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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.

No. 1 Group
No. 1 Group badge
Country United Kingdom
BranchRoyal Air Force
Part ofRAF Air Command
Garrison/HQRAF High Wycombe
Motto(s)"Swift to attack"[1]
Air Officer CommandingAir Vice-Marshal Ian Duguid
Group badgeA 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]

The current Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group is Air Vice-Marshal Ian Duguid.[3] He succeeded Air Vice-Marshal Allan Marshall in November 2021.

Subordinate units

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


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.
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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[11] 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:[12][13]

Cold War

By June 1948, 1 Group consisted of:[14]

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.[15] 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, directing the bomber and strike aircraft of Strike Command.

On 17 November 1983, No. 38 Group RAF was subsumed within Headquarters No. 1 Group.[16]

In around 1984, Headquarters No. 1 Group moved from RAF Bawtry in South Yorkshire to RAF Upavon in Wiltshire.[17] 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.[18]

After the end of the Cold War, RAF Germany was reduced in status to become No. 2 Group RAF. 2 Group was then disbanded by being absorbed into No. 1 Group on 1 April 1996. 2 Group was then reformed on 7 January 2000, splitting out of 1 Group. 1 Group transferred over the RAF's air transport, air-to-air refuelling and airborne early warning functions.

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.[19] 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:[20]

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". raf.mod.uk. Royal Air Force. Retrieved 5 February 2020. Air Vice-Marshal Ian Duguid CB OBE to be Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group in November 2021 in succession to Air Vice-Marshal Allan Marshall OBE
  4. "RAF Air Command". Armed Forces.
  5. Newdick, Thomas (10 September 2020). "This Is The Royal Air Force's First Aggressor Eurofighter Typhoon". The Drive. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  6. "RAF Lossiemouth Base preparing for arrival of UK E-7 Wedgetail fleet". 10 October 2022.
  7. Bomber Command Archived 7 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine, accessed November 2008
  8. "Groups1-9_P". www.rafweb.org. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  9. Airfields of Lincolnshire – Patrick Otter – p15).
  10. Król, Wacław (1982). Polskie dywizjony lotnicze w Wielkiej Brytanii (in Polish). Warsaw: Wydawnictwo MON. pp. 86, 104, 191. ISBN 83-11-07695-2.
  11. Airfield of Lincolnshire – Patrick Otter- p20/21.
  12. "No. 1 Group, RAF, 06.06.1944". niehorster.org. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  13. "Bomber Command - Jun 1944". www.rafweb.org. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  14. Rawlings 1985, p. 187.
  15. 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
  16. Horseman, Martin, ed. (January 1983). "RAF Groups HQ to Merge". Armed Forces. Shepperton: Ian Allan. p. 7. ISSN 0142-4696.
  17. Horseman, Martin, ed. (January 1983). "RAF Groups HQ to Merge". Armed Forces. Shepperton: Ian Allan. p. 7. ISSN 0142-4696.
  18. Burney, p411; Isby and Kamps, Armies of NATO's Central Front, 1985.
  19. Andrew Brooks, UK AIR DEFENCE,Air Forces Monthly – October 2008
  20. "Senior RAF Commanders" (PDF). Retrieved 16 August 2014.


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