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Appendix 5: First-line Aircraft—British, German and Italian Air Forces

Date RAF* German§ Italian
30th September 1938 1,982 3,307
3rd September 1939 1,911† 4,131
1st August 1940 2,913‡ 4,549 1,529** (June)


* These figures are based on the official ‘establishment’ for the initial equipment (I.E.) of squadrons, home and overseas. In addition, there was an immediate reserve (I.R.) varying from 4 to 5 aircraft per squadron. After June 1944 this initial equipment and immediate reserve were grouped together in what became known as unit equipment (U.E.).

† The decline in first-line aircraft in September 1939 as compared with September 1938 was due ( a) to the withdrawal of obsolescent aircraft, and ( b) to the relegation of certain ‘non-mobilizable’ bomber squadrons to form a reserve and operational training organization at the outbreak of war.

‡ Include aircraft of Dominion and Allied air forces under RAF contl.

§ The German figures, which are extracted from Luftwaffe records, are for actual strength. They include in each case a powerful force of transport aircraft—308 in September 1938, 552 in September 1939, 375 in August 1940.

** This figure is an official Italian total to the nearest available date.