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Royal Naval Air Service Manual (1915)

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H.M.S.O, London, 1915

A very rare original, Royal Naval Air Service Training Manual published in June 1915. Produced by the Air Department of The Admiralty in November 1914, just after the outbreak of war, this is a comprehensive and detailed handbook of R.N.A.S training from the time when the Naval Air Service was in its infancy. It includes a great deal of very useful information on all aspects of R.N.A.S. aviation, with sections on airship flight and maintenance, conventional aeroplanes and seaplanes, flying training, and the other activities of the R.NA.S. at the start of the First World War. The book is signed on the front endpaper by Lt S. M. Cleverley, a WW1 Royal Naval Air Service officer, who served with the R.N.A.S. armoured car unit, with the Kite Balloon section in Mesopotamia, and with the RAF Independent AIr Force in France in 1918, before his death in a flying accident in 1924.

Squadron Leader Sidney Mechen Cleverley (1886-1924): was a Sub-Lieutenant in the RNVR in November 1914. He was promoted to Lieutenant in March 1915. By 1918 he was listed as a Lieutenant-Commander in the RNVR, before becoming a Major in the RAF. He served in the Royal Naval Air Service armoured car section and with the No. 14 Kite Balloon Section in Mesopotamia. He also served at the RNAS anti-submarine airship bases at Howden and Capel. In 1918 he served with the RAF Independent Air Force on the Western Front, and there is a photograph of him in the Imperial War Museum collection showing him at a meeting of the IAF H.Q. Staff at Autigny La Tour in 1918. After the war he remained with the RAF as a Squadron Leader and appears to have been a bombing specialist. He was killed in a flying accident on 15th January 1924, while flying in Bristol Fighter C4721 during an Air Ministry Directorate of Research bombing test flight over the Isle of Grain. The engine failed, and the aircraft stalled after losing speed in a turn. Sidney Cleverley and his pilot, F/Lt William Curtis, were both killed in the ensuing crash. (I will include copies of the details of Sidney Cleverly’s military career with the book).

Subjects covered in the manual include: airship rigging and machinery, fire precautions, preparing for flight, landing, selecting a temporary base, breakdown procedure, history of airships, construction of aeroplanes, seaplanes, aero engines, aircraft maintenance, practical flying, handling a seaplane, aerial navigation, and aerial photography. The book is well illustrated with photographs, of aircraft and airships, diagrams and line drawings. There are three coloured plates, showing details of cable attachments, undercarriages, and aircraft control systems. Two other plates - struts and biplane wing construction - are missing

The Royal Naval Air Service (R.N.A.S.) was the air arm of the Royal Navy, under the direction of the Admiralty's Air Department, and existed from 1st July 1914 to 1st April 1918, when it was merged with the Royal Flying Corps to form a new service, the Royal Air Force, the first of its kind in the world. At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the R.N.A.S. had 93 aircraft, six airships, two balloons and 727 personnel. The Navy maintained twelve airship stations around the coast of Britain from Longside, Aberdeenshire in the northeast, to Anglesey in the west. During its first year the R.N.A.S. continued to be the Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps, but was administrated by the Admiralty's new Air Department. On 1st August 1915 the Royal Naval Air Service officially came under the control of the Royal Navy. In addition to seaplanes, carrier-borne aircraft, and other aircraft, the R.N.A.S. also maintained several fighter squadrons on the Western Front.


In fair to good condition. The boards are in fair to good condition with general signs of wear and use, bumping to the corners, and some marks. The binding and hinges are secure. The text, illustrations and fold-out diagrams are in fair to good condition, with some wear, marks, and creases. Two of the plates (Strut Construction & Biplane Wing) are missing. Signed on the front endpaper by 'Lt S. M. Cleverley'.

Published: 1915
Blue boards with gilt titling
Illustrated with photographs, diagrams, drawings and fold-outs (some coloured)
Dimensions: 160mm x 245mm
Pages: 338