The inter-war Royal Air Force
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