General Technician Workshops

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General Technician Workshops (GTW) is the title of a ground trade within the Royal Air Force. The primary role of GTW tradesmen is the manufacture and repair of aircraft components and associated equipment. GTWs are usually employed within Station workshops at front line flying stations. The trade currently has a strength of 130 personnel.[1]


The evolution of the workshops trade has been the result of the amalgamation of more specialist trades such as blacksmith and welder, coppersmith and metal worker, metal worker, and machine tool setter and operator. Each amalgamation occurred when the demand for a particular type of work diminished sufficiently to justify joining similar trades. One such absorption occurred in 1935, when the trades blacksmith and welder, and coppersmith and metalworker were abolished and replaced by the trade of metal worker.[2]


Phase 2 and 3 training for GTW is currently carried out at Defence College of Electro-Mechanical Engineering (DCEME) No 4 School of Technical Training at MOD St Athan, in the Electro Mechanical Training Flight (EWTF). After the completion of phase 1 training at RAF Halton, recruits begin a 58-week training course at St Athan entailing basic engineering, sheet metal work, welding processes including oxyacetylene welding, Metal inert gas welding (MIG), Manual metal arc welding (MMA) and TIG welding, Turning and Milling. During the course trainees also study key skills, technical drawing, mathematics, electrical and mechanical principals, as well as undergoing a vigorous physical training routine.[3] On the successful completion of phase 2 training, trainees are awarded the rank of LAC and posted to an RAF station. They are also awarded City & Guilds Level 3 Progression Award in engineering fabrication, and can eventually gain an NVQ Level 3 in engineering fabrication as part of an Advanced Apprenticeship.[4] Tradesmen may eventually be required to return to St Athan to undergo phase 3 courses including advanced welding,[5] Sheet metal work,[6] turning,[7] milling,[8] and grinding,[9][10] to fulfil the qualification requirements of a permanent post or a temporary deployment.


The primary role of GTWs is the manufacture and repair of aircraft components, in support of the squadrons at any particular RAF Station. They also provide support for ground support equipment and military transport, as well as general station support. The processes carried out in this role include sheet metal work fabrication using manual forming techniques and brake press forming, TIG, MIG, MMA and oxyacetylene welding, turning and milling using conventional and CNC machines, and surface and cylindrical grinding. GTWs are employed in most RAF Flying stations in the Station workshops, but in recent years have also been deployed to support overseas operations including Op TELIC and Op HERRICK.[11] RAF Stations with GTW posts are:

RAF AldergroveRAF AkrotiriRAF BensonRAF Brize NortonRAF ConingsbyRAF GibraltarRAF HaltonDMRC Headley CourtRAF LeemingRAF LossiemouthRAF MarhamRAF Mount PleasantRAF OdihamRAF St. AthanRAF St. MawganRAF WaddingtonRAF Wittering

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