MY daughter has just completed RAF Basic Training at RAF Halton near Aylesbury….she is now completing Trade Training as a Military Policewoman at Southwick Park near Portsmouth. Both of her grandfathers served in the RAF, my father serving during WW2 in a covert squadron RAF Tempsford at Downham Market dropping SOE operatives over occupied France from Westland Lysanders. My wife’s father did his National Service at RAF Acklington in Northumberland working on the first jets the Meteor and DeHavilland Vampire.
The First World War was the first conflict in which aviation played a major role.
At first, balloons, aircraft and airships were used for reconnaissance and dropping bombs. Increasingly, aerial duels were fought to gain air superiority.
This was despite the fact that the aeroplane had only been demonstrated eleven years earlier in America in 1903 by the Wright brothers. Initially the usefulness of heavier-than-air machines had been met with scepticism from Britain’s army and navy.
Royal Naval Air Service mechanics. IWM Q73557
At the outbreak of the war in August 1914 the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) had 146 officers and around 100 aircraft. The Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS) had over 700 personnel, 93 aircraft, two balloons and six airships.
One hundred years ago today (1 April 1918) the two rivals merged to form the Royal Air Force (RAF) under the control of the new Air Ministry.
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