A history of the Royal Air Force
On April 1, 1918, the Royal Air Force (RAF) is formed with the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). The RAF took its place beside the British Navy and Army as a separate military service with its own ministry.
At the time, the RFC had 84 aircraft, and the RNAS had 71 aircraft and seven airships. Later that month, four RFC squadrons were deployed to France to support the British Expeditionary Force.
During the next two years, Germany took the lead in air strategy with technologies like the manual machine gun, and England suffered bombing raids and frustration in the skies against German flying aces such as Manfred von Richthofen, “The Red Baron.” Repeated German air raids led British military planners to push for the creation of a separate air ministry, which would carry out strategic bombing against Germany. On April 1, 1918, the RAF was formed along with a female branch of the service, the Women’s Royal Air Force. That day, Bristol F.2B fighters of the 22nd Squadron carried out the first official missions of the RAF.
By the war’s end in November 1918, the RAF had gained air superiority along the Western Front. The strength of the RAF in November 1918 was nearly 300,000 officers and airmen, and more than 22,000 aircraft. At the outbreak of World War II, in September 1939, the operational strength of the RAF in Europe had diminished to about 2,000 aircraft.
By the war’s end in 1945, the strength of the RAF was nearly one million personnel. Later, this number was reduced and stabilised at about 150,000 men and women.
Royal Air Force Ensign flag
The United Kingdom RAF Sailing Association Ensign was introduced in 1920 amid much controversy. This was because it involved the Admiralty, The War Office and the Air Ministry. The Air Council had decided that the newly formed Royal Air Force should fly its own flag from its stations. This did not find much favour with the Admiralty who have the right to veto the introduction of any new flag intended for use either on land or at sea anywhere within the British territories.
The United Kingdom RAF Sailing Association Ensign is never displayed except properly mounted on a staff or mast. As an ensign, it is not permitted to be carried on a parade, nor may it be used as decoration among other coloured bunting. Furthermore, it is not correct to use it to drape over a coffin at a funeral: the appropriate flag for that purpose being the Union Flag.
Help celebrate the special event by purchasing your very own RAF Ensign flag which can be bought from the link below.