London: Peter Davies, (1967),
First Edition. octavo, brown boards in dust jacket. x, (246)pp. Peter Davies, Item #22522
Richard Bell Davies was one of the most important characters in the history of naval aviation. Despite a traditional naval education – he was among the last cadets to be trained under sail – he was quick to grasp the potential of aircraft, and backed his vision by privately learning to fly. This allowed him to join the Naval Air Wing in 1913 and he enjoyed a very active, but hair-raising career during the Great War, including winning the VC for a daring rescue of a fellow pilot while under heavy fire. Because of his unique breadth of experience he was transferred to experimental work, where he played a major part in crucial developments like arrestor gear, deck barriers and the ‘island’ superstructure that define the modern aircraft carrier. As the first man to regularly land and take off from such ships, he did much to prove the value of shipboard aviation. After the war, in an Admiralty post, he continued to promote the flying interests of the Navy, and the book provides a firsthand chronicle of the struggles with the Air Ministry over policy and control. Although he retired in 1941, he accepted a lower rank to command one of the newly invented escort carriers, so his service ended as it had begun, at the cutting edge of naval aviation. This wonderfully active, and hugely significant career is related with a charm, modesty and humor which make the book enthralling and memorable. Vice Admiral Richard Bell Davies, VC, CB, DSO, AFC was one of the greatest pioneers of naval flying, being closely involved in the development of many of the devices and techniques that made it possible to operate aircraft from ships. He also played an active part in the Great War, for which he received a VC. A near fine copy, jacket a bit faded at spine. Jacket not price clipped.