Timeline of the Royal Air Force
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|Royal Air Force
of the British Armed Forces
1900-1918: The origins of the Royal Air Force
- 29 October - The Aero Club of Great Britain is established. In the following years many early military pilots were trained by members of the Club.
- 13 April - The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) is established by Royal Warrant. An Air Committee to liaise between the Admiralty and the War Office is also created.
- 13 May - RFC assume control of Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers and the Naval Air Service.
- 19 June- Central Flying School (CFS) is formed at Upavon.
- 15 February - The Joint War Air Committee is established to co-ordinate the activities of the RFC and RNAS.
- 15 May - The Air Board replaces the ineffective Joint War Air Committee.
- 12 December - RFC expands to 106 front-line squadrons and 95 reserve and training squadrons.
- 29 November - The Air Force (Constitution) Act passed, providing for creation of an Air Force and an Air Ministry.
1918-1939: The inter-war years and policing the Empire
- 2 January - The Air Ministry comes into being with Lord Rothermere as Secretary of State for Air. Major-General Sir Hugh Trenchard becomes the first Chief of the Air Staff (CAS).
- 1 April
- 3 June - The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Force Cross (AFC), Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), Air Force Medal (AFM) are constituted.
- 6 June - The Independent Air Force, the RAF's strategic bombing force, is formed.
- June - Royal Air Force Temporary Nursing Service formed.
- 19 September to 1 October - Battle of Megiddo. The RAF's Palestine Brigade plays a key role in the British victory over the Ottoman Empire, including the destruction of the Ottoman Seventh Army.
- 11 November - At the end of the First World War, the RAF was the largest air force in the world with 27,333 officers, 263,837 other ranks, 22,647 aircraft, 103 airships, 133 front-line squadrons, 15 flights and 270 aerodromes overseas, 55 front-line squadrons, 75 training squadrons/depots, 401 aerodromes at home and 25,000 WRAF members.
- August - RAF officer ranks are introduced.
- 1 October - RAF military control of Mesopotamia begins.
- 1 October - RAF Iraq Command is formed.
1939-1945: World War II
- 24 August - The Advanced Air Striking Force is formed in preparation for operations on the Continent
- 3 September - Following the UK's declaration of war on Germany, the RAF conducts photographic reconnaissance of the German naval base at Wilhelmshaven.
- 29 November - RAuxAF spitfires shoot down an He 111 bomber over Lothian, the first German aircraft to be shot down over the UK.
- Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) instituted.
- 16 May - Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding writes his letter to the Air Ministry which results in no further aircraft squadrons, earmarked for home defence, being sent to France.
- 10 July - The Battle of Britain begins.
- 13 August - Adlertag (Eagle Day). The Luftwaffe's attempts to gain air superiority over Britain fail, with the balance of aircraft losses being strongly in the RAF's favour.
- 30 May - Over 1,000 bombers set out to raid Cologne, severely damaging the city.
- 1 June - Around 1,000 bombers set out to raid Essen, however many crews mistakenly bomb other cities.
- 25 June - Around 1,000 bombers set out to raid Bremen, severely damaging the city and successfully bombing the Focke-Wulf aircraft factory.
- 5 March - In an effort to decimate the German industrial base, Bomber Command begins bombing the Ruhr region.
- 25 March - Transport Command is formed by redesignating Ferry Command.
- 16 May - Aircraft of 617 Squadron set out on Operation Chastise, commonly known as the Dambusters Raid. The Mohne and Eder dams are breached.
- 18 November - This is the first night of a four-month bombing campaign against Berlin.
- 24 March - RAF and Dominion Air Force personnel are murdered by the Gestapo after the "great escape" from Stalag Luft III Prisoner of War Camp.
- 6 June - D-Day commences. Diversions supplied by Avro Lancasters of 101 Squadron operating the ABC radio jamming equipment. Reconnaissance photographs were supplied by Spitfires of 16 Squadron.
- 22 February - Allied Air Forces launch Operation Clarion, a concerted effort to destroy German transportation within 24 hours.
1945-1990: The Cold War years
- 28 June 1948 to 30 September 1949 - The RAF conducts Operation Plainfare, the British contribution to the Berlin Airlift.
- June - The RAF conducts Operation Firedog against Malayan terrorists during the Malayan Emergency. Two Spitfires of No. 60 Squadron fly the first offensive mission on 6 July, destroying an enemy base at Perak. Involvement continues until 1960.
- 3 November - Signals Command is formed.
- 1 August - Air Support Command is formed by redesignating Transport Command
- 30 April - Strike Command is formed from Fighter Command and Bomber Command.
- 28 November - Coastal Command is absorbed into the newly created Strike Command.
- 1 January - Signals Command is absorbed into Strike Command.
- 1 September - Air Support Command is absorbed into Strike Command.
- 8 January - RAF Marine Branch disbanded.
1990-present: Expeditionary operations
- RAF fighters based in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait prior to the Gulf War