Air Force News – Official opening of the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) – 12 April 2018

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The International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) in Lincoln, England will be officially opened today, as part of an ongoing series of RAF 100 commemorative events.

IBCC logo

The IBCC is an interpretation centre and memorial to the service of RAF Bomber Command during the Second World War, located on Canwick Hill, overlooking Lincoln in England.

International Bomber Command Centre

Lincoln was chosen as the site for the IBCC because over a third of all RAF Bomber Command stations (27) were based in the county during the Second World War earning Lincolnshire the nickname of the ‘Bomber County’. The IBCC consists of three major parts.

IBCC 3

The Spire Memorial and Walls of Names, erected in 2015, reflects the connection to the Lincoln Cathedral, the first major landmark that many Bomber crews saw when returning from their nightime missions. The Spire is based on the dimensions of the wingspan of a Lancaster bomber, being 31 metres (102 ft) tall and 5 metres (16 ft) wide at its base, making it the tallest War Memorial in the United Kingdom. The Spire is encircled by walls carrying the names of 57,871 men and women who gave their lives whilst serving in or supporting RAF Bomber Command. It is the only place in the world where all these losses are memorialised.

IBCC 2

The Chadwick Centre, named after Roy Chadwick who designed the Lancaster Bomber, includes an education suite, interactive exhibition , reference library and research room.

IBCC 4

The Peace Gardens include a Memorial Avenue, with geo-located trees for each of the 27 Lincolnshire stations, an International Garden with planting beds representing the 5 continents and 62 nations involved with the Command, and an amphitheatre for outdoor education.

You can find out more about the Centre here: http://internationalbcc.co.uk/

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On this day – RAF100 – The centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force – 1 April 1918

RAF Flag

The Royal Air Force (RAF) was formed on this day one hundred years ago.

The RAF was founded on 1 April 1918 by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) under the Air Ministry, which had been established three months earlier.

RFC WW!

The RFC had been born out of the Air Battalion of the Corps of Royal Engineers (RE) and was part of the British Army. The RNAS was its Royal Navy equivalent controlled by the Admiralty.

Gotha 2

In 1917 Germany deployed long range Gotha bomber aircraft (above) against Britain. In response to those raids General Jan Smuts was authorised by the Imperial War Cabinet to conduct a review, the outcome of which became known as the Smuts Report (see below).

Smuts recommended that the air service should be treated as a separate force from the Royal Navy and the British Army and be solely responsible for conducting warfare in the air.

Smuts Report

Following the report, Parliament debated and passed the Air Force (Constitution) Act 1917 (see below), which was given Royal Assent by King George V on the 29 November 1917.

Air Force Act 2

A few months later on the 1 April 1918, the RNAS and RFC were merged together to create the Royal Air Force (RAF), the world’s first independent air force.

The newly created RAF was the most powerful air force in the world on its creation, with more than 20,000 aircraft and over 300,000 personnel. The squadrons of the RFC kept their existing numerals, while those of the RNAS were renumbered from 201 onwards.

RAF poster 2

After World War 1, the RAF was greatly reduced in size and during the inter-war years was used to police the British Empire in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

DH9soveriraq1920 30 Sqn

The RAF underwent rapid expansion during the Second World War, initially responsible for the air defence of Great Britain, playing the key role in the Battle of Britain, as well as the strategic nighttime bombing campaign against Germany and Italy, including targets like the Ruhr, Turin and Berlin, as well as the provision of tactical air support to British Army operations in North Africa, Italy, Burma, France and Germany.

Band of Brothers Robert Taylor

During the Cold War, the main role of the RAF was the defence of the UK and continental Europe against attack by the Soviet Union, including responsibility for the UK’s nuclear deterrent up until 1969.

Vulcan 2

After the Cold War, the RAF was involved in several large scale operations, including the 1991 Gulf War, the 1999 Kosovo War, the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the 2011 military intervention in Libya and support for enduring operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Tornado 2

You can find out more about RAF 100 events here: https://www.raf.mod.uk/raf100/

 

 

On this day – The Battle of the Ruhr begins – 5 March 1943

S Sugar 467 Squadron RAAF

On this day 75 years ago the Battle of the Ruhr began, a five month campaign of strategic bombing during the Second World War against the heavily defended Ruhr Valley, the industrial heart of Nazi Germany.

The campaign bombed 26 major Combined Bomber Offensive targets including the Krupp armament works at Essen, the Nordstern synthetic oil plant at Gelsenkirchen and the Rheinmetal–Borsig plant in Düsseldorf.

Bomber Command Badge

The British bomber force that took part came from RAF Bomber Command and consisted mainly of the twin-engined Vickers Wellington medium bomber and the four-engined Short Stirling, Handley Page Halifax (a famous example ‘Friday the 13th‘ from 158 Squadron RAF is shown below) and Avro Lancaster.

 

Friday the 13th

RAF Bomber Command operations were conducted at night with the use of newly developed navigational and blind bombing aids like Oboe, H2S and Gee. The force was also supported by the newly formed 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group RAF (under the command of Australian Air Commodore Don Bennett DSO) to mark the route and aiming points to guide the main Bomber force to the target.

8 Group RAF

The United States Army Air Force (USAAF) was responsible for the daylight bombing campaign and used two 4-engined bomber aircraft, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress (shown below) and Consolidated B-24 Liberator.

B-17-5

The German defence consisted of anti-aircraft artillery (also called “flak”) and day and night fighters. The Kammhuber Line (a section of which is shown below) used radar to identify Allied bombers and then controllers directed day and night fighters onto the bomber stream.

Kammhuber_Line_Map_-_Agent_Tegal

During the battle RAF Bomber Command estimated that 70% of the aircraft lost were due to German fighters. British aircrew called the area ‘Happy Valley’ or the ‘Valley of no Return’.

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The Battle of the Ruhr severely disrupted German industry with steel production falling by 200,000 tons, leading to the armaments industry facing a 400,000 ton shortfall. This disruption resulted in the Zulieferungskrise, or sub-components crisis, with monthly armaments production failing to increase between July 1943 and March 1944.

Bomber Command Memorial

RAF Bomber Command losses during the Battle of the Ruhr were estimated at 4.7% over the 43 attacks with 18,506 sorties flown. Some 5,000 aircrew were lost. In 2012 the Queen unveiled the RAF Bomber Command Memorial (shown above) on Piccadilly at Green Park in Central London. It commemorates the sacrifice of 55,573 aircrew from Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, Poland and other countries of the Commonwealth who lost their lives during the war serving in Bomber Command.

One of my favourite military artists is Piotr Forkasiewicz with some of his imagery shown above. You can see his portfolio of work and purchase prints here: http://peterfor.com/albums/31856

You can find out more about Australian aircrew’s experiences in the Battle of the Ruhr here: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/E213

You can find out more about the Bomber Command Memorial here: https://www.rafbf.org/bomber-command-memorial

On this day – Queen Victoria approves the introduction of the Victoria Cross (VC) awarded for gallantry ‘in the face of the enemy’ – 29 January 1856

Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross, Britain’s (and some Commonwealth countries) highest award for gallantry for members of the Armed Forces, was officially constituted by warrant on this day in 1856.

Since that time the medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients. Only 15 medals have been awarded since the Second World War.

As of 2018, there are six (6) living recipients of the Victoria Cross, three (3) living recipients of the Victoria Cross for Australia and one (1) living recipient of the Victoria Cross for New Zealand. They are:

  • Flight Lieutenant John Cruickshank VC, 210 Sqn RAF (awarded  for his actions in the Battle of the Atlantic in 1944)
  • Sergeant Bill Speakman VC, Black Watch attached to King’s Own Scottish Borderers (awarded for his actions in Korea in 1951)
  • Captain Rambahadur Limbu, VC, MVO, 2nd Battalion, 10th Princess Mary’s Own Gurkha Rifles (awarded for his actions in Borneo in 1965)
  • Warrant Officer Class 2 Keith Payne VC, AM, Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (awarded for his actions in South Vietnam in 1969)
  • Corporal Willie Apiata VC, New Zealand Special Air Service Regiment (awarded for his actions in Afghanistan in 2004
  • Lance Sergeant Johnson Beharry, VC, CNG, 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (awarded for his actions in Iraq in 2005)
  • Corporal Mark Donaldson VC, Australian Special Air Service Regiment (awarded for his actions in Afghanistan in 2008)
  • Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC, MG, Australian Special Air Service Regiment (awarded for his actions in Afghanistan in 2010)
  • Corporal Dan Keighran VC, 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (awarded for his actions in Afghanistan in 2010)
  • Corporal Joshua Leakey VC (shown below), 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (awarded for his actions in Afghanistan in 2015)

Joshua Leakey VC

The largest collections of VCs in the world are held by the Ashcroft Collection in Britain (established in 1986) which now contains 210 medals and the Australian War Memorial, which has 69 medals on public display.

You can find out more about the Ashcroft Collection here: http://www.lordashcroftmedals.com/

You can find out more about the AWM collection here: https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/encyclopedia/vic_cross

 

 

 

Air Force News – 12 (Bomber) Squadron RAF to transition from Tornado to Typhoon and integrate with Qataris

UK Minister for Defence Procurement Harriet Baldwin announced on Thursday 14 December 2017 that 12 (B) Sqn RAF, currently equipped with the Tornado GR4 at RAF Marham, will transition to Typhoon and integrate with the Qatar Emiri Air Force in preparation for its introduction into service with the QEAF. The new Squadron will be based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

Record exercise for RAF Typhoon force

12 (B) Sqn disbanded in March 2014 only to be reformed in January 2015 at RAF Marham after the decision to disband 2 Sqn RAF was cancelled in order to allow the retention of Tornado to participate in Op SHADER, the air campaign in Iraq against ISIL (on 1 April 2015 the “new” 2 Sqn RAF became the fifth Typhoon squadron and the “old” 2 Sqn RAF rebadged as 12 Sqn equipped with Tornados).

12 (B) Sqn RAF has a long and proud history, including being the first fast jet RAF Squadron commanded by a woman, Wing Commander Nikki Thomas, who took command when the Squadron was reformed in 2015. Some more information on the history of the Squadron is shown below:

Formed: 14 February 1915

12 Squadron RAF Badge

Badge: A fox’s mask – approved by King George VI in February 1937. Based on a suggestion when the squadron was equipped with the Fairey Fox, an aircraft of which they were proud and the sole operators.

Motto: ‘Leads the Field

Battle Honours: 18

Western Front 1915-1918, Loos*, Somme 1916, Arras, Cambrai 1917*, Somme 1918*, Hindenburg Line, France and Low Countries 1939-1940*, Meuse Bridges*, Fortress Europe 1940-1944, German Ports 1941-1945, Biscay Ports 1940-1945, Berlin 1941-1945*, Ruhr 1941-1945*, France and Germany 1944-1945, Rhine*, Gulf 1991*, Iraq 2003*.

(Honours marked with an asterisk, may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard)

Roundel:     12 Squadron RAF Roundel

You can find out more about 12 Sqn here: https://www.raf.mod.uk/rafmarham/aboutus/12sqnhome.cfm

Air Force News – Battle Honours awarded to Royal Air Force (RAF) Squadrons for operations in Iraq and Libya

II AC Sqn Standard.jpg

The UK Ministry of Defence announced on 11 October 2017 that Her Majesty The Queen has approved the award of Battle Honours to squadrons of the Royal Air Force.

The Battle Honour “IRAQ 2003-2011” was approved for 27 operational flying squadrons and eight Royal Air Force Regiment squadrons for their service during Operation TELIC in Iraq. Those with the right to emblazon the Battle Honour on their Standard are:

  • No 7 Squadron RAF
  • No XXIV Squadron RAF
  • No 33 Squadron RAF
  • No 47 Squadron RAF
  • No 230 Squadron RAF
  • No 1 Squadron RAF Regiment
  • No 26 Squadron RAF Regiment
  • No 34 Squadron RAF Regiment.

For Operation DEFERENCE and Operation ELLAMY in Libya, the Battle Honour “LIBYA 2011” was approved for 13 operational flying squadrons. Those with the right to emblazon the Battle Honour on their Standard are:

  • No II (Army Cooperation) Squadron RAF
  • No IX (Bomber) Squadron RAF
  • No 47 Squadron RAF.