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Chapter 13

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of
United States Naval Aviation

Archibald D. Turnbull
and Clifford L. Lord

published by
Yale University Press
New Haven

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 15
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p150  Chapter XIV

Postwar Problems

Naval Aviation had made a good record during the war. In spite of many difficulties and more than one failure, it had achieved with credit an expansion to relatively enormous size in material and personnel. At the date of the armistice it had stood ready to launch what would have been the one strictly American naval offensive. If its progress and performance had not converted all the skeptics, many of these had become convinced that aviation, as an arm of sea power, must thenceforth be reckoned with to the fullest extent. Unfortunately there remained too many others still adhering to the opposite conviction, still insisting that aviation should be completely subordinated.

To the well informed the major problem was that of integrating aviation with the Fleet, a step long ago urged by Captain Chambers. They recognized that Admiral Mayo, the Commander in Chief, had been right in pointing out that the effort of the Navy's air arm during the war had been spent in "conducting operations . . . in bombing and on escort duty," leaving little or no opportunity for work with the battleships. Accordingly, as soon after the armistice as January, 1919, a squadron of H‑16 flying boats was sent to the Fleet, wintering at Guantánamo.

For the first time the planes had a makeshift tender in the mine layer Shawmut, commanded by Capt. George W. Steele, who had been an assistant to Captain Irwin during the closing period of the war. Steele had the impressive title of Commander, Air Detachment, Atlantic Fleet, in itself a great incentive to the flying boat men under Lt. Comdr. Bruce G. Leighton, to the two Sopwith Camel crews working under Lieutenant Commander McDonnell from the launching platform of the Texas, and to the six kite balloon crews already established ashore at Guantánamo. Intercepting exercises were held, in which the flying boats charted the position, course, and speed of an "enemy" fleet and on at least one occasion directed a submarine attack upon it. Shifting their base from Guantánamo  p151 to Port au Prince, then to Kingston, and then back to Guantánamo, the fliers demonstrated their mobility, the improvement in their radio communication, and the very considerable increase in their accuracy in dropping bombs near improvised targets. Spotting practice, although it was marred by the wrecking of one H‑16, was successful enough to be very encouraging, while McDonnell's flights from the turret top earned from the General Board the admission that the performance had given it "confidence in the adaptability of the airplane to the battleship" and the further comment that "your success . . . has taught us the necessity of having airplanes for spotting." Experience gained in these ways was supplemented by what the marines were getting through their fliers in Haiti and Santo Domingo, where they had established flying fields for operations with their battalions then intervening in these islands. Both landplanes and seaplanes, flown under service conditions and with none too many facilities, proved that they could stand such conditions. Later, in May, when the Fleet came north, further gratifying results were obtained by the air detachment, deprived of the services of the Shawmut but temporarily based upon Hampton Roads, in numerous flights made chiefly with the F‑5‑L boats.

To look ahead a little, the worth of the Shawmut was so evident that it led to the making of fuller plans for that necessary adjunct of Naval Aviation, the seaplane tender. Clearly, if such tenders were available, the large flying boats would be able to go wherever the Fleet went, meeting an obvious essential of any effective flying arm. Accordingly during the next two years there would be numerous experiments, beginning with the use of the converted yacht Isabel and some of the war‑built Eagle boats, continuing through the partial conversion of the destroyers Harding and Mugford, and leading to the assignment of the mine layer Aroostook as seaplane tender for the Pacific Fleet. She was helpful but she could not do much more than "fill in" whatever service was not supplied by the air station at San Diego to the 18 seaplanes, six "left-over" balloons, and two airships making up the Pacific Fleet Air Force. If the personnel should be brought up to the allowed complement of 56 officers and 400 enlisted men, the Aroostook would be far too small to house it. Clearly something bigger and more appropriately equipped was required and conversion of the auxiliary cruisers Charles and Yale was given consideration, only to be abandoned because of the relatively great cost of this work. Similarly, tentative  p152 plans to use the two captured German ships, renamed DeKalb and Von Steuben, were abandoned when these vessels had to go to the Army as transports. Attention then centered upon "B‑type" hulls, left over at Hog Island from the Shipping Board's war construction program.

Arrangements for the conversion of four of these hulls into destroyer and aircraft tenders were completed, only to be disrupted by a mis­understanding between the Army and the Navy which was never quite clearly explained. The Steele Board, organized for the purpose, went to Hog Island in November, 1919, ready to redesign the four ships to serve as tenders for both lighter-than‑air and heavier-than‑air craft. To their astonishment they discovered on arrival that work on three of the four had already gone too far under army plans to make them of use to the Navy at less than prohibitive cost. After considerable further discussion with the Shipping Board, the Emergency Fleet Corporation, and the Army, the Navy was in the end perforce content to take this fourth hull, eventually commissioned in December, 1921, as U. S. S. Wright, the first of her type and for many years the last. Notwithstanding strong appeals to Congress by Secretary Daniels and others, no further funds for building tenders were appropriated. Like so many important factors in the problem of keeping Naval Aviation in the air, this one had to be met by makeshift — the continued use of mine craft, Eagles, seagoing tugs, and almost anything else that could be pressed into the service. Quarters aboard such craft were cramped, living in general was hard, and stowage space was inadequate, but in one way or another the result was "make do" and, even as late as World War II nine converted mine sweepers were still servicing the Navy's aircraft.

Another effort toward consolidating Naval Aviation with the Fleet was expended upon studying the possible usefulness of the torpedo plane. Interest, aroused during the war through the sinking of a Turkish transport by a plane from a British cruiser, was stimulated in the period immediately after the armistice when a British destroyer, at full speed, was "sunk" in a sham battle by six torpedo planes scoring at least four "hits." This brought a comment from the captain of the battleship Texas that a carrier like the Argus or the Furious, "with twelve or fifteen torpedo planes, should be a match for a whole battleship division." All hands did not agree, however, that special planes were needed; Captain Steele, for example, insisted that since the Navy would  p153 always have torpedoes, it should be simple, if the need to use them from the air arose, to "hook them on" to any aircraft. Steele also held that the low altitude at which a torpedo-carrying plane must fly would entail the "inevitable destruction of the plane" by enemy guns; better, said he, to try to sink enemy ships by bombing. The Bureau of Ordnance, for its part, pointed out that the "dropping of a torpedo within sight of a vessel would immediately disclose the character of the attack," whereas a destroyer's underwater torpedo might not. The bureau considered that where torpedo planes were used, the best chance of success would attend an attack by a number of them upon a group of ships so restricted in course and speed that they could not readily maneuver to avoid the oncoming torpedoes. In any event, said the bureau, the use of torpedoes weighing less than the standard 3,000 pounds would probably not be worth while because even this standard size did not always damage a capital ship enough to sink her. Such torpedo plane practice as was begun in the Fleet in consequence of these various recommendations did not amount to very much. The chief obstacle to success lay in the planes used for the purpose — the R‑6‑L float plane brought out during the war and not nearly rugged enough to handle its fuel load, a crew of two, and a 1,000‑pound torpedo. It would be another two years before much headway was made along this line.

Meanwhile consideration was given in the Navy Department to three reports made at the end of 1918 by Admiral Mayo. The first of these discussed the Royal Navy's advances in aviation, with new planes for carriers, both seaplane and landplane, and with new and improved types of aircraft; the second dealt with British progress in lighter-than‑air flying; and the third presented the admiral's recommendations for the United States naval air service. It was in this last that he urged using planes with the Fleet, contrasting the 22 British battleships carrying turret platforms for handling planes with the one American battleship, the Texas, fitted with a platform but not regularly equipped with planes.

The admiral recognized that any program, even if it were presented to the Congress with the full approval of the General Board and the Secretary of the Navy, would be subject to drastic curtailment. Nevertheless, he called for a naval air service "sufficient in all respects for reconnaissance, spotting, carrying torpedoes, anti-submarine patrols and escort duty"; all these requirements  p154 to be met, as might prove best, by lighter-than‑air or heavier-than‑air machines. Aerodromes, hangars, and bases in adequate numbers the admiral considered mandatory; stations for kite balloons must be established, he held, in close proximity to the Fleet base, and the equipment of appropriate stations for properly training personnel was equally vital. Further, he advised the designing and building of carriers for all planes, with the provision of not less than two of each type, each able to carry 25 planes at a speed equal to that of the swiftest battleship. Pending the completion of these carriers, two turrets on each battleship and battle cruiser should be fitted to handle two small reconnaissance planes, while each scout cruiser should carry one of these. In types of aircraft Mayo called for scouts, fighters, torpedo carriers, and seaplanes, with rigid dirigibles for scouting and nonrigids for patrol and escort. German Zeppelins being admittedly by far the best of their type, he urged that the Navy take over at least two of the Zeppelins allotted to the United States under the terms of the Armistice. As one means of maintaining such an air service, the admiral recommended the careful disassembly of those two costly plants, Eastleigh and Pauillac, their transportation, and their reassembly in the United States.

Among aviators there was general enthusiasm for most of Admiral Mayo's recommendations as representative of the informed naval consensus. On the carrier question, however, room had to be made for warm debate among those whose ideas varied between the conversion of ships already afloat and the building of entirely new designs. Whiting and Irwin, for example, were strongly opposed to the suggestion of Lt. Comdr. Albert C. Read and some others that one of the battleships be converted into a carrier. They objected to the small stowage space that would be available for planes, the smoke menace amidships, the low headroom between decks, and the lack of adequate quarters for a large personnel. Cone, on the other hand, did not agree that special vessels should be designed, declaring that "development is going to be so rapid that by the time you get your carriers built you will find you have to make all your ships carriers." McDonnell held that the "usefulness of the plane-carriers would be almost unlimited" because, in his opinion, "they might finally replace the battleship fleet itself." Capt. Ernest J. King, later the Fleet Admiral, with characteristic bluntness insisted that there had "never seemed to be any doubt" that carriers were essential. In his view,  p155 planes carried by various other ships might all be lost before an action was finished, and reserve planes could come only from a carrier.

Comdr. William S. Pye, already regarded as having one of the Navy's best strategic minds, supported Whiting and the other carrier advocates with the comment that "the heavier-than‑air craft, except the seaplanes and coast-defense torpedo planes, must be carried in ships which accompany the Fleet, or in ships of the Fleet." He had no doubt that, "in the future, the airplane-carrying ship will be as important a part of the Fleet as the destroyer or similar type." Even though the cost might be great, he insisted, "an efficient Navy cannot be maintained without such ships."

Captain Twining, lately with Admiral Sims as Chief of Staff, held that "the first phase of any future Naval engagement will be an Air battle," which might easily be the deciding factor in the engagement. Hence, he declared, every fleet "must carry a large number of fighting planes" or lose command of the air above it. It must be able to defend itself completely against every form of air attack and also be able to drive home such an attack of its own. Agreeing with him in principle but not in detail were those officers who remained convinced that the first step should be to convert a merchant ship and, from experiments with her, determine the best design. Running through the whole debate, making every argument a conditional one, was the still undetermined factor — how much money would Congress give Naval Aviation?

Estimates for the fiscal year 1920, made before hostilities ceased, had totaled $225,000,000 for aviation. Since all concerned agreed that this sum was certain to be considered excessive in peacetime, and reductions in the establishment were likely to begin almost immediately, it was brought down in Captain Irwin's office to $85,700,000. It was expected that this amount, after providing for the conversion of two ships into carriers for existing bases on the American continent as well as proposed bases in the Pacific possessions and for some experimental work, would cover the following new construction:

108 fighter planes
4 patrol planes of the large NC type
54 patrol planes of small size
108 fleet planes of a type to be determined
 p156  300 trainer planes
560 kite balloons
114 twin‑engined coastal nonrigid dirigibles
12 nonrigid dirigibles of large size
4 zeppelins
3 free balloons

Compared with prewar figures, these sums seemed large. When it is understood that their basis was the prospect of a national policy designed to keep the United States in that position of world leadership which the war had provided, the figures were small. In the Navy's view the bitter experience of trying to meet an emergency with nothing was to be avoided in the future if that were possible. The years would soon prove that correct.

So much for material. The problem of personnel was equally perplexing because until the weapons had been selected it was impossible to estimate the exact number of men needed to man them. One thing, however, was certain; the war‑trained force of officers and men was rapidly disintegrating. Under all the demobilization orders being issued, it would become possible for almost any man to get his discharge from the Reserve or from the "duration" group. Reduced to its "regulars," Naval Aviation would be lucky if it were left with 50 officer pilots and a few hundred enlisted men. Without special legislation by Congress, there was no method by which either officers or men of the Reserve could be transferred to the regular Service; no way to do with them, and obviously no way to do without them. With the entire Navy certain to be greatly reduced in personnel, aviation's hopes for recruits from that source were low indeed.

This was the situation which confronted Capt. Thomas T. Craven when he came to Washington in the spring of 1919 to be the relief for Captain Irwin. The prospect of a naval fight had no terrors for him because since the earliest days of the Navy there had been at least one Craven on the list of officers, and he himself bore the name of his ancestor, famous old Commodore Thomas Tingey of 1798. Captain Craven was a gunnery expert rather than an aviator, but he was not so bound to the ancient traditions of sail that he could not mentally bridge the gap between the surface of the sea and the clouds above it. His experience as Captain Cone's chief deputy in France, followed by his duties in disposing of surplus aircraft material in Europe, had taught him much  p157 about aviation; his professional soundness gave him a good grasp of the relation that should exist between a plane and a battleship. When Admiral Benson had cabled him at Brest, suggesting the new post for him, he had at first declined because he had not yet had command of a battleship, but after being assured that both Admiral Benson and the Secretary of the Navy were determined to sustain Naval Aviation he had accepted. In after years, when he was a vice admiral looking back at the past, he would say that this acceptance had "preceded a stormy assignment."

Even before he took over his new office he could see storm clouds gathering over questions of administration. Affairs in Naval Aviation had been very complicated during the war and it was inevitable that there should be many opinions as to the appropriate future procedure in handling those affairs. Recommendations as to the method of fitting the office into the postwar structure of the Navy Department would come from officers who were regular aviators, from air‑minded members of Congress, and from men who had flown with the Navy and were now again becoming civilians.

From one of these last, Lieut. Graham M. Brush, came a letter to the Navy Department, written as he was about to get out of uniform in March, 1919. In it Brush advocated the immediate creation of a separate bureau of aeronautics as the only means of "getting anywhere" in avoiding the long delays, mis­understandings, and frequent lack of final decision which he had noted during the war month and which he attributed chiefly to the requirement that all questions be submitted to the conflicting views of seven bureaus. His letter was forceful and so clearly expressed that Captain Irwin had circulated it for comment before Captain Craven reached Washington. Most of the comments had been unfavorable.

Steam Engineering, holding that most of the delays and difficulties had been caused by the inexperienced personnel in so many places during the war, could "see no reason" for any new bureau. Navigation regarded the administrative difficulties as having been inevitable in a new and rapidly expanding organization. Ordnance was firmly against any new bureau. Since Rear Admiral Taylor was temporarily absent from his desk, the acting Chief of Construction and Repair proposed delay until the admiral's return. Meanwhile Hunsaker prepared a long memorandum describing the Brush plan as not unlike that proposed  p158 by Mustin some time before, but admitting that there might be great advantage in having one engineer direct the work of those designing and those constructing aircraft. Brush's provision for such an officer would mean, said Hunsaker, distinct advances in technical direction. The many case of "crossed wires," which Hunsaker freely admitted, were due, he declared, to the fact that most of the officers under the director of Naval Aviation during the war had been fliers who did not have enough technical knowledge. Replace these, he said, with officers of broader training, make the Chief Constructor of the Navy the consulting engineer for aviation, and it should prove unnecessary to organize a separate bureau.

Called before the General Board, Hunsaker elaborated on his memorandum, particularly as to engineering problems and the difficulty of getting decisions. He spoke of the "excessive conservatism" displayed by so many officers and regarded this as another reason for establishing single responsibility because "you can get one man to take a chance where you may not be able to get four or five." Moreover, "when vessels that cost $10,000,000 or $15,000,000 are [to be] built, you do not want to take a chance. When it comes to an airplane at $10,000 or $15,000 you must take a chance." He deplored a tendency which he saw in the bureau to say, in commenting upon designs prepared for aviation, "while we agree . . . that you [Aviation] ought to have that kind of apparatus, we will give you what we have. Someday, if we have something better, we will let you know."

Among others heard by the board, Captain King favored combining the existing Office of Aviation with the other branches of Naval Operations. Whiting, on the contrary, thought separation the only solution. Captain Cone, although he backed Whiting, feared that the establishment of a separate bureau might be impracticable at the moment. On the whole, he said a separate advisory council on aviation might serve the purpose. These were typical of the many different views to be expected when considering any great change in an administrative organization that has "worked pretty well for years."

As prospective director, Craven's statements to the board in May, 1919, were of great importance. Being a comparative newcomer, he cautiously said that it would be "undesirable to disrupt the Navy Department for the advancement of aviation alone." Nevertheless, he held it to be "necessary to do something . . .  p159 to keep abreast of the time" and agreed that, under existing administrative organization, it was "very hard to pin definite responsibility on any one bureau or any one individual." Until that could be done, he did not see how to "accomplish very much" for aviation. If there were to be no separate bureau, he suggested there might be at least an advisory council such as Cone had proposed, composed of one officer from each of the existing bureaus concerned, all assigned to duty under the director of Aviation with the task of coordinating bureau activities to prevent overlapping and duplication. He agreed with Hunsaker on the present lack of cooperation between the engineers in various bureaus and the nontechnical fliers, a lack which was evident even though all hands "worked as hard as they could." What he then said to the board was later expanded in a formal letter written in July. In this he proposed that the advisory section be made large enough to include three aviators, one as head of the section, one to represent lighter-than‑air, and one to represent heavier-than‑air. The other members might be two representatives from Steam Engineering, two from Construction and Repair, one each from Ordnance, Navigation, Yards and Docks, and Supplies and Accounts. So broad a group, he believed, would "fill the most urgent need . . . of bringing about closer cooperation and mutual understanding" in a way very like the purpose originally proposed by Captain Chambers and so often repeated during the years between 1910 and 1913. Like Chambers, Craven believed that the proposed new section could keep informed upon the progress of aviation outside the Navy, using this as well as the Navy's advances to plan new designs, locate better materials, originate and supervise further experiments.

Quite as important to Craven as this unsettled administrative organization of Naval Aviation was the question of its future personnel. Discussing this before the General Board, he had stated that all hands must be given a definite status and that "officers of the Navy . . . connected with aviation for long periods should be recognized as specialists." He did not argue for a separate corps but for regulation that would permit officers to keep on flying without fear of being regarded as no longer sailors and therefore ineligible for promotion. To him, as to all the fair-minded, the thought that Towers, Mustin, Bellinger, and a dozen others who had led the way into the air instead of serving on shipboard should fail of promotion was simply unthinkable. It is of  p160 record that both Mustin and Towers were passed over at least once.

Mustin himself again brought forward his plan for a separate flying corps, with provisions for rotating officers between this corps and regular seagoing as well as for recognizing flying duty as the equivalent of sea duty, and for extra pay when flying. He did not, however, offer a solution of the very controversial problem of the assignment of officers who had grown too old to fly, or express any opinion whether such officers should be given the command of carriers even though they had no experience in commanding other types. His plan found many opponents, Admiral Badger for one remarking that "We in the Navy have always opposed, for good and sufficient reasons, the establishment of special corps of officers." Many held that temporary ranks would create injustice and ill feeling, while others asked how officers, classified "for aviation duty only," were to be listed with their contemporaries of the regular line? Studying the possibility for transfers from the Reserve to the regular Navy, others immediately raised the question of the status of those who were transferred compared with that of Naval Academy graduates. Were all to be required to pass the same examination in all branches of the profession or were these specialists to be advanced in the rarefied atmosphere of "aviation only"? Much the same questions were asked in relation to the possibility of making pilots from among the enlisted men. All agreed that these questions must be answered if Naval Aviation were ever to have the 700 pilots who represented its minimum requirement.

Admiral Mayo, again describing the aviators as "an essential fighting arm of the Navy" which must be included in all strategic and tactical planning, proposed his own plan. Being strongly against any separate corps because it would lead to "jealousy, lack of cooperation and inefficiency," he suggested an immediate call upon the regular line for 50 volunteers for aviation duty, all to be under 25 years old. To these he proposed adding 100 young men to be obtained among volunteers from the next graduating class at the Naval Academy, and then adding 200 qualified pilots transferred from the Reserve. With the 25 pilots of the regular Navy whom the admiral counted as still "available," these recruits would bring the total on hand up to 375. Temporarily, the balance might be made up by recruiting into the Navy ex‑Army pilots and untrained civilians, but this last group should be replaced, said  p161 Mayo, as rapidly as possible, by newly graduated midshipmen. Since this plan would necessitate a great increase in the strength of the Naval Academy, the admiral proposed that such an increase be provided by giving each senator and representative an additional appointment, besides authorizing ten more "at large" appointments by the President. From each of these larger classes, as it graduated, a group of volunteers could be drawn to replace the temporary aviator, eventually building up a permanent personnel of 700. The youngsters would serve four years as fliers but two of these were to be spent aboard ship where the other duties of a naval officer could be learned. To avoid any possible injustice to those who might have come in from the Reserve, these men should be given opportunities to qualify by examination for retention as regulars. No fliers were to be given extra pay because, in the admiral's opinion, such pay led to jealousy among officers of the same rank but different duties. Instead, he proposed that legislation be enacted to permit the government to pay premiums on insurance policies which would protect the dependents of aviators.

After listening to these various views and many others, the General Board on June 23, 1919, issued its conclusions in the form of a report upon "Future Policy Governing Development of Air Service for the United States Navy." The basis of this policy was contained in the following paragraph:

To ensure air supremacy, to enable the United States Navy to meet on at least equal terms any possible enemy, and to put the United States in it proper place as a Naval power, fleet aviation must be developed to the fullest extent. Aircraft have become an essential arm of the fleet. A naval air service must be established, capable of accompanying and operating with the fleet in all waters of the globe.

This was definite enough. In its recommendations, the board was not quite as specific as Admiral Mayo had been, either on personnel or material, but it followed the general line of his views. For example, while it agreed that pilots should ultimately all be graduates of the Naval Academy, it stressed the importance of immediate legislation to hold the war‑trained reserves and to offer them inducements to transfer to the regular Navy. It also advocated encouraging colleges and universities to establish courses in aeronautics, for which the Navy should provide summer training for students at its various stations. Pending increases from such sources, at least some of the shortage of pilots  p162 should be made up by qualifying enlisted men as pilots. Congressional action to make these efforts possible was strongly urged by the board.

On the material side, the board's recommendation represented about the average naval opinion. It favored the equipping of battleships with planes but insisted that carriers were an essential because individual ships could not carry planes in sufficient numbers. For temporary use and for experiments the conversion of one collier into a carrier was recommended, the Jupiter being named, even though Adm. Hugh Rodman, by this time Commander in Chief in the Pacific, had protested that her conversion would spoil a good collier to make an indifferent carrier. Ultimately, said the board, there should be one carrier for each squadron of capital ships. In order that there might be floating repair shops, with adequate quarters for flying personnel, the board further recommended the immediate convention of two fast transports, one for heavier-than‑air, one for lighter-than‑air craft, with the further recommendation that there eventually be provided one seaplane tender for each battle squadron.

In shore establishments for aviation the board held to its recommendations made a year earlier. Two more stations should be added on the Atlantic coast, one on Narragansett Bay, the other on Chesapeake Bay, each with accommodations for at least 30 ship-type planes, 20 torpedo planes and bombers, and six balloons. Similar stations should be built at San Francisco and on Puget Sound, with a third, smaller in size, at the mouth of the Columbia River. The Marine Corps air station at Quantico and at Parris Island should be pushed to completion and a third station should be built at Dutch Flats, San Diego. The schools at Pensacola, Akron, and San Diego were regarded by the board as highly important and their continued expansion was urged. All forms of elementary training should be strongly supported and advanced training should be instituted at the proposed new station on Chesapeake Bay. In all this training, as well as in actual operations, the need for the closest possible cooperation with the Army Air Service was emphasized as an essential of the general policy, and in order that close touch with foreign progress might be established and maintained the assignment of officers as naval attachés for air was strongly urged. In conclusion, the board said, in substance: "Aviation as an adjunct of the fleet is of such vital importance . . . that no inferiority must be accepted . . . Naval aircraft  p163 are as essential to the fleet as destroyers, submarine or fast cruisers."

The board was entirely sound and it had well expressed the progressive naval view. Since the Chief of Naval Operations, while not in full agreement, was generally so, the board's policy finally got the Secretary's approval, although this was given with a hint of the probably unhelpful attitude of the Congress.

On Capitol Hill the Navy's liaison officer with Congress was Lt. Comdr. Richard Byrd, well suited to the assignment by his knowledge, his record of achievement in the air, and his temperament. He was not long in notifying those in the department that "the Republican majority considers that the desire of the people of this country is that all Army and Navy appropriations be cut down to the minimum." Explaining the attitude in 1919 — so like the attitude of 1945 — Byrd added that "the majority of the Congressmen do not . . . desire to cut . . . but they must disregard their personal feelings to represent the wishes of their constituents." He ventured the further prediction that parsimony was "a passing fancy" and that greater liberality might be expected in future sessions. It would have been a better guess to predict that what Congress did in 1919 would set a precedent for the next 20 years, and that the valiant few would find themselves still struggling to obtain fully adequate support for Naval Aviation even when the outbreak of another war had become a matter of months, perhaps mere weeks. In 1919 Craven must have shared with all hands a feeling of relief over being able to concentrate upon something as encouraging and stimulating as the Navy's announced plan to fly the Atlantic in "one big hop."

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