RFC Formation take-offs

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  • #2023081777654260
    Timothy
    Participant

    Hi all

    I was wondering if during WW1 it was common for RFC/RNAS squadrons or flights to take-off together in some sort of formation, as was common in WW2.

    I‘m guessing it would have been quite tricky in the sort of aircraft they were flying.

    #2023081777656268
    Michael
    Participant

    Hi

    Looking through various memoirs gives various answers. Common is the statement that a Flight took off five minutes after another, indicating that probably an individual Flight had taken off together. Other times it is mentioned that they took off ‘with’ another Flight or even elements of another Squadron from the same aerodrome. it could all depend on the operation I suspect, eg. if one Flight was to fly high cover for a lower flying Flight then it would make sense for the former Flight to take off first so they could climb to height. I believe that most Offensive Patrols by the RFC/RAF were generally of one Flight so taking off roughly together would also make sense as it would ‘speed up’ getting into their ‘patrol’ formation without wasting too much fuel.
    But that is just my ‘take’ on the question.

    Mike

    #2023081777656280
    Michael
    Participant

    Hi

    Further to my last post, ‘War in the Air’ Vol. III, Appendix XI has a copy of a March 1917 document ‘Fighting in the Air’ mentioning that “Machines of each group should leave the ground together and should arrive at the rendezvous in the correct formation of their group.” The ‘group’ is later defined as two or three machines, for both single and two-seat aeroplanes, these could then form formations of six to nine machines each group having its own sub-leader. So at this period two or three machines would be taking off together, from there it is probable that later flights of five or so aeroplanes would take off together.

    Mike

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