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Thread: "Establishment" definition and usage

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    Default "Establishment" definition and usage

    Could someone please explain to me the correct use of the term "Establishment" on a squadron? I would like to ensure I'm using the term correctly.

    I understand that during WWII, Immediate Establishment (or I.E.) referred to aircraft ready to fly war operations, and Immediate Reserve (or I.R.) were those with technical or mechanical issues, in maintenance, or having combat damage repaired on-site that were not released for ops.

    However, between the wars, would it be correct to use the same terms, or at least refer to a squadron's fleet size as its Establishment? Or was the Establishment the number of aircraft a squadron should have been issued, e.g. 6 aircraft for one Flight & 12 for two (numbers only for illustration), whether the squadron actually had that number of aircraft on hand or not?

    Just seeking some guidance on the correct usage of the term specifically during the interwar years, please.

    Many thanks
    Steve
    Last edited by Steve Brew; 25th December 2022 at 14:03. Reason: Added further clarity
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    Default Re: "Establishment" definition and usage

    Steve,
    The Establishment would be the number of aircraft a squadron should have had, as you say. The same would apply to the number of personnel. When a squadron was formed, or re-equipped, the establishment would be set.
    The actual number of aircraft on a squadron could be less, the same, or sometimes more.
    This would be for all sorts of reasons. So for example, there could be x squadrons of Audax, each with an establishment of z. However, if an upgrade program was under way, each sqn might end up with an actual strength of z-2 for a prolonged period.
    Andy

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    Default Re: "Establishment" definition and usage

    Hi Steve

    The Establishment is basically a document laying out the exact entitlement of a unit in terms of equipment (flying, ground, administration) and personnel (ranks and trades).

    IE is the number of aircraft the squadron should be allocated for immediate use (war or peace), whilst IR was an allocation of aircraft held by the squadron as immediate replacements, but not available for immediate use without authority.

    Malcolm

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    Default Re: "Establishment" definition and usage

    Further to this, discussion on “Derby, Goodwood and Freshers. The wartime “Base” ORB records include aircraft on strength.

    http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/sho...light=Freshers

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 25th December 2022 at 21:47.

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    Default Re: "Establishment" definition and usage

    Many thanks gents; that's helpful

    I assume, in that case, that establishments were set on the basis of a number of criteria, such as a squadron's purpose and equipment (fighter/bomber/T&E, etc.), the number of Flights, theatre, and period (war/peace), etc.? (and doubtless many other criteria that varied in wartime as well, such as aircraft availability)

    However, in the least, would all peacetime Home Defence fighter squadrons expect to have the same establishment based on the number of Flights? And if that is the case, can someone tell me, or direct me to a source that might tell me, what fighter squadron aircraft establishments were 1923-1925, please?

    41 Squadron had one Flight in 1923, two in 1924, and three from 1925 to 1936, then dropped back to two Flights and remained at two throughout WWII.

    Thanks
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

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    Default Re: "Establishment" definition and usage

    Within a specific Command/Fighting Area/Air Headquarters all formations of similar defined role will have identical establishment.

    For airframes it was reported as IE Initial Equipment, IR Intermediate Reserve.

    For between wars policy documents
    https://discovery.nationalarchives.g...ils/r/C6327937

    Ross
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    Default Re: "Establishment" definition and usage

    Although this RAFAHB narrative covers in detail for manning and equipment the various expansion plans of the 1934 to 1939 period it has an excellent primer to the earlier Balfour Committee and 10 year plan that shaped the period you are looking at.

    https://www.raf.mod.uk/our-organisat...raf-1934-1939/

    I found it impossible to begin to understand Establishment until I used this document to put it in place with all the political and equipment drivers that ebbed and flowed throughout the periods I was looking at.

    It also goes some way to explain the different methods applied to the Regular, Auxiliary, VR and SR forces.

    Linked is the availability of facilities for any increase in IE/IR - no good ordering more and better equipment to increase the squadron if the servicing and repair capability was not present at the station.

    This was a major factor of the Malay campaign where aerodromes had been built and war stocked ready for the arrival of increased theatre IE/IR (already 1 or 2 months into the shipping voyage, more following) when the Japanese Invasion over ran and occupied these facilities, bring their use to the foe.

    At Butterworth 15th Dec, a working party under F/Lt Scott https://www.festipedia.org.uk/wiki/Robin_D._I._Scott took over trains at the abandoned local rail depot, formed a train of 40 wagons without help and removed over 250 tons of stores and equipment to Singapore under enemy fire to deny use when the aerodrome was abandoned.

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 26th December 2022 at 08:35.
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    Default Re: "Establishment" definition and usage

    I'll run a hobby horse around the track for Robin Dunlop Irwin Scott 21275 - he was commissioned into the accounts branch and in this capacity was given command of Butterworth just prior to the Japanese invasion as it was on care and maintenance. Local RDF was just being set up.

    It was as Staish that he responded to the demands of command during the first attacks - staging arriving aircraft to attack Kota then receiving and turnround of re-arm/ refuel - without pumped refuellers.

    As the day wore on then the aerodrome was repeated attacked destroying aircraft on the ground - under fire the ground crews robbed parts off the wrecks to keep the others in the air.

    Air raid warning was reduced to having an airman on the threat side of the airfield wave a hanky when he saw Japanese fighters.

    Long after the fighters/bombers stopped using Butterworth they continued to operate a single PR Buffalo.

    Scott anticipated the order to evacuate and was in the process of forming his train when the orders came in.

    Incredible performance for a bean counter.

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 26th December 2022 at 09:00.
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    Default Re: "Establishment" definition and usage

    On allocations of aircraft to Squadrons and Establishment scope (vs Equipment):
    the IE and IR abbreviations have long been subject to published variations, even for well-known authors eg

    Delve Source Book of the RAF rather confusingly has
    IE: Initial (Immediate) Establishment (Equipment)
    and more plainly
    IR: Immediate Reserve

    Sturtivant RAF Flying Training and Support Units Since 1912 has
    IE: Initial Equipment
    and
    IR: Immediate Reserve
    but then in text entries refers (OTUs eg) to
    "establishment 3 Beaufighter" eg.

    Ross now gives a variant I'd not seen
    "IE Initial Equipment, IR Intermediate Reserve"
    The source for this would be interesting to know.

    Speaking for myself, I have long used
    IE Initial Equipment
    vs
    IR Immediate Reserve
    in agreement with Malcolm (with his vast Air of Authority RAFWeb.org compendium - and in agreement with him, that the IR aircraft were held with/by the Unit as such).
    My original source, so long ago, may well have been one of the assorted Campaign Narratives of the AHB, mimeo copies at the AWM.

    I'll be sticking with that, esp as I see that the AHB Narrative The Expansion of the RAF 1934-1939 (linked by Ross above - a text searchable PDF)
    has

    IE Initial Equipment
    IR Immediate Reserve
    and lastly Workshop Reserve (but not shown as WR).

    If there's a more original RAF source doc it'd be interesting to know that.

    PS: Fascinating account of Scott's determined initiative and grit at Butterworth .
    Last edited by Don Clark; 27th December 2022 at 19:37.
    Toujours propos

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    Default Re: "Establishment" definition and usage

    Sorry Don,
    immediate Reserve it is - thinking of Squadron Reserve and Air Park Reserve while typing and causing disconnect between fingers and brain.

    Not an engine left by the ground crews on the wrecks

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=...AAAAAdAAAAABAE

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross_McNeill; 27th December 2022 at 20:02.
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