The Royal Air Force is the oldest independent air force and has been defending the British skies for more than 100 years. In this hub, you'll find details about the history of the RAF, including the founding of the air force, key Second World War operations, and RAF squadrons and sections.
The founding of the Royal Air Force
The RAF was founded on 1st April 1918, when the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) were merged in response to the events of the First World War. The newly created RAF was the most powerful air force in the world, with over 20,000 aircraft and 300,000 personnel. At the end of the First World War, the RAF was reduced in size and took on the task of policing the British Empire using air power. However, it then underwent rapid expansion prior to, and during, the Second World War.
Key Second World War operations
During the Second World War, the RAF was responsible for the aerial defence of Britain, as well as the strategic bombing of Germany. RAF squadrons also provided tactical support to the British Army around the world. The Battle of Britain was a defining operation for the RAF, who held off the Luftwaffe in one of the most complex ongoing air campaigns in history, during the summer of 1940.
Royal Air Force Squadrons and Sections
The RAF is made up of squadrons that can fly aircraft or be ground based, covering a diverse range of roles, such as combat, training, reconnaissance, and equipment testing. Sections include the RAF regiments, a specialist corps founded by Royal Warrant in 1942 with the aim to respond to a wide range of threats, whenever and wherever necessary.
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