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Encyclopedia > RAF Fighter Command

Fighter Command was one of three functional commands that dominated the public perception of the RAF for much of the mid-20th century. It was formed in 1936 to reflect the fact that as the RAF expanded prior to World War II, more specialised control of each type of aircraft: fighter, bomber and maritime patrol was needed. The Royal Air Force (often abbreviated to RAF) is the air force branch of the British Armed Forces. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999 in the... 1936 (MCMXXXVI) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Combatants Allies: Poland, British Commonwealth, France/Free France, Soviet Union, United States, China, and others Axis Powers: Germany, Italy, Japan, and others Casualties Military dead:17 million Civilian dead:33 million Total dead:50 million Military dead:8 million Civilian dead:4 million Total dead:12 million World War II... Airbus A380 An aircraft is any machine capable of atmospheric flight. ... An A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-86 Sabre, P-38 Lightning and P-51 Mustang fly in formation during an air show at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. ... A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground targets, primarily by dropping bombs. ... Maritime patrol is the task of monitoring large areas of water. ...

Contents


Origins

On 20 May 1926, Fighter Command's precursor organization was established as a group within Inland Area. On 1 June 1926, Fighting Area (as it was then called) was transferred to the Air Defence of Great Britain. Fighting Area was raised to Command status in 1932 and renamed Fighter Command on 1 May 1936. 20 May is the 140th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (141st in leap years). ... 1926 (MCMXXVI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... For some other uses of the word group please see Group Group is a term used by different air forces for a unit of command. ... June 1 is the 152nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (153rd in leap years), with 213 days remaining. ... 1926 (MCMXXVI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... The Air Defence of Great Britain (ADGB) refers to two different components of the RAF depending on the time period in question. ... 1932 (MCMXXXII) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link will take you to a full 1932 calendar). ... May 1 is the 121st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (122nd in leap years). ... 1936 (MCMXXXVI) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will take you to calendar). ...


Battle of Britain

Over the next few years the Command expanded greatly and replaced its obsolescent biplane squadrons with two of the most famous aircraft ever to fly with the RAF, the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire. The supreme test of Fighter Command came during the summer of 1940 when the German Luftwaffe launched operation sea lion, which entailed attacking the UK in what would be the Battle of Britain. Fighter Command was divided into a number of Groups, each controlling a different part of the UK. No. 11 Group took the brunt of the German attack, as it controlled southeast England and London. It was reinforced by No. 10 Group, which covered southwest England and No. 12 Group, which covered the Midlands. In the end, the Germans were beaten, although the RAF had been eating into its reserves during the middle of the battle. A shortage of aircraft was never a problem. The problem was a shortage of pilots. Pilots were getting shot down and killed faster than they could be trained. It took Fighter Command some months to recover from those losses and to take the offensive. Hs123 biplane. ... The Hawker Hurricane is a fighter design from the 1930s which was used extensively by the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain. ... The still unpainted Spitfire protoype, K5054, shortly before its first flight The Supermarine Spitfire was a single-seat fighter used by the RAF and many Allied countries in World War II. Produced by Supermarine, the Spitfire was designed by R.J. Mitchell, who continued to refine it until his death... 1940 (MCMXL) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1940 calendar). ... The Deutsche Luftwaffe or (help· info) (German: Air Arm, IPA: [luftvafə]) is the commonly used term for the German air force. ... Combatants United Kingdom Germany Commanders Hugh Dowding Hermann Göring Strength approx 700 fighters (at the beginning) 1,260 bombers; 320 dive-bombers; 1,090 fighters (at the beginning) Casualties 1,550 aircraft; Civilian: 27,450 dead, 32,140 wounded 1,890 aircraft A major campaign of the early part... For other uses, see London (disambiguation) and Defining London (below). ... An aviator is a person who flies aircraft for pleasure or as a profession. ...


Winning air superiority over the Luftwaffe

As 1941 began, Fighter Command began the onerous task of winning air superiority over France from the Germans. Fighter sweep missions were dangerous, and most of the factors that had allowed Fighter Command to win the Battle of Britain were now reversed. For example, British pilots shot down in 1940 and surviving would be patched up and sent back to their units as quickly as possible. In 1941, over France, a shot down pilot would, likely as not, end up a prisoner of war. For the movie, see 1941 (film) 1941 (MCMXLI) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1941 calendar). ...


The task of slowly grinding down the Germans continued into 1942 and 1943. A particularly notable battle took place over Dieppe, France when a raid was mounted there in 1942. The Luftwaffe and RAF clashed in the skies over the French city. In the end, the RAF succeeded in preventing the Luftwaffe from interfering with the shipping, which was its primary aim. However, despite claims at the time that more German aircraft than British had been shot down, postwar analysis did not bear this claim out. In 1943, the most notable event was a very important administrative one. Fighter Command was split up into the Air Defence of Great Britain and the Second Tactical Air Force. As the name of the former suggests, its primary aim was defence of the UK from attack, with the latter concentrating on supporting ground forces after the eventual invasion of Europe. Dieppe is a town and commune in the Seine-Maritime département of Haute-Normandie (eastern Normandy), France. ... The Air Defence of Great Britain (ADGB) refers to two different components of the RAF depending on the time period in question. ... The RAFs Second Tactical Air Force was one of the major commands of the Royal Air Force during World War II. It was formed in June 1943 in connection with preparations then in train to invade Europe a year later. ...


Invasion of Europe

1944 saw the greatest effort by the Air Defence of Great Britain in its history. Operation Overlord, the invasion of France was launched on 6 June 1944. RAF fighers swarmed over the battle area and, along with their American counterparts, swatted the meagre German opposition aside. They also directly supported the ground forces by strafing enemy positions and transport. Later in the year, the final major test of Fighter Command (renamed back in October 1944) in the war occurred. The Germans began launching the world's first cruise missiles from Belgium to hit targets in England. The V1s, or Doodlebugs or Buzz Bombs were a major challenge for the air defences to handle. They were small and thus hard to spot, both visually and by radar (although by night their exhaust made them easy to see visually). They were also so fast that only a handful of the fastest RAF fighters could catch them and shoot them down. The primary successes in combating this menace went to the Hawker Tempest, although the newly operational Gloster Meteor jet did shoot quite a number of V1s down as well. The Battle of Normandy was fought in 1944 between the German forces occupying Western Europe and the invading Allies. ... June 6 is the 157th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (158th in leap years), with 208 days remaining. ... 1944 (MCMXLIV) was a leap year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1944 calendar). ... A Tomahawk cruise missile A cruise missile is a guided missile which uses a lifting wing and most often a jet propulsion system to allow sustained flight. ... The term V1 can refer to: The V-1 flying bomb, the first modern cruise missile, developed by the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War Decision speed, where an aircraft pilot must opt to abort the take-off or continue the run for lift-off at V2 speed. ... The Hawker Tempest was an RAF fighter aircraft of World War II, an improved derivative of the Hawker Typhoon, and one of the most powerful fighters used in the war. ... The Gloster Meteor was the first jet fighter aircraft of the British Royal Air Force, introduced into service only weeks after the Third Reichs Messerschmitt Me 262, in August 1944 during World War II. It was thus the second fighter jet in history and the first of the WWII...


Cold War Years

In the aftermath of World War II, the role of Fighter Command was still to protect the UK from air attack. However, its target changed from Germany to the Soviet Union. The Cold War saw the threat of Soviet bombers attacking the United Kingdom loom large. After 1949, those Soviet bombers could be carrying nuclear weapons, and so intercepting them was crucial if the United Kingdom was to be saved during a war. A long succession of fighter aircraft saw service with Fighter Command during the 1950s and 1960s. Particularly notable were the Hawker Hunter and the English Electric Lightning. The latter was the only purely British supersonic aircraft ever developed. That was due to a disastrous defence review in 1957. During the mid-1950s, the performance of the new surface to air missiles was improving at an enormous rate. Duncan Sandys, the Minister of Defence at the time needed to find cuts in the British defence budget, since the UK was in serious danger of being bankrupted by its defence spending. The rate of improvement of surface to air missiles seemed to indicate that they would soon be able to shoot any manned aircraft out of the sky. Consequently, in an infamous statement, the Sandys' review declared that manned aircraft were obsolescent and would soon become obsolete. All programmes for manned aircraft that were not too far along were cancelled. The Lightning was the only one of a number of new supersonic aircraft that was too far along to cancel. That decision, combined with the increasing costs of developing aircraft crippled the British aircraft industry and made Fighter Command and the RAF reliant on foreign or jointly developed aircraft. United States President John F. Kennedy and Soviet General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev meet in a 1961 summit held in Vienna, Austria at the height of the Cold War. ... The Hawker Hunter was a British jet fighter aircraft of the 1950s/1960s. ... The English Electric Lightning (later the BAC Lightning) was a supersonic British fighter aircraft of the Cold War era, particularly remembered for its great speed, and its natural metal exterior that was used throughout much of its service life with the Royal Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force. ... Duncan Edwin Sandys, Baron Duncan-Sandys1 (January 24, 1908-November 26, 1987) was a British politician and a minister in successive Conservative governments. ...


Strike Command

As the 1960s dawned, the RAF continued to shrink. The three functional commands, Fighter Command, Bomber Command, and Coastal Command had all been formed in 1936 to help command an expanding RAF. It was now becoming clear that the RAF was simply becoming too small to justify their continued existence as separate entities. Consequently, in 1968, Fighter Command and Bomber Command were joined together to form Strike Command, each becoming groups within the new command. The 1960s decade refers to the years from 1960 to 1969, inclusive. ... RAF Bomber Command was the organisation that controlled the RAFs bomber forces. ... Coastal Command was an organization within the Royal Air Force tasked with protecting the United Kingdom from naval threats. ... 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1968 calendar). ... Strike Command is the successor organisation in the Royal Air Force to RAF Bomber Command, RAF Fighter Command and RAF Coastal Command of WWII fame. ...


Fighter Command had only existed for 32 years, but in that time it had fought in the largest war in history and had progressed from biplanes to supersonic jets. Its record was glorious, and many mourned its passing.


Air Officers Commanding-in-Chief

An Air Chief Marshals sleeve/shoulder insignia Air Chief Marshal is the most senior rank active in the Royal Air Force (RAF) today, after the inactivation of Marshal of the Royal Air Force as a substantive rank in peacetime during defence cuts of the 1990s. ... Sir is an English honorary title representing knighthood or baronetcy. ... The Right Honourable Hugh Caswell Tremenheere Dowding, 1st Baron Dowding GCB, CMG, GCVO (24 April 1882 - 15 February 1970) was a British officer in the Royal Air Force. ... An air marshals sleeve/shoulder insignia Air Marshal is the second most senior rank active in the Royal Air Force today, after the inactivation of Marshal of the Royal Air Force as a substantive rank in peacetime during defence cuts of the 1990s. ... Marshal of the Royal Air Force William Sholto Douglas, 1st Baron Douglas of Kirtleside GCB MC DFC (December 23, 1893 - October 29, 1969) was a senior figure in the Royal Air Force up to and during World War II. Born in Headington, Oxfordshire he was educated at Tonbridge School and... Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory KCB, DSO and Bar (11 July 1892 - 14 November 1944) was a senior commander in the Royal Air Force in World War II and the highest-ranking British officer to die in the war. ... Air Chief Marshal Sir Roderic Hill KCB MC AFC and Bar RAF (1 March 1894 – 6 October 1954) was a senior Royal Air Force commander during World War II. Hill was Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command (also briefly called the Air Defence of Great Britain during his command) from... Air Chief Marshal Sir James Milne Robb GCB KBE DSO DFC AFC RAF (26 January 1895 – 18 December 1968) was a senior Royal Air Force commander. ... Air Chief Marshal Sir William Elliott GCVO KCB KBE DFC and bar ADC RAF (3 June 1896 – 27 June 1971) was a senior Royal Air Force commander. ... Air Chief Marshal Sir Basil Edward Embry GCB KBE DSO and 3 bars DFC AFC RAF (28 February 1902 – 8 December 1977) was a senior Royal Air Force commander. ... Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Dermot Alexander Boyle (born 2 October 1904, died 5 May 1993) was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force. ... Air Chief Marshal Sir Hubert Leonard Patch KCB CBE RAF (16 December 1904 – 18 November 1987) was a senior Royal Air Force commander. ... Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Thomas Geoffrey Pike (born 29 June 1906, died 1 June 1983) was a senior officer in the Royal Air Force. ... Air Marshal Sir Hector Douglas McGregor KCB CBE DSO RAF (15 February 1910 – 11 April 1973) was a senior Royal Air Force commander. ...

See also

  • List of senior officers of RAF Fighter Command
  • List of component units of RAF Fighter Command
  • List of equipment of RAF Fighter Command
  • List of headquarters of RAF Fighter Command

  Results from FactBites:
 
RAF Fighter Command - definition of RAF Fighter Command in Encyclopedia (1115 words)
Fighter Command was one of three functional commands that dominated the public perception of the RAF for much of the mid-20th century.
Fighter sweep missions were dangerous, and most of the factors that had allowed Fighter Command to win the Battle of Britain were now reversed.
Fighter Command had only existed for 32 years, but in that time it had fought in the largest war in history and had progressed from biplanes to supersonic jets.
RAF Fighter Command - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1275 words)
On 20 May 1926, Fighter Command's precursor organization was established as a group within Inland Area.
Fighting Area was raised to Command status in 1932 and renamed Fighter Command on 1 May 1936.
The supreme test of Fighter Command came during the summer of 1940 when the German Luftwaffe launched operation sea lion, which entailed attacking the UK in what would be the Battle of Britain.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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