Narrative History

of the French Air Force

December 1909 Army officers begin flying training at civilian schools. March 1910 Etablissement Militaire d’Aviation created to conduct experiments with aircraft. April 1910 formation of Service Aeronautique, a separate air command comprising EMA and balloon companies. October 1910 Aviation Militaire formed as branch of the Army. Massive expansion of AM during First World War. 27 April 1925 start of air policing operations in Morocco (continue until December 1934). 7 December 1928 Air Ministry created. August 1933 AM renamed Armee de l’Air. 2 July 1934 AdlA becomes independent service. 3 July 1940 Vichy Air Force formed under German control. August 1940 Free French Air Force formed : Forces Aeriennes Francaises Libres. 1945 Armee de l’Air reformed from Free French and ex-Vichy units.

[To be rewritten].

Narrative History
Cyprus Air Command

of the Cyprus Air Command

The island of Cyprus gained independence from Britain on 16th August 1960, to become the Republic of Cyprus. The new government initially had no aircraft, but a Dornier was obtained from Germany in 1962 for military liaison use. In 1963 the Aeroporiki Diikissi Kyprou ADK (Cyprus Air Command) was formed with its headquarters in Nicosia. This force was equipped with a small number of light aircraft, and shared a joint command with the air-defence forces of the island and the Police.

The ADK also had two non-flying squadrons under its command – the 419 MPA (Mira Prostasias Aerodromiou = Air Base Protection Squadron) and 420 MPA at Lakatamia AFB and Tymbou AFB bases respectively. Two radar squadrons – 3 MSEP (created in 1964) and 4 MSEP (created in 1966) were also formed (MSEP = (MSEP=Mira Stathmou Elenchou Proidopiisis / Warning and Control Station Squadron), bringing the pre-1974 order of battle to include one flying unit and 4 non-flying squadrons. In 1968 the Police and ADK separated their activities and only two aircraft remained under ADK command: a Beechcraft C-45 (D-6) and, reportedly, a L-21B Super Cub (D-7).

In July 1974, the island was plunged into crisis when Turkey invaded the north of Cyprus, after a failed Greek-inspired coup of the Republic Government and attempts to militarily overthrow Archbishop Makarios, the state leader. With the island’s security forces divided by loyalties and contradicting orders, the small air force of the island remained grounded as Turkish forces invaded the island. The air-defence forces, however, were actively involved in combat action during the invasion, with a substantial number of towed and fixed anti-aircraft guns and a few radars involved in fighting the Turkish Air Force.

The Turkish Air Force suffered only minor losses in its support of the invasion, with a reported 12 aircraft being downed (2 confirmed to friendly fire, one a confirmed kill (F-100) while the majority of the rest remain unclaimed as possible accidents). The Cypriot forces themselves suffered catastrophic friendly-fire, with the accidental downing of a Greek Nortalas transport plane plus the destruction of a further 2 more on the ground by anti-aircraft guns defending Nicosia International Airport.

After 1974 the ADK was disbanded. In 1982 the Cypriot National Guard Air Wing (CNGAW) was revived using aircraft stored since 1974. In the mid-1980’s, an ecomonic revival allowed the the Cyprus Government to order the refurbishment, upgrading and enlargement of the armed forces. This was intended to fend off a perceived future threat of further invasion by Turkey into southern Cyprus, through the self-proclaimed “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” with Turkish occupation forces.

From 1986 the Air Wing received new equipment in the form of Gazelle anti-tank helicopters, Bell-206 Long Rangers and Pilatus patrol aircraft over the course of a few years, while the older aircraft in the inventory, including a C-45 Beechcraft, Piper PA-22 and Dornier Do 27, were phased out.

In 1996, the Air Wing was reformed into the Cyprus Air Force / Kypriaki Stratoitiki Aeroporia, (KSA). In May 2002 the single Aircraft & Helicopter Squadron was split into two Squadrons. A third squadron was established in 2012. Sometime after 2000 the Cyprus Air Force reverted back to its tradional title of Cyprus National Guard Air Command / Ethniki Froura, Diikissi Aeroporias, (DA), or Cyprus Air Command in short.

Narrative History
Republika Srpska Air Force

The Republika Srpska air arm was assembled from aircraft and personnel left behind by the old Yugoslav Air Force, following the disintegration of the Federal Republic, and also others supplied by the Serbian Government. Under the 1995 Dayton peace accord it is allowed to have 21 combat aircraft and 7 attack helicopters.

[To be rewritten]

Narrative History

of the Northern Territory Aerial Medical Service

The Northern Territory Aerial Medical Service was founded in 1934 by Clyde Fenton, a qualified medical doctor who had tought himself to fly. Like the Reverend John Flynn, he could see the potential for providing medical services in the Australia Outback by aeroplane. Unfortunately, Flynn had a policy of not employing doctors as pilots. Undeterred, Fenton raised the money for an aircraft privately and in March 1934 took up the position of Government Medical Officer in Katherine. Here he started an air ambulance service which later grew into the Northern Territory Aerial Medical Service.

Flying his own aircraft, Fenton used primitive airstrips and runways to collect patients and take them back to Katherine for treatment. With no navigational or night flying aids, Fenton was involved in several crashes. The first replacement aircraft was paid for by a government loan, and a second by public donations of the people of Darwin. In late 1937 a new larger aircraft that could carry a stretcher case was provided by the Northern Territory Government.

In May 1940 Fenton was called up for RAAF service. As a consequence, the whole NTAMS organisation was moved from Katherine to Darwin. By now the service had recruited other pilots, doctors, nurses and mechanics. In 1943 the Department of Health of the Northern Territory Government took over the running of the service. Sometime later, the service appears to have been suspended, while aircraft and resources were devoted to the war effort.

In 1945 Jack Slade, a pilot who had served with Fenton in the RAAF, restarted the post-war NTAMS. Flying ex-RAAF DH.84 Dragon aircraft the service resumed operations. NTAMS mostly provided services in the ‘Top End’ northern part of the Northern Territory, while the expanding Royal Flying Doctor Service covered the southern part of the state.

In the 1950s more modern aircraft were obtained and the service became more efficient and professional. In 2004 Pearl Aviation was awarded a ten-year contract to operate four Beechcraft Super King Airs configured as air ambulances for the Northern Territory Aerial Medical Service. Before the ten years had elapsed, the Government appears to have decided to outsource the whole service to a contractor. On 1 July 2010, the New South Wales-based aeromedical charity CareFlight took over the operation on an interim basis. From this date the service was no longer referred to as the Northern Territory Aerial Medical Service. Careflight’s contract was renewed the following year for a full ten years.

Narrative History

of the Royal Flying Doctor Service

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) of Australia is a not-for-profit organsation that provides health care to people who cannot reach a hospital or doctor’s surgery due to the vast distances of the Australian Outback.

A organisation called the Australian Inland Mission (AIM) was founded in 1912 to provide religous support and medical care in the remote parts of Australia. More than a dozen nursing homes and bush hospitals were established by the AIM in its early years. On 15 May 1928 the Reverend John Flynn, a leading figure in the AIM, formed the AIM Aerial Medical Service (AMS) as a initial one-year experiment, based in Cloncurry, QLD. Using an aircraft leased from QANTAS, the services’s first flight took place on 17 May. 50 flights were made in the first year of operations, and sufficent donations and money from community fundraising were received to allow the service to continue well beyond its initial trial year.

In 1934 the Australian Aerial Medical Service (AAMS) was established, applying the Cluncurry model to other parts of the country. Sections were established in Victoria in 1934 and then New South Wales, South Australia and Northern Territory in 1936. Additional bases were also created in Queensland.

The expanding organisation formed an official Federal Council in 1936. In 1942 the service was renamed to Flying Doctor Service, and in 1955 the prefix Royal was bestowed.

Until the 1960s, the RFDS rarely owned aircraft, preferring to allow private contractors to provide aircraft, pilots and servicing. Subsequently, the service began to purchase aircraft and employ their own pilots and engineers.

Narrative History
Swiss Air Force

On July 31, 1914 the government of Switzerland took the first step in founding an air force. Some idea of the difficulties involved may be gleaned from the fact that, when the 8 pilots invited to form the initial flying personal attended their first meeting, they were asked to bring their own aircraft. (A citizens’ air force indeed!) During the war, there were only periodic reconnaissance flights carried out and it is safe to say that there was more activity on the part of Swiss pilots serving in the French air force during this period than there was at home.

In 1936 the Swiss government took a major step by turning their air force into a separate unit of the country’s armed forces. Given that the most modern aircraft used at the time was the obsolescent Dewoitine D27 purchased from France, the move was a wise one in that it provided the impetus for a modernisation program. This gained momentum when, in 1937 the MS 406, a relatively modern fighter aircraft, was chosen, with the majority of the order built under license in Switzerland and called the D3800. This decision was followed shortly afterwards by the selection of the German Bf 109D

With the latter the Swiss may have wondered if they had picked the right plane. The 109 series never claimed landings as one of their strong points, due mainly to the narrow landing gear. At any rate the first 109D to arrive ground-looped at Dubendorf, the second crash landed near Frauenfeld on its way, the third crashed into Lake Constance on its first flight after arrival and the fourth crash landed near Mollis less than one month after delivery. . When the E model became available, it replaced the D model in deliveries to Switzerland. By the beginning of the war, both the MS 406 and the Bf109 were in squadron service.

With such modern aircraft activity on the part of the Swiss air force was much more pronounced than in World War I. The main problem was the repeated incursion of Swiss air space by German fighters and bombers, mostly on their way back from France, and it was not long before 2 He111’s were shot down by Swiss Bf109E’s, the first time that the Germans had one of their own aircraft brought down by a German fighter. albeit in Swiss markings. This was to go on for most of the war, punctuated only by Allied aircraft crossing the country on their way to and from bombing runs or, because of battle damage, attempting to land at Swiss airfields. By the end of the war over 50 American bombers sought refuge at Dubendorf, near Zurich.

In 1944 the Swiss were able to supplement their MS406’s and the Bf1109E’s by the newer G model. However, the quality of the latter was extremely poor with problems being encountered after only 15-20 hours of flight. They were, therefore, little used and were withdrawn in 1948. It turned out that this drop in quality on the part of the manufacturer was partly explained by the fact that young German fighter pilots were being rushed into service before their training was completed satisfactorily and most of them were killed before reaching 15 hours in combat.

In 1944 the Swiss also completed production of a domestically designed reconnaissance bomber, the C3603. This was the first major design of a Swiss military aircraft. They also produced 207 units of an upgraded model of the MS406, called the D3801, an upgrade which featured a more powerful engine, one of the most noticeable shortcomings of the earlier model.

After the war, action picked up again in 1948 when the government took advantage of an American surplus of Mustang fighter aircraft to purchase 130 of them still located in Germany for $4,000 apiece. By the end of the year all 130 had been delivered to Switzerland. Not to be left behind in the approaching era of jet aircraft, an order was placed for 75 De Havilland Vampire Mark 6 fighters from Gt. Britain. These were, in essence, Mark 5’s with an uprated engine. A further order of 100 followed in 1950 with the latter to be license built at the Swiss Federal Aircraft Factory located beside the air base at Emmen, near Lucerne.

Wit the arrival of the Vampires, the Mustangs were relegated to ground attack duties and, when the air force opted in 1953 for the Venom, an advanced version of the Vampire, the Mustangs were withdrawn from service. 150 Mark l Venoms were produced in Emmen, with the last 24 being equipped for the tactical reconnaissance role. In 1956 a further 100 Venoms were ordered, this time the Mark 3.

The next major re-equipment program took place in 1958 when 100 Hawker Hunter Mk.58’s were ordered. The first 12 were refurbished while the last 88 were newbuilds. With the arrival of the Hunters, the relegation of the Vampires and the Venoms to the training role commenced.

In 1961 a further step in the modernisation program was taken by the choice of the Mirage III to equip four fighter squadrons and one reconnaissance squadron, the Mirage being chosen after a stiff competition from the Swedish Saab Draken. The total number ordered was 100, of which all but four were to be license built in Switzerland. Due to horrendous cost overruns, mainly because of the selection of more advanced radar and missile systems, the number actually built was reduced to 57 but not before the Swiss had to endure, in 1964, one of the most acrimonious of political crises. After the lower number was chosen, only two fighter squadrons and one reconnaissance squadron could be equipped.

On a more positive note an aerobatic team was formed that same year on the Hawker Hunter, with four aircraft making up the initial unit. This was later to be expanded to six aircraft and in 1981 the unit, called the Patrouille Suisse, made its first foreign performance. In 1995 it switched to the F5C Tiger II’s. In 20 years of service with the P.S., not one Hunter was lost

The early 70’s saw more activity in the acquisition of new aircraft. In 197l additional Hunters were ordered, with 52 being refurbished Mk. 58’s and 8 new build two seat trainers Mk. 68’s. The following year an evaluation took place of the American Corsair II and the French Dassault Milan and, although the Corsair II was chosen, no production ever took place of this aircraft for the Swiss. Instead, in 1976 the Flugwaffe opted for the F5 Tiger II. 72 E’s were ordered as well as 6 F’s, with the bulk of the order being produced at Emmen.

1981 was an eventful year. First in line was a repeat order for the Tiger II’s; with 32 being the single seat variety and the remaining 6 twin seaters. In the same year Staffel No. 11, flying some of the aircraft of the original order, took part in the prestigious NATO Tiger Association Trophy competition and emerged as the winning squadron, being the only non-NATO air force ever to win the award.

In 1987 in search of an aircraft to provide jet training for its fledgling pilots, the Flugwaffe evaluated the French/German Alpha jet and the British BAe Hawk as a replacement for the Vampire T55 which was nearing the end of its useful life. The Hawk was declared the winner and an order placed for 20, with all but one produced at Emmen. Production of this aircraft was completed in 1991.

By that time attention had turned to a modern fighter aircraft which resulted in a fly-off between the F/A 18 and the F-16. The twin-engined F/A 18 proved to be the winner but it was not until a national referendum was held in 1993 (June 6) that the decision was made to order the plane into production for the Swiss.

During the same time the large supply of Hunters was finally being run down and by 1996 the plane had virtually disappeared from Swiss skies. The same year saw the arrival (Dec. 17) of the first of two F/A18C’s produced in the USA while in October the first D model made its initial flight at Emmen. Construction is to be completed in 1999 when the aircraft will replace the Mirage IIIS in the air defence role.

At the present time Swiss pilots take their initial training on the Pilatus PC-7 at Mogadino in the canton of Ticino. Those successful in this stage then do their advanced training on the Hawk at Sion in the canton of Valais before moving on to squadron service. Full time pilots normally serve with the surveillance squadrons (Ueberwachungsgeschwader) while militia (part-time) pilots are assigned to the various squadrons in this category.

For a small country Switzerland has a surprisingly large number of airfields for use by the military. The three main ones, which are continuously active and at which the surveillance squadrons are located, are at Dubendorf, near Zurich, Emmen, near Lucerne and Payerne, near Fribourg in the French-speaking part of the country. Other fields, in addition to the training fields mentioned above, are to be found at Meiringen, Mollis, Raron, Turtmann, Ulrichen, Alpnach, Stans, St. Stephan, Interlaken and Ambri while secondary fields are located at Samedan, Sarnen, Zweisimmen, Grenchen, Lodrino, Kagiswil, Fruitigen, Reichenbach and Sanvittore. In addition, airports are available at Altenrhein and Thun. The air force has also conducted exercises using parts of the country’s four-lane highway system as a runway. Finally, due to the cramped space, training has, on occasion, been carried out at the NATO base at Decimomanu in Sardinia and in Sweden. A Swiss built F/A 18C was also demonstrated to the Czechs at Hradec Kralove in Sept. 1997.

Not only do the Swiss keep their aircraft in immaculate condition, which accounts to a considerable degree for their long years of service but some of the landing fields listed above provide access to mountain caverns in which the entire air force can be hidden. This may entail hanging some of the aircraft from the ceiling of the caverns and the entire system gives some indication of how far the country is willing to go to protect its aircraft in an emergency.

1996 also saw the change in the name of the chief aircraft manufacturing facility in the country from the Swiss Federal Aircraft Factory to the Swiss Aircraft and Systems Co. (Schweizerische Unternehmung fuer Flugzeuge und Systeme).

(Original text by courtesy of Ray Canon).

Narrative History

of the Honduran Air Force

 

Military aviation started in Honduras on 19 April 1921, when the first flight of a just procured Bristol F.2b took place. The Escuela Nacional de Aviación was formed in 1924 with 3 Italian aircraft which were later supplemented by 5 other aircraft. On 14 April 1931 the aviation school became part of the Ministry of War, Marine and Aviation. Miliatry aviation became known on 25 February 1936 as Fuerza Aérea y Escuela de Aviación Militar under the command of a U.S. mercenary, Colonel Brooks. During the next years the Honduran Air Force received small quantities of aircraft and had about 22 aircraft in 1942. It was not until December 1944, when Honduras declared war on the Axis powers, that the Air Force received additional training and transport aircraft. After signing the Rio Treaty of 1947 Honduras was given more modern fighter aircraft to form there first combat unit. In 1954 the Air Force became an independent service and the name was changed to Fuerza Aérea Hondureña (FAH). In 1957, after a brief frontier conflict with Nicaragua new combat aircraft were procured as the current equipment was nearing the end of its useful life.

On July 14, 1969 the so called "El Guerra de 100 Horas" between El Salvador and Honduras started. After two soccer matches for the 1970 World Soccer Cup, tensions rose high between the two countries. During and after these matches in Tegucigalpa and San Salvador, supporters of the visiting countries were mistreated, which led to looting and arson against inhabitants of Tegucigalpa, who came from El Salvador. On the 3rd of July 1969 the FAH forced a Piper PA-28 of the Fuerza Aérea Salvadoreña (FAS) to land a was accused of flying a reconnaissance mission for the Salvadoran Army.  On July 12, 1969 the FAH deployed many of its aircraft to San Pedro Sula, headquarters of the FAH Northern Command (El Comando Norte). Four F4U-4, one C-54, one T-28 and one C-185B were based there during the war. Hostilities started on July 14, when units of the Salvadorean Army invaded Honduras and aircraft of the FAS made attacks agaist Honduran troops concentrations and some bombing runs against Tegucigalpa. The next day the FAH organised some retaliatory strikes against Ilopango Airport in San Salvador and the oil refinery in Acajutla. On the same day a FAS Mustang and Corsair attack Toncontin Airport inflicting some demage on hangars at the airbase. On July 17, Major Soto of the FAH manged to down a FAS Mustang, becoming the last Mustang to be shot down in an air-to-air action in history. On July 18, the Organization of American States (OAS) intervened, ordered a cease-fire and the withdrawal of Salvadoran troops, but the Salvadoran government refuses to comply. It was not until August 5, after pressure from the OAS, that El Salvador withdraw its troops from Honduras.

During the next years the FAH tried to receive additional, more modern, equipment and procured some F-86 from Venezuela and Yugoslavia, A-37 from the USA and some Super Mystére from Israel. During the 1980s U.S. backed Contra-forces, who fought against the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, operated from bases within Honduras. On May 21, 1985, President Suazo Córdova and U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan signed a joint communiqué that amended a 1982 annex to the 1954 Military Assistance Agreement between the two countries. The new accord allowed the United States to expand and improve its temporary facilities at Palmerola Air Base near Comayagua and to operate the 1.Batallion/228.Aviation Regiment of the U.S. Army from this base. Today the FAH is organised in four operational squadrons and one flying
school.
 

 

Narrative History

of the Uruguayan Air Force

Military aviation started at Los Cerrillos/Montevideo when the Escuela Militar de Aviación (EMA) was formed on 17.3.1913 with one Framan and one Bleriot XI aircraft. Due to lack of funds the school ceased to exist in July 1913 and was only reactivated on 20.11.1916 at the Paso de Mendoza zone of Montevideo. In 1920 a French military mission arrived in country and brought some training aircraft with them. During the next years the Air Force received some additional aircraft and in 1924 the first operational unit, an Escuadrilla de Caza, was formed.

In 1935 a mayor reorganisation took place, the Air Force became Aeronáutica Militar (A.M.) and the Base Aeronáutica No.1 and Base Aeronáutica No.2 were formed. In 1940, the Uruguayan Government placed base facilities at the disposal of the United States and consequently became eligible for Lend-Lease military aid. During the next years the AM received small quantities of transport and training aircraft. In 1947 a United States air mission arrived in country and the AM was reorganised and the first transport and combat unit were established. After the delivery of 15 North American B-25J Mitchell and 25 North American F-51D Mustang in 1950 a bomber and fighter group were formed. In 1951 a national airline PLUNA (Primeras Líneas Uruguayas de Navegación Aérea) was formed under military control.

The AM was renamed Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya (FAU) on 4.12.1953 and became an independent service. 1955 saw the arrival of the first jet fighter aircraft, the Lockheed AT-33A, in the inventory of the FAU. On 11.10.1960 three commands (Comando Aéro-Tactico, Comando Aéreo de Entrenamiento and Comando Aéreo de Material) were formed to operate all units of the FAU.

By 1961 PLUNA had become an autonomous civil airline and a new military airline TAMU (Transportes Aéreos Militares Uruguayos) was formed in 1970 and aircraft of all Grupos de Aviación (Transporte) shared its equipment to operate a number of routes within the country and later to Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The aircraft carried both FAU serials and civil registrations.

The Bases Aeronáuticas were reformed in the 1965 as brigades (Brigada Aérea). In the 1970s the Lockheed F-80C were replaced by the Cessna A-37B. During the next years the FAU received small quantities of COIN, transport, traning and liaison aircraft and also some helicopters.

A mayor reorganisation took place on 27.4.1994, when all Regimientos Tácticos and Grupos de Aviación became Escuadrones Aéreos. On 14.7.1994 all air bases (Aeródromos Militares) were renamed as Bases Aéreas.

Today the Air Operations Command (Comando Aéreo de Operaciones) is divided into three Brigada Aéreas, each consisting of one to four squadrons (Escuadrón
Aéreo).