At the end of WWI in 1918 aircraft were biplanes made of wood and covered in fabric with the pilot sitting in an open cockpit. By the beginning of WWII in 1939 first tier aircraft were all metal monoplanes with retractable landing gear and enclosed cockpits. Speeds went from 120 mph to over 300 mph. Driven by the major industrial powers record breaking military and civilian pilots as well as groundbreaking designers, aircraft had progressed to unheard of performance.

British Empire

Royal Air Force

Royal Air Force was formed on April 1, 1918 making it the world's oldest independent air force. In 1919 the RAF had 4,000 combat aircraft and 114,000 personnel. As budget cuts commenced and continued throughout the 1920s and 1930s the size of the RAF rapidly declined. During the interwar years the RAF was mainly used to police the British Empire from the air. In 1928 in Afghanistan the RAF conducted the Kabul Airlift, the first evacuation of civilians by air. In order to keep itself in the public eye and maintain some funding the RAF also conducted the annual Hendon Air Show and supported a team for the Schneider Trophy competition.

Great Britain  UK RAF

United States

US Navy

The United States Navy began experimenting with launching aircraft from ships shortly after WWI. They received several Sopwith Camels and one was assigned to the battleship USS Texas (BB-35) and in 1919 was flown off a platform built atop the number 2 gun turret by Lt. Commander Ed McDonnell. This was the first time an airplane was launched from a battleship. The USN's first aircraft carrier was the converted collier USS Langley (CV-1). It was used to build experience operating aircraft from ships lead to today's supercarriers.


United States

US Army Air Corps

The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was renamed from the Air Service on July 2, 1926. It remained part of the Army and became the United States Army Air Forces in 1941. Starting out with 32 squadrons the Air Corps slowly grew to 50 under strength squadrons by the late 1930s. Aircraft designs progressed rapidly beginning with biplanes and ending with all metal monoplanes. For a time in 1934 the Air Corps also delivered the US Mail.



Eesti Õhuvägi

The roots of the Estonian air fore go back to February 1917 when Estonia became a semi independent part of Russia. Acquiring their first aircraft in 1919, the Aviation Company of the Engineer Battalion began building bases and training pilots.


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