The Air Department of the Admiralty


The Air Department of the British Admiralty was established prior to World War I by Winston Churchill. Its function was to oversee the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), its first director being Captain Murray Sueter. The Air Department produced a few of its own designs for aircraft between 1915 and 1917 but these were built by established external aircraft manufacturers.

The AD Seaplane Type 1000 was designed by the Admiralty's Harris Booth. It was the world's first aircraft designed from scratch as a torpedo bomber, and when it first flew, was the largest British aircraft yet to take to the air. Development began in 1915 and seven aircraft were ordered from J. Samuel White. The first flew during the summer of 1916 but was overweight and the remaining six were cancelled.
The AD Scout was also designed by Harris Booth, four prototypes being ordered in 1915 with two each built by Hewlett & Blondeau and the Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company. However, the aircraft proved to be seriously overweight, fragile, sluggish, and difficult to handle, even on the ground, and the project was abandoned.
The AD Flying Boat was designed in 1915, again under Harris Booth, but with hull design by Lieutenant Linton Hope and built by May, Harden and May on the Thames. It was arranged that Pemberton-Billing, Ltd (later to become Supermarine Aviation), would build the rest and erect the complete aircraft. Accordingly, three staff from the Air Department - Harold Bolas, Harold Yendall and Clifford Tinson -  were detailed to go to Woolston to find the design and make the working drawings. There was no Supermarine Aviation staff there to redesign it, and in fact, Pemberton-Billing, Ltd had to put up a drawing office—which he did overnight— for them to use![3] Two prototypes were constructed in 1916 and a total of twenty-seven production machines were built. Following end of the war, Supermarine purchased nineteen of these aircraft back to remanufacture for the civil market as the Supermarine Channel.
The Navyplane was designed by the Admiralty's Harold Bolas with the assistance of R.J. Mitchell of Supermarine. Seven aircraft were ordered and tests of the Supermarine-built prototype commenced in August 1916 but the Navyplane's performance proved to be too poor, and the design was abandoned in August 1917.

One further interesting connection exists between the Air Department and Supermarine; after his military career, Rear Admiral Murray Sueter went into politics and became the M.P. for Hertford from 1921 until 1945, succeeding Noel Pemberton Billing, the founder of Supermarine.

Company References
  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Department
  2. British Aeroplanes 1914-18, J.M. Bruce (Putnam, 1957)
  3. Flight Magazine, Oct 30, 1953, correspondance at http://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1953/1953%20-%201443.PDF

Project Data top

Project No

Type No


Alternative Name(s)







     Type 1000  Admiralty Type 1000  1915    Proto  2  5S, 3E torpedo carrying floatplane  1,6,8
   Scout Sparrow 1915  Proto 4 1S, 1E biplane anti-Zeppelin fighter 1,4,7,9
   Flying Boat  1915  Prdn 34 2S, 1E biplane patrol flying boat 1,2,3,5
  A.D.1 Navyplane  1916  Proto 1  2S, 1E pusher biplane floatplane 1,2,8
   Submarine Patrol Seaplane  1916  Proj 0 2S, 1E pusher biplane floatplane 2

Project References
  1. British Aeroplanes 1914-18, J.M. Bruce (Putnam, 1957)
  2. Supermarine Aircraft since 1914, C.F. Andrews and E.B. Morgan (Putnam, 1981)
  3. Air Pictorial Magazine, Nov, 1963
  4. Blackburn Aircraft Since 1909, A.J. Jackson (Putnam, 1989)
  5. British Flying Boats And Amphibians, 1909-1952, G.R. Duval (Putnam, 1966)
  6. Wight Aircraft, The, Michael H. Goodall (Gentry Books, 1973)
  7. Warplanes Of The First World War, Fighters Vol. 1, J.M. Bruce (McDonald & Co., 1965)
  8. British Bomber Since 1914, Francis K. Mason (Putnam 1994)
  9. British Fighter Since 1912, Francis K. Mason (Putnam 1992)

Production Summary top


Qty (New)

Qty (Conv.)


 Seaplane Type 1000









 Flying Boat









 Submarine Patrol Seaplane





Total AD Production


Total AD Cancelled Orders


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V1.3.0 Created by Roger Moss. Last updated February 2017