Sources on Jackie Fisher and RNAS / FAA

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    I am particularly interested in the Royal Navy of the Dreadnought era and beyond and would welcome recommendations for:

    1)A biography of Jackie Fisher
    2)Works concerning the history of the Royal Naval Air Service / Fleet Air Arm from its beginnings to the end of WW II


    Mike, a fairly recent biography of Fisher is Jan Morris, Fisher’s Face, an interesting, well-written pyschological study of this complex man rather than a bland naval biography.
    Churchill’s somewhat self-seeking but very useful The World Crisis: 1911-1918, London 1923-27 (my copy is the revised edition of 1932) offers a short chapter on Churchill’s relationship as First Lord of the Admiralty with Fisher as First Sea Lord just before and at the start of World War I.
    For a good outline of the RNAS / FAA, try Bernard Ireland’s Illustrated Guide to Aircraft Carriers of the World, London 2005. There will be many others on this topic. I also recommend the Fleet Air Arm Museum’s DVD Ark Royal which includes fascinating film of Ark 3 in WW2 and my old ship Ark 4 in the 1960s with good, informative to-camera pieces, particularly by Captain Ted Anson of Ark 4.
    As we approach the centenary of the start of naval aviation in 2009 I also suggest contacting the FAA Museum at Taunton who have good material, and of course for both Fisher and the RNAS / FAA, contact the Naval Historical Branch at Pompey.

    Frank Scott

    You are probably spoilt for choice for Jacky Fisher, though even now he still arouse strong feelings, both for and against.

    By contrast the RNAS and FAA are much less well served, and I could not recommend any single volume history covering the whole period from the beginnings to the end of WW2. For the early years Naval Aviation in the First World War and Before the Aircraft Carrier, both by R D Layman, would be a good start.

    Richard W

    Mike, I read Ruddock F. MacKay’s Fisher of Kilverstone around ten years ago and I thought it was fascinating, although it is a long and very detailed account. As regards Churchill’s World Crisis, I have the 1930’s edition, and I saw a new paperback version in a bookshop on Monday.


    Justin, Frank and Richard, thank you for the pointers they’re much appreciated.

    L. A. S

    On the FAA during the period of your interest I recommend Professor Geoffry Till’s book Air power and the Royal Navy, 1914-1945: a Historical Survey, London 1979.

    Also Air-Britain have published a number of books pertaining to that period; the books that deal with early developments during WW1 are recommended.

    This link to their summer catalogue may be of value:

    click on the link ‘Summer Full Booklist – pdf’ for details of their currently available publications. Page 10 has three items of particular interest.

    As a past serving member of the FAA and having once put together the journal for The Fleet Air Arm Association I have a small collection of other titles which may be of interest and will happily continue discussions via email.

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