No. 11 Group RAF
No. 11 Group is a group in the Royal Air Force for various periods in the 20th century, finally disbanding in 1996 but reforming in 2018. Its most famous service was during 1940 when it defended London and the south-east against the attacks of the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. It was reformed in late 2018 as a “multi-domain operations group” to ensure the service thinks and acts in a networked way.
|No. 11 Group RAF|
|Active||1 Apr 1918 – 17 May 1918|
22 Aug 1918 – May 1920
1 May 1936 – 31 Dec 1960
1 Jan 1961 – 1 Apr 1963
1 Apr 1968 – 1 Apr 1996
1 Nov 2018 – present
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Part of||RAF Air Command|
|Headquarters||RAF High Wycombe|
|Motto(s)||Tutela cordis (Latin for Guardians of the heart)|
|Air Officer Commanding||Air Vice-Marshal Ian Duguid OBE|
|Air Vice-Marshal Keith R Park|
|Group badge||Depicts the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster surrounded by an astral crown. The tower indicates London, the heart of the Empire, with whose safety the Group was charged during the Second World War. The hands of the clock are at 11 o’clock to represent the time of the Armistice of the First World War and the number of the Group. Awarded in 1940.|
First World WarEdit
No. 11 Group was first formed on 1 April 1918 in No. 2 Area as No. 11 (Equipment) Group, and was transferred to South-Western Area the next month on 8 May. The Group's short first existence came to an end on 17 May 1918, when it was disbanded.
The next incarnation of the Group was later in 1918 when it formed as part of the North-Western Area on 22 August. On 6 February 1920, Group Captain Ian Bonham-Carter took command. Three months later, in May 1920, No. 11 Group was reduced in status to No. 11 Wing.
It was reformed on 1 May 1936 as No. 11 (Fighter) Group by renaming Fighting Area. On 14 July 1936, No. 11 Group became the first RAF Fighter Command group to be formed, with responsibility for the air-defence of southern England, including London.
Second World WarEdit
No.11 Group was organised using the Dowding System of fighter control. Group Headquarters was at Hillingdon House, located at RAF Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon. The Group operations room was underground in what is now known as the Battle of Britain Bunker. Commands were passed to the sector airfields, each of which was in charge of several airfields and fighter squadrons. The sector airfields were:
No. 11 Group's most famous period was during the Battle of Britain when, due to its position, it bore the brunt of the German aerial assault. Pilots posted to squadrons within No. 11 Group knew that they would be sent into certain action, while pilots and squadrons transferring out of 11 Group knew that they were going to comparatively safer duty.
During the Battle of Britain, the Group was commanded by New Zealander Air Vice Marshal Keith Park. While fully supported by the commanders (AOCs) of No. 10 Group and No. 13 Group, he received insufficient support from the AOC of No. 12 Group, Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, who wanted the No. 11 Group AOC position and used the Big Wing controversy to criticise Park's tactics. Leigh-Mallory's lack of support compromised Britain's defences at a critical time and the following controversy caused problems for Park. When the Battle of Britain was finally over, Leigh-Mallory, acting with Air Marshal Sholto Douglas, conspired to have Park removed from his position (along with the Commander-in-Chief of Fighter Command, Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding). Leigh-Mallory then took over command of No. 11 Group.
Following the war, 11 Group continued to be a key formation within Fighter Command. In December 1951 it consisted of two sectors, the Southern and Metropolitan. The Southern Sector included No. 1 Squadron and No. 29/22 Squadrons at RAF Tangmere and No. 54 Squadron and No. 247 Squadron at RAF Odiham. The Metropolitan Sector had No. 25 Squadron at RAF West Malling, No. 41/253 Squadron at RAF Biggin Hill, No. 56/87 Squadron and No. 63 Squadron at RAF Waterbeach, No. 64 Squadron and No. 65 Squadron at RAF Duxford, No. 72 Squadron at RAF North Weald, No. 85/145 at RAF West Malling with Gloster Meteor NF.11s, and No. 257 Squadron and No. 263 Squadron at RAF Wattisham. Denoted by a '/', a short-lived RAF postwar scheme saw several squadrons linked, where two squadron numbers' heritage was carried on within one single unit.
However, in 1960 there was a rationalisation of Fighter Command, and No. 11 Group was disbanded on 31 December 1960. However, it reformed one day later when No. 13 Group was renamed to No. 11 Group. On 1 April 1963, the Group was renamed No. 11 (Northern) Sector. This incarnation lasted until Fighter Command was absorbed into the new Strike Command on 30 April 1968 and became No. 11 Group. Group Headquarters shifted to RAF Bentley Priory in northwest London, and took responsibility for the UK Air Defence Region (UK ADR). In aircraft terms, the English Electric Lightning entered service in 1960 and the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II in 1969, with No. 43 Squadron at RAF Leuchars.
The group was renamed No. 11 (Air Defence) Group in January 1986. In the early 1990s, the Group's front-line force consisted of No. 56 Squadron and No.74 Squadrons flying Phantoms from RAF Wattisham, No. 5 Squadron and No. 29 Squadron flying the Panavia Tornado F3 from RAF Coningsby, No. 11 Squadron, No. 23 Squadron, and No. 25 Squadron flying the Tornado F3 from RAF Leeming, and No. 43 Squadron and No. 111 Squadron at RAF Leuchars. No. 8 Squadron flew E-3D Sentry AEW1 from RAF Waddington. No. 5 Squadron and No. 11 Squadron had been the last units flying the English Electric Lightning from RAF Binbrook until 1988. No. 25 Squadron and No. 85 Squadron had been operating Bristol Bloodhound surface-to-air missiles, but re-equipped with the Tornado and disbanded, in 1989 and on 10 July 1991 respectively. The Wattisham Phantom Wing was disbanded relatively quickly following the end of the Cold War. Later, No. 23 Squadron was disbanded in March 1994.
No. 11 Group lasted until 1996, when on 1 April it was amalgamated with No. 18 Group to form No. 11/18 Group. Air Vice Marshal Anthony Bagnall, who took over on 15 July 1994, was the Group's last commander.
On 11 July 2018, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier announced at the Air Power Conference that No. 11 Group would reform as a “multi-domain operations group”, to ensure the RAF thinks and acts in a networked way and combining air, space and cyber-warfare elements to create an integrated force. No increase in the number of senior officers or staff at headquarters was proposed as part of the reformation.
Role and operationsEdit
No. 11 Group includes the capabilities of the Chief of Staff Operations and the Air Battle Staff, comprising the deployable Joint Force Air Component (JFAC), the National Air & Space Operations Centre (NASOC) and the Executive Team. The group also includes the RAF Battle Management Force. The Group's purpose is to ensure that the large amounts of collected data, intelligence and information is used in a focused and integrated way that contributes effectively to the planning and execution of operations across multiple domains especially air, space and cyber.
The core of No. 11 Group is based at the NASOC, located at RAF High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.
The group is also responsible for the following RAF stations.
- RAF Boulmer, Northumberland – Home of the RAF Battlespace Management Force
- RAF Flyingdales, North Yorkshire – Home of the UK's Ballistic Missile Early Warning System and part of the Allied Space Surveillance Network.
- RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire – Home of the No. 1 Air Control Centre, the Mobile Meteorological Unit and to the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.
- RAF Spadedam, Cumbria – Home of the UK's Electronic Warfare Tactics Range.
List of group commandersEdit
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- Donald, David, ed. (1999). "RAF Phantoms". Wings of Fame. London: Aerospace. 15: 6. ISBN 1-86184-033-0.
- "No. 23 Squadron". Royal Air Force. 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
- "Air Chief Marshal Sir Anthony Bagnall". Debrett's People of Today. 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
- "Historic 11 Group reforms for multi-domain challenges". Royal Air Force. 5 November 2018. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
- "No 11 Group". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
- Lancaster, Mark (24 July 2018). "Written Answers to Questions – Air Force" (PDF). UK Parliament. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
- "No. 51001". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 July 1987. p. 9283.
- "No 11 Group, about this group". Retrieved 6 November 2018.