12 December 1916 – 106

Back on 15 November 1916, Douglas Haig’s request for an expansion to the RFC to 56 squadrons was approved. The very next day, Haig made a request for a further 20 extra fighting squadrons.

The request was received by Sefton Brancker, the Director of Air Organization. Before agreeing he reviewed the full implications of this demand. The completion of the original expansion programme required 10,200 men and the additional twenty squadrons, together with an essential expansion of reserve squadrons, would require a further 13,560 men. This may seem like a large number but each squadron required a large support staff to manage and maintain the aircraft.

Also of concern was that the existing number of reserve squadrons had proven too low to keep up with the demand for pilots due to losses during the recent offensive. The problem is double edged, in that pilots sent to front are not as well trained as required, but to allow longer training would reduce the numbers being sent.

Brancker therefore put in a request for 35 additional training squadrons as well as 20 extra fighting squadrons. This will bring the total to 106 service squadrons and 95 reserve squadrons. Today the Army Council formally approved the expansion

Surprisingly or perhaps unsurprisingly given the current political machinations, the Air Board does not appear to have been consulted on this, despite the inevitable impact on the demand for additional aircraft and engines.

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