2018 marks 100 years of the Royal Air Force (RAF), the World’s first – and most famous – independent Air Force. The RAF brand is recognised throughout the World, the roundel synonymous with courage, adaptability and innovation. This centenary year provides unique opportunities to:

  • Commemorate 100 years of extraordinary success, achievement and sacrifice.
  • Celebrate the professionalism and dedication of today’s RAF, which is airborne 24/7 supporting the UK’s interests at home and abroad – whether defeating Daesh in Iraq and Syria or delivering humanitarian aid to where it’s needed most.
  • Inspire future generations by telling the RAF’s unique story – to the Nation and beyond.


One hundred years ago, King George V authorised the creation of a new branch of the British military. It was formed in response to the growing role of airpower in warfare and created by merging the aviation branches of the Royal Navy and British Army together into a single service, the Royal Air Force.

The use of aviation in warfare evolved rapidly during the First World War. What started off as a tool used solely for reconnaissance, quickly changed and adapted into new roles. Fighter aircraft were developed to shoot down enemy reconnaissance aircraft and other aircraft were adapted drop bombs on the enemy.

Across both sides the aviation branches of the Allies and Central Powers swelled and expanded and quickly employed new technologies. Yet warfare didn’t just impact the war in the trenches, it also bought the war to the Home Front.

Prior to the First World War the German Military started a Zeppelin building programme, equipping both its army and navy with airships. These airships were designed to conduct reconnaissance and for carrying out bombing attacks.

In 1915 the German military began using their Zeppelins to conduct raids against the British Isles. These raids were designed to destroy strategic British industry and weaken the ability of the Allies to fight

the war. In response to the Zeppelin raids, Britain was forced to divert elements of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service back to the UK, in order to protect Britain from the threat of enemy air raids.

In 1917 Germany deployed long range Gotha Aircraft, aeroplanes that were capable of carrying long range raids against the British Isles. In response to these raids and lobbying by Viscount French, South African General Jan Smuts was authorised by the Imperial War Cabinet to conduct a review of the British Air Services, a report that would later become known by another name, the Smuts Report.

Smuts recommended that air should be treated as a separate force, separate from the Royal Navy and the Army. Instead a new force should be created, that would be solely responsible for conducting warfare in the air.

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

A few months later on the 1 April 1918, the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps were merged together to create something new, the world’s first independent air force, the Royal Air Force.


RAF100 is the Campaign to support this milestone in the Nation’s history. It will launch officially on 1 April 2018 with the RAF100 Baton Relay and run for approximately six months, with a programme of public events at national and regional levels. There have been some limited RAF100 activity prior to the public launch, which included a House of Commons reception at Speaker’s House last November to commemorate signing of the Royal Assent 100 years ago, which led to the formation of the Royal Air Force in 1918. RAF100 will support the national ‘Never Such Innocence’ arts competition and the RAF Youth/STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programme launched in autumn 2017.

The centrepiece of RAF100 public-facing activity takes place on 10 July 2018, with a centenary service in Westminster Abbey, followed 

by a parade in The Mall and mass flypast. This will be an unparalleled spectacle in modern times, with the potential to reach a global audience of millions, reinforcing the UK’s reputation at the forefront of defence aviation excellence.

RAF100 will showcase the very best of the Service – with commemorative air shows throughout summer 2018, themed regional events and unique opportunities for the public to interact with us through a nationwide tour of famous aircraft from the past 100 years to the centres of some of the UK’s biggest cities.

A key objective for the Campaign is to inspire future generations. To achieve this, we are placing particular emphasis on promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) throughout the Campaign.

The benefits of this are twofold – at the RAF level, we hope to attract the brightest and the best to join us and help shape our future. More importantly, our promotion of STEM benefits the wider UK economy by highlighting in particular the importance of science and engineering skills against the background of a serious skills shortage at national level.

The RAF100 Youth/STEM programme represents a very significant government investment in Youth/STEM education, with free, curriculum mapped education support, which will reach up to 2 million students nationally aged 9-15 years old.

We will also use the Campaign to reach out to young women and BAME communities, who have historically been under-represented in the Armed Services. The Next Generation Air Force must reflect the society it serves, with diversity, inclusion and innovation central to our future ambition.

The RAF100 Campaign supports the Government’s Plan for Britain: a Global Britain; a Stronger Economy, a Fairer Society; and a United Nation. RAF100 is also closely aligned to a range of Government initiatives, including the Year of the Engineer, the Scottish Government’s ‘Year of Young People’, and Vote100


31 Mar – Opening Concert, Royal Albert Hall, London.

1 Apr – The RAF100 Baton Relay Commences (The RAF Baton Relay will visit 100 sites associated with the RAF in 100 days.)

16 to 21 May – National Aircraft Tour Cardiff City Hall Gardens – (The National Aircraft Tour will visit 6 major UK locations, with the potential for tens of thousands of visitors to interact with the RAF.)

10 Jun – RAF Cosford Airshow.

21 Jun – RAF Museum Re-Opening Ceremony, London.

6 to 9 Jul – National Aircraft Tour, Horse Guards Parade, London.

10 Jul – RAF100 Parade & Flypast, The Mall, London.

13 to 15 Jul – Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford.

4 to 5 Aug – Northern Ireland Airshow, Portrush.

4 to 5 Aug – National Aircraft Tour, Newcastle, Northern Ireland.

25 to 27 Aug – National Aircraft Tour, Victoria Square, Birmingham.

1 to 2 Sep – National Aircraft Tour, Glasgow Science Centre.

15 to 16 Sep – National Aircraft Tour, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester.

16 Sep – Battle Of Britain Service, London.


31 Mar to 1 Apr – Corn Exchange, Devizes, SN10 1HS – An exhibition of RAF memorabilia from its formation up to the present day, including uniforms, aircraft models, technical items, documents and pictures. 

1 Apr: 02:00pm to 03:00pm – Higher Cemetery, St Marks Avenue, Exeter, EX1 2PX – Tour of RAF graves in Exeter’s Higher Cemetery where there are 86 RAF graves from both the First World War and the Second World War (including 29 Polish airmen). The tour starts outside the chapel next to the First World War graves. The tour is expected to last 45-60 minutes. Children are welcome but under 16s must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

2 Apr: 10:00am to 03:00pm – Town Hall, South Street, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 3NW – An exhibition of personal artefacts loaned by ex-RAF personnel together with children’s art and poetry with the theme RAF 100.

4 Apr: 11:00am – St Giles & St Nicolas’ (Parish Church), Church Lane, Sidmouth, EX10 8LG – In order to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Air Force and the valuable cont

contribution Sidmouth made during WWII, a public service of celebration and thanksgiving is to be held in the Parish Church. Everyone is welcome, in particular all former serving RAF, WRAF and WAAF veterans, along with veterans from the other Services. Just as importantly, anyone from the town, or elsewhere, who had relatives who served in the town, as well with any other members of the public, will be warmly received.

7 to 8 Apr – St Edward’s Hall, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AF – The North Cotswold Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association is organising an exhibition of RAF memorabilia in Stow on the Wold’s St Edward’s Hall.

8 Apr: 10:15am – The Centre, Amesbury, SP4 7DL – A freedom parade to MOD Boscombe Down to commemorate 100 years of the RAF. 

8 Apr: 10:30am – St Petroc’s Church, Priory Road, Bodmin, PL31 2DP – A service to commemorate and celebrate RAF100. Bringing together the public with county and local civic dignitaries, RAF St Mawgan, the county’s eight RAF Association branches and local colleges. It is also planned to re-present the Ceremonial Sword given to the town of Bodmin by RAF St Mawgan in the 70s when given the freedom of Bodmin. 

27 Apr – St James Church, Chipping Campden, Gloucester – There will be a band and choir concert starting at 7.30pm.

10 Jun – 12 Beechurst Way, Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham, GL52 7WJ – A themed village street fair to mark RAF100.

23 to 24 Jun – Weston-Super-Mare Seafront Marine Parade Weston-Super-Mare – There will be a Eurofighter Typhoon pilot, simulators, fairground rides, Royal Marines, armed forces and trade villages. There will be many displays including the BBMF, Red Arrows, Typhoon, Spitfire, Team trig, Strikemaster and Pitts special muscle bi-plane and many more.

30 Jun: 09:30am to 10:30pm – Plymouth Hoe, Plymouth, PL1 2PA – A packed family-fun day of entertainment, air displays, military exhibitions and displays, bands and stage performances. Highlights of the event include a veteran’s parade of standards, junior and senior services military field gun competition, combat displays, marching bands, evening entertainment and a thrilling air display. This year 

will include the RAF100 anniversary celebration and commemoration.

7 to 8 Jul – Gloucester Guildhall, 23 Eastgate St, Gloucester, GL1 1NS – The Gloucester Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association and Gloucester City Council have organised a weekend of events, starting with a hangar style dance in the Guildhall, Gloucester on 7 July. 

8 Jul – RAF Gloucestershire stations will offer a ‘data sheet’ trail around the city centre encouraging young people to collect facts about the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and RAF in Gloucestershire.  There will be an emergency operations room re-enactment, a veteran’s march to be led by 501 (RAuxAF) Squadron and include the Air Training Corps (ATC) Squadrons of Gloucester and static displays provided by 501 Sqn and the ATC.  A locally created tapestry depicting various RFC/RAF activities undertaken in Gloucestershire will be unveiled. The tapestry aims to represent the early aircraft manufacturing undertaken in Gloucestershire whereby men built the aircraft out of wood and the ladies stitched fabric to the aircraft. It is planned to unveil the tapestry at the RAFA Area Conference in March 2018, taken on tour around Gloucestershire to raise funds for the Wings Appeal and finally becoming a permanent figure in the Jet Age Museum, Staverton, Gloucestershire.

13 to 15 Jul – Royal International Air Tattoo, RAF Fairford – Gloucester

30 Aug to 2 Sep – Bournemouth seafront, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH2 5AA – The 2018 Bournemouth Air Festival will be celebrating RAF100. A weekend of RAF-inspired entertainment, music, dance and aircraft.


The charities associated with the Royal Air Force have a proud tradition of supporting the whole RAF Family. Together they provide help to those serving their country and their dependants, as well as veterans and the next generation. RAF100 provides great opportunities to build on the successes of the past 100 years and raise additional funds for the RAF Family. To maximise the opportunities that our centenary year brings, the RAF100 Appeal is being run as a joint venture between: The Royal Air Force, The RAF Association, The RAF Benevolent Fund, The RAF Charitable Trust and The RAF Museum. Fundraising undertaken during RAF100 will be coordinated 

by the joint venture. The money raised will be shared between the four charities and other related charitable causes.

RAF100 Website

Further background on RAF100 can be found on the RAF100 Website at www.raf.mod.uk/raf100/.

Reserve Forces