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 30 Oct 1953, correspondance at http://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1953/1953%20-%201443.PDF

Project Data top

Project No
Type No
Alternative Name(s)
Spec (Requirement)
     Type 1  Admiralty Type 1000  1915    Proto  2  5S, 3E biplane seaplane  1,6,9,11,12
     Scout  Sparrow  1915    Proto  4  1S, 1E biplane seaplane  1,4,7,8,10
     Flying Boat    1915    Prdn  34  2S, 1E biplane flying boat  1,2,3,5,13
   A.D.1  Navyplane    1916    Proto  1  2S, 1E biplane seaplane  1,2,9,11
     Submarine Patrol Seaplane    1916    Proj  0  2S, 1E pusher biplane seaplane  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 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. The Wight Aircraft 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, Peter Lewis (Putnam, 1965)
  9. British Fighter Since 1912, Peter Lewis (Putnam, 1967)
  10. British Bomber Since 1914, Francis K. Mason (Putnam 1994)
  11. British Fighter Since 1912, Francis K. Mason (Putnam 1992)
  12. British Naval Aircraft since 1912, Owen Thetford (Putnam, 1978)
  13. Windsock Datafile #159 - AD Flying Boats (Albatros Productions Ltd, 2013)

Production Summary top
Select the Prdn_List button to go to the appropriate listings page.

Note: In the Production Summary, conversions are only listed where they result in a change from one Type to another. Changes to sub-type or Mark Number are not shown in the summary. For details of these, see the individual listings.


Qty (New)

Qty (Conv.)


 Seaplane Type 1000









 Flying Boat









 Submarine Patrol Seaplane





Total AD Production


Total AD Cancelled Orders


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V1.4.4 Created by Roger Moss. Last updated August 2020