The ‘Royal Air Force’ (e.g.RAF) was formed in April 1918, at the end of the First World War – by the merging the ‘Royal Flying Corp’ and the ‘Royal Naval Air Service’.
Because the merger of both the military and naval operations in the new service, many of the titles of officers were deliberately chosen to be of a naval character, such as flight lieutenant, wing commander, group captain, and air commodore
The newly created RAF was the most powerful air force in the world, with over 20,000 aircraft and over 300,000 personnel (including the Women’s Royal Air Force).
During the years between WW1 & WW2, the RAF was used to “police” the skies of what was then the British Empire.
During World War 2 the RAF operation was expanded considerably and was responsible for the aerial defence of Great Britain – and also the strategic bombing campaigns of Germany, as well as providing support to the British Army around the world.
During the ‘Cold War’, the main role of the RAF was to defend Europe against any potential attack by what was then the Soviet Union.
At the end of the Cold War years, the RAF were engaged in a number of large scale operations, including the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.
On Tuesday 10th July 2018 – the ‘RAF’ celebrated its 100th Birthday.
To commemorate this significant event, a ‘fly-past’ parade consisting of 100 planes and helicopters that were used throughout the RAF’s history – was commissioned to fly across the skies of London, and particularly the Mall and Buckingham Palace, where they were observed by Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family – plus thousands of spectators, who had gathered to witness this historic event.
This fly-past parade consisted of the following aircraft:-
>Puma HC2’s – advanced medium-sized, medium lift transport helicopter
>Chinook – the twin-rotor heavy lift helicopter
>Juno – new training helicopter which has replaced the Squirrel
>Jupiter – new advanced training helicopter which has replaced the Griffin
>Dakota – one of the world’s most famous military transport aircraft and saw widespread use by the Allies during World War Two
>Lancaster – the iconic Bomber Command veteran aircraft; one of only 2 airworthy Lancaster’s in the world
>Spitfire – If any object deserves the overused accolade of ‘iconic’ it is surely the Supermarine Spitfire. It combined speed and manoeuvrability with a unique capacity for development, and was in service from the first to the last day of the Second World War
>Hurricane – best known as the true star of the “Battle of Britain” engulfing Europe during the summer of 1940
>Prefect – a two-seated training and aerobatic low-wing aircraft
>Tucano T1 – RAF’s long-serving basic fast jet flying training aircraft
>Shadow R1 – the RAF’s advanced intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance aircraft
>A400M Atlas – provides tactical airlift and strategic oversize lift capabilities
>C17 Globemaster – military transport vehicle capable of carrying payloads up to 169,000lb (76,657kg).
>Sentinel – an airborne battlefield and ground surveillance aircraft
>Voyager – the state-of-the-art air-to-air refuelling and global passenger transport aircraft
>E-3D Sentry – an airborne early warning (AEW) and command and control aircraft.
>Hawk – The RAF’s advanced fast jet pilot training aircraft
>Tornado GR4 – The UK’s primary ground attack platform and also fulfils an important reconnaissance role.
>Typhoon – A highly agile aircraft, designed to be a supremely effective dogfighter in combat and quick reaction capabilities.
>Red Arrows – The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, is one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams
All of these planes and helicopters gathered across the skies of Ipswich I Suffolk – and then, one after the other, commenced to fly down to London, with the climax being the fly-past over Buckingham Palace. From there, these 100 aircraft then made their way to various air-bases to the west and south of London.
As expected, the event was watched by thousands of spectators – and was climaxed by a customary display by the amazing Red Arrows.
This historic fly-past was captured for posterity in film and photographs – so that it can be viewed and appreciated by future generations.
From my vantage point in St. James’s Park next door to Buckingham Palace – watching all these fantastic machines suddenly appear on the horizon, and fly overhead – I personally found to be a very moving experience.