Most of the RAF's aircraft and personnel are based in the UK, with many others serving on operations or at long-established overseas bases. While the British were not the first to make use of heavier-than-air military aircraft, the RAF is the world's oldest independent air force: that is, the first air force to become independent of army or navy control. At that time it was the largest air force in the world. After the war, the service was drastically cut and its inter-war years were quiet, with the RAF taking responsibility for the control of Iraq and executing a number of minor actions in other parts of the British Empire ; the RAF's naval aviation branch, the Fleet Air Arm, was founded in but handed over to Admiralty control on 24 May The RAF developed the doctrine of strategic bombing which led to the construction of long-range bombers and became its main bombing strategy in the Second World War; the RAF underwent rapid expansion prior to and during the Second World War.
Many individual personnel from these countries, exiles from occupied Europe served with RAF squadrons. By the end of the war the Royal Canadian Air Force had contributed more than 30 squadrons to serve in RAF formations approximately a quarter of Bomber Command's personnel were Canadian. In what is the most prolonged and complicated air campaign in history, the Battle of Britain contributed to the delay and subsequent indefinite postponement of Hitler's plans for an invasion of the United Kingdom.
In the House of Commons on 20 August, prompted by the ongoing efforts of the RAF, Prime Minister Winston Churchill eloquently made a speech to the nation, where he said "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".
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While RAF bombing of Germany began immediately upon the outbreak of war, under the leadership of Air Chief Marshal Harris, these attacks became devastating from onward as new technology and greater numbers of superior aircraft became available; the RAF adopted night-time area bombing on German cities such as Hamburg and Dresden , developed precision bombing techniques for specific operations, such as the " Dambusters " raid by No.
Following victory in the Second World War , the RAF underwent significant re-organisation, as technological advances in air warfare saw the arrival of jet fighters and bombers. During the early stages of the Cold War , one of the first major operations undertaken by the Royal Air Force was in and the Berlin Airlift , codenamed Operation Plainfire.
In the six weeks from 10 May , German forces defeated Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France , Belgium and the Netherlands , bringing land operations on the Western Front to an end until 6 June Italy invaded France over the Alps. In Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes and along the Somme valley, cutting off and surrounding the Allied units that had advanced into Belgium, to meet the expected German invasion; when British and French forces were pushed back to the sea by the mobile and well-organised German operation, the British evacuated the British Expeditionary Force and French divisions from Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo.
German forces began Fall Rot on 5 June; the sixty remaining French divisions and two British divisions made a determined resistance but were unable to overcome the German air superiority and armoured mobility. German tanks outflanked the Maginot Line and pushed deep into France, occupying Paris unopposed on 14 June. After the flight of the French government and the collapse of the French army, German commanders met with French officials on 18 June to negotiate an end to hostilities.
Italy took control of a small occupation zone in the south-east and the Vichy regime retained the unoccupied territory in the south, known as the zone libre. In November , the Germans occupied the zone under Case Anton , until the Allied liberation in During the s, the French built fortifications along the border with Germany; the line was intended to economise on manpower and deter a German invasion across the Franco-German border by diverting it into Belgium, which could be met by the best divisions of the French Army. The war would take place outside French territory avoiding the destruction of the First World War.
The main section of the Maginot Line ended at Longwy. French war games held in , of a hypothetical German armoured attack through the Ardennes, left the army with the impression that the region was still impenetrable and that this, along with the obstacle of the Meuse River , would allow the French time to bring up troops into the area to counter an attack. In , Britain and France offered military support to Poland in the case of a German invasion. In the dawn of 1 September , the German Invasion of Poland began. France and the United Kingdom declared war on 3 September, after an ultimatum for German forces to withdraw their forces from Poland was not answered.
While British and French commitments to Poland were met politically, the Allies were not in a position to render meaningful military assistance to the Poles in a timely manner. If Allied military intervention in Poland had been feasible, it would have come at the risk of drawing the Soviet Union into the war on Germany's side due to the recently-signed German-Soviet non-aggression pact and subsequent Soviet invasion of eastern Poland; as a result, the Allies settled on a long-war strategy and mobilised for defensive land operations against Germany, while a trade blockade was imposed and the pre-war re-armament was accelerated, ready for an eventual invasion of Germany.
On 7 September, in accordance with their alliance with Poland, France began the Saar Offensive with an advance from the Maginot Line 5 km into the Saar. France had mobilised 98 divisions and 2, tanks against a German force consisting of 43 divisions and no tanks. The French advanced until they met the thin and undermanned Siegfried Line. On 17 September, the French supreme commander, Maurice Gamelin gave the order to withdraw French troops to their starting positions.
Following the Saar Offensive, a period of inaction called the Phoney War set in between the belligerents. Adolf Hitler had hoped that France and Britain would acquiesce in the conquest of Poland and make peace. On 6 October, he made a peace offer to both Western powers.
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For the moment only limited objectives could be envisaged and were aimed at improving Germany's ability to survive a long war in the west. Hitler ordered a conquest of the Low Countries to be executed at the shortest possible notice to forestall the French and prevent Allied air po. Airspeed Ltd. Airspeed Limited was established to build aeroplanes in in York, England , by A.
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Amy Johnson was one of the initial subscribers for shares. In his autobiography, Slide Rule: Autobiography of an Engineer , Norway gives an account of the founding of the company and of the processes that led to the development and mass production of the Oxford, he received the Fellowship of the Royal Aeronautical Society for his innovative fitting of a retractable undercarriage to aircraft. The AS. It could fly in two or three months while setting up the design office and workshop in half of an empty bus garage in York.
In , Airspeed produced the AS. In March , the firm moved to Portsmouth where the Corporation gave generous terms for a factory building built to Airspeed's requirements on their airport. The first Airspeed Courier was flown from here in , followed by the first of a twin-engined development of the Courier, the Airspeed Envoy in Both the Courier and the Envoy were made in small numbers.
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In the same year, a long-range racing version of the Envoy, the AS. He got a reputation as "unscrupulous" for resisting the auditors' attempt to write them down on the books, as with growing talk of war civil aircraft of any size would "sell immediately". And Shute could see from his office the four hundred workers in the "shop" with families depending on their jobs. In the sole Airspeed Viceroy was nearly sold to Ethiopia for use against Italian forces.
In Shute negotiated with Anthony Fokker for a licencing agreement with Fokker, he worked "at all hours and in strange places". In Airspeed signed a manufacturing licencing agreement for the Douglas DC-2 and several Fokker types, with Fokker to be a consultant for seven years. Airspeed considered making the Fokker D. Shute and a Fokker representative "who was well accustomed to methods of business in the Balkans " spent three weeks in Athens but did not close the deal.
Shute recommended reading his novel Ruined City to find out, and after a year the drift to war and their Air Ministry contracts meant that Dutchmen could not go to the Airspeed factory or board meetings. All Airspeed aeroplanes under manufacture or development in were to use a Wolseley radial aero engine of about horsepower , under development by Nuffield, the Wolseley Scorpio ; the project was abandoned in September after the expenditure of about two hundred thousand pounds when Lord Nuffield got the fixed price I. According to Nevil Shute Norway it was a advanced engine, so its loss was a major disaster for Airspeed, but when he asked Lord Nuffield to retain the engine, Nuffield said "I tell you, Norway I sent that I.
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Thing back to them, I told them they could put it where the monkey put the nuts! Shute said that "admitting Air Ministry methods of doing business Better to stick to selling motor vehicles for cash to the War Office and the Admiralty who retained the normal methods of buying and selling.
Airspeed retained its identity as a separate company though as a wholly owned subsidiary of de Havilland. Around to reduce the risk of Luftwaffe bombing, a new dispersed design office was opened at Fairmile Manor in Cobham, Surrey. Airspeed's most productive p. The operation was launched on 6 June with the Normandy landings. A 1,plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving more than 5, vessels.
Nearly , troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August; the decision to undertake a cross-channel invasion in was taken at the Trident Conference in Washington in May General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force , General Bernard Montgomery was named as commander of the 21st Army Group , which comprised all the land forces involved in the invasion; the coast of Normandy of northwestern France was chosen as the site of the invasion, with the Americans assigned to land at sectors codenamed Utah and Omaha , the British at Sword and Gold, the Canadians at Juno.
To meet the conditions expected on the Normandy beachhead , special technology was developed, including two artificial ports called Mulberry harbours and an array of specialised tanks nicknamed Hobart's Funnies. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, Operation Bodyguard , using both electronic and visual misinformation; this misled the Germans as to the location of the main Allied landings. A failed counterattack by German forces on 8 August left 50, soldiers of the 7th Army trapped in the Falaise pocket; the Allies launched a second invasion from the Mediterranean Sea of southern France on 15 August, the Liberation of Paris followed on 25 August.
German forces retreated east across the Seine on 30 August , marking the close of Operation Overlord. In June , Germany's leader Adolf Hitler had triumphed in what he called "the most famous victory in history"—the fall of France. British craft evacuated to England over , Allied troops trapped along the northern coast of France in the Dunkirk evacuation. British planners reported to Prime Minister Winston Churchill on 4 October that with the help of other Commonwealth countries and the United States , it would not be possible to regain a foothold in continental Europe in the near future.
Churchill declined because he felt that with American help the British did not have adequate forces for such a strike, he wished to avoid costly frontal assaults such as those that had occurred at the Somme and Passchendaele in World War I. Two tentative plans code-named Operation Roundup and Operation Sledgehammer were put forward for —43, but neither was deemed by the British to be practical or to succeed. Instead, the Allies expanded their activity in the Mediterranean, launching the invasion of French North Africa in November , the invasion of Sicily in July , invading Italy in September.
These campaigns provided the troops with valuable experience in amphibious warfare. Attendees at the Trident Conference in Washington in May took the decision to launch a cross-Channel invasion within the next year. Churchill favoured making the main Allied thrust into Germany from the Mediterranean theatre, but his American allies, who were providing the bulk of the men and equipment, over-ruled him. British Lieutenant-General Frederick E. Morgan was appointed Chief of Staff , Supreme Allied Commander , to begin detailed planning; the initial plans were constrained by the number of available landing-craft, most of which were committed in the Mediterranean and in the Pacific.
In part because of lessons learned in the Dieppe Raid of 19 August , the Allies decided not to directly assault a defended French seaport in their first landing.
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The failure at Dieppe highlighted the need for adequate artillery and air support close air support , specialised ships able to travel close to shore. The short operating-range of British aircraft such as the Spitfire and Typhoon limited the number of potential landing-sites, as comprehensive air-support depended upon having planes overhead for as long as possible. Morgan considered four sites for the landings: Brittany , the Cotentin Peninsula and the Pas de Calais ; as Brittany and Cotentin are peninsulas, the Germans could have cut off the Allied advance at a narrow isthmus , so these sites were rejected.
Pas de Calais, the closest point in continental Europe to Britain, was the location of launch sites for V-1 and V-2 rockets still under development; the Germans regarded it as the most initial landing zone, accordingly made it the most fortified region. It offered the Allies few opportunities for expansion, however, as the area is bounded by numerous rivers and canals, whereas landings on a broad front in Normandy would permit simultaneous threats against the port of Cherbourg, coastal ports further west in Brittany, an overland attack towards Paris and into Germany.
Normandy was therefore chosen as the landing site. The most serious drawback of the Normandy coast—the lack of. Major infrastructure redevelopment began in ahead of the closure of RAF Lyneham in , at which point Brize Norton became the sole air point of embarkation for British troops. The station's first unit, No.
One of the first operational squadrons to use the airfield was No. On 16 August, the airfield was attacked by German bombers, with 35 Oxfords and 11 Hawker Hurricanes destroyed. The No. The two flying training units left on 16 July to make way for a new user, the Heavy Glider Conversion Unit , equipped with Whitley glider tugs and Horsa gliders. The increasing tension of the Cold War led to a re-evaluation of these deployments. The station was assigned to the 7th Air Division and operated by the th Air Base Group, renamed as the th Combat Support Group , the th Strategic Wing in ; the th ceased operations in From September , units equipped with the Boeing BE Stratojet six-engined bombers began to be deployed to Brize Norton on day temporary deployments, with boom-equipped Boeing KCG Stratofreighters being deployed in support from December Brize Norton was closed for runway repairs in B Stratojets returned in July From , B deployments changed from day temporary deployments to day Reflex Alerts, in which the aircraft did little flying, but were held at a high degree of readiness on special aprons on the south side of the airbase.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Belgium Belgian Army — One aircraft only. Aviation author David Mondey gives the figure of 3,,  while Keith Flint and Tim Lynch give the number of 3,,   whilst Claude Smith gives a larger total of "over 5, Due to age of the design and legal liability issues this is not now possible. Retrieved: 7 June August Bishop, Chris.