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This was a powerful and efficient civil aircraft fleet. An R5D, for example, 38 could carry 50 airborne troops, 24 hospital litters or a light tank, a truck or two scout cars or 155mm howitzers. It could carry a 7-ton load 500 miles or a reduced payload up to 2,500 miles. In addition to these landplanes, NATS also flew Consolidated PBY patrol bombers and Martin Mariner and Mars flying boats for transport services. By the end of the war, NATS had a staff of 26,600 persons and a fleet of 429 aircraft of which 159 were R5Ds.

Rus the beginnings of Naval Aviation involved not only steady effort toward improving aircraft technologically, but also sporadic attempts to decide how these aircraft should be employed to take fullest advantage of their capabilities of war. This search for as weapons mechanical improvements and Naval Aviation doctrine began with the hotair balloon. Very shortly after the Montgolfiers discovered the hot-air balloon in 1783, observers remarked that the balloon had definite possibilities as a weapon of war, primarily for observing the movements of enemy forces.

But by 1926, landplanes were getting bigger and more reliable. At the same time, in large part because of air-mail operations, airfields and runways were gradually improved. a few exceptions, landThus, with planes superseded flying boats in commercial air service. Flying boats dominated over ocean transport for two reasons. They were generally considered to be safer than landplanes because they were usually multi-engine craft which could land on water in an emergency. In addition they could operate out of places which had good harbors but lacked good airfields.

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A History of Sea-Air Aviation - Wings Over the Ocean

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