Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation


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Trials and Experimental Units


This section covers those units involved in experimental, trials and evaluation work.

Air Armament Trials Establishment/RAF Unit (Ministry of Supply) West Freugh

This was formed from the Bombing Trials Unit on 1 January 1957 under the control of No 64 Group at West Freugh, being redesignated RAF Unit (Ministry of Supply) West Freugh on 1 August 1957, which in turn was disbanded on 10 June 1959.

Airborne Forces Establishment

This was formed from the Central Landing Establishment on 1 September 1941 under the control of No 70 Group at Ringway.  In December the Glider Exercise Unit became the Glider Exercise Squadron and on 31 December it absorbed the Technical Development Unit and Airborne Forces and was redesignated Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment on 15 February 1942.

Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment

This was formed from the Airborne Forces Establishment on 15 February 1942 under the control of No 70 Group at Ringway, moving to Sherburn-in-Elmet on 17 June in No 21 Group and finally to Beaulieu under No 23 Group on 4 January 1945.  See table below for detachment locations: - and disbanded on 14 September 1950.

Officers Commanding: -

xx xxx 1946                Gp Capt P Heath

Airborne Forces Research Centre (RAF Component)

This was formed on in July 1944 at Chaklala and was redesignated Air Transport Development Centre on 6 September 1944.

Airborne Forces Tactical Development Unit

This was formed on 1 December 1943 under the control of No 38 Group at Tarrant Rushton, moving to Netheravon, where it was redesignated Airborne Transport Tactical Development Unit on 12 January 1944.

Airborne Transport Tactical Development Unit

This was formed from the Airborne Forces Tactical Development Unit on 21 January 1944 under the control of No 38 Group at Netheravon and was redesignated Transport Command Tactical Development Unit on 31 August 1945.

Air Combat Development Unit (Middle East)

This was formed by November 1942 at Heliopolis but its fate is unknown.

Aircraft Gun Mounting Establishment

This was formed on 30 December 1940 under the control of No 12 Group at Duxford, moving to Boscombe Down on 23 November 1941, where it disbanded into A&AEE on 29 January 1942.

Aircraft Torpedo Development Unit

This was formed from the Torpedo Development Unit on 11 November 1943 under the control of No 19 Group at Gosport.  It moved to Culdrose on 1 June 1956 and disbanded as an RAF unit on being transferred to the Ministry of Supply on 31 August 1958.

Air Defence Research and Development Establishment

This was formed from the Air Defence Experimental Establishment at Biggin Hill and the Signals Experimental Establishment at Woolwich on in 1940 at Christchurch.  It moved to Malvern in 1942 and redesignated the Radar Research and Development Establishment on in 1944.

Air Fighting Demonstration Squadron

This was formed on 27 November 1942 under the control of the AFDU at Fowlmere, moving with the AFDU to Wittering  on 25 March 1943 and disbanded on 15 February 1944.

Air Fighting Development Establishment

This was formed on 20 October 1934 at Northolt and was redesignated Air Fighting Development Unit in July 1940.

Air Fighting Development Squadron

This was formed from the AFDU on 1 October 1944 under the control of the Central Fighter Establishment at Wittering.  In August 1958 it absorbed the All-Weather Development Squadron and moved to Coltishall on 1 September 1959.  It moved to Binbrook on 5 October 1962, where it was absorbed into the CFE and was redesignated the Fighter Command Trials Unit on 1 February 1966.

Air Fighting Development Unit

This was formed from the Air Fighting Development Establishment on in July 1940 under the control of No 11 Group at Northolt, moving to Duxford on 16 December in No 12 Group, then to Wittering on 25 March 1943, where it became the Air Fighting Development Squadron of the CFE on 16 October 1944.

Air Guided Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit

This had formed by 2002 at Valley, moving to Coningsby as part of the newly created Fast Jet and Weapons OEU on 1 April 2004.

Air Sea Warfare Development Unit

This was formed from the Coastal Command Development Unit on 1 January 1945 under the control of No 16 Group at Thorney Island, moving to Ballykelly in No 18 Group on 26 May 1948, St Mawgan in No 19 Group on 10 May 1951 and finally back to Ballykelly (18 Group) on 1 September 1958, where it disbanded on 1 April 1970.

Air Sea Warfare Development Unit (ACSEA)

This was formed on 15 December 1944 under the control of No 222 Group at Ratmalana and disbanded on 30 November 1945.

Air Transport and Air-to-Air Refuelling Operational Evaluation Unit

This was formed from the Hercules OEU in 2006 under the control of the Air Warfare Centre at Waddington, although it probably remained at Lyneham, moving to Brize Norton when Lyneham closed.   and may still exist possibly as part of No 206 (Reserve) Squadron.

(RAF Element) Air Transport Development Centre (India)

This was formed from the Airborne Research Centre on 6 September 1944 at Chaklala to at least 15 December 1946 after which its fate is unknown.

Air Transport Development Flight

This was formed on 1 March 1950 under the control of No 38 Group at Abingdon and disbanded into Air Transport Development Unit on 1 June 1965.

(RAF Element) Air Transport Development Centre (India)

This was formed from the Airborne Research Centre on 6 September 1944 at Chaklala to at least 15 December 1946 after which its fate is unknown.

Air Transport Development Unit

This was formed from the Joint Air Transport Establishment on 1 June 1965 as part of No 38 Group at Abingdon and absorbed into JATE on 1 January 1968.

Air Trials Unit

This was formed from the Aircraft Research and Development Trials Flight on 17 January 1955 at Everett Field, Woomera, Australia and split into Nos 1 and 2 Trials Units on 31 March 1958.

No 1 Air Trials Unit

This was formed from Detachment 'A' of the Air Trials Unit on 31 March 1958 at Everett Field, Woomera, Australia and disbanded on 30 September 1967.

No 2 Air Trials Unit

This was formed from an element of the Air Trials Unit on 31 March 1958  at Edinburgh Field and disbanded on 27 February 1970.

All-Weather Development Squadron

This was formed as part of the Central Fighter Establishment in February 1956 at West Raynham and disbanded into the Air Fighting Development Squadron in August 1959.

Armament Experimental Station

This was formed from Experimental Armament Squadron on 13 October 1917 under the control of  at Orfordness.  On 16 August it was placed under the control of Experimental Group, being transferred to no 3 Group on 8 January 1919.  It absorbed the Acoustic Experimental Station at Butley on 13 February 1919 and became a detachment of the Aeroplane Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath on 16 March 1920.

Armament and Instrument Experimental Unit

This was formed from the Bomb Ballistic & Blind Landing Experimental Establishment on 1 May 1950 at Martlesham Heath and disbanded in No 61 Group on 30 June 1957.

Armament Synthetic Development Unit

This was formed in 1941 at Dumfries, moving to Jurby in 1942, to Manby in June 1943, then to Portreath in 1944/45 and finally to St Mawgan in 1945 and disbanded on 23 June 1946.

Army Experimental Communications Flight

This was due to form on 15 November 1947 at Aqir but the Light Communication Trial Flight was formed instead on 15 January 1948.

Army Air Transport Training and Development Centre

This was formed on 7 May 1946 under the control of No 38 Group at Brize Norton, moving to Abingdon on 2 July 1949.  By 1958/9 it was ay Old Sarum, where it was redesignated Air Transport Development Centre at the Joint Air Transport Establishment on 1 January 1968.

Assessment and Evaluation Centre

This was formed from Aircraft and Armament Evaluation Establishment on 1 April 1996 under the control of Defence Evaluation and Research Agency at Boscombe Down and was probably redesignated Aircraft Test and Evaluation Centre on in 2001.

Atomic Research Development Unit Trials Flight

No details for this unit have been found.

Avionic Development and Servicing Unit (Buccaneer)

This was formed 1 October 1972 under the control of No 1 Group at Honington and disbanded on 7 April 1975.

BAe 146 Proving Flight

This was formed as part of No 241 OCU in May 1983 under the control of HQ Strike Command at Brize Norton and disbanded on 31 March 1985.

Balloon Development Establishment

This was formed from Royal Airship Works on 15 September 1938 under the control of No 24 Group at Cardington.  It was transferred to No 34 Group, possibly on 7 April 1940 and disbanded on 1 August 1945.

Balloon Development Section

This was formed in/ by 1923 at Old Sarum but its fate is unknown.

Balloon Development Unit

This was formed from the Balloon Development Establishment on 1 August 1945 at Cardington and was redesignated The Balloon Unit.

Balloon Testing & Kite Balloon Experimental Station

This was formed in April 1919 at Kingston Hill, Richmond Park, Kingston-upon-Thames and disbanded on 30 October 1919.

Beam Approach Development Unit

This was formed on 4 October 1942 under the control of No 54 Group at Watchfield, moving to Hinton-in-the-Hedges and transferring to No 26 Group on 12 April 1943 and disbanded on 15 April 1943 to become 'A' Flight, Signals Development Unit.

Belvedere Trials Unit

This was formed on 4 July 1960 at Odiham and disbanded on 15 September 1961.

Blind Approach Training and Development Unit

This was formed on 18 September 1939 at Boscombe Down and disbanded on 6 June 1940.

It reformed on 13 June 1940 at Boscombe Down and was redesignated the Wireless Intelligence Development Unit on 30 October 1940.

Blind Landing Experimental Unit

This was formed on 16 July 1945 at Woodbridge and disbanded into the Bomb Ballistic and Blind Landing Experimental Establishment on 1 November 1949.

Bomb Ballistics Unit

This was formed on 25 May 1944 at Woodbridge, moving to Martlesham Heath on 12 April 1946 and disbanded into the Bomb Ballistic and Blind Landing Experimental Establishment on 1 November 1949.

Bomb Ballistic and Blind Landing Experimental Establishment

This was formed from an amalgamation of the Bomb Ballistics Unit and te Blind Landing Experimental Unit on 1 November 1949 at Martlesham Heath and was redesignated the Armament and Instrument Experimental Unit on 1 May 1950.

Bomber Command Development Unit

This was formed on 24 August 1954 under the control of No 3 Group at Wittering, moving to Finningley in No 1 Group on 1 March 1960 and was redesignated the Strike Command Bomber Unit on 30 April 1968.

Bomber Development Unit

It was due to form on 1 September 1939 at Honington but this was postponed until 21 November 1940, when it eventually formed at Boscombe Down under No 6 Group and disbanded on 1 May 1941.

Bomber Support Development Unit

This was formed from the Special Duties (Radar) Development Unit on 17 April 1944 under the control of No 100 Group at Foulsham, moving to Swanton Morley on 23 December and was redesignated Radio Warfare Establishment on 21 July 1945.

Bombing Development Unit

This was formed from No 1418 GEE Development Flight on 20 July 1942 under the control of No 3 Group at Gransden Lodge.  It moved to Feltwell on 6 April 1943, to Newmarket on 13 September, back to Feltwell on 25 May 1945 and finally to Lindholme in October, where it disbanded on 27 November 1945.

Bombing and Navigation Systems Development Squadron

This was formed on 1 May 1966 under the control of No 3 Group at Wittering but soon moving to Scampton and disbanded on 1 December 1971.

Bombing Trials Unit

This was formed on 1 August 1942 at West Freugh, moving to Wigtown on 16 June 1947 and then back to West Freugh on 6 May 1948, where it was redesignated the Air Armament Trials Establishment on 1 January 1957.

Canberra Trials and Technical Evaluation Unit

This was formed on 19 January 1966 under the control of HQ Near East Air Force at Akrotiri and disbanded on 31 December 1968.

Coastal Command Development Unit

This was formed from Coastal Command Tactical Development Unit on 22 November 1940 under the control of No 15 Group at Carew Cheriton, moving to Ballykelly on 6 December 1941, to Tain (No 18 Group) on 18 June 1942, to Dale (No 19 Group) on 9 April 1943 and to Angle on 5 September 1943.  It final move was to Thorney Island, where it was redesignated the Air-Sea Warfare Development Unit on 1 January 1945.

Coastal Command Fighter Circus (Section)

This was formed from an element of the Air Fighting Demonstration Squadron on 15 March 1944 at Gosport, later moving to Thorney Island, where it disbanded on 1 September 1945.

Coastal Command Tactical Development Unit

This was formed on 22 October 1940 under the control of No 15 Group at Carew Cheriton but was redesignated the Coastal Command Development Unit on 22 November 1940 to avoid confusion with the Torpedo Development Unit.

Coast Defence Development Unit

This was formed from Nos 1 - 3 Coast Defence Training Flights on 1 April 1935 under the control of  at Gosport, being placed in No 17 Group on 1 December 1936.  It was composed of three flights, No 1 Flight was detached to Hal Far from September 1935 to August 1936 returning to Gosport, whilst Nos 2 and 3 remained at Gosport.  It disbanded on 14 December 1936  with No 1 Flight being redesignated No 1 Coast Artillery Co-operation Flight, No 2 Flight being used to form No 42 Squadron and No 3 Flight personnel being attached to Bomber Command units  .

Combined Services Projectile Development Establishment

This was formed by September 1943 at Aberporth, existing until at least January 1945, after which its fate is unknown.

Command Engineering Development and Investigation Team (Nimrod)

This was formed on 1 July 1972 under the control of No 18 Group at Kinloss but its fate is unknown.

DB-7 Flight

This was formed on 29 December 1940 at Waddington to carry out trials in using Douglas DB-7s manned by crews from No 44 Squadron in an attempt to improve night defences but disbanded on 15 February 1941.

Development Flight

This was formed on 1 April 1922 at Grain and was probably absorbed into the MAEE.

Development Flight

This was formed from the Development Squadron in February 1920 under the control of No 10 Group at Gosport and was redesignated Development Section in April 1940.

Development Flight

This was formed on 8 January 1943 under the control of AHQ India at Drigh Road but its fate is unknown.

Development Squadron

This was formed on 17 August 1918 under the control of No 8 Group at Gosport, being transferred to the control of RAF Base Gosport on 23 October and was redesignated Development Flight on in February 1920.

Development Unit (CLE)

This was formed on 22 October 1940 under the control of Central Landing Establishment at Ringway but its fate is unknown.

Director of Research Flight

This was formed on 1 September 1919 attached to the Air Council Inspection Squadron at Croydon and disbanded into the ACIS on 17 September 1919.

Eagle Trials Flight

This was formed in April 1920 at Gosport to undertake service trials on HMS Eagle and disbanded in November 1920.

Experimental Co-operation Unit

This was formed on 1 June 1938 at Martlesham Heath to conduct trials in conjunction with Bawdsey Research Establishment using RDF  and disbanded to become 'D' Flight, A&AEE on 19 August 1938.

Experimental Flight

This was formed in September 1937 under the control of No 3 Group at Porton Down until at least February 1940 after which its fate is unknown.

Experimental Flight

This had been formed by 1939 under the control of No 18 Group at Martlesham Heath, moving to Perth on 15 September 1939 and may have been an alternative title for 'D' Flight of the A&AEE.

Fast Jet and Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit

This was formed on 1 April 2000 under the control of Air Warfare Centre at Coningsby and was redesignated No 41 (Reserve) Squadron on 1 April 2006.

Fighter Armament Trials Unit

This was formed from No 2 Armament Practice Camp in November 1946 at Acklington and disbanded in July 1956.

Fighter Command Trials Unit

This was formed from the AFDS on 1 February 1966 uat West Raynham and disbanded on 30 June 1967.

Fighter Experimental Establishment

This was formed from 'C' Flight, No 93 Squadron on 23 April 1941 under the control of No 10 Group at Middle Wallop and was absorbed by the Telecommunications Flying Unit on 1 August 1941.

Fighter Experimental Flight

This was formed from Night Fighter Development Wing, CFE on 1 October 1944 under the control of  at Wittering and disbanded on in about June 1945.

Fighter Interception Development Unit/Squadron

This was as the Fighter Interception Development Unit by redesignating the Fighter Interception Unit on 4 September 1944 under the control of No 11 Group at Ford, being retitled Fighter Interception Development Squadron within the Night Fighter Development Wing of the CFE on 16 October 1944.  It moved to join the CFE at Tangmere on 15 July 1945, then to West Raynham on 1 October 1945, where it was redesignated the Radar Interception Development Squadron in July 1950.

Fighter Support Development Squadron

This was formed from the Fighter Support Development Unit on 1 March 1951 under the control of CFE at West Raynham but its fate is unknown.

Fighter Support Development Unit

This had been formed by 29 January 1951 under the control of CFE at West Raynham and was redesignated the Fighter Support Development Squadron on 1 March 1951.

Flying Boat Development Flight

This was formed on 1 January 1924 at Cattewater for service aboard HMS Pegasus on which it embarked on 20 March 1924, being redesignated RAF Unit HMS Pegasus.

It reformed on 1 May 1924 at Felixstowe, moving to Invergordon on 8 July then back to Felixstowe on 22 June and was absorbed into 'A' and 'B' Flights of the MAEE on 14 March 1932.

No 4 Group Experimental Flight

This had been formed by August 1939 at Boscombe Down but its fate is unknown.

Guided Weapons Development Squadron

This was formed on 1 June 1957 under the control of No 12 Group at Valley to undertake trials with the Fireflash and Firestreak missiles and disbanded on 31 December 1958.

No 1 Guided Weapons Trials Squadron

This was formed on 1 January 1959 under the control of No 12 Group at Valley to replace the Guided Weapons Development Squadron to continue trials with Firestreak and was redesignated Fighter Command Practice Camp on 1 June 1962.

Gunnery Research Unit

This was formed from 'A' Flight, Armament Testing Squadron on 3 June 1940 under the control of No 25 Group at Exeter, being transferred to No 10 Group on 6 July, moving to Collyweston in No 12 Group on 14 April 1944 and disbanded on 12 March 1945.

Halifax Development Flight

This was formed as part of No 246 Squadron on 15 November 1944 under the control of No 116 Wing at Holmsley South, being transferred to No 47 Group on 1 January 1945.  It moved to Merryfield in March and disbanded on 31 March 1945.

Handling Flight/Squadron

This was formed as Handling Flight on 8 December 1938 under the control of CFS at Upavon, its task being to produce Pilots' Notes for new aircraft types as they entered service.  It was detached to Boscombe Down, attached to A&AEE on 8 November 1940, being expanded on 11 June 1941 and raised to squadron status.  On 22 August 1942 it moved to Hullavington as part of ECFS, which became Empire Flying School on 7 May 1946.  It moved to Manby on 31 July 1949, becoming No 3 (Handling) Squadron, RAF Flying College but returned to Boscombe Down on 12 April 1954, where it remains to the present day.

Helicopter Command Engineering Development and Investigating Team

This was formed on 1 July 1977 under the control of No 38 Group at Odiham but its fate is unknown.

(RAF Element) Helicopter Development Unit

This was formed on 1 June 1961 under the control of No 12 Group at Old Sarum.  It became part of the Joint Warfare Establishment on 1 April 1963 and disbanded into the Joint Helicopter Development Unit on 1 February 1965.

Hercules Operational Evaluation Unit

This was formed in 1996 at Lyneham and was redesignated Air Transport and Air-to-Air Refuelling OEU at Waddington in 2006.

High Altitude Flight (A&AEE)

This was formed on 30 December 1940 under the control of A&AEE at Boscombe Down and disbanded into 'A' Flight, A&AEE on 1 October 1944.

Highball Trials Flight

This was formed on 1 April 1946 as a detachment of A&AEE at Spilsby, to carry out trials using the 'Highball' weapons, a version of the 'Bouncing Bomb' developed by Barnes Wallis.  It moved to Coningsby on 1 June 1946 and disbanded on 7 November 1947.

Intensive Flying Development Unit/Flight

This was formed as the Intensive Flying Development Flight on 15 November 1941 under the control of A&AEE at Boscombe Down.  It been retitled IFD Unit by June 1942 and disbanded shortly after the end of the war.

Jet Provost Trials Unit

This was formed on 4 September 1965 attached to No 20 Squadron at Tengah and ceased operations on 14 March 1966.

Joint Air Transport Establishment

This was formed from the  Army Transport Development Unit, Joint Helicopter Development Unit and one other on 1 January 1968 under the control of  at Old Sarum.  It moved to Abingdon in April 1971 then to Brize Norton on 31 December 1975, where it was redesignated Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit probably in 1998 when it was taken over by the Air Warfare Centre.

Joint Experimental Helicopter Unit

This was formed on 1 April 1955 under the control of No 81 Group at Middle Wallop.  It moved to Episkopi in Cyprus on 10 November 1956, then back to Middle Wallop on 7 December and was redesignated No 225 Squadron at Abingdon on 31 January 1960.

RAF Element of Joint Guided Weapons Trials Unit

This was formed from  on 1 August 1953 under the control of No 25 Group at Royal Artillery Ranges, Ty-Croes, Anglesey.  It was transferred to No 63 Group 19 April 1956, to No 64 Group probably on 1 February 1957, then to No 12 Group on 1 November 1957 and disbanded on 22 February 1959.

Joint Helicopter Development Unit

This was formed on 1 February 1965 at Old Sarum and absorbed into the Joint Air Transport Establishment.

Joint Helicopter Support Squadron

This was formed from the Joint Helicopter Support Unit and the RAF Mobile Operations Team in September 2009 at Odiham and remains in existence on in September 2008.

Joint Helicopter Support Unit

This was formed in July 1982 at Odiham on the introduction of the Chinook into service and was redesignated Joint Helicopter Support Squadron in September 2009.

No 3 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to undertake trials on 'Red Dean' Air-to-Air Missile on 1 January 1955 under the control of Home Command at Ruislip and Vickers at Weybridge.  It was transferred to Fighter Command on 1 February 1956, moving to Stanmore at the same time and went to Australia at the end of the year arriving at Ebinburgh Field on 1 January 1957 disbanded at Stanmore on 15 April 1957.

No 4 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to undertake familiarisation trials on 'Blue Steel' on 1 September 1956 at Avro, Woodford, moving to Wilmslow on 16 December 1959, where the UK element remained, while the Australian element left at the same day for Edinburgh Field.  As well as conducting trials on 'Blue Steel' it later carried out trial on 'Red Duster' and Bloodhound SAM.  The UK element moved to Scampton on 31 October 1961, where it was redesignated No 18 JSTU on 1 December.  The Australian element eventually disbanded on 14 May 1956.

No 6 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to undertake trials on 'Blue Sky' missile on 15 July 1954 under the control of No 61 Group at Ruislip/Uxbridge with a detachment at Valley, which was joined by the main unit on 5 January 1955 and disbanded on 1 October 1957.

No 8 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to undertake trials on 'Red Shoes' and 'Red Duster' missiles on 1 December 1954 under the control of Home Command at Ruislip, moving to the Ministry of Supply, Castlewood House, New Oxford Street, London WC2 on 9 September 1955.  On 1 February 1956 it moved to Stanmore, under the control of Fighter Command and later the year moved to Edinburgh Field in Australia, arriving on 1 January 1957.  From here it carried out trials on 'Red Shoes', EEC Thunderbird SAM and 'Red Duster'/Bloodhound SAM, returning to the UK, Whitehall Gardens, London on 1 December 1959 and disbanded on 1 June 1960.

No 12 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to undertake trials on 'Blue Jay' and 'Firestreak' AAMs on 1 January 1955 under the control of No 61 Group at Ruislip/DH Propellers, Hatfield, moving to Stanmore under Fighter Command on 1 February 1956.  It moved to Edinburgh Field in Australia , arriving on 10 July 1957 and disbanded on 31 March 1960.

No 13 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to support the trials on 'Red Top'  AAM on 1 June 1959 under the control of Transport Command at Upavon, moving to Boscombe Down on 1 February 1962 and disbanded on 14 July 1967.

No 14 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to undertake trials on 'Blue Streak' IRBM on 2 November 1959 at Cardington, moving to de Havilland at Stevenage on 9 November 1959, with detachments at Rolls Royce, Derby and Spadeadam and disbanded on 31 May 1960.

No 15 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed on 1 December 1959 under the control of Transport Command at Upavon, moving to Edinburgh Field in Australia on 22 August 1961 and disbanded on 31 May 1965.

No 17 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to support trials on Bloodhound Mk 2 on 1 October 1960 under the control of Transport Command at Upavon, moving to North Coates in October 1962 under Fighter Command and disbanded on 1 November 1966.

No 18 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed from the UK element of No 4 JSTU on 1 December 1961 under the control of Transport Command at Scampton.  It was transferred to No 1 Group on 1 January 1964 and disbanded on 1 August 1964.

No 21 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to undertake trials on 'BAe Rapier SAM on 1 October 1966 under the control of  at Ty-Croes Range, Anglesey, moving to Woomera in Australia on 1 July 1967.  On 6 July 1970 it moved to Tengah prior to returning to the UK, which took place in October.  On arrival in UK the HQ and Admin Wing settled at the Royal School of Artillery, Manorbier, whilst the Operations and Engineering Wings went to Aberporth.  The unit disbanded on 1 November 1972.

No 22 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed on 1 January 1966 at Boscombe Down and disbanded on 31 December 1974.

No 23 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to undertake trials on 'BAe Rapier SAM on 1 October 1971 under the control of No 11 Group at Aberporth, moving to Woomera on 22 January 1973 and disbanded in July 1975.

No 28 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to undertake trials on the XJ521 missile on 21 April 1975 under the control of Support Command at Uxbridge, moving to the Pacific Missile Test Centre, Point Mugu, California in mid 1976 and disbanded on 30 September 1978.

No 29 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to undertake trials on the Sea Skua missile system on 1 August 1979 at Yeovilton, moving to Boscombe Down in 1 May 1980, then to Aberporth on 15 September and disbanded on 30 June 1982.

No 31 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to undertake trials on the Sea Eagle Air-to-Surface Missile in the early 1980s but its fate is unknown.

No 32 Joint Services Trials Unit

This was formed to undertake trials on BAe ALARM on in 1989 at China Lake, California but its fate is unknown.

Jungle Target Research Unit

This was formed to undertake research into the effect of air weapons in jungle warfare on 5 December 1944 at Sorbhog, moving to Rupsi on 13 January 1945, where it disbanded into the Tactical and Weapon Development Unit on 15 July 1945.

Kestrel (P1127) Evaluation Squadron

This was formed as part of the CFE to evaluate the Hawker Kestrel (P1127) as a potential combat aircraft on 16 October 1964 at West Raynham.  It was staffed by personnel from the RAF, US Navy, US Army and Luftwaffe and used North Pickenham and Bircham Newton as dispersal bases.  On conclusion of the trials, which would eventually see its successor, the Harrier, being order by the RAF and US Marine Corps, the unit disbanded on 28 February 1965.

Leigh Light Trials Flight

See No 1417 Flight

Light Communication Trial Flight

This was formed on 15 January 1948 under the control of No 205 Group at Ismailia and disbanded on 1 July 1949.

Lightning Special Engineering Project Team

This was formed on 1 April 1972 under the control of No 11 Group at Coltishall, moving to Binbrook on 29 April 1974, after which its fate is unknown.

Lincoln Service Trials Flight

This was formed on 26 November 1945 under the control of No 57 Squadron at Scampton and possibly disbanded when the squadron had completed re-equipping.

Lincoln Theseus Experimental Flight

This was formed in April 1948 at Lyneham and disbanded in July 1950.

Long Range Weapons Establishment

This was formed in September 1948 at Salisbury, near Adelaide in Australia and was absorbed into the Weapons Research Establishment in January 1955.

Merlin HC3 Operational Evaluation Unit

This was formed in 2000 at Boscombe Down and was probably absorbed into the Rotary Wing  Evaluation and Operation Training Unit at Benson.

Meteorological Experimental Unit

This unit was in existence on 8 December 1958 when it arrived at Watton as part of the Central Signals Establishment but its fate is unknown.

Meteorological Research Flight

This was formed  in 1942 at Boscombe Down and disbanded before 1946.

Meteorological Research Flight

It reformed from  on 1 September 1946 under the control of  at Farnborough.  Probably placed under Home Command on 1 August 1950, it was possibly transferred to Flying training Command on 1 April 1959.  It moved to Andover on 18 December 1950 but was back at Farnborough by December 1952 and remained there until 1994 with it moved to Boscombe Down and disbanded on an unknown date.

Navigation Synthetic Training Development Unit

This was formed from  on 7 May 1941 under the control of  at the Phillips & Powis Works at Woodley, with the Experimental Section at Upwood and later Upper Heyford.  It was redesignated Synthetic Training Development Unit on 9 March 1942.

Nimrod AEW Joint Trials Unit

This was formed from the Training Squadron and Nimrod Trials Team, A&AEE on 18 December 1984 at Waddington and disbanded on in April 1987.

Overseas Experimental Unit

This was formed from Tropical Experimental Unit on 1 January 1960 under the control of Ministry of Aviation at Idris and disbanded in about November 1966.

Oxford Test Flight

This was formed on 20 December 1945 at Bramcote and disbanded on 12 July 1946.

Parachute Test Section/Parachute Section, Henlow

This was formed as the Parachute Test Section on 2 September 1925 at Henlow.  On 15 October 1926 it was amalgamated with tte Parachute Training Section at Northolt to become the Parachute Section, Henlow.  It came under the control of No 13 MU on 1 June 1939 and was transferred to the Ministry of Supply as the Parachute Test Unit on 1 September 1950.

Parachute Test Unit (MoS)

This was formed from the Parachute Section, Henlow as part of 1 September 1950 at the RAF Technical College, Henlow and disbanded on 31 December 1959.

Phantom Command Engineering Development and Investigation Team

This was formed on 1 May 1973 under the control of No 38 Group at Coningsby, moving to Wattisham on 9 July 1984 but its fate is unknown.

Photographic Development Unit

This was formed from No 2 Camouflage Unit on 19 January 1940 under the control of Fighter Command at Heston, also operating from Stradishall and Horsham St Faith and was redesignated No 1 Flight, PRU on 18 June 1940.

Photographic Experimental Section/Station

This was formed from the Photographic Flight on 21 May 1918 at Kenley, comprising a HQ, an Experimental Section and a Flight and disbanded on 20 August 1919.

Photographic Flight

This was formed in 1918 under the control of  at South Farnborough, moving to Chingford on 9 April and was redesignated Photographic Experimental Section on 21 May 1918.

Photographic Reconnaissance Development Unit

This was formed on 28 December 1943 under the control of No 16 Group at Benson.  It was transferred to No 106 Group, when it formed on 14 April 1944 and was redesignated the Air Photography Development Unit on 8 August 1947.

Photographic Research & Development Flight

This was formed by 1945 under the control of No 222 Group at Ratmalana and disbanded on 1 October 1945.

Radar Development Flight

This was formed in December 1942 at Drem and was redesignated No 1692 (Radar Development) Flight around 5 July 1943.

Radar Interception Development Squadron

This was formed as part of CFE on in September 1950 at West Raynham and probably disbanded about April 1953.

Radar Research Flying Unit

This was formed from the Telecommunications Flying Unit on 1 November 1955 under the control of Radar Research Establishment at Defford, moving to Pershore on 20 September 1957 and was redesignated Radar Research Squadron in 1977.

Radar Research Squadron

This was formed from the Radar Research Flying Unit in 1977 at RAE Bedford, on moving from Pershore and was absorbed into DRA/DERA on an unknown date.

Ranger Flight

This had been formed by 1 October 1944 when it became part of CFE but no other details have been found.

Rapid Landing Flight

This was formed in about 1951 at Martlesham Heath to conduct experiments in the sequencing of aircraft on to a runway at 30 second intervals and disbanded on in late 1955.

Rapier Cold Trails Unit

This was formed from  on 1 May 1973 under the control of  at Henlow, moving to Cold Lake in Canada in August, returning to Henlow in April 1974 and disbanded on 14 July 1974.

Research Department Flight

This was detached from the RAE to Exeter on 14 September 1939 to carry out trials on cable cutters involving flying aircraft into barrage balloon cables.  It moved to Church Stanton on 15 February 1942 and disbanded on 12 March 1944.

Research and Development Unit

This was formed as a section of No 322 MU on 14 September 1943 under the control of No 226 Group at Chakeri and disbanded on 31 July 1946.

Rota Experimental Flight

This was formed on 20 April 1939 at Eastleigh, moving to Lee-on-Solent on 17 June 1939 but its fate is unknown.

Rotary Wing Operational Evaluation and Training Unit

This was formed from the Tactical and Trials Flight on in April 1997 at  and remains in existence.

Sea King Command Engineering Development and Investigation Team

This was formed on 1 December 1977 under the control of No 18 Group at Finningley and was redesignated SAR (Helicopter) Aircraft Engineering Development and Investigation Team on 26 September 1983.

Sea King Operational Evaluation Unit

This was formed from  on 1 November 1996 under the control of  at St Mawgan and was absorbed into the Rotary Wing, Operational Evaluation and Training Unit on in April 1997.

Seaplane Experimental Station, Felixstowe

This was formed from RNAS Felixstowe on 1 April 1918 under the control of  at Felixstowe.  It was placed under the control of South Eastern Area on 8 January 1918 and disbanded on in June 1919.

SAR (Helicopter) Aircraft Engineering Development and Investigation Team

This was formed from the Sea King Command Engineering Development and Investigation Team on 26 September 1983 under the control of  at Finningley and disbanded when the RAF ended its SAR operations in about 2015.

Sentry Operational Evaluation Unit

This was formed on 3 June 1996 under the control of Air Warfare Centre at Waddington and remains in existence.

Short Range Transport Development Unit

This was formed from the RAF Helicopter Development Unit on 1 February 1965 at Old Sarum and was redesignated Joint Helicopter Development Unit on 1 January 1968.

Special Duties Flight

This was formed to work with the Experimental Gas School at Porton Down by 1926 at Old Sarum, moving to Netheravon on 12 September 1928 but by 1938 was at Boscombe Down.  It continued to support the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment at Porton Down throughout the war  and was absorbed into the A&AEE on an unknown date.

Special Duties Flight

This was formed on 21 September 1940 to carry out trials in conjunction with the MAEE at Helensburgh, moving to Bowmore on 25 December 1940 and was redesignated No 119 Squadron on 13 March 1941.

Special Duties Flight

This was formed by 1941 at Baginton to undertake development work on automatic boost controls but its fate is unknown.

Special Duties (Radio) Development Unit

This was formed on 21 March 1944 under the control of No 100 Group at West Raynham, moving to Foulsham, where it and was redesignated the Bomber Support Development Unit on 25 April 1944.

Special Duty Flight

This was formed from the Station Flight, RAF Perth on 14 November 1939 under the control of  at St Athan, moving to Christchurch in No 22 Group on 27 April 1940.  On 1 December 1940 it was transferred to No 70 Group and was redesignated Research Section, Telecommunications Flying Unit on 10 November 1941.

Special Experimental Flight

This was formed on 16 May 1918 under the control of No 10 Group at Fort George, Gosport to conduct wireless developmental flying in conjunction with the RN Signals School.  It was transferred to RAF Base Gosport on 23 October and disbanded on in May 1919.

Special Flight, Duxford

This was formed on 26 April 1920 as part of No 2 FTS at Duxford to work with the Professor of Aeronautical Services at Cambridge University but its fate is unknown.

Strike/Attack Operational Evaluation Unit

This was formed from the Tornado OEU on 5 October 1987 under the control of the Air Warfare Centre at Boscombe Down and disbanded into the Fast Jet and Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit on 1 April 2000.

Strike Command Air to Air Missile Establishment

This was formed from the Fighter Command Missile Practice Camp on 30 April 1968 at Valley and was probably renamed on 1 April 2007 but its not known as what.

Strike Command Avionics Development and Servicing Unit

This was formed on 1 December 1971 under the control of No 1 Group at Scampton, remaining until at least December 1978 but its fate is unknown.

Strike Command Development Unit

This was formed from the Bomber Command Development Unit on 30 April 1968 at Finningley and disbanded on 31 December 1968.

Support Helicopter Tactics and Trials Unit

This was formed on 1 April 1982 under the control of No 38 Group at Odiham.  It was taken over by the Air Warfare Centre on 1 July 1993 and probably remains in existence.

Swifter Squadron

This was formed by January 1960 at El Adem to conduct low level gust research over the Libyan desert in connection with the TSR-2 project but its fate is unknown.

Synthetic Training Development Unit

This was formed from Navigation Synthetic Training Development Unit on 9 March 1942 under the control of Technical Training Command at Phillips & Powis Works, Woodley.  It moved to Brampton Grange on 29 October 1945 and was there until at least December 1947.

Tactical Development Unit, Far East

This was formed in July 1943 at Ratmalana, moving to Ranchi in 1945 and was redesignated the Tactical and Weapons Development Unit on 25 May 1945.

Tactical and Trials Flight

This was formed on an unknown date under the control of No 27 Squadron at Odiham and disbanded into the Rotary Wing Operational and Evaluation Unit on in April 1997.

Tactical and Weapons Development Unit

This was formed from the GATU at Ranchi and the AFTU at Amarda Road on 24 May 1945 under the control of  at Amarda Road.  It absorbed JTRU at Sorbhog on 15 July 1945, moving to Ranchi on 30 September, where it disbanded on 30 November 1945.

Target Aircraft Development Unit

This was operated by International Model Aircraft and existed from March 1944 to August 1945 at Oakley.

HQ Task Force Antler

This was formed from  on 1 April 1957 under the control of No 61 Group at Ruislip, moving to Edinburgh Field in Australia on 1 August 1957 to conduct atomic tests at Maralinga,  It returned to Ruislip on 11 November 1957, coming under Home Command and disbanded on 16 December 1957.

HQ Task Force Buffalo

This was formed from  on 13 April 1956 under the control of No 3 Group at Weston Zoyland, moving to Edinburgh Field in Australia on 1 July 1956 to conduct atomic tests at Maralinga and disbanded on 1 December 1956.

HQ Task Force Grapple

This was formed from  on 13 April 1956 under the control of No 61 Group at Ruislip, moving to Christmas Island to conduct nuclear weapons tests on 7 March 1957 and disbanded on 5 August 1957.

HQ Task Force Grapple 'X'

This was formed from  on 6 August 1957 under the control of No 61 Group at Ruislip, moving to Christmas Island to conduct nuclear weapons tests on 8 October 1957 and disbanded on 24 November 1957.

HQ Task Force Grapple 'Y'

This was formed from  on 24 November 1957 under the control of No 61 Group at Ruislip, moving to Christmas Island to conduct nuclear weapons tests on 13 March 1958.  It returned to the Air ministry at Whitehall on 27 July 1958 and disbanded on an unknown date.

HQ Task Force Grapple 'Z'

This was formed in the UK and was at Christmas Island by August 1958 under the control of No 61 Group.  Its task was to conduct nuclear tests involving both free balloons and air drops from Valiants, returning to the UK on 5 October 1958 and disbanded on 3 June 1960.

Test and Evaluation Establishment, Llanbedr

This was formed from RAE Llanbedr on 1 April 1992 under the control of the Director-General, Defence Test & Evaluation Organisation at Llanbedr and closed in 2005.

Test and Evaluation Establishment, West Freugh

This was formed from RAE West Freugh on 1 April 1992 under the control of the Director-General, Defence Test & Evaluation Organisation at Llanbedr and remains in existence.

Tornado Command Engineering Development and Investigation Team

This was formed on 1 July 1980 under the control of No 1 Group at Cottesmore and moved to Honington as the Tornado Aircraft Engineering Development and Investigation Team on 1 August 1988.

Tornado Operational Evaluation Unit

This was formed on 1 September 1983 under the control of  at Boscombe Down and was absorbed into Strike Attack OEU on 5 October 1987.

Tornado F3 Operational Evaluation Unit

This was formed on 1 April 1987 under the control of CTTO at Coningsby.  It was transferred to the control of the Air Warfare Centre on 1 July 1993 and disbanded on 1 April 2006.

Torpedo Development Flight/Section

This was formed as the Torpedo Development Flight  on 1 October 1921 under the control of No 10 Group at RAF Base Gosport, being known as the Torpedo Development Section by 1930.  It was retitled Base Torpedo Section, RAF Base Gosport at some point before being redesignated 'B' (Torpedo Experimental) Flight, RAF Base Gosport on 26 October 1934.

Torpedo Development Unit

This was formed on by 1939 at Gosport and was redesignated Airborne Torpedo Development Unit in No 16 Group on 11 November 1943.

Transport Command Development Unit/Flight

This was formed from the Air Transport Tactical Development Unit on 31 August 1945 under the control of No 38 Group at Netheravon, moving to Harwell on 20 September, to Brize Norton on 31 December then finally to Abingdon on 1 July 1949.  It was downgraded to the Transport Command Development Flight on 14 October 1951 and disbanded on 1 February 1957.

Trials Unit

This was formed on 26 April 1954 at Tain Weapons Range and disbanded on 25 August 1954.

Tropical Experimental Unit

This was formed on 1 April 1947 under the control of MEAF at Khartoum and was redesignated Overseas Experimental Unit on 1 January 1960.

Vistre Flight

This was formed from  on 1 August 1946 under the control of Keevil at Erlestoke Camp, near Devizes to work with the RAF Wing, Visual Inter-Service Training & Research Establishment.  It moved to Netheravon as the RAF Component, VISTRE on 16 November 1947, then to Old Sarum on 18 November 1950 and redesignated RAF Component, Joint Concealment Centre on 15 January 1952.

Weapons Research Establishment

This was formed  in January 1955 at Woomera, Australia and disbanded in 1980.

Wellington Flight

This was probably formed in 1940 under the control of A&AEE at Boscombe Down to investigate high altitude flying was probably absorbed into the High Altitude Flight in 1940/1941.

Wessex Trials Unit

This was formed on 1 July 1963 under the control of No 38 Group at Odiham and disbanded into No 18 Squadron on 27 January 1964

This page was last updated on 17/03/18 using FrontPage 2003

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