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Celebrating 100 years of ruling the skies...

Byline: ANDY RICHARDS Content Editor

TALLY ho, chocks away... the RAF is 100 years old!

The United Kingdom's aerial warfare force was formed on April 1, 1918.

Since then it has played a hugely significant role in British military history, in particular in the Second World War when it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain, using Castle Bromwich-built Spitfires.

All in all, more than 11,000 Supermarine Spitfires were built at the factory by 6,000 workers - some of whom paid with their lives. Six were killed during one bombing raid on the night of August 13, 1940.

The Germans targeted Birmingham in a series of brutal bombing raids on key aircraft factories.

The centenary itself will be marked by special events, activities and other initiatives at local, regional and national levels, running from now until the end of November 2018.

The centrepiece of RAF100 will take place on July 10, with a centenary service in Westminster Abbey, followed by a parade in The Mall and spectacular flypast over Buckingham Palace.

The oldest independent air force in the world, the RAF's mission is to support the objectives of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD), which are to provide the capabilities needed "to ensure the security and defence of the United Kingdom and overseas territories, including against terrorism; to support the Government's foreign policy objectives particularly in promoting international peace and security".

Never in human much owed to so Prime Winston in August In the Battle of Britain in 1940, the RAF, supplemented by 2 Fleet Air Arm Squadrons, Polish, Czechoslovak and other multinational pilots and ground personnel, defended the skies over Britain against the num-erically superior German Luftwaffe.

the field of conflict was so by so many few.

Minister Churchill 1940 In what is perhaps the most prolonged and complicated air campaign in history, the Battle of Britain contributed significantly to the delay and subsequent indefinite postponement of Hitler's plans for an invasion of Britain (Operation Sealion).

In the House of Commons on August 20 1940, prompted by the ongoing efforts of the RAF, Prime Minister Winston Churchill eloquently made a speech to the nation, saying "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".

The largest RAF effort during the war was the strategic bombing campaign against Germany by Bomber Command.

While RAF bombing of Germany began almost immediately upon the outbreak of war, under the leadership of Air Chief Marshal Harris, these attacks became increasingly devastating from 1942 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, and developed precision bombing techniques for specific operations, such as the 'Dambusters' raid by No. 617 Squadron, or the Amiens prison raid known as Operation Jericho.

Today the Royal Air Force maintains an operational fleet of aircraft described by the RAF as "leading-edge" in terms of technology. This largely consists of fixed-wing aircraft, including fighter and strike aircraft, airborne early warning and control aircraft, intelligence and reconnaisance aircraft, aerial refuelling aircraft and strategic and tactical transport aircraft. Although the RAF is the principal British air power arm, the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm and the British Army's Army Air Corps are integrated into the maritime, littoral and land environments.

? The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, near Wolverhampton, is celebrating the centenary with a nostalgic Bank Holiday weekend event concluding today.

Re-enactors bring the museum to life with authentic experiences for visitors to enjoy. A walk-through RAF history will include a First World War display, a have-a-go anti-aircraft game and engine demonstrations.

in "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". Prime Minister Winston Churchill in August 1940
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 2, 2018
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