RAF Timeline 1970 -1979

Back to 1960-69


Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding 15 Feb 1970 - Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, AOC-in-C Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, dies at the age of 87.

4 Apr 1970 - After 27 years service, the RAF finally retires its last Dakota from service. 23 years later in March 1993, the type re-entered service when ZA947 joined the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight!


Buccaneer low January 1971 - The second Buccaneer unit forms when No. 15 Sqn at RAF Honington receives the type. The following year they become the first Buccaneer NATO squadron when they move to Germany in the low-level penetration role prior to the arrival of Tornado in service.

29 September 1971 - The Puma helicopter enters service with No. 33 Squadron, then based at RAF Odiham. Pembroke

Oct-Dec 1971 - As part of a scaling down of RAF operations in the Far and Middle East, the Far Eastern Air Force was disbanded on 31 October, followed by the withdrawal of RAF units in the Gulf area when on 15 December 1971 the Air Forces Gulf Headquarters (formerly HQ RAF Persian Gulf) at Bahrain disbanded.


AEW Shackleton January 1972 - The Shackleton AEW Mk2 enters service as No 8 Squadron becomes the first RAF Airborne Early Warning Squadron at RAF Kinloss.

15 Nov 1972 - HM Queen Elizabeth II opens the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon, North London.


March 1973 - Operation Khana Cascade. In the biggest airlift since Berlin, RAF Hercules transports of 46 Group drop some 2,000 tons of grain, maize and rice to Himalayan villagers in Nepal.

Jaguar 30 May 1973 - No. 226 OCU at Lossiemouth takes delivery of the first two SEPECAT Jaguar GR1 fighter/bombers for the RAF.

Early Gazelle 17 July 1973 - The first Gazelle HT3 training and communication helicopters are delivered to Training Command at RAF Tern Hill in Shropshire.

1 Sep 1973 - RAF Maintenance Command and No. 90 (Signals) Group are disbanded, with the newly formed RAF Support Command assuming their duties.


Canberra PR9 22 May 1974 - In a fly-in to mark the 25th anniversary of the first flight of the Canberra, no fewer than 33 different marks of the aircraft can be seen at RAF Cottesmore.

26 Jul 1974 - Following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, RAF Support Command transport aircraft including VC10s, Comets and Hercules ferry more than 7,500 tourists off the island.

Tornado prototype 14 Aug 1974 - The Prototype Panavia MRCA makes its first flight at Manching, West Germany, piloted by Briton Paul Millet.

21 Aug 1974 - First flight of the Hawker Siddeley Hawk trainer from the company's airfield at Dunsfold in Surrey.


Air Chief Marshal Park 6 Feb 1975 - Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park, AOC No. 11 Group during the Battle of Britain, dies in New Zealand.

10 Mar 1975 - In the final hours of the Vietnam War, RAF Hercules are used to evacuate civilians from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

November 1975 - British reinforcements are sent to the British protectorate of Belize in the Central Americas to counter the threat of an invasion by neighbouring Guatemala.


31 March 1976 - The Near East Air Force (NEAF) disbanded as part of the continuing drawdown of RAF commitments world-wide. Gan

1 April 1976 - RAF Gan in the Maldives was closed.

May 1976 - The Vickers Varsity, aka "The Flying Pig", was withdrawn from the last Flying Training School to operate the type as a pilot and navigator trainer with the full establishment of the Scottish Aviation Jetstream into service.


13 Jun 1977 - RAF Training Command and Air Support Commands are merged into RAF Support Command.

29 Jul 1977 - The Queen carries out a Silver Jubilee Review of the Royal Air Force at RAF Finningley in South Yorkshire.


202 Squadron Seaking August 1978 - The RAF Sea King Training Unit at RNAS Culdrose had trained sufficient aircrew for 202 Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth to be established on the new helicopter. The Sea King replaced the Whirlwind and Wessex in the Air Sea Rescue role.

October 1978 - The last RAF squadron based on Malta, No. 13 Sqn, departs the island. Equipped with Canberra PR7s and PR9s, they had formed the photo-reconnaissance force in the Mediterranean as part of the NEAF.


Red Arrows November 1979 - Having entered service with No. 4 Flying Training School in November 1976, the British Aerospace Hawk replaced the last Hawker Siddeley Gnats in RAF service this month when it became the mount of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows.

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