Royal Air Force

aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's air and space force. It was formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, becoming the first independent air force in the world, by regrouping the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). Following the Allied victory over the Central Powers in 1918, the RAF emerged as the largest air force in the world at the time. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.

Per Ardua ad Astra (Through Adversity to the Stars)
The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw, and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naive theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind. ~ Arthur Travers Harris
Per Ardua ad Astra  (motto)

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  • The British air estimates for 1938 included considerable expenditure in the Singapore area. The strength of the Royal Air Force Car East Command, which has headquarters in Singapore, is to be doubled by the end of the year. New airdromes have been completed not only on Singapore island but in Sarawak and Borneo, and others are planned for Malaya above the strait.
    • John Gunther, Inside Asia (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1939), 31st edition, p. 311

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  • In 1958, Bomber Command's emergency war plan called for the destruction of 44 Soviet cities. Such an attack would kill about 38 million people. One hydrogen bomb would be dropped on the centre of each city, but Moscow would be hit by four and Leningrad by two. Had Britain gone to war alongside the US in the early 1960s, Bomber Command would have been asked to destroy an additional 25 Soviet cities. As air defences improved in the Soviet Union, the number of urban areas that Britain planned to destroy unilaterally was reduced. By the late 1960s, the missiles carried by Polaris submarines served as the British strategic deterrent, and they were aimed at fewer than a dozen Soviet cities. Until the end of the cold war, the complete destruction of the Soviet Union's capital – known as the "Moscow criterion" – was the UK's main objective.

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