to establish a standing joint naval and military committee to co-ordinate both the design and the supply of materiel for the two air services. This committee was titled the Joint War Air Committee, and its chairman was Lord Derby.[1] It was also at the meeting on 15 February that Curzon proposed the creation of an Air Ministry. As with the pre-war Air Committee, the Joint War Air Committee lacked any executive powers and therefore was not effective. After only eight sittings, Lord Derby resigned from the Committee, stating that "It appears to me quite impossible to bring the two wings closer together ... unless and until the whole system of the Air Service is changed and they are amalgamated into one service."[2] Membership[edit] The Joint War Air Committee was composed as follows:

Chairman – Lord Derby Director of Air Services (Admiralty) – Rear Admiral C L Vaughn Lee Superintendent of Aircraft Design (Admiralty) – Commodore M F Sueter Squadron Commander W Briggs Director of Military Aeronautics (War Office) – Major-General Sir David Henderson Lieutenant-Colonel E L Ellington

Advisory Members were also appointed as required. The Air Board[edit] The first Air Board[edit] The next attempt to establish effective co-ordination between the two air services was the creation of an Air Board. The first Air Board came into being on 15 May 1916 with Lord Curzon as its chairman. The inclusion of Curzon, a Cabinet Minister, and other political figures was intended to give the Air Board greater status than the Joint War Air Committee. In October 1916 the Air Board published its first report which was highly critical of the arrangements within the British air services. The report noted that although the Army authorities were ready and willing to provide information and take part in meetings, the Navy were often absent from Board meetings and frequently refused to provide information on naval aviation. The second Air Board[edit] In January 1917 the Prime Minister David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
replaced the chairman Lord Curzon with Lord Cowdray. Godfrey Paine, who served in the newly created post of Fifth Sea Lord
Fifth Sea Lord
and Director of Naval Aviation, sat on the board and this high level representation from the Navy helped to improve matters. Additionally, as responsibility for the design of aircraft had been moved out of single service hands and given to the Ministry of Munitions, some of the problems of inter-service competition were avoided.[3][4] Establishment of the Air Ministry[edit] Despite attempts at reorganization of the Air Board, the earlier problems failed to be completely resolved. In addition, the growing number of German air raids against Great Britain led to public disquiet and increasing demands for something to be done. As a result, Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, established a committee composed of himself and General Jan Smuts, which was tasked with investigating the problems with the British air defences and organizational difficulties which had beset the Air Board. Towards the end of the First World War, on 17 August 1917, General Smuts presented a report to the War Council on the future of air power. Because of its potential for the 'devastation of enemy lands and the destruction of industrial and populous centres on a vast scale', he recommended a new air service be formed that would be on a level with the Army and Royal Navy. The new air service was to receive direction from a new ministry and on 29 November 1917 the Air Force Bill received Royal Assent
Royal Assent
and the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
was formed just over a month later on 2 January 1918. Lord Rothermere was appointed the first Air Minister. On 3 January, the Air Council
Air Council
was constituted as follows:[5]

Lord Rothermere, Air Minister and President Lieutenant-General Sir David Henderson, Additional Member and Vice-President Major-General Sir Hugh Trenchard, Chief of the Air Staff Major-General (formerly Rear-Admiral) Mark Kerr, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff Major-General (formerly Commodore) Godfrey Paine, Master General of Personnel Major-General Sefton Brancker, Controller-General of Equipment Sir William Weir, Director-General of Aircraft Production in the Ministry of Munitions Sir John Hunter, Administrator of Works and Buildings Major J L Baird Permanent Under-Secretary

The Air Ministry
Air Ministry
initially met in the Hotel Cecil on the Strand. Later, in 1919, it moved to Adastral House
Adastral House
on Kingsway.[6] The creation of the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
resulted in the disestablishment of the Army Council's post of Director-General of Military Aeronautics.[7] History – from 1918[edit] 1918-1921[edit] In 1919 the RAF
RAF
and the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
came under immense political and inter service pressure for their very existence, particularly in a climate of significantly reduced military expenditure. The battle was kickstarted by the resignation in December 1918 of William Weir the President of the Air Council
Air Council
(the governing body of the Royal Air Force), who wished to return to his commercial activities. [8] This led the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, to create a Secretary of State for Air, but not as a Cabinet position, and on 9th January 1919 offered Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
the two posts of Secretary of State for War, which was a Cabinet position, and Secretary of State for Air
Secretary of State for Air
both of which he accepted. This combination under one person by was criticised in both the press and Parliament. However, Churchill re-iterated that the continued “integrity, the unity, the independence of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
will be sedulously and carefully maintained”. During 1919 it was also decided that civil aviation was to be brought into the Air Ministry rather than being dealt with by either the Board of Trade
Board of Trade
or the Foreign Office.[9] The Army and the War Office
War Office
had largely agreed to the continued existence of the RAF
RAF
due, in part, to the enthusiasm for the air service by the Army’s political leader Winston Churchill. However, one of the main difficulties for the RAF
RAF
and Air Ministry
Air Ministry
in 1919 was the opposition by the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
to losing their own air service and subsequent lobbying that personnel for naval air purposes afloat be naval officers and ratings – this would have led to a recreation of the now disbanded Royal Navy
Royal Navy
Air Service. This negotiation led to the creation of RAF
RAF
Coastal Area the predecessor of RAF
RAF
Coastal Command to deal with its relationship with the Navy. Throughout 1919 there were discussions between Sir Hugh Trenchard
Sir Hugh Trenchard
Chief of the Air Staff and Sir Rosslyn Wemyss
Rosslyn Wemyss
First Sea Lord
First Sea Lord
as to the nature of the relationship between the Air Force and Air Ministry
Air Ministry
and the Navy and the Admiralty.[10] In 1919 the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
formally took control of supply, design and inspection of all aircraft (aeroplanes and airships) from the Ministry of Munitions. This helped put the existence of Air Ministry
Air Ministry
on a firmer footing.[11] Throughout 1919 Churchill persistently supported an independent air force. He presented the White Paper, largely written by Sir Hugh Trenchard, on the future of the RAF
RAF
on 12th December 1919. It was this White Paper that was to be the effective charter for the RAF
RAF
and Air Ministry in subsequent years. 1921-1927[edit] In February 1921 Lloyd George
Lloyd George
appointed Churchill to the Colonial Office and appointed his Chief Whip, Frederick Guest
Frederick Guest
as Secretary of State for Air on 1st April. During his eighteen months in office he played “a minor part in the desperate struggle to maintain the air force's institutional independence in the face of hostile attacks from the War Office
War Office
and the Admiralty”.[12] More importantly in the long term he was also responsible for the appointment of Sir Sefton Brancker to develop civil aviation. With the fall of Lloyd George
Lloyd George
Sir Samuel Hoare became the Secretary of State for Air in October 1922 under Bonar Law. On Law's death Stanley Baldwin became Prime Minister and gave the position Cabinet status in May 1923,[13] and Hoare remained in the post until January 1924, when a Labour government took power. Lord Thomson
Lord Thomson
was made Secretary of State for Air. A supporter of airships, Thomson was responsible for the Imperial Airship Scheme, which involved the construction of R101 at the Royal Airship Works at Cardington.[12] After the fall of the MacDonald government in November 1924 Hoare returned to the Air Ministry. He was interested in developing air links to the Empire and Dominion countries, particularly India and South Africa. He negotiated a subsidy from the Treasury for Imperial Airways to start a service from Cairo to India. Hoare, with his wife Lady Maud, flew on the inaugural 13-day flight to Delhi, leaving Croydon on 26 December 1926 and arriving on 8 January 1927. The air route to Cape Town, after much negotiation, was finalised in 1929, before he left office, but only commenced in 1932.[14] 1927-1929[edit] His time at the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
was marked by several important developments that were to confirm the status of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
as a separate entity, play a part in the growth of civil aviation and to develop the awareness of the public about aviation. An early priority for Sir Hugh Trenchard, Chief of the Air Staff 1919–1930, was to establish the officer cadet training college at Cranwell as a permanent establishment. It was Hoare's job to negotiate with the Treasury for the necessary funds. After much resistance Hoare managed to include a provision for permanent buildings in his estimates for 1929. The foundation stone of the Royal Air Force College Cranwell was laid in 1929 and formally opened in 1934.[15] Trenchard had conceived the idea of a university air officer training corps, a sort of Territorial Army for the R.A.F. Hoare and particularly his well connected Parliamentary Private Secretary the academic Sir Geoffrey Butler, then created University Air Squadrons, at Cambridge University then at Oxford University in October 1925, without, however the militarism of the Officer Training Corps and in close collaboration with scientific and engineering work of the Universities.[16] The Air Ministry
Air Ministry
was also responsible for civil aviation. Early on Hoare set up the Civil Air Transport Subsidies Committee under the Chairmanship of Sir Hubert Hambling to look at the system of subsidies to competing air lines. They reported in February 1923, favouring a single commercial company to run Britain's air routes. In March 1924 Imperial Airways
Imperial Airways
was created from a merger of the four largest airlines.[17] The third aspect of Hoare's time at the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
(after the R.A.F. and civil airlines) was to make public opinion sympathetic to air power and air travel. His much publicised flight to India in 1926-7 was part of this. He also realised the importance of the Schneider Trophy and was instrumental in making sure that the R.A.F was involved. Britain's winning entries in 1927, 1929 and 1931 were flown by R.A.F. pilots and the teams partially subsidised by the Air Ministry.[18] Activities[edit] Aircraft production[edit] The Air Ministry
Air Ministry
issued specifications for aircraft that British aircraft companies would supply prototypes to. These were then assessed, if ordered the Ministry assigned the aircraft name. (see List of Air Ministry
Air Ministry
specifications). The ordering procedure used I.T.P. (Intention to Proceed) contract papers; these specified a maximum fixed price, which could (after investigation) be less. But when Lord Nuffield
Lord Nuffield
got the I.T.P. contract papers for a Wolseley radial aero engine, which would have required re-orientation of their offices with an army of chartered accountants, he decided to deal only with the War Office
War Office
and the Admiralty, not the Air Ministry. So the aero engine project was abandoned in 1936, see Airspeed. Nevil Shute Norway
Nevil Shute Norway
wrote that the loss of such a technically advanced engine was a great loss to Britain as well as Airspeed, and blamed the over-cautious high civil servants of the Air Ministry. When he had asked Lord Nuffield
Lord Nuffield
to retain the engine, Nuffield said: I tell you, Norway ... I sent that I.T.P. thing back to them, and I told them they could put it where the monkey put the nuts! [19] In later years the actual production of aircraft was the responsibility of the Ministry of Aircraft Production (1940–46), the Ministry of Supply (1946–59), the Ministry of Aviation (1959–67) and finally the Ministry of Technology
Ministry of Technology
(1967–70).

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Weather Forecasting[edit] The Air Ministry
Air Ministry
was responsible for weather forecasting over the UK, from 1919 it being the government department responsible for the Meteorological Office. As a result of the need for weather information for aviation, the Meteorological Office located many of its observation and data collection points on RAF
RAF
stations. World War II technology[edit] In the 1930s, the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
commissioned a scientific study of propagating electromagnetic energy which concluded that a death ray was impractical but detection of aircraft appeared feasible.[20] Robert Watson-Watt
Robert Watson-Watt
demonstrated a working prototype and patented the device in 1935 (British Patent GB593017)[21][22][23] The device served as the base for the Chain Home
Chain Home
network of radars to defend Great Britain. By April 1944, the ministry's air Intelligence branch had succeeded in its intelligence efforts regarding "the beams, the Bruneval Raid, the Gibraltar barrage, radar, Window, heavy water, and the German nightfighters" (R.V. Jones). Other World War II technology and warfare efforts included the branch's V-1 and V-2 Intelligence activities.[24] Abolition[edit] In 1964 the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
merged with the Admiralty
Admiralty
and the War Office to form the Ministry of Defence.

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See also[edit]

Secretary of State for Air

External links[edit]

Search and download Air Ministry
Air Ministry
Combat Reports, 1939–1945 from The National Archives.

References[edit]

^ British Military Aviation in 1916, RAF
RAF
Museum. Retrieved on 19 January 2007. ^ Boyle, Andrew (1962). "Chapter 8". Trenchard Man of Vision. St. James's Place London: Collins. p. 173.  ^ The evolution of an Air Ministry, Air of Authority - A History of RAF
RAF
Organisation. Retrieved on 19 January 2007 ^ Baker, Anne (2003). From Biplane to Spitfire. Pen And Sword Books. p. 109. ISBN 0-85052-980-8.  ^ Joubert de la Ferté, Philip (1955). The Third Service. London: Thames and Hudson. p. 61.  ^ http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/History/HistoryOfTheMOD/ ^ The organisation and function of the War Office
War Office
Archived 8 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine., The Long, Long Trail - The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918. Retrieved on 19 January 2007. ^ John Sweetman 1984: Crucial Months for Survival: The Royal Air Force 1918-19 Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 19 No.3 (July 1984)p.529 ^ John Sweetman 1984: Crucial Months for Survival: The Royal Air Force 1918-19 Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 19 No.3 (July 1984) p.531 ^ John Sweetman 1984: Crucial Months for Survival: The Royal Air Force 1918-19 Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 19 No.3 (July 1984) pp.531-3 ^ John Sweetman 1984: Crucial Months for Survival: The Royal Air Force 1918-19 Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 19 No.3 (July 1984) p.538 ^ a b Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ^ David Butler and Gareth Butler 1986: British Political Facts 1900-1983 Sixth Edition ISBN 0-333-39949-8 pp.12-15 ^ Cross J.A. (1977) Sir Samuel Hoare a Political Biography London Jonathan Cape ISBN 0-224-01350-5 p101 ^ Cross J.A. (1977) Sir Samuel Hoare a Political Biography London Jonathan Cape ISBN 0-224-01350-5 pp99-100 ^ Cross J.A. (1977) Sir Samuel Hoare a Political Biography London Jonathan Cape ISBN 0-224-01350-5 pp99 ^ Cross J.A. (1977) Sir Samuel Hoare a Political Biography London Jonathan Cape ISBN 0-224-01350-5 p100 ^ Cross J.A. (1977) Sir Samuel Hoare a Political Biography London Jonathan Cape ISBN 0-224-01350-5 pp104-105 ^ Slide Rule by Nevil Shute
Nevil Shute
(1954, William Heinemann, London) page 235 ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-06.  ^ "Copy of Patents for the invention of radar" (in French). radar-france.fr. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009.  ^ British man first to patent radar Archived 19 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine. official site of the Patent Office ^ GB 593017  Improvements in or relating to wireless systems ^ Jones, R. V. (1978). Most Secret War: British Scientific Intelligence 1939-1945. London: Hamish Hamilton. pp. 335, 437. ISBN 0-

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