British Military Aviation in 1955

1 January
In an effort to strengthen the position of the Ministry of Defence in
relation to that of the individual Service Ministries, the Prime Minister,
Sir Anthony Eden, creates the post of Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff
Committee to act as the military advisor to the Minister of Defence. The
first incumbent of this post was Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir William
Dickson, who became Chairman on relinquishing the post of Chief of the
Air Staff.

1 January
The first of the ‘V-bomber’ squadron, No.138 Squadron, is authorised for
formation at RAF Gaydon. The squadron had a unit establishment of eight
Vickers Valiant B1s. The first Valiant was collected from the manufacturer’s
airfield at Wisley and flown to Gaydon by the squadron commander, Wing
Commander R.G.W. Oakley, on 8 January.

23 January
Following reports of a Saudi Arabian group entering northern Dhofar, Vickers
Valettas and Avro Lincolns mount a series of reconnaissance sorties, but
find nothing. The operation was terminated in May.

17 February
The British Government’s Statement on Defence 1955 is published and announces
its decision to proceed with developing and producing thermonuclear weapons.

19 February
The South-East Asia Treaty Organisation is established on this date. Original
signatories of the Treaty included the United Kingdom, Australia, France,
New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and the United States.

28 February
Air Vice Marshall J.R. Whitley flies an English Electric Canberra from
Lincolnshire to Cyprus covering 2000 miles in 4 hour 13 minutes.

1 March
The first detachment of English Electric Canberra B6 jet bombers to Butterworth
to participate in the Malayan Emergency begins (Operation Milage). Aircraft
and crews for the first detachment were drawn from No.101 Squadron, RAF
Bomber Command and additional detachments of 6 to 8 aircraft were subsequently
provided by Nos. 9, 12 and 617 Squadrons. The final detachment ended on
31 August 1956.

4 April
The Baghdad Pact, a mutual defence agreement between the United Kingdom,
Turkey and Iraq, is signed on this date. Subsequently signatories included
Pakistan and Iran, although not a signatory, the United States of America
was closely associated with the pact. Following the withdrawal of Iraq
during the spring of 1959, on 20 August 1959 the Baghdad Pact was renamed
the Central Treaty Organisation.

29 April
An Avro Lincoln aircraft of RAF Bomber Command drops flowers and messages
of goodwill over the Hague to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the
beginning of Operation Manna, the food-dropping operations to the people
of the Netherlands carried out by Bomber Command during April-May 1945.

1 May
AHQ Iraq is renamed AHQ Levant.

13 May
Operation Planters Punch: English Electric Canberra PR7s of No.542 Squadron,
RAF Bomber Command, are detached to RAF Changi to provide additional photographic
reconnaissance support for anti-terrorist operations in Malaya (Operation
Firedog). Three-monthly detachments (initially of four aircraft, later
reduced to two from 14 June 1956) ceased as a regular commitment from
October 1956. However, Bomber Command PR Canberras continued to be detached
for periods of two months twice a year for the remainder of the campaign.

28 June
Squadron Leader I.G. Bromm flies an RAF Canberra jet Aries IV from Ottawa
to London covering 3,330 miles in 6 hours 42 minutes.

7 July
The Air Ministry announces the reorganisation of Middle East Air Force
Command Headquarters. A Northern Group, under Air Headquarters Levant,
is formed to control units in Iraq, Jordan, Cyprus and Libya. A Southern
Group, under Headquarters, British Forces in Aden, was responsible for
units in Aden, the South Arabian coast and Kenya and for the staging posts
in the Persian Gulf area. AHQ Levant and Headquarters, British Forces
Aden continued to be subordinate to Headquarters, Middle East Air Force.

27 July
The British Government’s intention to establish a guided missile range
in the Outer Hebrides is announced by Mr Selwyn Lloyd, the Minister of

28 July
The last Avro Lincoln detachment to Kenya (No.49 Squadron) returns to
the United Kingdom on this day.


The RAF’s first experimental ‘all-jet’ flying training programme commences
at No.2 Flying Training School in Hullavington (Hunting Jet Provost).
The first pilot flew solo after 8 hours 20 minutes instruction on 17 October

8 August
Squadron Leader R.L. Topp flies a Hawker Hunter jet from Edinburgh to
Farnorough covering 335 miles in 27 minutes 45 seconds averaging 717mph.

18 August
Following a revolt by troops from the south of Sudan, 8,000 Government
troops are flown from Khartoum by Nos. 70, 84, 114 and 216 Squadrons RAF
(Vickers Valetta).

23 August
Captain John Hackett and Mr Peter Moneypenny flies an English Electric
Canberra Mk7 from London to New York and back, completing the 6920 mile
flight in 14 hours 21 minutes and 45 seconds with 35 minute refuelling
stop. They average 481mph.

29 August
An English Electric Canberra B2 flown by Wing Commander W.F. Gibb sets
a new world height record of 65,890 feet.

30 September
No.1340 Flight disbands. During the course of the Mau Mau emergency, the
flight had dropped 21,936 20 pound bombs and lost eight aircraft in accidents.

15 October
No.308/5 Air Task Force, later redesignated 308.5 Task Group, is formed
at RAF Weston Zoyland, under the command of Group Captain S.W.B. Menaul,
to participate in the British atomic test at Monte Bello Island, off the
northern coast of Australia.

25-27 October
Following the insertion of Saudia Arabian personnel by air into Buraimi,
Oman, Trucial Oman Scouts supported by Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft
surround Buraimi. Subsequently, RAF transport aircraft flew the Saudis
found at Buraimi to Bahrain. The RAF also flew further demonstration sorties
over Hamasa in order to show the authority of the Government.

9 December
The Air Ministry announces that flying from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, would
begin in early 1956.