Timeline of the Royal Air Force

Timeline of the Royal Air Force

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.
**27 April - Sapper Moreton of the British Army's Balloon Section is lifted 2,600 ft (792 m) by a kite at Aldershot under the supervision of the kite's designer, Samuel Cody.
**Samuel Cody completes the first powered flight in the UK at Farnborough.
**1 April - Air Battalion, Royal Engineers formed at Larkhill.
**December - The Royal Naval Flying School formed at Eastchurch, Kent.
**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.
**1 July - Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) formed by splitting airship squadrons away from the RFC
**September - The first RNAS aircraft squadrons formed. 1 Squadron RNAS at Antwerp, 2 Squadron RNAS at Eastchurch, 3 Squadron RNAS at St. Pol, France.
**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.
**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
***The Royal Air Force is formed by amalgamating the RFC and RNAS.
***First operational mission by the RAF carried out by 22 Squadron
***Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) formed.
**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.
**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.

1918-1939: The inter-war years and policing the Empire

**January to February - The defeat of the "Mad Mullah". The beginnings of colonial air control as RAF aircraft acting with the Somaliland Camel Corps in British Somaliland overthrow the Dervish leader.
**5 February - The RAF College Cranwell is established.
**WRAF disbanded.
**1 October - RAF military control of Mesopotamia begins.
**1 October - RAF Iraq Command is formed.
**March to May - Pink's War. The RAF carries out its first independent air action, bombing and strafing the mountain strongholds of Mahsud tribesmen in Waziristan.
**23 December - The Kabul Airlift. The world's first air evacuation is carried out by the RAF when the British Legation in Kabul is flown to safety.
**April to June - Following Sheikh Ahmad Barzani's small-scale revolt in north-east Iraq, the RAF conducts psychological and conventional air operations which result in Sheikh Ahmad's surrender.
**14 July - The UK's air defences are reorganised into four commands: Bomber Command, Fighter Command, Coastal Command and Training Command.
**1 April - Maintenance Command is formed.
**1 November - Balloon Command is formed.

1939-1945: World War II

**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.
**15 May - The maiden flight of first British jet aircraft, the Gloster E.28/39.
**20 July - Ferry Command is formed.
**24 December - The Avro Lancaster enters service with the RAF.
**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.
**22 February - Allied Air Forces launch Operation Clarion, a concerted effort to destroy German transportation within 24 hours.

1945-1990: The Cold War years

** Women's Auxiliary Air Force becomes Women's Royal Air Force
**31 October - Canberras fly reconnaissance sorties and bomb Egyptian airfields on the opening night of Suez War's air campaign.
**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.
**30 April - Operation Black Buck. Vulcan bombers set out from RAF Ascension Island on the first of six raids against Argentine positions in the Falkland Islands.
**8 January - RAF Marine Branch Disbanded.

1990-present: Expeditionary operations

**16 January to 11 April - During the Gulf War, RAF aircraft fight in the air battle over Kuwait and Iraq.
**16 December - Operation Desert Fox. RAF Tornados and USAF F-117s bomb military targets in Iraq.
**9 October - During the third day of Operation Veritas, RAF aircraft commenced the provision of air-to-air refuelling, reconnaissance and surveillance support to US aircraft operating over Afghanistan.
**September - A detachment of six RAF Harriers from Joint Force Harrier was based at Kandahar Airfield to support colilition ground forces. [http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FactSheets/OperationsFactsheets/OperationsInAfghanistanBackgroundBriefing1.htm]
**July - Three Chinook helicopters of 27 Squadron deployed to RAF Akrotiri to evacuate British citizens from Lebanon.
**April - Strike Command and Personnel and Training Command merge to form Air Command.

ee also

*Timeline of aviation
*Timeline of British military aviation


[http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/timeline.html Royal Air Force website timeline]

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