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The Royal Navy's Air Service in the Great War

In a few short years after 1914 the Royal Navy practically invented naval air warfare, not only producing the first effective aircraft carriers, but also pioneering most of the techniques and tactics that made naval air power a reality. By 1918 the RN was so far ahead of other navies that a US Navy observer sent to study the British use of aircraft at sea concluded that ‘any discussion of the subject must first consider their methods’. Indeed, by the time the war ended the RN was training for a carrier-borne attack by torpedo-bombers on the German fleet in its bases – over two decades before the first successful employment of this tactic, against the Italians at Taranto.

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