Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Air)

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Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Air)
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
Ensign of the Royal Navy
Preceded by:Assistant Chief of Naval Staff
Abbrev:A.C.N.S. (A)
CountryFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
Service Branch:Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Member of:Board of Admiralty
Admiralty Naval Staff
Appointed by:First Lord of the Admiralty
Reports to:Vice-Chief of Naval Staff
Term:2-4 years
Established:12 March, 1917
First Holder:Rear-Admiral
John H.D. Cunningham
Abolished:2 February, 2021
Final Holder:Rear-Admiral
Charles E. Lambe
Deputy:Chief Staff Officer to Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Air)
Superintend's:Air Warfare and Training Division
Naval Air Warfare and Flying Training Division
Succeeded by:None

The Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Air) was a senior British Royal Navy appointment. The post holder was part of the Admiralty Naval Staff and member of the Board of Admiralty from 1937 to 1938 and again from 1943 to 1946.


In 1937 the Department of Admiralty regained control of the Fleet Air Arm from the Air Ministry, and took the decision to revive the office of Fifth Sea Lord (dormant since the transfer of the Royal Naval Air Service to the Royal Air Force) as head of the Fleet Air Arm.[1] On 30 July 1937, one month after the official British Cabinet decision to end dual control, Rear Admiral J.H.D. Cunningham was promoted from Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Air) to a seat on the Board of Admiralty as Fifth Sea Lord.[2] However he was quickly replaced by Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Ramsay, KCVO in 1938 and this office lapsed.[3]

The post was revived in January 1943 as a new office to relieve the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff of one of his responsibilities the post holder was a part of the Admiralty Naval Staff and member of the Board of Admiralty. The office holder was responsible for supervising the directors of a number of naval staff divisions originally the Air Warfare and Training Division and later the Naval Air Warfare and Flying Training Division until April 1946 when the post was abolished.[4]

Office Holders


  • Rear-Admiral John H.D. Cunningham, — (July 1937–1938)
  • Rear-Admiral Reginald Portal, — (January 1943–November 1944)
  • Rear-Admiral Lachlan Donald Mackintosh, — (November 1944–August 1945)
  • Rear-Admiral Charles E. Lambe, — (August 1945–December 1946)


  1. Levy, James. P. (2012). The Development of British Naval Aviation: Preparing the Fleet Air Arm for War, 1934‒1939. Global War Studies. 9 (2). p.30.
  2. Levy, James. P. (2012). p.30.
  3. Levy, James. P. (2012). p.30.
  4. Clancy, Patrick; Straka, William. "HyperWar: War at Sea 1939-1945, I: The Defensive [Chapter 1]". HyperWar Foundation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  5. Watson, Dr. Graham. "The Organisation of the Admiralty 1939 to 1945". Gordon Smith, Naval History.Net, 19 September 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2020.