B02209 Bristol aircraft of the Australian Flying Corps flying over Palestine, c. 1918 B02209

Military aviation was first pioneered during the First World War. During that war, both the armies and the navies of all the major combatants operated aircraft. Late in the war, however, when it was realised that aerial fighting was a distinct form of warfare and not just an adjunct to land or sea operations, some nations formed specialist air forces. Combining the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps, Great Britain formed the Royal Air Force in 1918. The four squadrons of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) remained part of the AIF. In 1920, the remnants of the AFC became the Australian Air Corps, which in turn became the Royal Australian Air Force on 31 March 1921.