Royal air Force

Royal air Force

Royal air Force
history of the Royal air Force
list of today's airplanes of the Royal air Force
list of historical airplanes of the Royal air Force
list of bases of the Royal air Force
Royal air Force museum

the term Royal air Force (inanglo-saxon linguistic usage with RAF shortened) designates air forces of the united kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Also Australia, New Zealand and Canada operate a Royal air Force, which is subordinate however to the respective national supreme command. See in addition Royal Australian air Force, Royal new Zealand airForce and Royal Canadian air Force.

Table of contents

history of the RAF

as forerunner organization thatRoyal air Force became to 13. May 1912 by royal arrangement the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) based, which stepped to the place of the flight staff of the Royal Engineers. The Royal Naval air service (RNAS) became short after the First World War as a naval pilot unit with personnel thatAir Force and the navy based. At the 1. April 1918 was formed the RAF by the union of the Royal Flying Corps and the RNAS under the instruction of the aviation Ministry - the first Air Force (as an independent armed service) for the world. Between the world wars the RAF was also responsiblefor the service by mail and the goods transport. It was hardly used for military operations. For the first time 1928 a evacuation were begun by civilians from Afghanistan by the support.

The Royal air Force has - contrary to nearly all other air forces - a characteristic systemfrom rank designations develops, which orients itself at the designations of the units (relay , group , squadron). Normally (Federal Air Force, USAF) ranks of the army are taken over. Not so with the RAF:


generals of the Royal air Force
MarshalOF the Royal air Force
air Chief Marshal
air Chf Mshl
air Marshal
air Mshl
air Vice Marshal
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7
officer corps of the Royal air Force
air Commodore
air Cdre
Group Captain
Gp Capt
Wing COMM other
Wg Cdr
Squadron Leader
Sqn Ldr
Flight lieutenant
Flt Lt
Flying Officer
fG off
pilot Officer
postal code off
OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1b OF-1a
of NCOs of the Royal air Force
Warrant Officer
master air crew
Flight Sergeant/Flight Sergeant air crew
Chief Technician
Chf Tech
Sergeant /Sergeant air crew
Sgt/Sgt Acr
OR-9 OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-7 OR-6/OR-5 OR-4
no equivalent
of crew degrees of the Royal air Force
junior Technician/senior Aircraftman/leading Aircraftman

Jnr Tech/SAC/LAC

OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
no equivalent
no badge


1. The air Commodore (OF-6) is, contrary to many differentArmies, no member of the generals.

2. The Royal air Force has only one NCO rank with the title Warrant Officer and has thereby no equivalent to the Warrant Officer Class 2, as for instance British the Army or the Royal Navy.

3. The Sergeant air crew, the Flight Sergeant air crew and the master air crew are a special group of ranks, which are assigned within flying formations.

4. The Marshal OF the Royal air Force is not a rank, that for times of the war is reserved and became since 1993 any moreassigned.


the Second World War

Hawker Hurricane Jagdflugzeug
Hawker Hurricane fighter

England occurred briefly after the German assault on Poland in September 1939 the war. In the middle of May flew the RAF their first attack against Germany. A goal was Moenchengladbach. In August1940 began the air battle around England (“Battle OF Britain”), with which the RAF took an accordingly important role. In the summer 1940 the RAF defended the British air space against Luftwaffe and retarded thus the operation Seelöwe so substantially that these plans of Göring and Hitler to be given up had. The meant a crucial turning point in 2. World war.

Starting from the summer 1942 allied bomber fleets flew continuously heavy attacks against German and Italian cities and industrial plants (see in addition also the article air war). The defense of the German air space seemed first difficult,but possible. The RAF flew night attacks and purposeful Bombardements in this time mostly on the infrastructure and armaments industry. Starting from summer closed US bomber formations as well as the RAF under their Commander-in-Chief Sir Arthur Harris Flächenbombardements began to accomplish 1943. The bomber fleets of the RAF were now up to 1.000Airplanes strongly, many four-engined bombers heavy of it. The German air defense was clearly underlaid. The RAF and US air Force co-ordinated its Bombardements among themselves. To end of war now aimed Flächenbombardements were flown at populated areas of German large cities, with which fire and phosphorus bombs were used purposefully in addition,to kindle large fires, in order to achieve as wide and complete a destruction as possible. Such air raids became and. A. on Dresden, Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt and Cologne flown. The goal of this action should be it of breaking the resistance will of the German population.

Whether this kindwarfare ethicalally justifiable and at all necessary was, is disputed; the fact that these attacks were a tremendous human tragedy and brought inconceivable wrong is indisputable.

Also - ratified however not internationally - Hague the air war rules as well as the design of some articles leave Hague Land Warfare Convention one to thatEvaluation of these indiscriminate Flächenbombardements as too contrary to international law. Into this evaluation it must however also flow that “the actual beginning of the strategic air war against the civilian population [...] surely the German attacks on London and Coventry 1940 [represents]” [1], even if the German attacks never the order of magnitudethe allied Flächenbombardements of the last war years reached.

1945 to 2000

Panavia Tornadoes of the Royal air Force
Hawker Harrier
side view of the Harrier
VC10 Tankflugzeug
VC10 Tankflugzeug

after the war units of the RAF remained stationed partly for many decades in Northwest Germany. In addition RAF Gatow came into Berlin. Lastthe RAF Germany at the beginning of the 90's closed the stations RAF Gütersloh and RAF Wildenrath, later then RAF Laarbruch and last 2002 RAF Brüggen.

In the Korea war the RAF played only a subordinated role. Only in the Suez crisis 1956 the RAF of Cyprus and Malta becameout assigned in extensive operations.

1968 was reformed administration and structures of the RAF, which had existence since 1936. The most important change was the creation of the “Strike COMMAND” in High Wycombe. This control center coordinated now together bombers and fighters, the before different institutions of the RAFwere subordinated.

1971 were taken off the RAF in the course of the reduction of troop from the southasiatic area. The departure followed a little later from the Arab area. The following larger conflict, into which the RAF was pulled, was the Falkland War 1982. Apart from the patrol duties over the Atlanticabove all helicopters and combat fliers were used by the aircraft carriers of the Royal Navy. Additionally flew in the context of the operation Black bend Vulcan bomber of Ascension in the Atlantic some employments against the Argentine troops.

In the second Gulf War 1991 100 RAF of combat aircraft, bombers and helicopters becamebegun. For the first time the RAF could use thereby goal-directed ammunition. The RAF was used also in the Kosovo 1999 , in which the precision-steered ammunition was according to standard used. The Kosovokrieg led on the side of the allied ones to no losses.

2000 until today

The RAF was again in the Afghanistan war 2001 involved. It made there above all reconnaissance planes available. In the third Gulf War 2003 against the Iraq forestalled, like already 12 years, over 100 airplanes and helicopters to the employment. During the war the RAF lost only an airplane. Tornado GR4 was shot with the return by an employment inadvertently by an American Patriot - rocket.

From December 2004 until January 2005 the RAF used about 20 transportation and Aeromedflugzeuge to the disaster relief after the tide into south Asia. The employment covered both auxiliary supplies as well asa going on a trip of tourists and hurt.

future plans

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

at the beginning 21. Century stands that for step stops with the technical equipment of the US air Force right at the top on the agenda. Here the British are inferior to the Americans in nothing, thusthat the Royal air Force ranks certainly among the most effective Air Forces of the world. However this costs a high price the British taxpayer, so that armament became a financial problem. In the course of the most extensive modernization for the 50's the Royal becomes airForce in the coming ten years almost their entire fleet replace.

Current airplanes replacement
Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR7 and Sea Harrier FA2 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
Jaguar GR3 and Tornado F3 Eurofighter
Hercules c1 and C3 Hercules C4, C5 and airbus A400M
Lockheed tri star and VC10 airbus A330 FSTA
Nimrod MR2 Nimrod MR4A
Nimrod g 1 Sentinel g 1
Sea King, Puma Merlin EH-101 and MK3, Chinook HC.3
Westland Lynx AH7 Battlefield Lynx AH9

additional are procured further transport aircrafts of the type C-17 Globemaster III as well as WAH-64 Apache Longbow combat helicopter. Until 2015are besides the Tornadoes GR4 by an unmanned bomber (UCAV) are ersersetzt.


the following personalities are connected with the Royal air Force (in chronological order):

Web on the left of


  > German to English > (Machine translated into English)