Transcript: Royal Naval Air Service - Seaplanes | Apr 11, 1988

(music plays)

A black and white clip shows a group of men pushing and pulling a primitive seaplane out of a hangar. Later, they push it down a beach into calm waters. The men release the plane into the water.

Yellow contrasting letters form a title: “Retrospect: The Royal Naval Air Service. 3 - Seaplanes.”

A female Narrator says
IN THE FACE OF HARASSMENT
BY ENEMY SUBMARINES
IN THE COASTAL WATERS
AROUND BRITAIN,
THE NEED FOR A FORCE
CAPABLE OF RECONNAISSANCE
AND BOMBING RAIDS HAD BEEN
RECOGNIZED FOR A LONG TIME.

(music plays)

The Narrator continues
ONLY EIGHT YEARS AFTER
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS
HAD TAKEN OFF FROM KITTYHAWK
IN NORTH CAROLINA,
A SUCCESSFUL ASCENT FROM WATER
WAS MADE BY A BRITISH SEAPLANE.
THIS FEAT WAS FOLLOWED, TWO
MONTHS LATER, IN JANUARY
OF 1912 BY THE FIRST
TAKEOFF FROM A WARSHIP.
MANY OF THE SEAPLANES
AND USE AT THIS TIME WERE
ADAPTATIONS OF LAND PLANES.
AND IT WAS NOT UNTIL
JULY 17TH OF 1913
THAT THE TERM SEAPLANE
WAS INTRODUCED.

(music plays)

A new clip shows a man in his late thirties, in uniform, who polishes the surface of a complex metal structure. Next, new images show groups of men working on the different parts of various aircrafts.

The Narrator continues
THE ROYAL NAVAL AIR
SERVICE GAINED RECOGNITION
AS A SEPARATE SERVICE
ON JULY 1ST 1914,
JUST BEFORE THE OUTBREAK
OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR.
AT THIS TIME, THE SERVICE
ALREADY HAD OVER 130 OFFICERS
OF WHICH 100 WERE
TRAINED PILOTS.
THERE WERE ALSO ABOUT 700
PETTY OFFICERS AND RATINGS.
DURING THE WAR, EXPANSION OF
THE SERVICE WAS EXTENSIVE.
BY THE TIME THE WAR ENDED, WHEN
THE SERVICE WAS AMALGAMATED
WITH THE ROYAL FLYING CORPS
TO FORM THE ROYAL AIR FORCE,
IT NUMBERED 67,000
OFFICERS AND MEN.

(music plays)
The screen shows clips of the workers at a factory. Next, they assemble an aircraft by adding the pieces and proceed with the checks.

The Narrator continues
DESPITE THEIR FLOATS,
SEAPLANES WERE QUITE CAPABLE
OF PARTICIPATING IN
THE CLASSIC DOG FIGHTS
AND EXPERIMENTS IN
BOMB DROPPING
HAD BEEN CONDUCTED
SINCE 1912.
SUCCESSFUL LAUNCHINGS
OF TORPEDOES
TOOK PLACE A
YEAR LATER.

(music plays)
A new aircraft resting on a surface of water takes off. Following is a clip that shows a new type of seaplane with broader wings and a stronger structure.

The Narrator continues
AFTER ADAPTATION OF LAND PLANES
BY THE ATTACHMENT OF FLOATS,
THE NEXT DEVELOPMENT OF THE
SEAPLANE WAS THE FLYING BOAT
SO-CALLED BECAUSE OF THE NATURE
OF THE HULL OF THE PLANE,
WHICH SAT RIGHT IN, RATHER
THAN ABOVE, THE WATER.
THE MORE POWERFUL MOTORS
OF THE SUPER SEAPLANES
GAVE THEM GREATER
PATROLLING ABILITIES
IN ALL TYPES OF WEATHER.
EXPERIMENTS TO INCREASE
THEIR RANGE STILL FURTHER,
INCLUDED TOWING THEM ON
CLOSER TO ENEMY COASTS.
THEY COULD THEN
TAXI DOWN THE RAMP
INTO THE WATER
READY FOR TAKEOFF.

(music plays)

Army men in uniforms assist the preparation of the plane and its takeoff. The aircraft continues to move due to the pushing of the military men that take it to the water. After a few meters on the ramp, the plane takes off facing the vast sea.

The Narrator continues
VARIOUS PROFILES OF THE
HULL HAD TO BE TRIED
WITH VARYING SUCCESS AS THE
STABILITY OF SOME FLYING BOATS
WAS QUICKLY AFFECTED BY THE
SLIGHTEST SWELL OF WATER.
AFTER THE WAR, FURTHER
EXPERIMENTS IN BUILDING
BIGGER AND FASTER
FLYING BOATS TOOK PLACE,
AND NON-MILITARY USES WERE
TRIED, SUCH AS PASSENGER
AND MAIL DELIVERY.
BUT THE FLYING BOATS'
DAYS WERE NUMBERED,
AS ITS DUAL PURPOSES OF
BOAT AND PLANE WERE
DIFFICULT TO RECONCILE
AND STREAMLINE.

(music plays)
A clip on screen shows two army men flashing light signals from one ship to another.

The Narrator continues
DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR,
HOWEVER, THE FLYING BOAT
EARNED ITS PLACE IN THE
SERVICE IN A VARIETY OF WAYS,
NOT ONLY IN BRINGING DOWN
AIRSHIPS OR ON BOMBING RAIDS,
BUT BY USING ITS
CAPABILITY OF LANDING
NEAR A WARSHIP TO
DELIVER MESSAGES,
SUPPLIES OR PERSONNEL.
LIGHT SIGNALS FROM SHIP TO
PLANE COULD NOT BE RELIED ON
IN THE FOGGY WATERS
AROUND BRITAIN,
BUT TRANSMISSION OF RADIO
SIGNALS FROM A SEAPLANE
HAD TAKEN PLACE IN 1912.
A PATTERN OF RECONNAISSANCE
AND PHOTOGRAPHIC SURVEY
WAS ALSO SOON ESTABLISHED,
HELPED BY THE GROWING
CHAIN OF COASTAL STATIONS.

New images on screen show a pilot flying a plane that moves across the skies over calm seawaters.

The Narrator concludes
SO LARGE WAS THIS
PATROLLING AREA,
THAT A MONTH'S FLYING DUTY
OF THE ROYAL NAVAL AIR
SERVICE SEAPLANES,
WAS SAID TO MEASURE FIVE TIMES
THE DIAMETER OF THE EARTH.

(music plays)

The end credits roll.

Material courtesy of National Film Archives, Ottawa.

A production of TVOntario, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority, 1981.

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