Biplanes to Fast Jets: RAF Training Aircraft

The following exhibitions are available online only and are not on display at the Royal Air Force Museum.

Avro 504J

1916

The Avro 504J is selected as the standard trainer because its performance is close to that of an operational aircraft. The De Havilland D.H.9A, Bristol Fighter and Vickers Vimy are all used in courses for conversion to operational flying.

The Armstrong Whitworth Siskin III and Armstrong Whitworth Atlas Trainer

1924

The Armstrong Whitworth Siskin III (top) is introduced to replace the old-fashioned D.H.9A and Bristol Fighter in the advanced portion of the Flying Training School course. It is joined by the Armstrong Whitworth Atlas Trainer (bottom) in 1927.

de Havilland Gipsy Moth

1929

The de Havilland Gipsy Moth is brought in to provide the core of elementary training at the RAF College, the Central Flying School and 5 Flying Training School.

de Havilland Tiger Moth

1932

The de Havilland Tiger Moth is introduced to replace the de Havilland Gipsy Moth, which is considered to be too docile. It becomes the foremost elementary trainer throughout the Commonwealth because it is forgiving enough for initial training but challenging in more advanced manoeuvres.

Avro Tutor

1933

The Avro Tutor is selected to replace the Avro 504N as the standard basic trainer after a series of trials against several other types.

Hawker Hart Trainer

1935

The Hawker Hart Trainer takes over the advanced trainer role from the Armstrong Whitworth Atlas Trainer.

Miles Magister and Airspeed Oxford 

 

1937

The Miles Magister (top) and Airspeed Oxford (bottom) are introduced to provide elementary and twin-engine monoplane training in the run-up to war.

North American Harvard trainer

1938

The North American Harvard trainer is brought in because of a delay in delivery of the Miles Magister. It becomes one of the main advanced training aircraft during the Second World War.

Miles Master

1939

The Miles Master is introduced to provide advanced monoplane training.

Hunting Percival Prentice

1948

The Hunting Percival Prentice is brought in as an elementary trainer to replace the out-dated Tiger Moth.

de Havilland Chipmunk

1950

The de Havilland Chipmunk replaces the de Havilland Tiger Moth for training in the University Air Squadrons and Reserve Flying Schools.

Vickers Varsity

1951

The Vickers Varsity is introduced as an all-purpose advanced trainer to bridge the gap between basic training and the Operational Conversion Units.

Hunting Percival Prentice

1953

The Hunting Percival Prentice is now considered an unsuitable elementary trainer for the aircraft of the Fifties. The RAF decides to employ an energetic basic trainer followed by a docile jet trainer. The Hunting Percival Provost and the de Havilland Vampire are chosen.

Jet Provost

1959

Following a decision to go "all jet", a turbine version of the Hunting Percival Provost, the Jet Provost, is introduced. This provides the bulk of RAF pilot training for the next three decades.

Folland Gnat

1962

A two-seat training version of the Folland Gnat is chosen as a "fast jet" trainer and remains in use until 1978.

Westland/Bell Sioux and Westland Whirlwind

1965

An expansion in helicopter flying leads to the formation of a separate helicopter flying school, using the Westland/Bell Sioux as an elementary trainer. The Westland Whirlwind provides advanced helicopter training.

Beagle Bulldog and Westland Gazelle

1973

The Beagle Bulldog is introduced to replace the de Havilland Chipmunk on the University Air Squadrons. In addition, a new basic helicopter trainer, the Westland Gazelle, is brought in.

Vickers Varsity, BAe Hawk and Westland Wessex

1976

The Vickers Varsity is replaced by the Handley Page Jetstream for multi-engine training. The BAe Hawk is also introduced to take over from the Folland Gnat and to ease pressure on the Hunting Percival Jet Provost. The Westland Wessex replaces the Westland Whirlwind in the advanced helicopter training role.

Shorts Tucano

1989

The Shorts Tucano replaces the Hunting Percival Jet Provost. It later becomes the basic jet trainer because of its jet-like handling capabilities and the fact it is fully aerobatic.

Slingsby Firefly

1996

The Slingsby Firefly is introduced for use as a lead-in aircraft for multi-engine trainees because its side-by-side dual controls introduce pupils to dual-crew operations.

Westland Wessex and Eurocopter Squirrel

1997

The Westland Wessex is replaced by the Bell Griffin in the advanced helicopter training role. At the same time, the Eurocopter Squirrel takes over as the basic helicopter trainer.

Grob Tutor

1999

The Grob Tutor replaces the Beagle Bulldog for elementary flying training.

Beech King Air B209

2004

The Beech King Air B209, the RAF's newest trainer, is introduced as an advanced multi-engine trainer.

3 Pilots 1 War

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 Bernard Rice

Bernard Rice

First World War Pilot
3 Pilots 1 War