RAF Timeline 1930-1939

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1 Jan 1930- Far East Command formed.


timeline_1930-1939_Schneider 13 Sept 1931- The RAF High Speed Flight won the Schneider Trophy for the third year running, thus winning the competition outright. The French, Italian and US teams were unable to ready aircraft in time, and the unchallenged British entry completed the 62 mile course at an average speed of 340.08 mph.

29 Sept 1931- Less than a month after winning the Schneider Trophy outright. Flight Lieutenant George Stainforth sets a new world speed record of 407.5mph in an S.6b Seaplane.

26 Oct 1931- One of the all-time classic British aircraft designs, the de Havilland Tiger Moth, takes to the air for the first time. Built as a training aircraft for both civilian and military pilots, many are still active all over the world today.

timeline_1930-1939_Fury 1931- The "Ultimate Biplane Fighter". The Hawker Fury, takes to the air for the first time. It went on to serve with three frontline squadrons until 1939. Only being replaced when the 8-gun monoplanes, the Hurricane and Spitfire were hurried into service prior to the outbreak of war.


timeline_1930-1939_Victoria 25 Apr 1932- British and Iraqi aircraft and troops are called into action to crush an uprising led by Sheikh Ahmad. Verbal warnings in Kurdish dialect stating that villages would be bombed are issued via a loudspeaker fitted to a Victoria troop-carrier. The operation concludes successfully in June with the surrender of Sheikh Ahmad.


24 Oct 1933- Winston Churchill, addressing the House of Commons, gives an early warning on the shape of things to come by stating that Germany is well on the way to becoming the most heavily armed nation in the world. This prophetic statement is remarkable in that Germany was still bound by the Treaty of Versailles banning it from re-arming itself after the end of World War I. timeline_1930-1939_Gauntlet Germany did not officially declare formation of the Luftwaffe until March 1935.

1933- The Gloster Gauntlet. The last open cockpit Biplane to serve with the Royal Air Force makes it's maiden flight.



March 1934- Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, assures the House of Commons that should the Geneva Disarmament Conference fail, Britain would take steps to organise an Air Disarmament Conference. Should that fail, then the strength of the RAF would be increased to match that of the strongest air arm within striking distance of the UK.

timeline_1930-1939_Demons 24 May 1934- RAF bases around the world open their doors to the public as the first Empire Air Day is held, with proceeds going to the RAF Benevolent Fund.

July 1934- A major expansion of the RAF is announced, with the number of Home Defence squadrons increased from 52 to 75, and bringing the total first-line strength to 128 squadrons within five years.

December 1934- The School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum takes delivery of the RAF's first rotary wing aircraft - the Rota Autogiro.


22 May 1935- The British Government votes to treble the number of frontline military aircraft available to defend U.K. soil. This adds up to an increase of 1500 aircraft of all types.

6 Jul 1935- A Royal Review of the RAF carried out by King George V at Duxford and Mildenhall includes a flypast of 350 aircraft.


5 Mar 1936- The Supermarine model 300 - later named Spitfire made it's maiden flight at Eastleigh aerodrome. Test pilot 'Mutt' Summers famous comment to the design team after the flight was "don't touch anything".

timeline_1930-1939_3Kings 6 Mar 1936- The RAF's first operational "modern" monoplane, the Avro Anson, equipped with a retractable undercarriage, entered service with No. 48 Squadron, RAF Manston.

14 Jul 1936- As a result of RAF expansion, the Air Council decides to re-organised the Air Defence of Great Britain into four specialised Commands; Bomber - Commanded by Air Marshal Sir John Steel at Uxbridge; Fighter - Commanded by Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding at Stanmore; Coastal - Commanded by Air Marshal Sir Arthur Longmore at Lee-on-Solent; Training - Commanded by Air Marshal Sir Charles Burnett at Ternhill. Under this system, the individual Air Officers Commanding were responsible for the planning and development of their Command, whilst the Chief of the Air Staff remained in overall control of operational policy.

timeline_1930-1939_Anson 30 Jul 1936- The RAF Volunteer Reserve is formed. Speaking in the House of Lords, Viscount Swinton announces that volunteers are to be recruited for a minimum of 5 years, receiving flying training at weekends and during an annual 15-day camp. By the outbreak of the Second World War, the scheme had given the RAF a valuable reservoir of 63,000 men trained as pilots as well as medical and technical trades.


timeline_1930-1939_Gladiator January 1937- The last biplane fighter to see service with the RAF, the Gloster Gladiator, entered service with Nos. 3 and 72 Squadrons.

December 1937- No. 111 Squadron at Northolt takes delivery of the first Hawker Hurricane fighters.


1 Apr 1938- RAF Maintenance Command is formed, Commanding Officer Air Vice-Marshal J S T Bradley.

timeline_1930-1939_Spit1 June 1938- The Supermarine Spitfire, perhaps the most famous RAF aircraft ever, enters service with No. 19 Squadron at Duxford.

15-29 Sep 1938- Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flies twice to Munich in an attempt to solve the growing German - Czech crisis. Finally, on September 29th, France and Britain capitulate to German demands and agree to the annexation of the Czech Sudetenland. Chamberlain returns to Britain and, clutching the agreement, claims "peace in our time".

1 Nov 1938- RAF Balloon Command is formed (commanded by Air Vice-Marshal O T Boyd), deploying some 1,500 barrage balloons by the outbreak of World War II.


timeline_1930-1939_Stranrae 1 Jan 1939- At the turn of the year, RAF strength stood at 135 squadrons (74 Bomber, 27 Fighter, 12 Army co-operation, 17 Reconnaissance, 4 Torpedo-bomber and 1 Communications). In addition to this, the Auxiliary Air Force comprised 19 squadrons (3 Bomber, 11 Fighter, 2 Army co-operation and 3 Reconnaissance).

28 Jun 1939- The Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) is formed; Director Miss J Trefusis-Forbes. Formation of the WAAF allowed their male counterparts to be released for aircrew and front-line duties.

24 Aug 1939- Coastal Command begins regular patrols of the North Sea as part of a General Mobilisation of the RAF.

1 Sep 1939- Members of the RAF Reserve and RAF Volunteer Reserve are called out for permanent service. At 4.45am Germany commenced the invasion of Poland. timeline_1930-1939_Battle

2 Sep 1939- Ten squadrons of Fairey Battle bombers and two of Hurricanes of the Advanced Air Striking Force are deployed to bases in France.

Forward to 1939

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