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History of United States Naval Aviation

by
Archibald D. Turnbull
Captain, USNR,
Deputy Director of Naval Records and History

Clifford L. Lord
Lieutenant Commander, USNR,
Formerly Head of the Naval Aviation History Unit

Contents

vii
I.

Chambers Makes a Start with Curtiss

1
II.

Ellyson, Towers, Richardson, and Hunsaker

12
III.

The Chambers Board

24
IV.

Pensacola and Vera Cruz

36
V.

Spending the First Million Dollars

45
VI.

The General Board Recommends

58
VII.

Effects of the War in Europe

69
VIII.

Preparing to Fight

81
IX.

Under Pressure of War

96
X.

Procurement in Wartime

106
XI.

Early Effort Overseas

119
XII.

Plans, Projects, and Operations

130
XIII.

The Record of Accomplishment

142
XIV.

Postwar Problems

150
XV.

The Navy Flies the Atlantic

164
XVI.

Agitation for an Independent Air Force

176
XVII.

The Bureau of Aeronautics

186
XVIII.

The Bombing Tests

193
XIX.

Technical Developments

205
XX.

New Uses for Aircraft

216
XXI.

Personnel and Training in the Twenties

228
XXII.

The Lampert Committee and the Eberle Board

238
XXIII.

The Morrow Board

249
XXIV.

Five‑Year Program of 1926

259
XXV.

Aviation in the Fleet Exercises

270
XXVI.

The Beginning of Expansion

284
XXVII.

The Approach to War

296
XXVIII.

Aviation Meets the Test

308
324

List of Illustrations

Rear Adm. William A. Moffett

First Flight from Any Ship

First Landing on a Ship

Pioneers of Naval Aviation

Directors of Naval Aviation

Naval and Marine Aviators in 1914

Crews of NC Transatlantic Flight, 1919

Early Catapults

USS Lexington

USS Ranger

USS Langley

USS Wright

Early Naval Aircraft, 1913‑1917

Early Naval Aircraft, 1918‑1925

Patrol Aircraft, 1925‑1936

Scout-observation Planes, 1926‑1940

First Planes to Operate from a Carrier

Carrier Fighters, 1925‑1940

Dive Bombers, 1925‑1937

Torpedo Planes, 1926‑1937

Lighter-than‑air Craft

Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition followed in this transcription is the first edition (1949). It is in the public domain because the copyright was not renewed in 1976‑1977 as then required by law in order to be maintained: details here on the copyright law involved.

Illustrations

In the printed edition, after the frontispiece, the 45 photographs are gathered in a 16‑page signature preceding Chapter XVIII, page 193. Taking advantage of the Web, I've moved each of them to accompany relevant text: the links are of course to the new locations.

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

Proofreading

As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if successful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.) ▸ Actually, as a test, I dictated about forty pages to my phone, but the principle is the same: I actually read what I give you.

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree; a red background would mean that the page had not been proofread. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The printed book was very well proofread. The inevitable typographical errors were few, and all trivial, most of them in proper names: I marked them with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the underscored words to read the variant. Similarly, glide your cursor over bullets before measurements: they provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles. Yards and tons, which are close to meters and tonnes, are not given conversions; and whenever it wasn't clear to me whether statute or nautical miles were meant, I usually omitted the feature there too.

A number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic ‑‑> in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked. They are also few.

Any other mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.



[image ALT: A photograph of a pioneer airplane that has just 'taken off' from the deck of a tall ship, a sliver of which is visible on our right: falling toward the sea is more like it. In the background a small naval ship stands by. It is a photograph of Eugene Ely leaving the deck of the USS Birmingham, November 14, 1910, the first takeoff ever from the deck of a ship; the historic image serves as the icon on this site for the book 'History of United States Naval Aviation' by Archibald D. Turnbull and Clifford L. Lord.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is a colorized version of the book's photograph of Eugene Ely's flight from the deck of the Birmingham in 1910: the world's first takeoff from the deck of a ship. I've colorized it in red, white, and blue: something like navy blue — and red for dangerous, which almost everything in this book truly was.


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Site updated: 26 May 15