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

Second World War

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 Italymarker. He honed Second TAF into a command up to the challenges presented to it, and incorporated many of the lessons from Italy, including the use of the "cab rank" system for aircraft for close air support, 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 Second World War

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 NATOmarker 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.


Second Tactical Air Force

British Air Forces of Occupation

Second Tactical Air Force

Royal Air Force Germany

See also


  1. Biography - Air Marshal Sir Harry Broadhurst

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