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Cranwell Training Centre

As is well documented the early British airships came under the umbrella of the Royal Navy. In 1915 the Admiralty chose a site at Cranwell to establish a central training base for pilots and crews of airplanes and airships. One side of the base was to house the aircraft section and the other to house the airship, balloons and kite balloon sections. By 1916 the airship site had a small coastal shed, a balloon shed and a huge rigid airship shed.

The first commander of the station was Godfrey Marshall Paine. Shortly after the war the small non rigids were phased out and the remainin rigids sent to Howden or Pulhm and by late 1919 early 1920 the stationn catered soley for aircraft personel. (Site and crew photographs shown with kind permission from the Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum).

An undated photo of HMA 23r at Cranwell. This ship was in service in Oct 1917 and deleted in Sept 1919.

This photograph dated July 1915 shows the large rigid airship shed and the smaller kite balloon, SS and costal sheds to the left.

A sideways view of the sheds - notice the windbreaks built to shield the ships on leaving and entering the sheds.

Above officers of the airship section along with American naval cadets there to receive pilot training late 1917.

First Commander at Cranwell, Godfrey Marshall Paine.

Below is an extract taken from Gracess Guide.

“Rear Admiral Sir Godfrey Marshall Paine KCB MVO (21 November 1871 – 23 March 1932) was a senior commander in the Royal Naval Air Service in the early part of the 20th century.

In 1912, Paine was appointed as the first commandant of the Central Flying School, Uphavan. Three years later in 1915, after the Royal Naval Air Service has broken away from the Royal Flying Corp, the Royal Navy established the Central Depot and Training Establishment. The new unit was based at Cranwell and Paine was raised to the rank of Commodore and sent there as its first commander. Just over a year later, in early 1917, Paine was appointed Fifth Sea Lord and Director of Naval Aviation.

With the establishment of the RAF in 1918, Paine was promoted to major-general (a rank of the RAF at that time) and sat on the Air Council as Master-General of Personnel. With the introduction of RAF-specific ranks in 1919, Paine was regraded to air vice-marshal. His last military appointment was as Inspector-General of the RAF.

On his retirement from the RAF in 12 May 1920, Paine reverted to the equivalent naval rank (rear admiral). Excluding those with honorary ranks such as royalty, Paine is possibly the only person to have held flag, general and air officer ranks.”e is possibly the only person to have held flag, general and air officer ranks

Air Commander Charles Longcroft. CO in 1919.

RAF Officer listings Nov 1919.

RAF Officer listings Cranwell June 1920

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