No. 18 Group RAF
|No. 18 Group RAF|
|Active||1918 - 1919
1938 - 1996
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Part of||RAF Coastal Command, RAF Strike Command|
|Headquarters||Pitreavie Castle, Northwood Headquarters|
|Engagements||Battle of the Atlantic|
1918 - 1919
The Group was initially formed on 1 April 1918 in No 4 Area. It was transferred to North-Eastern Area, 8 May 1918. Disbanded 18 Oct 1919.
1938 – 1945
The group was reformed on 1 September 1938 as No. 18 (Reconnaissance) Group of Coastal Command for operations with the Royal Navy's Commander-in-Chief, Rosyth, and the Orkney & Shetlands Naval Command. Its headquarters were established at Rosyth.
Of the three groups forming Coastal Command's planned dispositions on the outbreak of war, 18 Group was the only one with a fully operational Navy/Air Force Area Combined Headquarters (ACHQ). It covered much of the North Sea and areas to the north and west of Scotland, north of a line running north west from the Mull of Kintyre.
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1946 – 1996
By October 1946, after the war ended, it was headquartered at Pitreavie Castle and its front-line strength consisted of Nos 120 and No. 203 Squadrons operating from RAF Leuchars flying Lancaster GR.3s. However, by 1954 its strength had grown to five squadrons of Avro Shackletons, and Neptunes (Nos 120, 204, 217, 240, and 269) at RAF Ballykelly, RAF Kinloss, and RAF Aldergrove as well as No. 202 Squadron RAF flying Handley Page Hastings on meteorological reconnaissance missions from RAF Aldergrove.
With the advent of Strike Command the former 18 Group became the Northern Maritime Air Region, and Coastal Command was renamed 18 Group, both changes happening on 28 Nov 1969. Within Strike Command the new group's title was No. 18 (Maritime) Group. From that point the Group commander held the NATO post of Commander, Maritime Air, Eastern Atlantic, reporting to CinC, Eastern Atlantic at the Northwood Headquarters in London. The Group commander also held the corresponding post within the NATO Allied Command Channel.
The Hawker Siddeley Nimrod entered service in late 1970 and early 1971, initially with four squadrons of six aircraft, 120, 201, and 206 at Kinloss and 42 at St. Mawgan. Elements also went to Malta; No. 203 Squadron disbanding there at RAF Luqa in 1977 while flying Nimrods. The Kinloss Wing spent thousands of hours tracking Soviet submarines of the Northern Fleet, often after they had been detected by NATO submarines or the P-3 Orions of the Royal Norwegian Air Force. Keeping track of the submarines was made easier by the aid of SOSUS acoustic listening devices on the sea bed. Also part of the force were Sea King helicopters, flying for a long period in the SAR role with No. 22 and 202 Squadrons.
Blackburn Buccaneers joined the Group in the mid 1970s, and with the retirement of the final Royal Navy Buccaneers in December 1978, Nos 12, 208, and 216 Squadrons began to operate them at RAF Honington, before shifting north to RAF Lossiemouth from July 1980. No. 216 Squadron however disbanded as a Buccaneer unit in late 1980 due to a shortage of airframes following the discovery of fatigue cracks.
The Group was disbanded by being merging with No 11 Group on 1 April 1996 to form No. 11/18 Group RAF.
Structure in 1989
- No. 18 (Maritime) Group (doubles as Allied Maritime Air Force Channel)
- RAF Finningley
- No. 22 Squadron RAF with a flight of two Wessex HAR.2 search and rescue helicopters at RAF Chivenor, RAF Leuchars, RAF Valley and RAF Manston
- No. 202 Squadron RAF with a flight of two Sea King HAR.3 search and rescue helicopters at RAF Boulmer, RAF Coltishall, RAF Brawdy, RAF Leconfield and RAF Lossiemouth
- Maritime Air Nore Sub-Area Channel Command (AIRNORECHAN) based at Pitreavie Castle in Scotland
- RAF Kinloss
- RAF Lossiemouth
- No. 8 Squadron RAF Squadron with 12x Avro Shackleton AEW.2s airborne early warning aircraft
- No. 12 Squadron RAF Squadron with 12x Buccaneer S.2B attack aircraftnote 1
- No. 208 Squadron RAF Squadron with 12x Buccaneer S.2B attack aircraftnote 1
- No. 237 Operational Conversion Unit RAF with 16x Buccaneer S.2B attack aircraft
- Maritime Air Plymouth Sub-Area Channel Command (AIRPLYMCHAN) based in Plymouth
- RAF St Mawgan
- RAF Wyton
- No. 51 Squadron RAF Squadron with 3x Nimrod R.1 signals intelligence aircraft
- No. 100 Squadron RAF Squadron with 12x Canberra T.17 electronic warfare training aircraft
- No. 360 Squadron RAF Squadron with 12x Canberra electronic warfare training aircraft
- No. 231 Operational Conversion Unit RAF with Canberra medium bombers
- RAF Finningley
The following men were the Air Officers Commanding (AOC) of No. 18 Group:
1 April 1918 to 18 October 1919
- 1 April 1918 Colonel H A Williamson
1 September 1938 to 1 April 1996
- 27 September 1938 Air Commodore C D Breese
- 24 March 1941 Air Vice-Marshal R L G Marix
- 10 February 1942 Air Vice-Marshal A Durston
- 25 January 1943 Air Vice-Marshal A B Ellwood
- 22 February 1944 Air Vice-Marshal S P Simpson
- January 1947 Air Vice-Marshal E J Kingston-McClaughry
- 17 June 1948 Air Vice-Marshal D V Carnegie
- 1 November 1950 Air Vice-Marshal H T Lydford
- 29 September 1952 Air Vice-Marshal R L Ragg
- 1 April 1955 Air Vice-Marshal P D Cracroft
- 29 September 1958 Air Vice-Marshal A D Selway
- 7 July 1961 Air Vice-Marshal R B Thomson
- 15 February 1963 Air Vice-Marshal K V Garside
- 25 September 1965 Air Vice-Marshal A V R Johnstone
- 1 October 1968 Air Vice-Marshal F D Hughes
- 28 November 1969 Air Marshal Sir Robert Craven
- 19 November 1972 Air Marshal Sir Anthony Heward
- 3 March 1973 Air Marshal Sir Douglas Lowe
- 18 September 1975 Air Marshal Sir Robert Freer
- 30 September 1978 Air Marshal Sir Philip Lagesen
- 10 May 1980 Air Marshal Sir John Curtiss
- 31 March 1983 Air Marshal Sir John Fitzpatrick
- 21 March 1986 Air Marshal Sir Barry Duxbury
- 25 October 1989 Air Marshal Sir Michael Stear
- 1 May 1992 Air Marshal Sir John Harris
- Roskill, p. 37.
- Rawlings 1984, pp. 216–217.
- Isby and Kamps 1985, p. 313.
- Isby and Kamps 1985, p. 313.