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No. 1 Group
RAF No 1 Group Crest.jpg
Active 1918–1926
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Part of RAF Air Command
Garrison/HQ RAF High Wycombe
Motto(s) "Swift to attack"[1]
Air Officer Commanding Air Vice-Marshal Allan Marshall
Group badge A panther's head, erased, sable.
The badge was authorised in 1941 and the black panther's head reflected the fact that Panther was the group's callsign in the early part of the Second World War[2]

No. 1 Group of the Royal Air Force is one of the two operations groups in RAF Air Command. Today, the group is referred to as the Air Combat Group, as it controls the RAF's combat fast-jet aircraft and has airfields in the UK, as well as RAF Support Unit Goose Bay in Canada. The group headquarters is located alongside Headquarters Air Command at RAF High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The other operational group is No. 2 Group RAF. The current Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group is Air Vice-Marshal Allan Marshall.[3] He succeeded Air Vice-Marshal Harvey Smyth in February–March 2020.

Subordinate units

The following stations and squadrons are under the command of No 1 Group:[4]

In April 2019, 1 Group took command of the Army's BN-2 Islander and Defender aircraft from 651 Squadron Army Air Corps.[36][37][38] The aircraft will continue to be operated by Army personnel who will gradually be replaced by RAF personnel through attrition.[36][37] It is as yet unknown which squadron these aircraft are placed under command.


First World War

No. 1 Group was originally formed on Saturday 1 April 1918 in No. 1 Area, which was renamed the South-Eastern Area on 8 May 1918, Southern Area on 20 September 1919 and Inland Area on 1 April 1920.

The Group was renumbered as No. 6 Group on 19 May 1924 at RAF Kenley, and was reformed on the same day at RAF Kidbrooke. Two years later on 12 April 1926 the Group disappeared from the order of battle by being renumbered as No. 21 Group.

The next year the Group was reformed on 25 August 1927 by the renaming of Air Defence Group. This designation lasted until 1936 when it became No. 6 Group again. As in 1924 the Group was reformed the same day, this time as a bomber formation.

By this time the Group had shrunk to ten squadrons, all equipped with Fairey Battle aircraft and located in pairs at RAF Abingdon, RAF Harwell, RAF Benson, RAF Boscombe Down and RAF Bicester.

Second World War

at the Headquarters of No. 71 Wing, Advanced Air Striking Force, Bétheniville.

On receipt of orders to move to France in 1939, Headquarters No. 1 Group became Headquarters Advanced Air Striking Force and the station headquarters and associated squadrons became Nos. 71, 72, 74, 75 and 76 Wings respectively.[39] The Group re-emerged a few days later within Bomber Command on 12 September, but only lasted just over three months, being dropped on 22 December 1939.

It was reformed at Hucknall in Nottinghamshire on 22 June 1940.[40] On 20 July the Group Headquarters moved to Bawtry Hall (RAF Bawtry) near Doncaster, where it was based for 44 years, until 1983. During the Second World War, the Group was primarily based at airfields in north Lincolnshire, like RAF Swinderby.[41]

During 1940–45, the group included substantial numbers of Polish and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel. By the beginning of March 1943, the aircraft operated by its squadrons were:

All of the Wellington squadrons subsequently converted to Lancasters. No. 1 Group was later augmented with other units, including 304 Polish Squadron.

During Bomber Command's Second World War campaign, No. 1 Group dropped a higher tonnage of bombs per aircraft than any other group, this was mainly due to Air Commodore Edward Rice who was determined to maximise bomb loads, though it was a policy which contributed in no small measure to No. 1 Group having higher than average losses.[43] Rice would later be involved in the development of the Rose turret, sometimes known as the "Rose-Rice turret".

Battle of Normandy

Although No.1 (B) Group wasn't directly involved in the Battle of Normandy, they did participate in the bombing of the shore and area. During this period, the group was organised as:[44][45]

Cold War

By June 1948, 1 Group consisted of:[46]

During the Cold War, No. 1 Group also operated the Thor ballistic missile between 1958 and August 1963 ("Project Emily"), with ten squadrons each with three missiles being equipped with the weapon.[47] 1 Group had two sets of five stations, centred respectively on Hemswell and RAF Driffield. When Bomber Command was subsumed into the new Strike Command on 1 April 1968, No. 1 Group took on the old role of the command, holding the bomber and strike aircraft of Strike Command. It then absorbed the squadrons of No. 38 Group RAF after that group disbanded.

In around 1984, Headquarters No. 1 Group moved from RAF Bawtry in South Yorkshire to RAF Upavon in Wiltshire.[48] No. 207 Squadron RAF, part of 1 Group flying Devons from RAF Northolt alongside No. 32 Squadron RAF, was disbanded on retirement of the remaining Devons on 30 June 1984,[49]

On 1 April 1996 No. 2 Group RAF was disbanded by being absorbed into No. 1 Group.

Post 2000

In January 2000 the RAF was restructured and the Group took on its present role. The Group is responsible for UK air defence operations through QRA North at RAF Lossiemouth and QRA South at RAF Coningsby. However, since the disestablishment of Combined Air Operations Centre 9 at RAF High Wycombe, actual control of the fighters is now carried out from a NATO Combined Air Operations Centre in Denmark, CAOC 1 at Finderup. However, High Wycombe retains an air defence direction capability, and the UK Representative there could take back control over QRA South if it was necessary to respond to a terrorist threat from the air.[50] No. 1 Group also has responsibility for the UK's Carrier Strike capability, with the joint RN/RAF Lightning Force, eventually planned to consist of two squadrons from the RAF and two from the Fleet Air Arm, which will be based at RAF Marham when not operating from the UK's Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier.

Air Officer Commanding

Air Officers Commanding have included:[51]

See also



  1. Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 227. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X. 
  2. Delve, Ken (2005). Bomber Command 1939–1945 : a reference to the men – aircraft & operational history. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Aviation. p. 147. ISBN 1-84415-183-2. 
  3. Royal Air Force (3 February 2020). "RAF Senior Appointments". Royal Air Force. "Air Commodore A P Marshall OBE to be promoted Air Vice-Marshal and to be Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group in March 2020 in succession to Air Vice-Marshal H Smyth OBE DFC" 
  4. "RAF Air Command". Armed Forces. 
  5. "Group No's 1 – 9 - RAFweb". Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  6. "#SP232 RAF Coningsby". Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  7. "11 Squadron Uncle - SERVE". Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "RAF CONINGSBY" (in en-gb). 
  9. "12 SQUADRON". 
  10. "29 Squadron - Lightning Association". Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  11. "Lancaster bomber thunders over Nottingham". Nottingham Post. 23 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  12. "Union claims RAF jobs could relocate from Anglesey to Yorkshire". Business Live. 27 August 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  13. "RAF heroes honoured on 80th anniversary of 'Black Thursday'". Sunderland Echo. 17 August 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  14. "JFACTSU". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 5 July 2016. 
  15. "history of the no 1 fighter squadron association". Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  16. "RAF Lossiemouth – Facebook post, 9 October 2018". Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  17. "RAF Lossiemouth aces scrambled to intercept Russian spy plane and submarine". The Press and Journal. 31 July 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  18. "Galliford Try wins £20m RAF Lossiemouth contract". The Construction Index. 24 June 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 "RAF Poseidon MRA1 arrives at RAF Lossiemouth for the first time" (in en-gb). 
  20. "Defence Secretary announces new Maritime Patrol Aircraft squadrons" (in en). 
  21. "CXX SQUADRON" (in en-gb). 
  22. Royal Air Force, Lossie Lighthouse: The Magazine of RAF Lossiemouth (Autumn 2020 edition), Royal Air Force.
  23. "Keeping Skill Sets Alive While Waiting for a Replacement Aircraft: From Nimrod to P-8". Second Line of Defense. 17 November 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 "RAF MARHAM". 
  25. "Royal Air Force 207 Squadron Returns to the U.K with 6 F-35B Lightning Jets (Some Of Those Sport New Tail Markings)". The Aviationist. 17 July 2019. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  26. "UK’s Carrier Strike Group Faces Its First Test". Aviation International News. 9 October 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  27. "V (AC) Squadron". Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  28. "Best friend of "much loved" RAF squaddie appeals for more stem cell donors". Charity Today News. 27 October 2010. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  29. 29.0 29.1 "RAF employs private contractors in Middle East to launch armed drones in fight against Isis". The Telegraph. 18 August 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  30. "From helicopters to a huge transporter - the military aircraft seen over northern Lincolnshire today". Grimsby Live. 30 September 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  31. "Waddington Wing Commander dies after short cancer battle". The Lincolnite. 6 February 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  32. "54 (Reserve) Squadron mark centenary year". RAF Benevolent Fund. 24 May 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  33. "No 1 Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing". Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  34. "RAF SCAMPTON". 
  35. 35.0 35.1 "RAF BOULMER". 
  36. 36.0 36.1 Jennings, Gareth (2 April 2019). "UK transfers Defender and Islander special mission aircraft from AAC to RAF". Jane's Defence Weekly. 
  37. 37.0 37.1 Air Vice Marshal Harvey Smyth Air Officer Commanding No. 1 Group [@HarvSmyth] (2 April 2019). "Handover of Fixed Wing Manned Aerial Surveillance from Army to RAF.". 
  38. "651 Squadron Army Air Corps". 
  39. Bomber Command Archived 7 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine., accessed November 2008
  41. Airfields of Lincolnshire – Patrick Otter – p15).
  42. Król, Wacław (1982) (in pl). Polskie dywizjony lotnicze w Wielkiej Brytanii. Warsaw: Wydawnictwo MON. pp. 86, 104, 191. ISBN 83-11-07695-2. 
  43. Airfield of Lincolnshire – Patrick Otter- p20/21.
  44. "No. 1 Group, RAF, 06.06.1944". 
  45. "Bomber Command - Jun 1944". 
  46. Rawlings 1985, p. 187.
  47. Martin Powell, "The Douglas Thor in Royal Air Force Service" Archived 20 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine., Rossendale Aviation Society – Article, accessed 2 June 2008
  48. Horseman, Martin, ed (January 1983). "RAF Groups HQ to Merge". Shepperton: Ian Allan. p. 7. ISSN 0142-4696. 
  49. Burney, p411; Isby and Kamps, Armies of NATO's Central Front, 1985.
  50. Andrew Brooks, UK AIR DEFENCE,Air Forces Monthly – October 2008
  51. "Senior RAF Commanders". 


  • Rawlings, J D R (1985). The History of the Royal Air Force. Feltham, Middlesex, UK: Temple Press. 
  • Wing Commander C. G. Jefford, MBE, RAF Squadrons; A Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912.1994: Airlife Publishing Ltd., Shrewsbury, United Kingdom. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.

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