The Fleet Air Arm and trade defence, 1939-1944

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    This chapter will examine the role of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) in trade defence in the Atlantic and the Arctic during the Second World War. It will address the threats posed to Allied trade by surface raiders, aircraft and U-boats, the extent to which the FAA’s resources were employed to combat them and the success which the FAA’s carriers and their squadrons achieved. The first section of this paper is related to the perceived threat posed by surface raiders which dominated the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) thinking in terms of pre-war doctrine and the limited employment of its carriers in trade defence roles between 1939-1941. There follows an assessment of the earliest efforts to get fighters at sea to deter long range Focke Wulf Condor strike aircraft and during 1942 the various options, in terms of the types of aircraft and platforms, which were considered to deploy as many aircraft as possible to cover convoys once the full extent of the U-boat threat became apparent. The final element of this paper analyses the heated debates within the Admiralty and between the British and Americans over the Royal Navy’s priorities for the employment of its Escort Carriers (CVEs) and examines the performance of the FAA in trade defence, primarily in the anti-submarine role, during 1943 and 1944.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalGlobal War Studies
    Publication statusAccepted for publication - 1 Sept 2016


    • WNU


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