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Pioneering spirit of Royal Naval Air Service during First World War captured in new exhibition at Fleet Air Arm Museum

The early pioneering spirit of the Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS) during World War One is the focus of a new exhibition, The Navy’s Air War 1914-1918, opening at the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton on Thursday 3rd July 2014. 
The Navy’s Air War considers the role of the RNAS in World War One, its impact in the conflict and in shaping the world today. Air flight was in its infancy during the Great War.
Displays feature coastal patrols, reconnaissance, air warfare and the various jobs people did in the RNAS. A number of interactive displays have been created including a Short S27 cockpit, based on an early aircraft built by Short Brothers and commonly used for training purposes. The cockpit features a replica wicker aircraft seat so younger visitors can experience what it was like to sit in an early aircraft. 
Other key objects featured include the replica Short S27, dating from 1910, a replica single-seater Sopwith Pup and the original fuselage of a Short 184 immortalised by decorated British pilot Squadron Leader Frederick Rutland “Rutland of Jutland.” 
Both the RNAS VCs, awarded to Reginald Warneford and Richard Bell-Davies, for gallantry in service, will be the centrepieces of a new World War One medal display. The bust of Henry Allingham, at one time the oldest man in the UK and last survivor of the RNAS until his death in 2009, was created by sculptor Jenna Gearing and serves as a poignant reminder of both those who lost their lives and those who survived bringing their experiences back home.   
The unexpected face of the RNAS in the guise of the Armoured Car Division is also featured.  The RNAS Armoured Car section created squadrons of armoured cars, including armoured Rolls-Royces, to facilitate communications and to pick up stranded airmen. Once armoured, they were put to good use in combat and were the precursors of the Army’s armoured fleet. 
The exhibition runs for the next five years and each year a temporary display will be created that focuses on a key event, development or campaign in which the RNAS played a prominent part.  The temporary exhibition for 2014 will be the ship-based air raid on Christmas Day on Cuxhaven and the campaign against the Zeppelin works at Friedrichschafen.
Fleet Air Arm Director Graham Mottram said: “The role of the RNAS during World War One was pioneering and carried out at great risk. Visitors will be able to get up close and personal to some of the key aircraft used and discover little known facts about the Armoured Car section. It is very important that the scope of the RNAS, the precursor of the Fleet Air Arm, is not forgotten and the essential role they played in the Great War is commemorated.” 
The Fleet Air Arm Museum is the UK’s largest museum of naval aviation.  It is the only accredited museum in the UK dedicated to the history of the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Naval Air Service.

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