The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the air arm of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918 the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history ever since, playing a large part in World War II and in more recent conflicts. The RAF operates almost 1,100 aircraft and has a projected trained strength of over 40,000 regular personnel. The majority of the RAF's aircraft and personnel are based in the United Kingdom with many others serving on operations (principally Iraq, Afghanistan, Middle East, Balkans, and South Atlantic) or at long-established overseas bases (notably the Falkland Islands, Qatar, Germany, Cyprus, and Gibraltar).
The RAF's mission is to support the objectives of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD)
and to provide "An agile
Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, and that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the UK Defence Mission."
The Red Arrows
, officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team
, is the aerobatics
display team of the Royal Air Force
. They were formed in late 1964 as an all-RAF team, replacing a number of unofficial teams that had been sponsored by various RAF commands.
Originally equipped with seven Folland Gnat trainers which were inherited from the RAF Yellowjacks display team, they flew at 65 shows across Europe during their first season. In 1966, the team was increased to nine members, enabling them to develop their Diamond Nine formation. In late 1979, they switched to the BAE Hawk trainer. The Red Arrows have now performed over 4,000 displays world-wide in 53 countries.
Such is the popularity of the Red Arrows that at a recent charity auction, a British woman paid £1,500,000 to fly with them.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory KCB
, DSO & Bar
(11 July 1892–14 November 1944) was a senior commander in the Royal Air Force
. Leigh-Mallory was killed during the Second World War
and was one of the most senior British officers to be killed in the war.
He joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and was posted to No. 7 Squadron, where he flew bombing, reconnaissance and photographic missions during the Battle of the Somme. He joined the newly formed Royal Air Force after the war and commanded the Armistice Squadron and was promoted to Group Captain and appointed commander of No. 12 Group, Fighter Command at the outbreak of World War II.
Leigh-Mallory devised, with Acting Squadron Leader Douglas Bader, a massed fighter formation known as the Big Wing - which they used to hunt German bomber formations as a method of protecting the South East coast of Britain. He used the same tactic once given command of No. 11 Group in 1941 and was appointed as the air commander for the Dieppe Raid before his eventual promotion to Air Marshal and movement to head of Fighter Command.
Leigh-Mallory was appointed Commander-in-chief of the Allied Expeditionary Air Forces for the Normandy invasion, where he drew up the air plan for Operation Overlord, and was killed en route to Burma in August 1944. He had been appointed as the Air Commander-in-Chief of South East Asia Command (SEAC) and was travelling to take up this post when the aircraft he was travelling in crashed into the French Alps.