The Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force

A Centenary of Operations

General Aviation
  • Author: Michael Napier
  • Short code: GNA
  • Publication Date: 22 Feb 2018
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About this Product

The world's first independent air force, the Royal Air Force celebrates its centenary in 2018. In the 100 years since the end of World War I, the service has been involved in almost continuous operations around the globe, giving the RAF the longest and most wide-ranging history of any air force in the world. But over the years this history has also become entangled with myths.

The Royal Air Force: A Centenary of Operations will set the record straight, dispelling these as it uncovers - in both words and photographs - the true exploits and accomplishments of RAF personnel over the last 100 years. From its formation as an independent service in the dying days of World War I, its desperate fight against the Axis air forces in World War II, to its commitments during both the Cold War and modern times, this is the complete story of how the RAF has defended Britain for a century.

Biographical Note

Michael Napier joined the RAF in 1978 as a university cadet and studied aeronautical engineering at the Imperial College, London. After qualifying as a fast jet pilot in 1985, he was posted to RAF Bruggen in Germany where he spent two tours flying Tornado GR1s. He then enjoyed a short spell as a tactics instructor, flying Hawks at the Tactical Weapons Unit at RAF Chivenor in Devon, before returning to Bruggen - and the Tornado GR1 - as a Flight Commander. His military flying career encompassed both the Cold War and operations over Iraq after the Gulf War. After completing two tours as a headquarters staff officer, he left the RAF in 1997 and joined British Airways. He has over 15,000 hours' flying experience and lives in the UK.Michael has written a number of articles for aviation magazines including Aircraft Illustrated, Flypast, Aeroplane Monthly and Cross & Cockade. He has also appeared on BBC radio and television and BFBS radio. He is the author of four books: Winged Crusaders: The Exploits of 14 Squadron RFC & RAF 1915-1945, Blue Diamonds: The Exploits of 14 Squadron RAF 1945-2015, Tornado Over the Tigris: Recollections of a Fast Jet Pilot and Gloster Javelin: an Operational History.


Chapter 1 - 1918-28
Formation & Early Years; WW1 operations - Western Front (including Independent Air Force and Home Defence), Italy, Greece (Salonika), Palestine, Mesopotamia; Russia 1918-20; Somaliland (Force Z) 1919-20
Air Control - Aden, Iraq, Palestine, TransJordan, Sudan, India; India (including ‘Pink's War' 1925); Shanghai Defence Force 1927; Kabul Rescue 1928

Chapter 2 - 1928-1938
Re-armament & Expansion; Air Control - Aden, Iraq, Palestine, TransJordan, Sudan, India; Long-Range Flights 1933, 1938; High-Altitude Flights 1936;Schneider Trophy 1929-31; Empire Air Days; Radar; Fighter Command; Bomber Command; Coastal Command (including Fleet Air Arm)

Chapter 3 - 1938-1948
Second World War; 1940 - France, Norway, Eritrea, Battle of Britain; 1941 - Egypt & Mediterranean (-1944), Far East (-1945); Day bomber ops, Fighter sweeps, Coastal Ops (Bay of Biscay, Norway); Bomber Offensive
Bomber ops over Balkans & Central Europe from Italy; Photo-Recce; Air-Sea Rescue; RAF Regiment; Java 1947

Chapter 4 - 1948-58
Beginnings of Cold War & End of Empire; Berlin Airlift 1948; Malaya 1948-58; Korea 1950-53 (including RAF pilots fly with USAF); Kenya Mau Mau 1952-56; Suez 1956; Cyprus EOKA 1956-60; V- Bombers; Operation Grapple H-Bombs 1956-58;NATO
2 TAF Germany; RAuxAF

Chapter 5 - 1958-68
Cold War; Thor IRBM 1958-63; V-Force Blue Steel 1963-70; Air-to-Air refuelling; Earthquake relief Morocco 1960; Famine Relief Kenya & Somalia 1961-62; Hurricane relief Honduras 1961; Kuwait Crisis 1961
Berlin Crisis 1961;Indonesia Confrontation 1963-66; Cyprus 1964; Rhodesia UDI
Zambia 1965; Torrey Canyon 1967

Chapter 6 - 1968-78
Re-equipment; RAF Germany; Humanitarian relief - East Pakistan 1971, Nicaragua 1972, Nepal (Op Khana Cascade) 1973; Belize 1971 Harrier Force (-93);Northern Ireland - Op Banner (Helicopter Force) 1972-2002
Interceptions of Soviet aircraft in UK airspace; Exercises - RED FLAG 1977;SAR helicopters?
Chapter 7 - 1978-88
Last Days of the Cold War; Falkland War Op Corporate 1982; Lebanon Op Pulsator 1983; Famine Relief; Ethiopia (Op Bushel 1984-85); Rhodesia
Zimbabwe 1979
80; Gibraltar; Falkland Air Defence

Chapter 8 - 1988-98
Back to Operations; End of Cold War 1988; Gulf War Op Granby 1991;Op Warden Northern Iraq 1991-2001
Op Jural
Bolton Southern Iraq 1991-2001; Op Desert Fox Iraq 1998; Bosnia 1993-98; Zaire (Canberra PR) 1996; RAF Regiment in Cambodia (UN)

Chapter 9 - 1998-2008
Continued Operations; Kosovo Op Engadine 1999; Iraq Op Jural
Resinate; Sierra Leone Op Palliser 2000;Gulf War 2 - Op Telic 2003-11; Afghanistan - Op Herrick 2002-14; Air Defence of Falklands

Chapter 10 - 2008-2018
Iraq - Op Telic -2011;Afghanistan - Op Herrick -2014 ;Libya - Op Ellamy 2011; Iraq
Syria - Op Shader 2014-present; Baltic Air Policing

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