Mr. ALFRED T. DAVIES
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether his attention has been directed to the fact that at the recent display of the Royal Air Force at Hendon the aeroplanes used were each, approximately, four years old; whether similar machines are being used in Iraq, Somaliland, and India on active service: whether any squadrons of the Royal Air Force are equipped with up-to-date aeroplanes; what number of new and improved aeroplanes have been supplied to squadrons of the Royal Air Force this year; and what is the cost of such supply?
The SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Captain Guest)
In answer to the first question, it is true that the aeroplanes used at Hendon, with the exception of the experimental machines, were not less than four years old, but they were all thoroughly sound and serviceable, many of them recently re-conditioned, and all capable of satisfactory performance. As regards the second and third questions, the same general remark applies, but some of the squadrons abroad have been partly re-armed with new aeroplanes, and the four squadrons working with the Navy are being completely re-armed. The answer to the fourth and fifth questions is, that 10 aeroplanes of new type have been issued to squadrons since the 1st April, 1922, and that the approximate cost was £106,000.
asked the Secretary of State for Air if he can give the date of construction of the majority of machines now in use for air work in Iraq; whether these machines are satisfactory and their carrying capacity adequate when the proper load of petrol is carried for the desert journey; and at what date will more modern machines, such as those being now used on the, London-Paris route, be sent out to replace the older types?
With the exception of the Vickers type, all the aeroplanes used on the cross-desert route are either of 1918 or 1919 build; the Vickers, of 1921 build, with a few of 1919 and 1920. These aeroplanes are all serviceable, and it would be expensive and quite unnecessary to replace them at present. In the interests of economy, it is urgently necessary to use up existing serviceable war stocks of aeroplanes before ordering new ones. The aeroplanes are not specially built for the cross-desert route, and it is neither necessary, nor practicable to build a new type of aeroplane for every kind of work which the Air Force has to do. The civil aeroplanes used on the London-Paris route are of a variety of types, and would not be suitable for Royal Air Force work without extensive modifications. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the question of the re-equipment of the Royal Air Force with new types of aeroplanes is fully recognised as one of the greatest importance and is being given constant careful consideration by my expert advisers.
Captain Viscount CURZON
Is it not a fact that many firms engaged in the manufacture of aircraft and aircraft engines are being compelled to go out of business altogether through lack of orders?
I regret to say there is a good deal of truth in the Noble Lord's supplementary.