Royal Air Force

Royal Air Force

Great Britain founded the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in May 1912. By the end of 1912 the RFC had one squadron of airships and three of aircraft. At the beginning of the war the RFC mainly used the BE-2, Avro 504, Vickers FB5 and the Bristol Scout.

In July 1916 the RFC had a total strength of twenty-seven squadrons (421 aircraft), with four kite-balloon squadrons and fourteen balloons. The squadrons were organised into four brigades, each of which worked with one of the British armies. By the beginning of 1918 the RFC had grown rapidly and it now operated 4,000 combat aircraft and employed 114,000 personnel.

On the advice of General Jan Smuts, it was decided in April 1918 to form the Royal Air Force (RAF) by amalgamating the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) with the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Also formed at this time was Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) Under the leadership of Helen Gwynne-Vaughan, the next nine months saw 9,000 women recruited as clerks, fitters, drivers, cooks and storekeepers.

General Hugh Trenchard was appointed chief of staff to the Royal Air Force. By December, 1918, the RAF had more than 22,000 aircraft and 291,000 personnel, making it the world's largest airforce.

History of the Royal Air Force in the Second World War