How to look for records of... Fleet Air Arm personnel

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

How many are online?

  • Some

This is a brief guide to researching someone who served in the Fleet Air Arm. Relevant records are kept in various places. This guide will help you to find out where the information you are looking for might be, and how to go about finding it.

What do I need to know before I start?

Fleet Air Arm personnel service records are not kept at The National Archives.

The Fleet Air Arm is the air force of the Royal Navy.

The Fleet Air Arm was formed on 1 April 1924 from the Royal Air Force squadrons operating at sea.

The Royal Naval Air Service was the original air force of the Royal Navy. In April 1918 it merged with the Royal Flying Corps to become the Royal Air Force.

Online records

Air Ministry Combat Reports (1939–1945)

Search by surname or squadron number and download (£) Air Ministry Combat Reports (AIR 50). The records mainly consist of either a printed Personal Combat Report or a Fighter Command Combat Report.

Records available only at The National Archives in Kew

To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).

Squadron diaries (1939–1957)

Browse Discovery, our catalogue, for Fleet Air Arm squadron diaries in ADM 207. You will need to know the squadron number. The diaries sometimes mention people by name.

Records in other archives and organisations

Use the GOV.UK website to find out how to obtain the service record of a Fleet Air Arm officers or ratings.

Other resources


Look up an announcement of a person’s gallantry award in the London Gazette on The Gazette website.

Browse the websites of the Fleet Air Arm Museum and the Royal Aeronautical Society.


Search The National Archives’ bookshop to see whether any of the publications below may be available to buy. Alternatively, look in The National Archives’ library catalogue to see what is available to consult at Kew.

Bruno Pappalardo, ‘Tracing your naval ancestors’ (The National Archives, 2003)

William Spencer, ‘Air Force records for family historians’ (The National Archives, 2008)