DeHavilland DH9a

RAF Timeline 1918-1929


Baron Manfred von Richtofen 1 Apr 1918- The Royal Air Force and Women's Royal Air Force are formed.

21 Apr 1918- Baron Manfred von Richthofen, otherwise known as "The Red Baron" is shot down and killed near Corbie. The top scoring fighter pilot of WWI with 80 kills, von Richthofen was variously claimed by Captain Roy Brown of 209 Sqn RAF, Australian gunners of the 24th Machine Gun Company and members of the 53rd Battery, 1402 Field Artillery Brigade.

August 1918- The RAF introduces offensive fighter sweeps on the Western Front. These sweeps normally consisted of Sopwith Camels flying at 10000 feet; SE5as at 14000 feet and Bristol Fighters at 18000 feet.

Sopwith Camel 8 Aug 1918- The Allies launch a major offensive on the Western Front. Heavy fighting results in losses of around a quarter of all aircraft. In the week 5 - 11 August, the RAF alone claims 177 enemy kills against 150 losses.

21 Sep 1918- RAF aircraft in Palestine attack and destroy the retreating Turkish Seventh Army at Wadi el Fara. TE Lawrence wrote: "It was the RAF which converted the retreat into a rout, which had abolished their telephone and telegraph connections, had blocked their lorry columns and scattered their infantry units".

The largest bomb in World War One 14 Oct 1918- The largest bomb of the war, 1650lbs, is dropped by a Handley Page 0/400 aircraft of the Independent Air Force.

4 - 10 Nov 1918- The last intense combat of WWI. The RAF claim 68 enemy aircraft for 60 losses.

11 Nov 1918- At 10:45 on the morning of November 11th, the crew of a 15 Sqn RE.8 observation aircraft landed at Auchy and reported no enemy aircraft or anti-aircraft fire seen. Fifteen minutes later, Armistice with Germany was declared and the war ended.


Major-General Sir Hugh Trenchard 11 Jan 1919- Winston Churchill is appointed Secretary of State for War and Air and Major-General Sir Hugh Trenchard becomes Chief of the Air Staff.

14/15 Jun 1919- Captain John Alcock and Lt Arthur Whitten Brown make the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic by aircraft. The Vickers Vimy bomber flew from St John's, Newfoundland to Clifton, County Galway, Ireland in 16 hours 27 minutes.

2-6 Jul 1919- The British airship R34 makes the first airship crossing of the Atlantic, flying from East Fortune, Scotland to New York.

18 Jul 1919- The RAF's top ranking ace of World War I, Major Edward "Mick" Mannock is posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

4 Aug 1919- Inter-service squabbling in the wake of massive post-war defence cuts reaches a new low when the Army and Navy refuse to allow the RAF to use their officer ranks, forcing Trenchard to create new ones. The new rank titles (Pilot Officer, Flight Lieutenant etc.) came into being on this date.

23 Oct 1919- Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund founded by Lord Trenchard.


Jan - Feb 1920- The RAF's first "little war". RAF units were involved in operations with the Camel Corps in British Somaliland (now Somalia) to overthrow Dervish leader Mohammed bin Abdullah Hassan, the "Mad Mullah". The airborne intervention was "the main instrument and decisive factor" in the success of the operation. Ten dH9s were dispatched to form "Z Force", and were used for bombing, strafing and as air ambulances.

5 Feb 1920- The RAF College opened at Cranwell, Lincolnshire.

A Z Force DH9 in air ambulance role 1 Apr 1920- The WRAF was disbanded.

3 Jul 1920- Over 60,000 spectators attend the first RAF Pageant at Hendon, London.


1921- The RAF's new role of policing the Empire greatly helped to maintain it's status as an independent fighting force. The defence cuts after the Great War saw the RAF fighting for its survival as the Royal Navy and Army sought to take control of the RAF's assets. At the start of the year, front-line strength of the RAF had been reduced to five UK based squadrons (four army co-operation and one fighter), five squadrons in Egypt, four each in India and Iraq and one in the Far East.

Royal Air Force College Cranwell 23 Jun 1921- Nos. 30 and 47 Sqn, RAF, begin the RAF's weekly Cairo - Baghdad mail service. The 840 mile (1,350km) route had been previously surveyed, and tracks ploughed across the Syrian desert to aid navigation.

1 Aug 1921- The RAF takes delivery of the first purpose-built troop-carrying aircraft, the Vickers Vernon, a development of Vimy bomber with a bulbous fuselage.

1 Oct 1921- The RAF assumes military control of Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and Jordan. The success of the RAF's involvement against the Mad Mullah two years earlier, allow ground forces to be reduced and air-policing introduced.


1 Squadron Snipe Aircraft 9 Feb 1922- The Royal Air Force Reserve is created.

4 Apr 1922- RAF Staff College opened at Andover; It's first Commandant is Air Commodore H R M Brooke-Popham.


Jun 1923- The RAF Nursing Service was renamed Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service.

A Vickers Vernon alongside a Vimy 20 Jun 1923- Acting on the recommendations of the Committee of National and Imperial Defence, the Prime Minister advocates a home defence force of 52 squadrons.


New aircraft the Gloucester Grebe 20 Mar 1924- The Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) is formed at Martlesham Heath, Suffolk under the command of Wing Commander NJ Gill.

April 1924- The Fleet Air Arm is formed, comprising RAF units normally embarked on aircraft carriers and fighting ships.

9 Oct 1924- Formation of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.


Hawker Woodcock 1 Jan 1925- Air Defences of Great Britain formed (commander Air Marshal Sir John Salmond), and comprises Bombing Area, Fighting Area and Special Reserve and the Auxiliary Air Force.

March - May 1925- Outrages by Mahsud tribesmen in Waziristan, India, see the RAF involved in its first independent air action. Aircraft from Nos. 5, 27 and 60 Squadrons, commanded by Wing Commander RCM Pink, bomb and strafe mountain strongholds in a successful attempt to crush the rebellion. On 1 May, the rebel leaders seek an honourable peace, and the short campaign known as "Pink's War" came to a close. A campaign in 1919 had proved inconclusive after causing 1,329 casualties; this latest action results in the loss of just 2 men.

DH9s of 60 Squadron 1 Oct 1925- Cambridge becomes the first University Air Squadron (UAS) to be formed. This is closely followed by Oxford UAS on the 11th October.

14 Oct 1925- Northolt is the location of the first two Auxiliary Air Force squadrons to be formed; No. 600 (City of London) and No. 601 (County of London) (Bomber) Squadrons.

F2Bs of Cambridge University Air Squadron 22 Oct 1925- No. 1 Apprentices Wing is formed at Halton.

29 Oct 1925- The Observer Corps is formed.


Fairy IIID 1 Mar - 2 Jun 1926- The start of a golden era of RAF record-breaking flights; Four Fairey IIID floatplanes fly from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa and return, then on to Lee-on-Solent, England - a distance of some 14,000 miles (22,530 km).


1927- The Bristol Bulldog, destined to serve with the Royal Air Force well into the 1930's makes it's first flight.

Bristol Bulldog March 1927- The RAF's first all-metal fighter, the Siskin IIIa, enters service with No. 41 Squadron at Northolt.

April 1927- Headquarters RAF China is formed at Hong Kong, following the addition of an RAF army co-operation squadron to the existing Shanghai Defence Force.


April 1928- The RAF High Speed Flight is formed at Felixstowe.

Gloucester IV 23 Dec 1928- Following the isolation of the British Legation at Kabul in Afghanistan by rebel tribes led by Kabibullah Khan, No. 70 Squadron begins the first ever air evacuation when 586 civilians from the enclave are airlifted to safety. Over the next two months Victoria troop-carriers fly some 28,000 miles (45,000km) in total at a height of up to 10,000ft (3,048m) over mountains in severe weather.


Handley Page Hinaidi 1 Jan 1929- Control of the Observer Corps was transferred from the War Office to the RAF under the command of Air Commodore E A D Masterman.

7 Sept 1929- Britain retained the Schneider Trophy. Flying the Supermarine S.6, Flying Officer H.R.D. Waghorn lapped the course at the world record speed of 328.629mph.

Forward to 1930-1939

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