Fleet Air Arm Trades and Specialist Branches
NCOs and ratings

THE NAVY - Set of 48 navy cardsfrom the 1937 series by Park Drive: depicts images of life in the Royal Navy - Fleet Air Arm, gunnery, drill, piping aboard, scrubbing the decks, breeches buoy, swinging the lead, rum ration, battleships and cruisers 

Duties of the air, ground and ships crews assuring the success of the Fleet Air Arm 
(as told in Wills's cigarette cards from 1939)


Aircraft Handler
Armourer "Bombhead"
Electrical Artificer
Engine Room Artificer and Stoker
Meteorological Officer and Rating
Naval Air Mechanic/Ordinance Artificer
Rating Pilot
Telegraphist and Telegraphist Air Gunner (TAG)


A number of ratings are pushing a Swordfish into position so that it may descend into the ship's hangar of HMS Furious by one of the big hydraulic lifts. Behind them is an officer of the Royal Air Force, borne in the Furious for instructional duties.


The illustration shows a torpedo opened up for inspection and adjustment in a workshop. A torpedo includes much delicate mechanism in its internal construction, such as the propelling engine, worked by compressed air and surrounded by delicate control gear. At the tail end is the buoyancy chamber, containing a valve which can be set to sink the torpedo after it has ended its run; this is only used in wartime when the torpedo carries a heavy charge of explosive. The spinning wheel known as a gyroscope, which keeps the torpedo on a straight course, is also at the tail. Further forward is the balance chamber, containing a heavy pendulum weight and a hydrostatic valve. Together these control the horizontal rudders at the tail of the torpedo.


Electrical Artificer (a Chief Petty Officer) and a Seaman-Torpedoman at work in the Electrical Artificer's workshop of HMS Ark Royal. Every warship carries engine room artificers, ordnance   artificers and electrical artificers, who are not only the most highly skilled but also the most highly paid ratings in the Royal Navy. In the picture the two ratings appear to be refitting the armature of one of the many electric motors which are used in HM Ships for driving fans, pumps and all sorts of other machinery. The electrical artificers, assisted by the seamen of the Torpedo branch (who are also trained as electricians) are responsible for the efficient working of all the electrical fittings in a ship.


In the foreground can be seen an Engine-Room Artificer (the figure on the left) and his mate, a Stoker. The various gauges visible show the pressure of steam in the main boilers, in the four turbines, and in various auxiliary machinery, such as the steering engine, fuel pumps, evaporators and condensers. In the centre of the picture is the bridge telegraph repeating dial, which shows in bold letters each order given from the bridge of the ship. Apparently the artificer's mate is engaged in opening a valve, possibly to put the engines over to half speed as shown on the dial. The only time when the engine and boiler rooms of HM Ships are open to the inspection of visitors is during Navy Week.


An Ordnance Artificer and his mate are seen at work adjusting one of the barrels of a multiple pom-pom. An Ordnance Artificer is a highly skilled Chief Petty Officer who has been  through technical courses in the gunnery and torpedo schools. Numbers of these ratings, proportionate to the size of the armament, are borne in all ships of the fleet.

HMS Courageous 4.7-inch Anti-Aircraft gun semi-automatic quickfirer, which is mounted only in HMS Rodney, Nelson, Courageous, and Glorious.

Gun crew loading 5.5 inch guns, which in the Royal Navy are only found on Furious and Hermes where they are the main armament, and on the battle cruiser Hood


Meteorological officrer and rating on Carrier deck: In order to give aircraft pilots some idea of conditions in the upper air, it is necessary to take observations at heights greater than sea level. The balloon seen in the picture is designed to rise vertically at a known rate, so that its height can be accurately measured according to the length of the time it has been in the air. Directly it is released, observations are taken at intervals of a minute by means of a compass and sextant, as shown in the picture. Having thus ascertained the distance and compass bearing from the ship, it can be quickly calculated by means of a specially prepared diagram, what direction the balloon is taking in its ascent, thus giving the force and direction of the wind above.


Rating Pilots donning flying kit by swordfish with folded wings -Here are seen two ratings qualified or qualifying as air pilots donning their flying kit. Since the Admiralty took over complete control of the Fleet Air Arm, naval ratings have been eligible to qualify as air pilots. They are selected mainly from the seaman, signal and telegraphist branches of the Service, and must be between the ages of 21 and 24. They are given a thorough training ashore for a year, followed by eight weeks in a training aircraft carrier, during which time able seamen are rated as acting leading seamen. As soon as the full period of training has been successfully completed, they are advanced to the rating of petty officer.


The picture shows two telegraphists busy in the wireless room, one of the chief nerve centres of a warship. Nowadays there is a constant flow of wireless signals to and from every ship in a fleet, so that the telegraphists are amongst the busiest men on board. Boys are selected in the training establishments for transfer to the telegraphist branch. Commencing as boy telegraphists, they can rise by way of the ratings of ordinary telegraphist, telegraphist, leading telegraphist, and petty officer telegraphist to chief petty officer telegraphist. Some of the smartest of these ratings are selected for the rank of warrant telegraphist, whence it is possible to climb still higher to commissioned rank.



HMS Courageous ship's bakery 1939

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