The in­ter-war Royal Air Force

History Revealed - - THE RAF AT 100 -

The RAF was es­tab­lished on 1 April 1918 through the amal­ga­ma­tion of the Royal Fly­ing Corps and the Royal Naval Air Ser­vice, seven months prior to the end of World War I. With the ar­mistice came de­mands from the army and the navy for the dis­band­ment of the new­est ser­vice. Surely, they ar­gued, peace had no need for an air force and the money they guz­zled would be bet­ter in­vested in ships and sol­diers? For­tu­nately, the RAF had two pow­er­ful men fight­ing its cor­ner: Hugh Tren­chard, Chief of the Air Staff, and Win­ston Churchill, the newly ap­pointed Min­is­ter for War. Their ef­forts en­sured the RAF sur­vived, but none­the­less cost cut­ting meant that by the 1920s the num­bers of planes and per­son­nel were in­ad­e­quate. The emer­gence of ag­gres­sive lead­ers in Italy, Ja­pan and Ger­many changed the ap­proach of the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment, and in 1934 it launched a £20m de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme to in­crease squadron num­bers and to build pow­er­ful new fighter and bomber air­craft.

The first RAF squadron be­gan as a bal­loon unit, not as fighter pilots

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