Air Ministry

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The Air Ministry was a department of the British Government with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the Royal Air Force, that existed from 1918 to 1964. It was under the political authority of the Secretary of State for Air.


Organisations before the Air Ministry

The Air Committee

On 13 April, 1912, less than two weeks after the creation of the Royal Flying Corps (which initially consisted of both a naval and a military wing), an Air Committee was established to act as an intermediary between the Admiralty and the War Office in matters relating to aviation. The new Air Committee was composed of representatives of the two war ministries and although it could make recommendations, it lacked executive authority. The recommendations of the Air Committee had to be ratified by the Admiralty Board and the Imperial General Staff and, in consequence, the Committee was not particularly effective. The increasing separation of army and naval aviation from 1912 to 1914 only exacerbated the Air Committee's ineffectiveness and the Committee did not meet after the outbreak of World War I.

The Joint War Air Committee

By 1916 the lack of co-ordination of the Army's Royal Flying Corps and the Navy's Royal Naval Air Service had led to serious problems, not only in the procurement of aircraft engines, but also in the air defence of Great Britain.[citation needed] It was the supply problems to which an attempt at rectification was first made. The War Committee meeting on 15 February, 1916 decided to immediately establish a standing joint naval and military committee to co-ordinate both the design and the supply of materiel for the two air services. This committee was titled the Joint War Air Committee and its chairman was Lord Derby.[1] It was also at the 15 February meeting that Lord Curzon proposed the creation of an Air Ministry. As with the pre-war Air Committee, the Joint War Air Committee lacked any executive powers and therefore was not effective. After only eight sittings, Lord Derby resigned from the Committee stating that "It appears to me quite impossible to bring the two wings closer together ... unless and until the whole system of the Air Service is changed and they are amalgamated into one service."[2]

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