No. 3 Group RAF

No. 3 Group RAF

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No. 3 Group RAF

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Number 3 Group (3 Gp) of the Royal Air Force was an RAF group first active in 1918, again in 1923-26, part of RAF Bomber Command from 1936 to 1967, and part of RAF Strike Command from 2000 until it disbanded on 1 April 2006.

The 1930s and World War II

No. 3 Group was first formed on 10 May 1918 as part of South-Eastern Area. No. 13 Group RAF was merged into 3 Gp on 18 October 1919. Group Captain U J D Bourke took command on 30 November 1919. The Group was disbanded on 31 August 1921. Following its World War I service, the Group was reformed at Andover, Wiltshire on 1 May 1936, under Air Vice Marshall Patrick Playfair. Ten months later Group HQ moved to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, a direct result of the Air Ministry's decision to form two new bomber groups and reorganise its existing groups. No.3 Group was initially equipped with the ungainly Vickers Virginia and Handley Page Heyford, which was the RAF's last biplane heavy bomber.

With the arrival of the then revolutionary twin engined Vickers Wellington it was decided that No.3 Group would be tasked with introducing the type into front line service. The first squadron in Bomber Command to be equipped was No. 99 Squadron RAF based at Mildenhall, on 10 October 1938. Air Commodore A A B Thomson, Playfair's successor, was killed on August 8, 1939 while viewing the bombing up of a Vickers Wellington of No. 115 Squadron RAF. While under the...
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