Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
RAF Timeline 1939 - 1945
To view further details of each main Command development click on the Command title on the right of the timeline
For a summary click here
|January 1939||Vickers Wellington and North American Harvard enter service|
|May 1939||20 - Last Empire Air Day.
Lockheed Hudson entered service
|June 1939||WAAF formed|
|August 1939||21 - Russo-German Pact announced.
24 - Mobilisation notices sent out to AuxAF and RAFVR.
|September 1939||1 - Germany invades Poland. 1- RAFVR and
3 - UK declares war on Germany,
3/4 - First RAF Raid over Germany,
4 - First RAF losses, five Wellingtons of No 9 Sqn on a raid against shipping in the Elbe Estuary,
6 - 'Battle of Barking Creek'.
|October 1939||Operational trials of VHF radio begun.
Bristol Beaufort entered service.
|November 1939||Nos 602 and 603 Sqns shoot down first German aircraft over the UK|
|December 1939||17 - Ottawa agreement signed bringing into
existence the Empire Air Training Scheme,
18 - 12 Wellingtons shot down during a daylight attack on Wilhelmshaven resulting in the adoption of night raids.
Boulton Paul Defiant and Saro Lerwick entered service.
|January 1940||IFF and VHF radio introduced. PDU formed
31 - ASV radar fitted to a few Coastal Command aircraft
|March 1940||19/20 - Bomber Command's first raid on a German land target - the island of Sylt.|
|April 1940||14 - British forces land in Norway.
22 - RAF units arrive in Norway.
29 - EATS training began in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
|May 1940||10 - Germany invades Holland, Belgium and
12 - RAF's first VC of WW2 won by Fg Off Garland and Sgt Gray.
17 - Ministry of Aircraft Production formed.
26 - Dunkirk evacuation ordered to begin (Operation Dynamo).
27 - Training Command split into Flying Training Command and Technical Training Command.
27 - Reserve Command absorbed into FTC.
|June 1940||4 - Completion of the evacuation of the BEF.
5 - First German attacks on targets in South-East Britain.
10 - Italy declares war on Britain.
10 - RAF carries out first attacks against Italian forces in Lybia.
11 - Bomber Command conducted its first raid on targets in Italy.
22 - Parachute Training School formed at Ringway
|July 1940||10 - Battle of Britain starts.
14 - G/C Thorold arrives at Takoradi in West Africa to establish an aircraft ferrying service to Egypt.
Westland Whirlwind entered service.
22 - First enemy aircraft shot down by an AI equipped fighter (Blenheim).
|August 1940||24/25 - First bombs fall on central London.
25/26 - Bomber Command conducts first raid on Berlin. Short Stirling entered service
|September 1940||19 - First 'Eagle' Squadron (No 71) formed from
Bristol Beaufighters equipped with AI radar entered service.
|October 1940||Battle of Britain ends, but the night 'Blitz'
7 - No 80 Wing formed.
25 - ACM Portal assumes post of CAS.
28 - Italy invades Greece, RAF units dispatched to assist.
Martin Maryland entered service.
|November 1940||13/14 - First attack made on an enemy radar
installation by homing on the signals from the station.
Avro Manchester and Handley Page Halifax entered service.
|December 1940||1 - Army Co-operation Command formed.
20 - First 'Rhubarb' carried out by Spitfires of No 66 Sqn.
|January 1941||10 - First 'Circus' operation carried out by Fighter and Bomber Commands.|
|February 1941||5 - Air Training Corps formed from Air Defence
11 - First raid conducted by Stirlings of No 7 Sqn.
Douglas Boston/Havoc entered service
|April 1941||1 - Bomber Command dropped first 4,000ib bomb
during a raid on Enden24 - Last RAF fighters left Greece.
6 - Fg Off Campbell awarded VC for attack on Gneisenau in Brest harbour
15 Coastal Command placed under operational control of the Admiralty
30 - Iraqi troops move against RAF Habbaniya.
Consolidated Catalina entered service.
|May 1941||Evacuation of Greece completed.
20 - Germans invade Crete.
31 - Battle of Habbaniya ends.
Observer Corps became Royal Observer Corps.
Boeing Fortress entered service.
|June 1941||8 - Allied forces invade Syria.
22 - Free French take control of Syria. 22 - Germany attacks USSR (Operation Barbarossa). Consolidated Liberator entered service.
|July 1941||4 - Wg Cdr H I Edwards awarded the VC for a
daylight attack on Bremen
Ferry Command formed
|August 1941||11/12 - 'GEE' used by Bomber Command for the
27 - Hudson of No 269 Sqn, 'captured' a German U-boat
Curtiss Tomahawk and De Havilland Mosquito entered service
|September 1941||1 - No 151 Wing arrived in Russia
Hawker Typhoon entered service
|October 1941||9 - Western Desert Air Force formed.
22 - AHQ West Africa formed.
|November 1941||29 - A Whitley of No 502 Sqn sunk U-206, Coastal Command's first successful sinking.|
|December 1941||7/8 - Singapore and Pearl Harbour attacked by Japanese.
USA enters the war on Allied side.
Avro Lancaster entered service
|January 1942||Japan invades Java and Burma.
Martin Baltimore entered service.
|February 1942||1 - RAF Regiment formed.
11/12 - Operation 'Fuller', the failed attempt to prevent German battleships escaping to Germany through the English Channel.
15 - Japan captures Singapore.
22 - AM Sir Arthur Harris appointed AOC-in-C, Bomber Command
|March 1942||8 - Japanese forces enter Rangoon
13/14 - First major raid lead by aircraft equipped with GEE against Cologne.
|April 1942||10/11 - Bomber Command dropped the fist 8,000ib
bomb during a raid on Essen.
Navigator and Air Bomber categories introduced.
North American Mustang entered service.
|May 1942||30/31 - First 'Thousand Bomber' Raid against
Plt Off L Manser awarded the VC during this raid.
|June 1942||1/2 - Second 'Thousand Bomber' Raid against
25/26 - Third 'Thousand Bomber' Raid against Bremen.
Douglas Dakota entered service
|July 1942||6 - First U-boat 'kill' at night using the Leigh
Martin Marauder entered service
|August 1942||15 - Pathfinder Force
18/19 - First raid lead by the Pathfinder Force.
19 - Operation 'Jubilee', the amphibious raid against the port of Dieppe.
Vultee Vengence entered service
|September 1942||North American Mitchell entered service.|
|October 1942||23 - Air operations in support of the upcoming
Battle of Alamein begin.
25 - No 6 (RCAF) Group formed in Bomber Command
Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle and Lockheed Ventura entered service.
|November 1942||2 - Eastern Air Command formed.
4 - Second Battle of Alamein begins
8 - Allies invade North Africa (Operation Torch)
|December 1942||20/21 - First use of the OBOE blind bombing device.|
|January 1943||8 - Pathfinder Force became No 8 Group.
30 - H2S bombing radar id used for the first time in a raid on Hamburg.
|February 1943||2 - Mediterranean Air Command formed.|
|March 1943||5/6 - Beginning of the Battle of the Rhur.
25 - Transport Command formed from Ferry Command.
|April 1943||King George VI announces he is to award Standards to Squadrons with 25 years service after the war.|
|May 1943||7 - Axis forces in North Africa surrender.
16/17 - No 617 Squadron breach Ruhr dams (Operation Chastise)
|June 1943||1 - 2nd Tactical Air Force formed.
20/21 - First 'shuttle' raid by Bomber Command
30 - First use of 'Serrate' radar homing equipment in night fighters
Allies invade Pantellaria (Operation Corkscrew)
|July 1943||10 - Allies invade Sicily (Operation Husky)
24/25 - First use of 'Window' in the first raid on Hamburg as part of Operation 'Gomorrah'
|August 1943||17/18 - Bomber Command attacks the research establishment at Peenemunde.|
|September 1943||9 - Allies invade Italy.
15/16 - 617 Sqn used 12,000ib bombs for the first time against the Dortmund-Ems Canal
|October 1943||10 - No 38 Group formed.
23 - Mediterranean Allied strategic Air Force formed.
Vickers Warwick entered service.
|November 1943||15 - Allies Expeditionary Air Force
16 - Air Command South-East Asia formed.
18/19 - Bomber Command begin the Battle of Berlin
23 - No 100 Group formed.
|December 1943||Mediterranean Allied Air Forces formed.|
|January 1944||21 - 'Little Blitz' begins against Britain
Hawker Tempest entered service
|February 1944||18 - Mosquitoes attack Amiens Goal in Operation 'Jericho'|
|March 1944||6/7 - Bomber ends the Battle of Berlin and
begins attacks in support of the forthcoming Operation 'Overlord'
16 - Siege of Imphal begins.
30/31 - Bomber Command suffers its worse losses of the war, 95 out of 795 in a raid against Nuremberg.
|May 1944||Republic Thunderbolt entered service|
|June 1944||1 -
Balkan Air Force formed.
6 - Allies land in Normandy (Operation Overlord).
13 - Germany begins attacks on the UK using the V-1 flying bomb.
|July 1944||1 - RAF reaches its peak strength of 1,185,833
12 - Gloster Meteor enters service (RAF's first jet fighter)
25 - A RAF Mosquito is attacked by a Me 262 jet fighter.
|August 1944||4 - First victories against V-1 flying bombs by
Meteor jets fighters of No 616 Sqn.
15 - Allies invade Southern France (Operation Dragoon)
|September 1944||17-25 - Airborne assault on Arnhem (Operation
19 - Flt Lt D Lord awarded Transport Command's only VC
|October 1944||14/15 - Bomber Command carries out the most
sorties in its history on a single day, 1,576.
31 - Mosquitoes carry out a low level attack on the Gestapo HQ in Aarhus in Denmark.
|November 1944||4-5 - Lancasters of Bomber Command breach the
12 - 9 and 617 Sqn use 12,000lb 'Tallboys' to capsize the battleship, 'Tirpitz' in Tromso Fjord.
|January 1945||1 - Luftwaffe launched a surprise attack on
Allied airfields on the continent (Operation 'Bodenplatte')
RAF Helicopter Training School formed.
|February 1945||1 - Allied forces cross the Irrawaddy and
capture Meiktila airfield in Burma
13/14 - Bomber Command and USAAF carry out a heavy raid on Dresden resulting in a bigger firestorm than Hamburg in 1943.
22 - Operation 'Clarion' intended to wipe out German surface transport in 24 hours.
|March 1945||14 - 617 Sqn drops first 22,000lb 'Grand Slam'
on the Bielefeld viaduct.
24 - Rhine crossing (Operation Varsity)
|April 1945||10 - Last record operation over the UK by a
Luftwaffe aircraft (Ar 234)
26 - Bomber Command begin repatriating British POWs back to the UK
29 - Bomber Command begin air dropping of food to Dutch civilians (Operation Manna)
|May 1945||2/3 - Bomber Command carries out its last
operation, a Mosquito attack on airfields around Kiel.
3 - Rangoon falls to Allied forces
4 -2nd TAF carried out the last air operations in North-West Europe.
8 - Germany surrenders unconditionally.
|July 1945||15 - British Air Forces of Occupation formed.|
|August 1945||6 - First Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
9 - Second Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
14/15 - Japan surrenders.
26 - RAF begin air dropping medical supplies to Allied POWs
Avro Lincoln entered service.
|September 1945||15 - First 'Battle of Britain' flypast|
|November 1945||7 - World Air Speed set at 606.25 mph by Gp Capt H J Wilson in a Meteor F4|
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