Air Department (Royal Navy)

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The Director of the Air Department (D.A.D.) was a position in the Admiralty held by Captain M. F. Sueter from 1912 to 1915. The Director reported to the Board of Admiralty on aviation matters, oversaw the Admiralty Air Department and was effectively in control of the Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps, or the Royal Naval Air Service (R.N.A.S.) as it then became.

In September, 1915 the position was superseded by the post of Director of Air Services, which temporarily absorbed the executive command of the R.N.A.S.


On 23 April, 1912, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, minuted:

I have come to the conclusion that it is now necessary to form in the Admiralty a separate and special branch to be called the ‘Air Section’ to deal with all questions affecting naval aeronautics. Four or five special good officers should be selected and employed continuously on this work, to the exclusion of all other. I should propose in the first instance, until the scope and character of the work has been defined, to take personal charge of the new branch.
I should be glad if you will propose me a good arrangement of personnel to give effect to the intention. No time must be lost in developing to the utmost a service of such unmeasured possibilities.[1]


On the eve of war, the Air Department had six Wing Commanders, nineteen Squadron Commanders, twelve Flight Commanders, and sixty-one Flight Lieutenants.[2]


In 1914 the budgeted staff of the Air Department was:[3]

Numbers Rank
1 Director (Captain)
1 Assistant Director (Commander)
1 Assistant (Commander)
1 Engineer Lieutenant
1 Civilian Technical Assistant
1 Second Division Clerk
2 Assistant Clerks
1 Draughtsman



  1. First Lord’s Minutes: Vol. I. 1911–1913, 38.
  2. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 55 of 26 June 1914, Appendix I.
  3. Navy Estimates for the Year 1914–1915. p. 152.
  4. Sueter Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 309.
  5. Vaughan-Lee Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 441.
  6. Vaughan-Lee Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 441.