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The Women's Auxiliary Air Force
The WAAF was first formed in 1938 when the threat of war began to seem more than just a possibility. In the early days all the women who joined were volunteers, keen to play their part in the war. It was not until April 1941 that women were conscripted and the WAAF further increased in size. By late 1943 it numbered about 183,000 women.

In common with the other forces, the WAAF did not allow women to go into combat. However, women were trained as pilots and played an important part in Air Transport, flying aircraft from the factories to the airfields and moving them between airfields. They flew everything from small fighters to heavy bombers.

Other work in the WAAF included operating radar to warn of approaching enemy aircraft, often in dangerous areas; packing parachutes; mechanics and engineering. Women worked as electricians and as fitters; maybe the most skilled job in the RAF. They became meteorological officers, forecasting the weather, which was very important where planning air operations was concerned. They were involved in interpreting photographs of enemy targets before a bombing raid, and in interviewing the crews when they returned from a bombing raid.
Photo: WAAF mechanics working on the engine of a propeller driven aircraft.
WAAF mechanics working on the engine of a propeller driven aircraft. Copyright IWM neg:CH10667
WAAF recruiting poster
WAAF recruiting poster. Copyright IWM
Find out more about jobs in the WAAF
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