Last modified 21/08/2017 V34

A short history of Royal Air Force Aircraft Apprentice

(Signals and Electronics Trade Groups) Training.




‘Boy mechanics’ were trained in the RAF from 1920 in several trades


In 1922 the  ‘Aircraft Apprentice Training Scheme’ was started by Lord Trenchard and training for Wireless Operator/Mechanics and Electrical and Instrument Makers commenced at RAF Flowerdown near Winchester.  (Aircraft trade Apprentice training commenced at RAF Halton in the same year). In 1929 and only 5 intakes later the school at Flowerdown closed and reopened at RAF Cranwell.


During the 1930’s the number of (Signals Specialist) apprentices trained increased as a result of the RAF expansion in 1934 and during WW2 aircraft apprentice training continued at Cranwell.


The post war years 1945 to 1950 were a stable period as far as apprentice training was concerned with regular entries passing through the system. Apprentice training stayed at Cranwell until 1952 even though No 1 Radio school moved the Locking in 1950.


In 1952 after 23 years at Cranwell, electronic trade group apprentice training was moved to RAF Locking as part of No; 1 Radio School. The final Cranwell entry of aircraft apprentices joined in January 1952. The first apprentice entry to complete its training entirely at Locking was the 71st.


‘Air’ trade groups apprentice training was transferred to RAF Cosford in 1965. Training in the ‘Ground’ specialisations continued at No: 1 Radio School.


The 106th final entry of Aircraft apprentices passed out in 1966.


The first Technician apprentice entry was the 107th.  It passed out in 1967. Technician entries continued (missing out the 110th) up to and including the 122nd   which passed out in 1976..


A 2 year course Craft apprentice training was introduced with the 201st entry and entries continued up to the 226th and then a single entry the 231st which passed out in 1974.


The first entry of Mechanic apprentices, the 402nd  (a 1 year course) commenced training in 1970. There were only 5 such entries. The final mechanic apprentice entry (the 406th) passed out in 1972


Apprentice training ceased in 1976 with the passing out of the 231st Craft apprentice entry.


This was 24 years after the first Apprentice training started at Locking and 54 years after the first Apprentice entry started training at Flowerdown.





During this time some thousands of Apprentices passed through training at the various units.


There are lists of basic personal details of:


Ø 4347 Aircraft Apprentices  (Entries 64 to 106)

Ø 1085 Craft Apprentices  (Entries 201 to 226 and Entry 231)

Ø 248 Technician Apprentices  (Entries 107 to 109 and 111 to 122)

Ø 111 Mechanic Apprentices (Entries 402 to 406)


who passed out of training at RAF Locking. Please contact the Secretary RAFLAA if you wish to access these lists.