The Timeline for the RAF leading to World War 2  
  March 1929  
  James L. Garvin, editor of the British newspaper The Observer, commented on the state of the RAF . Garvin wrote “We are relatively weaker than we ever were  … since the Norman Conquest … we are the nation in the whole world most vulnerable to air power.”  
   
  Wednesday, January 1, 1930  
  The RAF Far East Command was formed.  
   
  Friday, April 11, 1930  
  A survey of the Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa route was completed by the British Air Ministry and Imperial Airways.  
   
  Monday, September 1, 1930  
  Air Vice Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding was appointed as Air Member for Supply and Research on the Air Council.  
   
  Sunday, October 19, 1930  
  A flight of Fairey IIIDs of No.47 Squadron began a roundtrip journey from Khartoum to West Africa.  
   
Tuesday, November 25, 1930
  A flight of Fairey IIIDs of No.47 Squadron ended a roundtrip journey from Khartoum to West Africa.  
   
  Thursday, March 26, 1931  
  The first of the Hawker Fury series of interceptor-fighter took to the air for the first time. The Hawker Fury has been called the "Ultimate Biplane Fighter."  It went on to serve with three frontline squadrons until 1939, only being replaced when the 8-gun monoplanes, the Hurricane and Spitfire were hurried into service prior to the outbreak of war.  
   
  May 1931  
  No. 43 Squadron at Tangmere became the first RAF unit to receive the Hawker Fury Mk. I  
   
  Sunday, September 13, 1931  
  The RAF High Speed Flight won the Schneider Trophy for the third year running, thus winning the competition outright. The French, Italian, and U.S. teams were unable to ready aircraft in time, and the unchallenged British entry completed the 62 mile course at an average speed of 340.08 mph. The RAF High Speed Flight, sometimes known as “The Flight,” was a small flight of the Royal Air Force formed for the purpose of competing in the Schneider Trophy contest for racing seaplanes. The Flight was together only until the Trophy was won outright, after which it was disbanded.  
   
  Tuesday, September 29, 1931  
  Less than a month after winning the Schneider Trophy outright. Flight Lt. George Stainforth set a new world speed record of 407.5 mph in an S.6b Seaplane.  
   
  Monday, October 26, 1931  
  The de Havilland Tiger Moth, took to the air for the first time. One of the all-time classic British aircraft designs that plane was built as a training aircraft for both civilian and military pilots, many are still active all over the world today.  
   
  Saturday, March 19, 1932  
  The RAF entered the conflict between Iraq and Sheikh Ahmad Barzani and began saturation bombing of most of the villages in the Barzan region. Verbal warnings would be given in Kurdish dialect stating which villages would be bombed were issued via a loudspeaker fitted to a Victoria troop-carrier. This action would continue until the end of June when Sheikh Ahmad sought asylum in Turkey.  
   
  June 22 - June 27, 1932  
  The RAF transported the 1st Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment from Ismailia in Egypt to Hinaidi in Iraq by air using the Vickers Victorias of No.70 Squadron, Iraq Command and No.216 Squadron, Middle East Command.  
   
  Wednesday, April 13, 1932  
  The private-venture Intermediate Hawker Fury made its first flight. This aircraft was basically as a refined Fury I.  
   
  Late May, 1932  
  Two days after Sheikh Nur al-Din returned to report the failure of negotiations with Sheikh Ahmad Barzani, the rebel leader of an uprising in northern Iraq, the RAF began dropping delayed-action bombs in the region. These bombs claimed the lives of many children as they played around them.  
   
  Friday, August 5, 1932  
  The Hawker Fury number 401, powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Panther IIIA engine, was first flown.  
   
  1933  
  The Gloster SS.19B fighter (which would become the Gloster Gauntlet, the last open cockpit biplane to serve with the Royal Air Force) made its maiden flight and demonstrated a maximum speed of 346km/h during tests at Martlesham Heath. During the period 1935 to 1937 Gauntlets were the fastest fighters in RAF service.  
   
  Tuesday, March 14, 1933  
  In the British House of Commons, Winston Churchill urged the creation of an air force that was adequate to defend the civilian population.  
   
  Wednesday, May 3, 1933  
  The experimental High Speed Fury flew for the first time. This aircraft was powered by a Kestrel engine. This aircraft became the fastest of all Furies by attaining a speed of 245 mph. Later the aircraft was fitted with a 518kW Goshawk engine.  
   
  September 1933  
  The British Air Ministry placed an order for Gloster SS.19B fighters, to be named the "Gauntlet".  
   
  Sunday, October 1, 1933  
  A modified version of the private-venture Intermediate Hawker Fury made its first flight. Modifications included the addition of a 477kW Kestrel VI engine, with semi-evaporative cooling and achieved a staggering 230 mph.  
   
  Tuesday, October 17, 1933  
  A re-engined modified version of the private-venture Intermediate Hawker Fury made its first flight. The aircraft was equipped with a Goshawk III engine.  
   
  Thursday, March 8, 1934  
  Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin defended the creation of four new squadrons for the Royal Air Force against Labour criticisms and said of international disarmament: “If all our efforts for an agreement fail, and if it is not possible to obtain this equality in such matters as I have indicated, then any Government of this country - a National Government more than any, and this Government - will see to it that in air strength and air power this country shall no longer be in a position inferior to any country within striking distance of our shores.”  
   
  Tuesday, April 17, 1934  
  The first prototype of the Fairey Swordfish (the TSR.II) conducted its first flight.  
   
  Thursday, May 24, 1934  
  RAF bases around the world opened their doors to the public as the first Empire Air Day was held, with proceeds going to the RAF Benevolent Fund.  
   
  Thursday, July 19, 1934  
  The RAF announced plans for a major expansion. The number of Home Defence squadrons was to be increased from 52 to 75 which would bring the total first-line strength squadrons to 128 within five years.  
   
  Wednesday, October 24, 1934  
  The British military attaché in Paris was given information that Germany would go beyond their October 1935 program by expanding to a force of 60 bomber, 18 fighter, and 21 reconnaissance squadrons by October 1936. The French General Staff believed this would result in Germany having a first-line strength of 1,300 aircraft. The French report was so detailed that the British accepted it even though their predictions were that Germany would not achieve this capability until 1942. The British responded to this report by accelerating the RAF program (Scheme A) announced in July that was dictated by the government’s pledge to maintain air parity with any continental air force.  
   
  Tuesday, November 20, 1934  
  The British Cabinet is informed that German air force would be as large as the RAF within one year.  
   
  Monday, November 26, 1934  
  The British Cabinet decided to speed up air rearmament from four years to two. This action was taken in response to the reports that the German air force would be as large as the RAF within one year.  
   
  Monday, January 14, 1935  
  The Air Member for Supply and Research department was split into two new departments. Air Marshall Hugh Dowding, who was in charge of the original department, continued on as head of the Air Member for Research and Development. Air Vice Marshall Cyril Newall became Air Member for Supply and Organization.  
   
  May 1935  
  The Gloster Gauntlet Mk. I entered service with No 19 Squadron at RAF Duxford.  
   
  Wednesday, May 8, 1935  
  The British Cabinet learned that it was estimated that the RAF was inferior to the Luftwaffe by 370 aircraft and that in order to reach parity the RAF must have 3,800 aircraft by April 1937 - an extra 1,400 on the existing air program. It was also informed that Germany was easily able to out build this revised program as well.  
   
  Tuesday, May 21, 1935  
  The British Cabinet agreed to expanding the home defense force of the RAF to 1,512 aircraft (840 bombers and 420 fighters). This action was taken in response to information learned on May 8 of new Luftwaffe strength estimates and added up to an increase of 1500 aircraft of all types.  
   
  Wednesday, May 22, 1935  
  Lord President of the Council Stanley Baldwin announced in the House of Commons that, when he had denied the claims of Winston S. Churchill in February 1935 that the German air force was equal to that of Britain and would be twice as large by 1937, he had been wrong. Baldwin now said “First of all, with regard to the figure I then gave of German aeroplanes, nothing has come to my knowledge since that makes me think that that figure was wrong. … Where I was wrong was in my estimate of the future. There I was completely wrong. I tell the House so frankly because neither I nor any advisers from whom we could get accurate information had any idea of the exact rate at which production was being, could be, and actually was being speeded up in Germany in the six months between November and new. We were completely misled on that subject. I will not say we had not rumours. There was a great deal of hearsay, but we could get no fact, and the only facts at this moment that I could put before the House, and the only facts that I have, are those which I have from Herr Hitler himself …” This statement was made as the British Cabinet announced that it had decided to triple the number of frontline military aircraft available to defend British soil.  
   
  Saturday, July 6, 1935  
  A Royal Review of the RAF carried out by King George V at Duxford and Mildenhall includes a flypast of 350 aircraft.  
   
  Tuesday, August 20, 1935  
  The Hawker Fury Mk.2 first flew. This version of the interceptor-fighter was fitted with a Kestrel VI with composite cooling, modified fuel and oil systems, and streamlined wheel spats.  
   
  Thursday, March 5, 1936  
  Prototype K5054 of the Supermarine model 300 (later named Spitfire) made its maiden flight from Eastleigh Aerodrome. At the controls was Captain Joseph "Mutt" Summers, chief test pilot for Vickers (Aviation) Ltd., who was reported in the press as saying "Don't touch anything" on landing.  
   
  Friday, March 6, 1936  
  The RAF's first operational "modern" monoplane, the Avro Anson, equipped with a retractable undercarriage, entered service with No. 48 Squadron, RAF Manston.  
   
  May 1936  
  The Gloster Gauntlet Mk II entered service with 56 Squadron and 111 Squadron.  
   
  Wednesday, June 3, 1936  
  The Air Ministry placed an order for 310 Supermarine Spitfires, before any formal report had been issued by the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment. Interim reports were later issued on a piecemeal basis.  
   
  Saturday, June 27, 1936  
  The British public first saw the Supermarine Spitfire at the RAF Hendon air-display.  
   
  Tuesday, July 14, 1936  
  The Air Council decided to reorganize the Air Defence of Great Britain into four specialized Commands: Bomber - commanded by Air Marshal Sir John Steel at Uxbridge, Fighter - commanded by Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding at Stanmore, Coastal - commanded by Air Marshal Sir Arthur Longmore at Lee-on-Solent, and Training - commanded by Air Marshal Sir Charles Burnett at Ternhill. Under this system, the individual Air Officers Commanding were responsible for the planning and development of their Command, while the Chief of the Air Staff remained in overall control of operational policy. This new organization was the result of the RAF expansion program to keep up with the Luftwaffe.  
   
  11 Group became the first RAF Fighter Command group formed, with the responsibility for the air defense of southern England, including London.  
   
  Thursday, July 30, 1936  
  The RAF Volunteer Reserve was formed. Speaking in the House of Lords, Viscount Swinton announced that volunteers were to be recruited for a minimum of 5 years, receiving flying training at weekends and during an annual 15-day camp. By the outbreak of the World War 2, the scheme had given the RAF a valuable reservoir of 63,000 men trained as pilots as well as medical and technical trades.  
   
  December 1936  
  No. 25 Squadron became the first unit to receive the Hawker Fury Mk II. The squadron had been operating the Hawker Fury Mk.1 since 1932.  
   
  January 1937  
  The Gloster Gladiator entered service with Nos. 3 and 72 Squadrons. The Gloster Gladiator was the last biplane fighter to see service with the RAF.  
   
  Thursday, January 20, 1938  
  The Air Ministry announced that the Royal Air Force Display at Hendon would be discontinued, giving the reason that the airfield was too small for modern aircraft.  
   
  Sunday, February 20, 1938  
  The commanding officer of No.111 Squadron, Squadron Leader J.W. Gillan, made headline news when he flew from Edinburgh in Scotland to Northolt in Middlesex at an average speed of 408 mph. The night flight benefited from a strong tail wind.  
   
  Thursday, March 24, 1938  
  Further orders were placed for 200 Supermarine Spitfires, the two orders after the management of Vickers-Armstrong and the Supermarine factory convinced the Air Ministry that the problems of fulfilling orders could be overcome. Vickers-Armstrong was reluctant to see the Spitfire being manufactured by outside concerns and was slow to release the necessary blueprints and subcomponents resulting in production delays.  
   
  Saturday, April 1, 1938  
  RAF Maintenance Command was formed with Air Vice-Marshal John S. T. Bradley as its commanding officer.  RAF Maintenance Command was responsible for controlling maintenance for all the United Kingdom-based units.  
   
  Thursday, April 20, 1938  
  Air Commodore Arthur Travers Harris led the first British aircraft purchasing mission to the United States to select aircraft to expand the Royal Air Force. The Lockheed Hudson patrol bomber and North American Harvard were chosen.  
   
  Thursday, June 9, 1938  
  The British Purchasing Commission placed an order for 200 North American Harvard advanced trainers for aerial reconnaissance and training on behalf of the Royal Air Force.  
   
  Thursday, June 23, 1938  
  The British Purchasing Commission placed an order for Lockheed Hudson patrol bombers on behalf of the Royal Air Force. This order specified 200 aircraft to be delivered by December 31, 1939, plus up to 50 additional aircraft if these could also be delivered by that date. All 250 were delivered well before that date (plus one replacement for an aircraft which was lost before delivery), at a price of about $100,000 each.  
   
  Saturday, July 23, 1938  
  Sir Kingsley Wood, Secretary of State for Air, announced the creation of the Civil Air Guard. The organization’s goal was to create a reserve of civilian pilots of both sexes who could assist the Royal Air Force in a time of emergency. The plan established in conjunction with local flying clubs and membership was open to any person between the ages of 18 and 50. Within a few weeks, more than 13,350 persons had inquired about joining, but only 6,900 had actually enrolled in a flying club. The Air Ministry also lifted a restriction on the use of foreign aircraft for training by the flying clubs; previously, only British-built aircraft could be used, if the club wanted ministry subsidies. By September 1 23,647 members were available for training.  
   
  Thursday, August 4, 1938  
  The Mk I Supermarine Spitfire entered service with No. 19 Squadron at RAF Duxford. The Spitfires replaced the squadron’s Gauntlet biplanes.  
   
  Thursday, August 24, 1939  
  RAF Coastal Command began regular patrols of the North Sea as part of a General Mobilization of the RAF.  
   
  Monday, August 29, 1938  
  The five commissioners appointed to control the Civil Air Guard organization held their first meeting at Ariel House in London. The chairman of the commissioners was Lord Londonderry (Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart), former Secretary of State for Air.  
   
  Saturday, September 24, 1938  
  The Royal Air Force introduced a series of emergency measures to place the service on a war footing. These measures were made in response to the Munich Crisis.  
   
  Saturday, October 8, 1938  
  The Air Ministry announced that over 30,000 applications had been received for the Civil Air Guard. The organization had created a demand for more flying instructors, so the Air Ministry created a temporary Assistant Flying Instructor certificate that could be obtained after 100 hours solo flying, rather than 250 hours for the full certificate.  
   
  Tuesday, November 1, 1938  
  RAF Balloon Command was formed at RAF Stanmore Park in Middlesex with Air Vice-Marshal Owen T. Boyd in command. The organization was for controlling all the United Kingdom-based barrage balloon units and deployed approximately 1,500 barrage balloons by the outbreak of the war.  
   
  Sunday, January 1, 1939  
  At beginning of 1939 RAF strength stood at 135 squadrons: 74 Bomber, 27 Fighter, 12 Army cooperation, 17 Reconnaissance, 4 Torpedo-bomber and 1 Communications. In addition the Auxiliary Air Force was comprised of 19 squadrons: 3 Bomber, 11 Fighter, 2 Army cooperation and 3 Reconnaissance.  
   
  Tuesday, January 3, 1939  
  No. 40 Group RAF was formed within RAF Maintenance Command and made responsible for all equipment except bombs and explosives.  
   
  Tuesday, January 17, 1939  
  The Auxiliary Air Force Reserve of the RAF was formed to allow ex-members of the Auxiliary Air Force to serve with Auxiliary flying squadrons in an emergency.  
   
  Tuesday, January 24, 1939  
  Civil Air Guard licence holders were classed in three groups: Class "A" men between 18 and 30 who might become service pilots in wartime, Class "B" men who might be able to undertake other service flying duties such as wireless operator, air gunner or observer, and Class "C" men and all women who might be suitable as ferry pilots or air ambulance or general communications pilots.  
   
  Wednesday, February 1, 1939  
  The Reserve Command of the RAF was formed under the command of Air Marshal Christopher L. Courtney.  
   
  Saturday, May 20, 1939  
  Sixty Royal Air Force Stations and eighteen other airfields took part in the last Empire Air Day, which received approximately one million visitors.  
   
  Wednesday, May 24, 1939  
  The Fleet Air Arm of the RAF reverted to Admiralty control under the "Inskip Award" (named after the Minister for Co-ordination of Defence who was overseeing Britain's re-armament program) and renamed the Air Branch of the Royal Navy.  
   
  Monday, June 26, 1939  
  The Secretary of State for Air, Sir Kingsley Wood, announced that the Royal Air Force would impress civil aircraft in the event of war.  
   
  Wednesday, June 28, 1939  
  The Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) of the RAF was formed with Katherine Jane Trefusis-Forbes becoming its first Senior Controller. The women worked as office clerks, operation room plotters, radar operators, telephone operators allowing their male counterparts to be released for aircrew and front-line duties.  
   
  Thursday, August 24, 1939  
RAF Coastal Command began regular patrols of the North Sea as part of a General Mobilization of the RAF.
     
   
     
   
 

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