Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Other Establishments - Experimental and Administrative


Aeroplane Experimental Establishment

The Testing Squadron at Martlesham Heath was renamed Aeroplane Experimental Station on 16 October 1917 and this in turn was renamed the Aeroplane Experimental Establishment on 16 March 1920.  Initially in No 3 Group it was transferred to No 1 Group on 31 August 1921, to Coastal Area on 1 February 1922 and finally to Inland Area on 1 April 1923.  It was renamed Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment on 24 March 1924.

31 May 1919       Sqn Ldr A Sheckleton

 7 Jan 1921          Sqn Ldr A C Maund

 1 Mar 1922        Wg Cdr N J Gill

Listings of officers serving in this establishment (1920-1939) are available in the Members' Area

Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment

This was formed on 24 March 1924 by renaming the Aeroplane Experimental Establishment.  On 14 January 1926 it was organised into No 15 Squadron for Armament testing and No 22 Squadron for Performance and Handling.  No 22 Squadron disbanded on 1 May 1934, being replaced by the Armament Testing Sqn and Performance Testing Squadron, with No 15 Squadron leaving on 1 June 1934.  Its location at Martlesham Heath made it vulnerable to attack so on 9 September 1939 it was moved to Boscombe Down in No 23 Group.  On 14 September 1950 it absorbed the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment and on 1 November 1959 was redesignated RAF Unit (Ministry of Aviation) Boscombe Down, then on 1 April 1992 the Aircraft and Armament Evaluation Establishment.  A & A E E became part of the Defence Test and Evaluation Organisation in 1993 and then the Defence and Evaluation Research Agency in 1995, with the Commandant's post being redesignated Air Commodore Test and Evaluation (Boscombe Down).

Listings of officers serving in this establishment (1920-1939) are available in the Members' Area

24 Mar 1924              Wg Cdr N J Gill

25 Sep 1924              Wg Cdr H Blackburn

23 Nov 1928:             Wg Cdr V O Rees

17 Sep 1933:              Gp Capt A C Maund

18 Jan 1937:               Gp Capt H G Smart

25 Nov 1938:             Gp Capt B McEntegart

xx xxx 1940                A/Cdre R S Sorley

xx xxx 1942                A/Cdre R B Mansell

xx xxx 1943

xx Jul 1944                 A/Cdre J N Boothman

xx xxx 1945                A/Cdre H P Fraser

xx xxx 1946                A/Cdre C B R Pelly  

xx Jul 1948                 A/Cdre H L Patch

xx xxx 1950                A/Cdre A W B McDonald

xx xxx 1953?              A/Cdre A H Wheeler 

xx xxx 1955                A/Cdre R A R Rae

xx xxx 1957                A/Cdre A E Clouston

xx xxx 1960                A/Cdre J F Roulston

xx xxx 1964                A/Cdre F R Bird

xx xxx 1968             

xx xxx 1970                A/Cdre R L Topp

12 Aug 1972              A/Cdre G C Cairns

12 Oct 1974               A/Cdre A D Dick

 6 Sep 1975                A/Cdre H A Merriman           

26 Mar 1977              A/Cdre B Brownlow

22 Dec 1979              A/Cdre R J Spiers

10 Sep 1983              A/Cdre G C Williams

20 Dec 1985              A/Cdre P D L Gover

xx xxx 1988                A/Cdre D L Bywater

xx xxx 1992

xx xxx 1994                A/Cdre C J Cruickshanks?

23 Sep 1996               A/Cdre N R Wood

Marine Aircraft Experimental Station/Establishment

The Marine Aircraft Experimental Station was formed in October 1918 at the Isle of Grain to evaluate marine aircraft.  On 16 March 1920 it was redesignated Marine and Armament Experimental Establishment (Home) but on 1 March 1924 this was shortened to Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment and on 16 June it moved to Felixstowe.  Originally under the control of Coastal Area it was transferred to the newly formed Coastal Command on 1 May 1936 and then to No 16 Group on 1 January 1937.   As Felixstowe was considered to be too close to likely areas of enemy activity it was moved to Helensburgh on 21 September 1939, returning to Felixstowe on 1 August 1945.  Control was transferred to No 19 Group on 11 August 1948 and the RAF element was disbanded on 31 March 1953 but it continued as a civilian manned unit finally disbanding in August 1954.

6 Oct 1918               Lt Col/Wg Cdr H R Busteed

15 Nov 1921            Wg Cdr T R Cave-Browne-Cave

10 Sep 1923             Wg Cdr C E H Rathborne

3 Aug 1925               Wg Cdr R B Maycock

16 Apr 1928             Wg Cdr G R Bromet

31 Jan 1931              Wg Cdr/Gp Capt A J Miley

13 Aug 1936             Gp Capt E J P Burling

Listings of officers serving in this establishment (1920-1939) are available in the Members' Area

Central Fighter Establishment 

This was formed in No 12 Group at Tangmere on 4 September 1945 as a nucleus, it moved to Wittering, where it was formally opened on 1 October 1944.  It initially absorbed the Fighter Leaders School at Milfield, the Fighter Interception Unit at Ford and the Air Fighting Development Unit, which formed a Day Fighter Development Wing at Milfield and a Night Fighter Development Wing at Ford.  On 27 November 1944 the Day Fighter Development Wing moved to Wittering then to Tangmere on 15 January 1945, except for the Air Fighting Development Squadron.  The whole CFE was located at Tangmere on 27 February 1945, under the control of No 11 Group.  On 20 March the Air Support Development Squadron of the Day Fighter Development Wing was renamed Fighter Support Development Squadron, and the Night Fighter Training Squadron of the Night Fighter Development Wing was renamed Night Fighter Leaders' School.

The Establishment moved to West Raynham on 1  October, with the Night Fighter Wing and Day Fighter Wing being re-established on 14 July 1946, the former comprising the Night Fighter Leaders' School and Fighter Interception Development Squadron, whilst the latter comprising the Day Fighter Leaders School, Air Fighter Development Squadron and Air Fighter Support Development Squadron.  By mid-1956 the Establishment had been re-organised into No 122 (Reserve) Squadron (DFLS & FCIRS) and No.176 (Reserve) Squadron (AWDS).  In October 1957 it absorbed the Fighter Weapons School and on 15 March 1958 the Fighter Combat School was formed comprising the Day Fighter Combat Squadron (ex Day Fighter Leaders School) and All Weather Fighter Combat School (ex All Weather Fighter Leaders School).  On 12 October 1962 it moved to Binbrook, where it disbanded on 1 February 1966.

25 Sep 1945                 A/Cdre R L R Atcherley,

xx xxx 1945                  ?

xx xxx 1948                  A/Cdre D F W Atcherley.

xx xxx 1950:                 A/Cdre W J Crisham.

xx xxx 1953                  A/Cdre G D Stephenson.

10 Dec 1954                A/Cdre J Grandy.

xx xxx 1957                  A/Cdre E L Colbeck-Welch.

xx xxx 1958                  A/Cdre H I Edwards.

xx xxx 1964                  A/Cdre E W Tacon

| Aircraft and Marking |

Central Bomber Establishment 

This was formed at Feltwell in No 3 Group on 28 September 1945, moving to Marham on 1 February 1946, then to Lindholme on 14 April 1949, where it disbanded on 21 December 1949.

xx xxx 1945                   A/Cdre G R C Spencer

xx xxx 1947                   A/Cdre S O Bufton.

xx xxx 1947                   A/Cdre W E Staton.

xx xxx 1949                   A/Cdre D H F Barnett.

Central Photographic Establishment 

This was formed at Fifield House, Benson on the disbandment of No.106 (PR) Group on 15 August 1946.  It moved to Beggarsbush House, Benson on 4 July 1948 and disbanded on 1 March 1950 

xx xxx 1946                A/Cdre G E Nicholetts

Central Reconnaissance Establishment 

This was formed at Brampton on 12 Jan 1957 within No 3 Group to control UK-based PR squadrons, which were based at nearby RAF Wyton and disbanded on 1 October 1970.  

12 Jan 1957                A/Cdre  D S Radford

 1 Jan 1959                 A/Cdre E G Jones

17 Nov 1967              A/Cdre K C M Giddings

 3 Sep 1969                A/Cdre D J Furner

Central Signals Establishment 

Formed 1 Sep 1946.  Disbanded 1 Jul 1965.  

This was formed at Watton on 1 September 1946 from the Radio Warfare Establishment, although the Flying Wing was at Shepherds Grove until at least October 1948.  On 1 March 1947 it was reorganised into Development Squadron with 'A' Flight (Lancasters) and 'B' Flight (Mosquitos) and a Calibration Squadron with 'C' Flight (Lancasters), 'D' Flight (Ansons) and 'E' Flight (Mosquitos).  These two squadrons were based at Shepherds Grove, whilst 'F' Flight remained at Watton for communications and GCA work with Oxfords and Proctors.  On 15 July 1951 the Calibration Squadron was redesignated No.192 Squadron and on 1 August 1952 'N' & 'R' Calibration Squadrons became Nos 116 and 527 Squadrons.  By this time the Development Squadron was equipped with Canberras, Varsities and Lincolns and by October 1957 consisted of 'A' Flight (Meteors and Canberras), 'B' Flight (Lincolns) and 'C' Flight (Varsities).  In early 1958 No 192 Squadron received Comets to replace their Washingtons and on 21 August 1958 the three numbered squadrons were redesignated 116 to 115, 192 to 51 and 527 to 245, with Nos 115 and 245 moving to Tangmere on 25 September, the Development Squadron and No 51 Squadron remaining at Watton.  A Meteorological Experimental Unit arrived on 8 December 1958 and by February 1959 the Development Squadron had been reduced to just 'A' Flight with Meteors, Canberras and Varsities and 'B' Flight with Lincolns.  The Establishment finally disbanded on 16 July 1965, with The Research Wing and the civilian element of the Installation Squadron becoming the Signals Command Air Radio Laboratories, whilst the training and service elements of Installation Squadron became the Electronic Warfare Support Wing).

 1 Sep 1946                Gp Capt  C V D Willis

xx xxx 1948                Gp Capt L Dalton-Morris           

Central Trials and Tactics Organization

It was formed 30 April 1968 to centralise the trailing of operational modifications and the development of tactics for all RAF operational aircraft.  Administered by Strike Command, it was renamed Air Warfare Centre on 1 October 1993.

30 Apr 1968                A/Cdre D G Evans 

30 Nov 1969               A/Cdre C D A Browne

11 Nov 1972               A/Cdre A S R Strudwick

 6 Feb 1976                 A/Cdre G A Chesworth

14 Nov 1977               A/Cdre J M Pack

22 Dec 1979               A/Cdre J R Walker

19 Dec 1981               A/Cdre J E Nevill

29 Mar 1985               A/Cdre W B Maish

16 Jan 1987                A/Cdre R M Austin

xx Jun 1987                 Vacant

 7 Dec 1987                A/Cdre J E Houghton

13 Jul 1990                 A/Cdre J G Lumsden

Air Warfare Centre

Formed 1 October 1993 by amalgamating the CTTO, the Department of Air Warfare (DAW) of the RAF College Cranwell, the Electronic Warfare Operational Support Establishment (EWOSE) at Wyton and the Operational Research Branch of HQ STC.  The RN and Army EW Operational Support Units, also at Wyton, took the opportunity to merge into the organisation on its coalescence at RAF Waddington on 4 September1995.  The Air Intelligence (A2) section of HQ STC later joined.  It has always had some responsibility for RN and Army fixed and rotary aircraft support including tactical development.   The (tri-Service) Defence Electronic Warfare Centre (DEWC), the single successor to EWOSE, RNEWOSU and Army EWOSU, is hosted in the AWC and the staffs of that organisation are fully embedded within the AWC.  The Commandant AWC also holds the title of Director DEWC**.  Administered by Strike Command it is responsible for all trialling operational modifications and the development of tactics for all RAF operational aircraft.  It was transferred to Air Command on 1 Apr 2007.  In 2013 the AWC Cranwell was redesignated the Air Warfare School

** Thanks to Wynne Davies for much of the description above.

 1 Oct 1993                 A/Cdre J G  Lumsden

 4 Jan 1996                 A/Cdre R V Morris

6 Jul 1998                   A/Cdre R J Horwood

24 Jul 2000                 A/Cdre S W Peach

 4 Jul 2003                  A/Cdre C M Nickols

xx Sep 2005                A/Cdre T M Anderson

13 Apr 2007               A/Cdre J Stinton

xx Dec 2009               A/Cdre E J Stringer

 8 Jul 2011                  A/Cdre S C Evans

xx May 2013              A/Cdre B H Hedley

27 Nov 2015              A/Cdre A J Seymour

xx Nov 2018              A/Cdre R A Davies

Joint Warfare Establishment

 This was formed on 31 March 1963 at Old Sarum by amalgamating the School of Land/Air Warfare at Old Sarum with the Amphibious Warfare School at Poole.   Initially under the control of Fighter Command, it was transferred to Transport Command on  June 1963 and on 15 December 1971 Old Sarum was transferred to the Army Department, but the RAF element, the Joint Helicopter Trials and Development Unit disbanded on 22 July 1976.

 31 Mar 1963                AVM C T Weir

 3 Jul 1964                    ?

xx xxx xxxx:                   ?

15 Nov 1968                AVM P deL Le Cheminant

30 Nov 1970                Rear Admiral Guritz RN

xx xxx xxxx:                ?

19 Nov 1974                AVM F S Hazlewood

Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre

This was formed on 9 Apr 1962 at Biggin Hill by amalgamating The Aircrew Selection Centre at Hornchurch and the Ground Officers Selection Centre at Biggin.  It moved to Cranwell in September 1992, since when the AOC has also been Director of Recruiting and Selection.

xx xxx 1962                A/Cdre R D Elliott

xx xxx 1965                A/Cdre H P Connolly

xx xxx 1967                A/Cdre T P Seymour

 1 Jul 1970                  A/Cdre J W Allan

 1 Jun 1971                 A/Cdre C C M Baker

xx xxx 1973                A/Cdre P A Latham

xx xxx 1974

 7 May 1977               A/Cdre A G Steele

 3 Jun 1978                 A/Cdre G T Smeaton, 

 9 Jun 1979                 A/Cdre D L F Thornton

29 Jan 1983                A/Cdre D Allison

18 Jun 1985                A/Cdre J A Bell

25 Aug 1989               A/Cdre G R Pitchfork

11 Oct 1991                A/Cdre P D L Gover

17 Aug 1992  

14 Jul 2000                   A/Cdre M L Feenan?

RAF Record Office

This was formed in 1918 at Blandford, moving to Ruislip between July 1920 and July 1921.  By April 1920 it was under No 7 Group, being transferred to No 1 Group, between July 1921 and July 1922, which in turn became No 21 Group on 12 April 1926.  When No 21 Group disbanded on 1 February 1934 it was taken over by HQ Inland Area, which became Training Command on 1 May 1936.  It was transferred to No 24 Group on formation on 10 July 1936, to No 27 Group on 26 May 1941 then to No 28 Group on 1 November 1942 and possibly disbanded in 1952.

A second Record Office was formed between January and July 1941 under the control of No 27 Group at Gloucester, being transferred to No 28 Group by 1 November 1942.  It moved to Barnwood near Gloucester, probably in 1960, and was redesignated the RAF Record and Pay Office in April 1965.

A further Record Office was formed between January and July 1941 under the control of No 27 Group at Wantage Hall, Upper Redlands Road, Reading, being transferred to No 28 Group on 1 November 1942 and disbanded post January 1945.

xx xxx xxxx:                Wg Cdr H B Bonning

1 May 1920:               Wg Cdr W F MacNeece/W MacN Foster

11 Jan 1921:               Sqn Ldr A H S Steele-Perkins

1 Oct 1922:                Sqn Ldr-Gp Capt J W Cordingley

17 Jul 1939:                ?

 1 Dec 1949               A/Cdre R Coats

24 Sep 1951               A/Cdre W E V Richards

 2 Mar 1956               A/Cdre R W L Glenn

15 Jan 1958               A/Cdre A L Derry

 1 Aug 1960:              A/Cdre G H White

1965 - 68                   A/Cdre T J Hanlon

Listings of officers serving in this establishment (1920-1939) are available in the Members' Area

Personnel Management Centre/Agency

This was formed from the RAF Record and Pay Office in September 1971 at Innsworth and was redesignated Personnel Management Agency on post 1982.

13 Sep 1971               AVM J T Lawrence

20 Oct 1973                AVM G J Kemp

 6 Sep 1975                 A/Cdre K Stevens

 9 Jul 1977                    ?

12 Sep 1981                 A/Cdre K F Sanderson

13 Sep 1983                 AVM J B Duxbury

 7 Dec 1985                  AVM R A Mason

13 Feb 1989                 AVM R J Honey

31 Mar 1994                AVM R P O'Brien  

28 Aug 1998                AVM I M Stewart

This page was last updated on 27/12/22

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