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United Kingdom
Air Force

BAe Hawk T.1A XX264 of the Red Arrows based at Scampton.

Current Title: Royal Air Force
Abbreviation: RAF


Narrative Summary:
Formed 1 April 1918 by amalgamation of Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service. Following the end of the First World War, the RAF was primarily involved in air policing operations, particularly in the Middle East and India. During the Second World War the RAF operated in all theatres of war, growing to some 487 squadrons.

29 July 1948 to Sept 1949 supported Berlin Airlift. Only limited involvement in Korean War but major participant in Suez campaign of 1956. Subsequently involved in policing operations in Malaysia, Kenya and Aden. During the late 1960's gradually withdrew from overseas territories to concentrate on European defence. Involved in the 1982 operation to recapture the Falkland Islands from Argentina. Major participant in the Gulf War of 1991 and NATO operations over Bosnia and later Kosovo.

Key Dates:
1 April 1918    RAF established through the amalgamation of the RFC and RNAS
11 November 1918    RAF reaches a peak strength of 188 operational squadrons
1919    RAF reduced to 12 squadrons
March 1920    Strength of RAF rises to 25 squadrons
October 1924    Strength of RAF rises to 43 squadrons
November 1934    Start of 'Scheme A' RAF expansion plan
May-June 1940    RAF participates in the Battle of France
July-September 1940    Battle of Britain
6 June 1944    RAF participates in D-Day invasion of German-occupied France
July 1947-Sept 1949    RAF aircraft participate in the Berlin Airlift
November 1956    Suez Crisis provokes RAF air operations over Egypt
1957    Defence White Paper cancels planned fighter aircraft in favour of missiles
1 July 1969    Nuclear deterrant role transferred to the Royal Navy
April-June 1982    RAF operations support liberation of the Falklands Islands
1990-1991    Gulf War air operations
1995    NATO Operation 'Determined Force' in Bosnia
March-June 1999    Operation 'Allied Force' over Yugoslavia
2001-2002    RAF aircraft assist in the liberation of Afghanistan

Current Status:
To be added.

Future Plans:
Summary of future plans and defence cuts

BAe Harrier T.10 ZH663/Q of
20 Sqn at Wittering.
SEPECAT Jaguar GR.1A XZ361/FT of
41 Sqn at Coltishall.


National Insignia:
Current --- Historical

Aircraft Serial Numbering System(s):
Details of serial numbering system to be added.

Unit/Base Aircraft Code System(s):
Details of coding system to be added.

Panavia Tornado GR.1 ZA355/B-54 of the
TTTE at Cottesmore.
BAe Harrier GR.7 ZD435 '47' of 4 Sqn at


Aircraft Designation System(s):
Details of designation system to be added

Current Aircraft Inventory:
Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List:
Alphabetical Order (To be added) --- Chronological Order


Main Headquarters:
Ministry of Defence, Whitehall, London.

Current Organisational Structure:
The RAF is currently organised into two commands - Strike Command for the operational units and Personnel & Training Command for all training units. Tactical helicopter units now come under the multi-service Joint Helicopter Command.

Strike Command is a made up of two Groups. No.1 Group is responsible all Air Defence and Strike Attack/Offensive Support aircraft. No.2 Group is responsible for frontline support aircraft such as Maritime Patrol aircraft, Search and Rescue helicopters, Transports, Air Refuelling Tankers and EW aircraft. No.3 Group was disbanded in March 2006.

Personnel & Training Command is responsible for the Flying Training Schools, University Air Squadrons and Air Cadet Volunteer Gliding Schools. It also manages the service aspects of a number of private-contractor supplied training organisations.

Current Order of Battle:
Table of Current Order of Battle

University Air Squadrons/Air Experience Flights

Air Cadets - Volunteer Gliding Schools

Historical Orders of Battle:
To be added

All-Time Flying Units List:
To be added

Air Bases

Current Air Bases:
Table of Current Air Bases

All-Time Air Bases Used List:
To be added

Slingsby T.67M-260 Firefly G-BWXD of the
JEFTS at Barkston Heath.
Shorts Tucano T.1 ZF318 of 1 FTS at

More Information


'UK Air Arms 2006'
by Ian Carroll
Published by Mach III Plus, June 2006 ISBN: ?
* Current aircraft serials listing.


To be added


Royal Air Force Bibliography
(Details of the best books on the RAF and RAuxAF)

The Royal Air Force Home Page
(Official site - aircraft & weapons, units & bases, news, displays, links)

Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
(Detailed look at RAF organisation changes & units, personnel, equipment, timeline, maps etc)

(RAF History, personnel, aircraft etc)

(RAF units, aircraft, weapons, future projects etc)

Royal Air Force Marham
(Units, base history, photos, links etc)

RAF Kinloss
(News, squadrons, history, etc)

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First Created: 1 November 2001 - Last Revised: 22 July 2006
Copyright 2001 John Hayles.    e-mail: john@aeroflight.co.uk