Portal:Royal Air Force


Portal:Royal Air Force
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The Royal Air Force Portal

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The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the air arm of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918 the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history ever since, playing a large part in World War II and in more recent conflicts. The RAF operates almost 1,100 aircraft and has a projected trained strength of over 40,000 regular personnel. The majority of the RAF's aircraft and personnel are based in the United Kingdom with many others serving on operations (principally Iraq, Afghanistan, Middle East, Balkans, and South Atlantic) or at long-established overseas bases (notably the Falkland Islands, Qatar, Germany, Cyprus, and Gibraltar).

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg
The RAF's mission is to support the objectives of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) and to provide "An agile, adaptable and capable Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, and that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the UK Defence Mission."

Selected Article

The Royal Air Force Police (RAFP) is the military police branch of the British Royal Air Force. It was formed on 1 April 1918 and is responsible for policing the RAF and its installations. Members of the RAFP are distinguished by their white-topped caps (giving rise to their nickname of "Snowdrops"), which they have worn since 1945, and black/red/black flashes worn below their rank slides, known as "Mars Bars". Unlike their Army colleagues in the Royal Military Police, they do not wear a distinctive red beret when wearing camouflaged uniform, although they do wear MP flashes on the sleeve of their uniforms not unlike their army counterparts.

There is a detachment of RAFP on most RAF stations with larger bases having a security squadron, with a Squadron Leader in command as Officer Commanding (OC) Security, who is also responsible for the general security of the station. The RAF Police also fulfills the RAF's counter-intelligence (CI) role, similar to that carried out by the British Army Intelligence Corps. They provide specialist counter-intelligence and computer security support.

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Supermarine Spitfire Mark XVI
Credit: Chris Howells

A Supermarine Spitfire Mark XVI. The Spitfire was an iconic British single-seat fighter used by the RAF and many Allied countries in the Second World War. The Spitfire saw service during the whole of WWII in all theatres of war, and in many different variants. It is often credited with winning the Battle of Britain.

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Selected Biography

Leonard Cheshire.jpg
Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, VC, OM, DSO and Two Bars, DFC (7 September 1917 – 31 July 1992) was a highly decorated British RAF pilot during the Second World War. Among the honours he received as a bomber pilot is the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. After the war, he became a charity worker, setting up Leonard Cheshire Disability and other philanthropic organisations.

He was appointed to succeed Wing Commander Guy Gibson as commander of the legendary 617 "Dambusters" Squadron in September 1943 and helped pioneer a new method of marking enemy targets for Bomber Command's 5 Group, flying in at a very low level in the face of strong defences, using first, the versatile Mosquito, then a "borrowed" P-51 Mustang fighter. This development work was the subject of some severe intraservice politics; Cheshire was encouraged by his 5 Group Commander Air Vice-Marshal Ralph Cochrane, although the 8 Group Pathfinder AOC Air Vice-Marshal Don Bennett saw this work as impinging on the responsibilities of his own command.

Cheshire was nearing the end of his fourth tour of duty in July 1944, having completed a total of 102 missions, when he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was the only one of the 32 VC airmen to win the medal for an extended period of sustained courage and outstanding effort, rather than a single act of valour. Cheshire was, in his day, both the youngest Group Captain in the service and, following his VC, the most decorated. On his 103rd mission, he was the official British observer of the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki flying in the support B-29 Big Stink. Cheshire dedicated the rest of his life to supporting disabled people and, in 1948, he founded the charity now styled Leonard Cheshire Disability, which provides support to disabled people throughout the world. It is now in the top 30 of UK charities.

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Selected Aircraft

Hurricane.r4118.arp.jpg
The Hawker Hurricane was a British single-seat fighter aircraft designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd. Some production of the Hurricane was carried out in Canada by the Canada Car and Foundry Co Ltd.

The 1930s design evolved through several versions and adaptations, resulting in a series of aircraft which acted as interceptor-fighters, fighter-bombers (also called "Hurribombers"), and ground support aircraft. Further versions known as the Sea Hurricane had modifications which enabled operation from ships. Some were converted as catapult-launched convoy escorts, known as "Hurricats". Together with the Spitfire, the Hurricane was significant in enabling the Royal Air Force (RAF) to win the Battle of Britain of 1940, accounting for the majority of the RAF's air victories. About 14,000 Hurricanes were built by the end of 1944 (including about 1,200 converted to Sea Hurricanes, and about 1,400 built in Canada), and served in all the major theatres of the Second World War.

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