RAF Second Tactical Air Force

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name = Royal Air Force Second Tactical Air Force

caption = Command crest
dates = June 1943 - 1 January 1959
country = United Kingdom
allegiance = |branch = Royal Air Force
command_structure =
type = tactical air force
role = air superiority and support ground offensive
size =
garrison =
garrison_label =
nickname = 2TAF
patron =
motto = "Keepers of the peace"
colors =
colors_label = Royal Air Force Ensign
march = Royal Air Force March Past
mascot =
equipment =
equipment_label =
battles =
anniversaries =
decorations =
battle_honours =
identification_symbol = winged griffon above a crown [ [http://www.griffon.clara.net/rafh/badge_s.htm RAF Heraldry Trust] accessed 11th January 2008]
identification_symbol_label =

The former RAF Second Tactical Air Force (2TAF) was one of three tactical air forces within the Royal Air Force (RAF) during and after World War II. It was made up of squadrons and personnel from the RAF, the air forces of the British Commonwealth and exiles from German-occupied Europe.


It was formed on 1 June 1943 as HQ Tactical Air Force from Army Co-operation Command in connection with preparations then in train to invade Europe a year later. It took units from both Fighter Command and Bomber Command in order to form a force capable of supporting the Army in the field. Bomber Command lent No. 2 Group with light bombers, and Fighter Command was split up into the Air Defence of Great Britain, retaining fighter units for home defence, and No. 83 Group and No. 84 Group for the Second Tactical Air Force.

World War II

Its first commander was Air Marshal Sir John d'Albiac, who, on 21 January 1944, was succeeded by the man most associated with Second TAF, Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham. Coningham had great experience of the type of operations required for supporting fast moving ground warfare due to his command of the Desert Air Force in North Africa and Italy. He honed Second TAF into a command up to the challenges presented to it, and incorporated many of the lessons of Italy, including the "cab rank" system of close air support aircraft usage, into the doctrine of Second TAF.

By this late stage in the war, the Luftwaffe was but a pale shadow of the organisation it had once been. Mostly Second TAF spent its time supporting the British and Canadian forces on the left flank of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force's command. One notable exception was the last great attack of the Luftwaffe, Operation "Bodenplatte", mounted on New Year's Day 1945, when the Second TAF suffered serious losses on the ground. However, the standard of training of the Luftwaffe pilots was very poor and many of them were shot down, either by ground fire or Allied fighters, and others simply crashed when they ran out of fuel due to navigation errors.

Post World War II

The Second TAF did not last long after the war before redesignation. It was renamed as the British Air Forces of Occupation on 15 July 1945. However, six years later the British Air Forces of Occupation reverted to their former name with the re-creation of the Second Tactical Air Force on 1 September 1951. No. 83 Group RAF controlled 2TAF's southern area from 1952 to 1958. The Second Tactical Air Force was redesignated Royal Air Force Germany on 1 January 1959, however the former usage persisted and RAF Germany was often referred to as 2TAF.

The NATO allied air component supporting the Northern Army Group (NORTHAG) in the northern part of Germany was later named Second Allied Tactical Air Force or 2 ATAF, part of the larger Allied Air Forces Central Europe and active until 1993.


econd Tactical Air Force

*1 June 1943 Air Marshal Sir John D'Albiac
*21 January 1944 Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham

British Air Forces of Occupation

*15 July 1945 Air Chief Marshal Sir Sholto Douglas
*1 February 1946 Air Marshal Sir Philip Wigglesworth
*30 October 1948 Air Marshal Sir Thomas Williams

econd Tactical Air Force

*1 October 1951 Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Foster
*3 December 1953 Air Marshal Sir Harry Broadhurst [ [http://www.rafweb.org/Biographies/Broadhurst.htm Biography - Air Marshal Sir Harry Broadhurst] ]
*22 January 1956 Air Marshal The Earl of Bandon
*"List incomplete"


* [http://www.rafweb.org/Cmd_O1.htm Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation - Overseas Commands]

External links

* [http://www.spitfiresite.com/history/articles/2007/12/british-airfields-in-europe.htm A list of all active Royal Air Force airfields on the continent, from D-Day (June 6, 1944) to the end of hostilities in Europe]

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