Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

 

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University Air Squadrons


Trenchard envisioned the RAF needing a large proportion of intelligent and well educated recruits and realised that he needed to attract university graduates into the RAF.  In order to entice these prospective candidates, he decided to set up University Air Squadrons, initially at Cambridge and Oxford.  The likelihood of war and then war itself led to an expansion of the scheme.  He also felt that even those who did not join the RAF would be to the service's benefit as they have a good understanding of the RAF and aviation in general. Over the years UASs have been formed, disbanded or amalgamated but their purpose still remains the same.

Most UASs had/have a HQ in the town or university they serve but fly from a nearby airfield, usually military but sometimes civilian.  The locations given below concentrate on the flying element of the UAS.

In 2005 it was announced that a major change in UAS training policy was to take place.   The main change is that undergraduates would no longer undertake elementary flying training until after graduation.  All UAS students, not just potential pilots will now be offered a 30 hour syllabus, it they wish but greater emphasis will be placed on personal development and leadership training.

RAF Training Aircraft and Markings

Aberdeen

Formed at Marischal College on 23 January 1941, it flew from Dyce initially before moving to Leuchars in December 1941.  Combined with Edinburgh and Glasgow UASs on 26 July 1944.  Reformed in October 1946 within No 66 Group at Dyce.  Transferred to No 25 Group in 1966/1967, it was absorbed into a new Aberdeen, Dundee & St Andrews UAS on 3 October 1981. 

Aircraft used: - Moth, Tiger Moth II, Harvard T Mk 2b, Chipmunk T Mk 10, Bulldog T Mk 1

Aberystwyth

Formed within No 54 Group in February 1941 and on 6 July 1941 was transferred to the Welsh University Wing.  By 1943 it was operating from Towyn.  Combined with Cardiff and Swansea UASs on 25 August 1944, disbanding on 15 December 1945.

Aircraft used: - Tiger Moth II

Aberdeen, Dundee & St Andrews

Formed 3 October 1981 at Leuchars by amalgamating Aberdeen UAS and St Andrews and Dundee UAS.  In 2003/4, it began shared parenting of No 12 AEF, together with East Lowlands UAS, and from 10 September 2003 the two amalgamated into the East of Scotland UAS.

Aircraft used: - Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1

Belfast

Formed 8 January 1941 at Sydenham within No 54 Group, it was redesignated Queen's University Air Squadron on 18 May, its aircraft establishment was transferred to No 11 EFTS on 14 December 1945 and disbanded January 1946.  It reformed at Aldergrove in October 1946 under the control of RAF Northern Ireland, being transferred to No 64 Group on 31 March 1950 and No 25 Group in January 1959.  In March 1947 it moved to Sydenham before returning to Aldergrove in 1992, where it remained until disbanding on 31 July 1996.  From 19548, it also parented No 13 AEF, which as a result was the only AEF to operate Bulldogs.

Aircraft used: - Moth, Tutor, Tiger Moth II, Harvard T Mk 2b, Oxford, Provost T Mk 1, Chipmunk T Mk 10, Anson T Mk 21, Prentice T Mk 1, Bulldog T Mk 1.

Birmingham

Formed 3 May 1941 at Castle Bromwich within No 54 Group as Birmingham UAS, its aircraft establishment was transferred to No 14 EFTS on 14 December 1945 and disbanded January 1946. It reformed at Castle Bromwich in October 1946 under the control of 63 Group.  renamed University of Birmingham Air Squadron on 15 October 1951, it moved to Shawbury and No 64 Group on 24 March 1958 and was transferred to No 25 Group on 12 January 1959.  Moving to Cosford in 1978 pending runway resurfacing at Shawbury, the unit has not yet returned  and remains at Cosford having taken over No 8 AEF on 31 March 1996.

Aircraft used: - Tiger Moth T Mk 2, Prentice T Mk 1, Oxford, Chipmunk T Mk 10, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1

Bristol

Formed 25 February 1941 at Filton within No 54 Group as Birmingham UAS, its aircraft establishment was transferred to No 2 EFTS on 14 December 1945 and disbanded 15 July 1946. It reformed at Filton n 1 December 1950 under the control of 62 Group.  On 1 September 1963 it transferred to No 25 Group and moved to Hullavington in March 1992 and Colerne the following November.  It began parenting  No 3 AEF on 1 April 1996.

Aircraft used: - Moth, Tiger Moth II, Harvard T Mk 2b, Chipmunk T Mk 10, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1

Cambridge

The first UAS to be formed on 1 October 1925, flying beginning at Cambridge by November 1930.  By December 1932 it had moved to Duxford and by May 1936 to Fen Causeway but was back at Duxford in 1936.  It came under No 12 Group control on 19 May 1937 but disbanded on 5 September 1939.  It reformed at Cambridge on 8 October 1940, its aircraft establishment being transferred to No 3 EFTS on 14 December 1945 and disbanded January 1946. It reformed at Teversham  in October 1946 under the control of 61 Group, which was transferred to No 25 Group in January 1967.  In January 1996 it began parenting No 5 AEF and is currently located at RAF Wyton.

Aircraft used: - Avro 504K, 504N, N, Bristol F2b, Atlas, Tutor, Hart, Moth, Oxford, Tiger Moth II,  Chipmunk T Mk 10, Anson T Mk 21, Prentice T Mk 1, Proctor C Mk 4, Harvard T Mk 2b, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1.

Cardiff

Formed within No 54 Group in February 1941 and on 6 July 1941 was transferred to the Welsh University Wing.  Combined with Cardiff and Swansea UASs on 25 August 1944, disbanding  in 1945.

Aircraft used: - Moth

Derby

This UAS was proposed to form at Burnaston in 1946, but formation never occurred

Durham

Formed on 1 February 1941 at Woolsington, it moved to Ouston on 25 March 1944 and back to Woolsington in 1945 its aircraft establishment was transferred to No 24 EFTS on 14 December 1945 and disbanded January 1946.  Reforming in September 1946 at Ouston within No 64 Group it moved to Usworth on 2 May 1949.  On 15 October 1957 it returned to Ouston, being transferred to No 25 Group on 12 January 1957 and No 23 Group on 25 September 1961.  However, on 1 August 1963 it was redesignated Northumbrian UAS.

Aircraft used: - Tiger Moth, Harvard T Mk 2b, Chipmunk T Mk 10, Oxford, Anson T Mk 21, Prentice T Mk 1, Balliol T Mk 2, Bulldog T Mk 1

East Lowlands

Formed 24 November 1967 by combining Edinburgh, St Andrews & Dundee UASs at Turnhouse.  In February 1996 it moved to Leuchars and from 31 March 1996 began parenting No 12 AEF.  From 10 September 2003 it amalgamated with Aberdeen, Dundee & St Andrews UAS into the East of Scotland UAS.

Aircraft used: - Chipmunk T Mk 10, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1

East Midlands

Formed 24 November 1967 by renaming Nottingham UAS at Newton, it also now took students from Loughborough and Leicester Universities. From 1 January 1996 it began parenting No 7 AEF and when Newton closed it moved to RAF Cranwell.

Aircraft used: - Chipmunk T Mk 10, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1

East of Scotland

Formed 10 September 2003 by amalgamating Aberdeen, Dundee & St Andrews UAS with East Lowlands UAS.

Aircraft used: - Grob Tutor T Mk 1

Edinburgh

Formed in January 1941 at Turnhouse, it combined with Glasgow and Aberdeen UASs on 26 July 1944 its aircraft establishment was transferred to No 11 EFTS on 14 December 1945 and disbanded January 1946.   It reformed in October 1946, again at Turnhouse, within No 66 Group, being transferred to No 25 Group  on 12 January 1959 from 64 Group.  It was absorbed into East Lowlands UAS on 1 January 1969.

Aircraft used: - Moth, Tiger Moth II, Harvard T Mk 2b, Chipmunk T Mk 10,  Prentice T Mk 1, Proctor C Mk 2

Exeter

Formed 20 August 1941 at Exeter, but no aircraft appear to have been allocated and it disbanded in 1943.

Glasgow

Formed in January 1941 at Prestwick, in February 1943 it moved to Renfrew and combined with Edinburgh and Aberdeen UASs on 26 July 1944, its aircraft establishment was transferred to No 11 EFTS on 14 December 1945 and disbanded January 1946.  Reformed in October 1946 at Abbotsinch within No 66 Group, on 1 December 1950 it transferred to No 64 Group and moved to Perth.  It was redesignated Glasgow and Strathclyde UAS in on 1 January 1965

Aircraft used: - Moth, Tiger Moth II, Magister, Harvard T Mk 2b,  Oxford, Anson T Mk 21, Chipmunk T Mk 10, Provost T Mk 1.

Glasgow and Strathclyde

Formed at Perth on 1 January 1965 by redesignating Glasgow UAS and in January 1993 it moved back to Abbotsinch, now named Glasgow Airport.  In January 1997 it parented the reformed No 4 AEF.

Aircraft used: - Chipmunk T Mk 10, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1

Hull

Formed 18 January 1941 at Driffield within No 54 Group but disbanded in 1943.  Reformed on 1 December 1950 at Brough within No 64 Group, it was transferred to No 25 Group in January 1959 but was absorbed by Yorkshire UAS on 15 March 1969.

The following comment was received from a former member of Hull UAS: - "Hull's parent unit was RAF Leconfield and although we occasionally flew out of Leconfield for the majority of the time our Chipmunks were flown from Brough. The runway was so close to the Humber that we had to wear Mae Wests and practice after take off ditching drills!"

Aircraft used: - Tiger Moth T Mk 2, Chipmunk T Mk 10.

Leeds

Formed 31 January 1941 at Sherburn-in-Elmet within No 54 Group it disbanded on 14 December 1945.  Reformed at Church Fenton in October? 1946 within No 64 Group.  On22 April 1947 it moved to Yeadon, back to Church Fenton/Sherburn on 1 May 1948, Yeadon again in March 1954.  In January 1959 it was transferred to No 23 Group and in November was back at Church Fenton.  In February 1962 it moved north to Dishforth but returned to Church Fenton in May 1966 having been transferred to No 25 Grgoup on 1 September 1963, but was absorbed by Yorkshire UAS on 15 March 1969.

Aircraft used: - Tiger Moth II, Chipmunk T Mk 10.

Liverpool

Formed on 12 January 1941 at Speke within No 54 Group as Liverpool UAS.  Its aircraft establishment was transferred to 24 EFTS on 14 December 1945 but it did not disband until 30 June 1946.  It reformed on 1 December 1950 within No 63 Group at Hooton Park but moved to Woodvale on 13 July 1951, where it remains to the present day, although its name was changed to University of Liverpool UAS on 1 January 1952.  Further transfers took place on 12 January 1959 to No 23 group and 1 September 1963 to No 25 Group.

Aircraft used: - Moth, Tiger Moth II, Tutor I, Chipmunk T Mk 10, Prentice T Mk 1, Bulldog T Mk 1. Tutor T Mk 1

London

Formed 1 October 1935 in Kensington with flying being carried out from Northolt, as University of London Air Squadron, disbanding on 5 September 1939.  It reformed on 5 April 1941 within No 54 Group, its aircraft establishment being transferred to No 3 EFTS on 14 December 1945 and disbanded January 1946. It reformed at Biggin Hill as London UAS in October 1946 under the control of 64 Group. It moved to Fairoaks on 15 December1947, reverted to its original name on 1 December 1949 and moved to Booker on 6 October 19500.  It has since mbeen located at Kenley, Biggin Hill, White Waltham, Abingdon, Benson and is currently located at  RAF Wyton.  On 26 November 1995 it began parenting No 6 AEF but in 2003/4, this task was transferred to Oxford UAS.

Aircraft used: - Tutor, Hart, Audax, Hind, Moth, Tiger Moth II, Chipmunk T Mk 10, Oxford, Harvard T Mk 2b, Prentice T Mk 1, Provost T Mk 1, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1

Manchester

Formed 3 March 1941 at Ringway within No 54 Group, its aircraft establishment being transferred to No 24 EFTS on 14 December 1945.  It is not sure whether it closed at this point.  However, by May 1947 it was a t Barton, moving to Woodvale in March 1953, being transferred to No 23 Group in January 1959 and No 25 Group on 1 September 1963.  It was renamed Manchester and Salford UAS on 25 May 1974.

Aircraft used: - Tiger Moth II, Harvard T Mk 2b, Oxford, Chipmunk T Mk 10, Anson T Mk 21.

Manchester and Salford

Formed 25 May 1974 by renaming Manchester UAS, began parenting No 10 AEF from 1 April 1996 and remains at RAF Woodvale.

Aircraft used: - Chipmunk T Mk 10, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1

Northumbrian

Formed 1 August 1963 by renaming Durham UAS, within No 23 Group but from 1 September it was transferred to No 25 Group. Initially based at Ouston, it moved to Leeming on 30 September 1974, Tees-side Airport on 19 December 1985 before returning to Leeming on 11 January 1988.  From September 1995 if  began parenting No 11 AEF and remains at RAF Leeming.

Aircraft used: - Chipmunk T Mk 10, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1

Nottingham

Formed 29 April 1941 at Hucknell within No 54 Group, its aircraft establishment was transferred to No 14 EFTS on 14 December 1945.  Reformed June 1946 within No 64 Group at Newton it moved to Hucknell in November 1946 and back to Newton in June 1947, transferring to No 23 Group on 12 January 1959 and 1 September 1963 to No 25 Group.  It was redesignated East Midlands UAS on 24 November 1967.

Aircraft used: - Moth, Tiger Moth T Mk 2, Harvard T Mk 2b, Chipmunk T Mk 10.

Perth

Formation proposed at Scone in 1946 but not proceeded with.

Oxford

The second UAS to be formed, this took place on 11 October 1925 but it was January 1928 before flying commenced from Upper Heyford.  It moved to Abingdon in November 1932 but closed on 3 September 1939.  Reforming in Oxford on 8 October 1940 with flying taking place from Abingdon,  its aircraft establishment being transferred to No 3 EFTS on 14 December 1945.  It reformed in September 1946 within No 62 Group at Shellingford but soon moved to Abingdon.  Further moves followed to Kidlington (1949), Little Rissington (1959), back to Abingdon (1975) and to its present base at Benson in 1992.  Control was transferred to No 25 Group in 1959 and in 2003/4 it took over the parenting of No 6 AEF from University of London AS.

Aircraft used: - Avro 504N, Bristol F2b, DH9A, Atlas, Tutor, Hart, Audax, Hind, Tiger Moth II, Oxford, Chipmunk T Mk 10, Harvard T Mk 2b, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1.

Queen's

See Belfast UAS

Reading

Formed on 3 March 1941 at Reading, probably with Woodley as its proposed flying base but it disbanded in 1943 having received no aircraft.

St. Andrews/St Andrews and Dundee

Formed 23 January 1941within No 54 Group at Leuchars, its aircraft establishment was transferred to No 11 EFTS on 14 December 1945 and it was disbanded 12 January 1946.  Reformed in October 1946 , again at Leuchars, within No 66 Group, it was transferred to No 64 Group 27 February 1958 and No 25 Group on 12 January 1959.  In March 1953 it moved to Crail, before returning to Leuchars in February 1958.  On 1 August 1967 it was renamed St Andrews & Dundee UAS and was then absorbed into East Lowlands UAS on 1 January 1969.

Aircraft used: - Moth, Moth Minor, Tiger Moth II, Chipmunk T Mk 10, Prentice T Mk 1.

Sheffield

Formed on 19 March 1941 within No 54 group but it disbanded in 1943 having received no aircraft.

Southampton

Formed 15 February 1941within No 54 Group at Abingdon and from May 1942, Worthy Down.  Its aircraft establishment was transferred to No 3 EFTS on 14 December 1945 and by June 1946 it was at Hamble.   Reformed in September 1946 at Worthy Down within No 62 Group, it made various moves to Eastleigh, Hamble Hurn, Lee-on-Solent, until arriving at its current base at Boscombe Down in 1993.  Control was transferred to No 25 Group in September 1963 and No 22 Group in 1966 and from 1 April 1996 it has parented No 2 AEF.

Aircraft used: - Moth, Moth Minor, Tiger Moth II, Oxford, Chipmunk T Mk 10, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1

Swansea

Formed15 January 1941 at Swansea Airport within No 54 Group, its aircraft establishment was transferred to No 2 EFTS on 14 December 1945 and by June 1946 it was at Fairwood Common, where it disbanded on 6 July 1946.

Aircraft used: - Tiger Moth I

Wales

Formed 26 August 1963 within No 25 Group at St Athan, where it remains today, although detachments are operated at Aberporth and Valley.  From April 1996? it has parented No 1 AEF also at RAF St Athan.

Aircraft used: - Chipmunk T Mk 10, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1

Wolverhampton

Formation proposed at Cosford in 1946 but not proceeded with.

Yatesbury

Formation proposed but not proceeded with.

Yorkshire

Formed 15 March 1969 by amalgamating Hull and Leeds UASs, within No 25 Group at Church Fenton, although aircraft where operated from Leconfield for students at Hull.  In August 1975 it moved to Finningley but with the closure of that station it returned to Church Fenton in 1995.  On 1 April 1996 it began parenting  No 9 AEF.

Aircraft used: - Chipmunk T Mk 10, Bulldog T Mk 1, Grob Tutor T Mk 1

This page was last updated on 24/07/16 using FrontPage XP

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