Portal:Royal Air Force

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The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the air arm of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918 the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history ever since, playing a large part in World War II and in more recent conflicts. The RAF operates almost 1,100 aircraft and has a projected trained strength of over 40,000 regular personnel. The majority of the RAF's aircraft and personnel are based in the United Kingdom with many others serving on operations (principally Iraq, Afghanistan, Middle East, Balkans, and South Atlantic) or at long-established overseas bases (notably the Falkland Islands, Qatar, Germany, Cyprus, and Gibraltar).

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The RAF's mission is to support the objectives of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) and to provide "An agile, adaptable and capable Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, and that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the UK Defence Mission."

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The Air Training Corps (ATC) is a cadet organisation based in the United Kingdom. It is a voluntary youth group which is part of the Air Cadet Organization and the Royal Air Force (RAF). It is supported by the Ministry of Defence, and, although a number of its members do go on to join the RAF or other services, the ATC is not set up as a recruiting organisation. The enrolment age for the Air Training Corps is 13 years and 3 months, however cadets can join at the age of 13, and enter as Junior Cadets.

The ATC is the largest part of the Air Cadet Organization (ACO), along with the RAF sections of the Combined Cadet Force. It is divided geographically into six regions (each commanded by an RAFR Group Captain), each of which are sub-divided into wings. Wings are further sub-divided into squadrons.

Headquarters Air Cadets (HQAC), based at RAF Cranwell, controls the organization; and there are subordinate HQs at Region and Wing levels staffed by officers of the RAF Reserve and civil servants. A regular RAF Air Commodore serves as Commandant Air Cadets.

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Credit: Adrian Pingstone

All ten Red Arrows line up ready prior to a display at Kemble Airfield, Gloucestershire, England.

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Ian Willoughby Bazalgette, VC , DFC, (19 October 1918 - 4 August 1944), was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and while serving in the Royal Air Force was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

With the end of his tour of 28 operations, Bazalgette was on a leave in April 1944 when he was "recruited" and transferred to No. 635 Squadron RAF No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group based in Norfolk. When his conversion training was completed, 25 year-old "Baz" flew as Acting Squadron Leader, taking part in a number of operations in and around the D-Day campaign, including some operations of which he was the Master Bomber.

On 4 August 1944 at Trossy St. Maximin, France, Squadron Leader Bazalgette's Lancaster bomber was amongst a formation spearhead on a daylight raid on German positions. When near his target, his bomber came under severe anti-aircraft fire from the ground, putting both starboard engines out of action and causing a serious fire. In spite of this, the squadron leader pressed on to the target, marking and bombing it accurately. He then attempted to bring the burning aircraft to safety, having ordered those members of his crew who were able to do so to bail out. Although he managed to land the plane, it immediately exploded, killing him and his remaining two wounded crew members. It was for this action that he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

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The Supermarine Spitfire was a British single-seat fighter aircraft, used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries during the Second World War, and into the 1950s. The Spitfire was the only Allied fighter in production at the outbreak of the Second World War that was still in production at the end of the war and was produced in greater numbers than any other allied plane of the era.

The distinctive silhouette imparted by the elliptical wing helped the Spitfire to achieve legendary status during the Battle of Britain. There was, and still is, a public perception that it was the RAF fighter of the Battle, in spite of the fact that the more numerous Hurricane shouldered a great deal of the burden against the potent Luftwaffe. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire saw service throughout the whole of the Second World War, in most theatres of war, in several roles and in many different variants. The Spitfire was to continue to serve as a front line fighter and in secondary roles for several air forces well into the 1950s.

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Military history (British military history task force, Military aviation task force)  • United Kingdom

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