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RAF Maintenance Command

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Maintenance Command
Active1 April 1938–31 August 1973
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchRoyal Air Force
Garrison/HQRAF Andover

RAF Maintenance Command was the Royal Air Force command which was responsible for controlling maintenance for all the United Kingdom-based units from formation on 1 April 1938 until being renamed RAF Support Command on 31 August 1973.


Maintenance Command was formed in 1938.[2] No. 40 Group RAF was formed within the command on 3 January 1939, and responsible for all equipment except bombs and explosives.[3] No. 42 Group RAF was made responsible for fuel and ammunition storage.

In 1940, technical control (but not administrative control) of No. 41 Group and No. 43 Group of Maintenance Command passed to the Ministry of Aircraft Production.[2] One important change made within days of the Ministry's creation was it taking over the RAF aircraft storage Maintenance Units which were found to have accepted 1,000 aircraft from industry, but issued only 650 to squadrons. These management and organisational changes bore results almost immediately: in the first four months of 1940, 2,729 aircraft were produced of which 638 were fighters, while in the following four months crucial to the Battle of Britain combat during May to August 1940, production rose to 4,578 aircraft, of which 1,875 were fighters.[4] This production rate was two and a half times Germany's fighter production at the time. The ministry was additionally able to repair and return to service nearly 1,900 aircraft.[5]

From 7 October 1940, operational control of salvage was administered by a section of No. 43 Group RAF (Maintenance), known as No. 43 Group Salvage, with a headquarters at the Morris Motor Works in Cowley. The administrative headquarters later moved to Magdalen College, Oxford.[6] Maintenance units responsible for salvage were responsible for vast areas of the country.

Responsibility for these Groups returned to Maintenance Command after World War II following the absorption of the Ministry of Aircraft Production into the Ministry of Supply (MoS).[2] The foundation stone for a new Command Headquarters at RAF Andover was laid in November 1960.[7]

When the RAF took delivery of the Blue Danube nuclear weapon (in sections) the HCCL plant near Leeds was one of only four places from where 40 Group organised armed escorted road convoys direct to RAF Wittering. The others were AWRE Aldermaston, ROF Burghfield, ROF Chorley (Lancashire), and Woolwich Arsenal.

No. 40 Group was disbanded on 28 July 1961. Maintenance Command was absorbed into Support Command in August 1973.[2]


As of 1940 the Command was organised as a headquarters and four Groups:

  1. Equipment Group [No 40]
  2. Aircraft Group [No 41, HQ Andover January 1939 - July 1961; MU's included No. 7 MU?]
  3. Armament and Fuel Group [No 42]
  4. Repair and Salvage Group [No 43][8]

Nos 42 and 43 Groups disbanded on 2 January 1956; No. 41 Group on 21 July 1961; and No. 40 Group a week later on 28 July 1961.[9]

Maintenance Units included:


Commanders-in-Chief included:[10]


  1. ^ Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 211. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. ^ a b c d National Archives
  3. ^ a b c Air of Authority
  4. ^ p.129, Ponting, 1940: myth and reality
  5. ^ p.130, Ponting, 1940: Myth and Reality
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 December 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Smoke of Battle Flight International, 4 November 1960
  8. ^ Keeping the RAF in the Air Flight International, 2 May 1940
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation – RAF Home Commands formed between 1936 – 1938 Archived 9 January 2002 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

  • The Years Between: Memories of the London Blitz and RAF Maintenance Command During World War Two, by Eric G. Ayto, Athena Press, ISBN 978-1-84748-105-4
  • C Crowley, Aspects of Industrial Hygiene in Maintenance Command Royal Air Force, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1951
  • Robin D. S. Higham, Unflinching Zeal: The Air Battles Over France and Britain, May–October 1940, pp. 131–2
  • Ian Philpott, The Royal Air Force - Volume 2: An Encyclopedia of the Inter-War Years 1930-1939, Pen & Sword, 2006, 319-322
This page was last edited on 29 November 2020, at 23:37
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