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History of The Royal Thai Air Force
Father of RTAF

"Air power is the sole shield to protect
our nation against wars and also
renders great service for transportation
during peacetime."

Field Marshal His Royal Highness
Prince Chakrabongse Bhuvanath
Krom Luang Bisnulok Prajanath

First Flight in Thailand
The First Flight Demonstration
Made in Thailand
 
Chief of Staff participated in the flight
Army Chief of Staff
Participating in the Flight
RTAF Pioneers  & Founding Fathers
The Three Army Officers
Attending Aviation Course.
Aviation certificates
Aviation Certificates Graduated
by the Three Officers
 
Three Thai pilots in France
Pilot Students and Their Instructors
 
Nieuport monoplane
A Nieuport Monoplane
 
Breguet biplane
A Breguet Biplane
 
Army Air Corps
Army Air Division
 
Air Division
Air Division
Donmuang in 1914
Don Muang in 1915
 
King Rama VI
King Rama VI
 
Landing at Donmuang
Landing at Don Muang
SuneeLongTip
RTAF Pioneers & Founding Fathers
Uniforms used in 1914
Uniforms in 1915
 
 
Changing of Uniform Colors
From Green to Grey
And Badges of Rank
From Army to Air Force
The Royal Thai Air Force

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pioneer Days:
   Aviation in Thailand came into being during the reign of King Rama VI. On February 6, 1911, Mr.Charles Van Den Born, a Belgian pilot made the first flight demostration of the biplane "Henry Farman IV" at Sra Pathum Racecourse. Field Marshal His Royal Highness Prince Nakhon Jaisri Suradej, the Minister of War, and Field Marshal His Royal Highness Prince Chakrabongse Bhuvanath, Army Chief of Staff, realized the importance of military aviation in France and also confirmed the necessity for Thailand to have the airplane as a military tool. The Aviation Unit was then established in the Army at Sra Pathum Airfield and the following Army officers were selected to attend aviation course in France:
  1. Major Luang Sakdi Salyavudh
  2. Captain Luang Arvudhsikikorn
  3. Lieutenant Thip Ketudat 

  While they were in training, the Ministry of War ordered three Breguet biplanes and four Nieuport monoplanes from France. Later, Chao Phraya Apai Bhubet (Chum Aphaivong) donated a fourth Breguet to the Ministry of War, bringing the number to eight aircraft. The test flight was made in France by the first three Thai pilots and the aircraft were shipped to Thailand.

Establishment of Aviation Section:
    After the three officers graduated and returned to Thailand on November 2, 1913, the Ministry of War set up the Aviation Section (Army Aviation Unit) in December of the same year, under the command of General Prince Purachatra Jayakara, Inspector General. The foundation in aviation both in flying training and aeronautical engineering was laid by these three officers. The Royal Thai Air Force thus acknowledges them as its Pioneers and Founding Fathers.

   The First Public Test Flight:
  On December 29, 1913, the first public test flight was made at Sra Pathum Airfield. Field Marshal Prince Kamphaengbejra Agrayodhin, Inspector General of the Royal Engineers, Field Marshal Prince Chakrabongse, Army Chief of Staff, and a great number of crowds, viewed the flight.

Relocation of the Aviation Section to Don Muang:
     As the aviation developped, Sra Pathum Airfield was deemed too small and inconvenient. The Army Aviation Unit was decided to relocate from a small and swampy Sra Pathum Airfield to higher ground at Don Muang. Thus, in early 1915, the Army supply Department began construction of hangars, airfields and housing as well as all necessary facilities. After completion, all these facilities were transfered to Lieutenant Colonel Phraya Chalerm Arkas for use as the new home of the Aviation Unit. The relocation of the Aviation Unit was completed and resumed operations on March 17, 1915.

The Army Air Division:
     By the order of the Ministry of War dated March 27, 1915, the Aviation Unit was upgraded to the Army Air Corps and the following three officers were assigned as the Commander and the Assistant Commander respectively:
      1. Lieutenant Colonel Phraya Chalerm Arkas, Commander of the Army Aviation Division.
      2. Major Luang Arvudhsikikorn, Assistant Commander.
      3. Captain Luang Thayanpikart, Assistant Commander.

Organization of the Army Air Corps:
(27 March 1915 - 18 March 1918)
- Ministry of Defense
- Chief of Staff, Royal Siamese Army
- Engineer Adjutant
- Army Air Corps
- Flying Unit, Flying Training School, Aeronautical Workshop

The First Visit of His Majesty King Vajiravudh to the Army Aviation Division at Don Muang: 
     On December 2, 1916, His Majesty the King Vajiravudh graciously visited the Army Air Division. His Majesty spent time there to view the air demonstration and toured of the maintenance facilities and the Flying Training School. Before returning to Bangkok, His Majesty expressed his appreciation through General Prince Burachatra, Engineer Adjutant, saying:
      "Today I have witnessed the remarkable progress of our aviation history. A universally accepted fact is that aviation is one area of technology that requires exceptional ability. To observe that this undertaking has been carried out entirely by Thais, without foreign assistance whatsoever, is a source of utmost pride"

The Combat Exercise in 1916:
      The Army Aviation Unit had an opportunity to participate in the Great Combat Exercise held during late February to early March 1916, under the direction of Field Marshal Prince Chakrabongse, Army Chief of Staff Command.

Mission in World War I:
      In August 1916, World War I broke out between the Axis; England, France and Russia. In the early period of the War, His Majesty King Vajiravudh wished to remain neutral. However, after a thorough considerations of the national interests, he then decided to send an expeditionary force to join with the Allied Forces on July 22, 1917.
      The expeditionary force headed by Major Thayanpikart (Thip Ketudat) composed of 1,250 men from the Army Air Corps and Transport Corps in which the Army four hundred were from the Army Air Corps. At last the Allied Forces won the war on November 11, 1918 and the Peace Treaty was then signed.
      After the war, procurement of approximately 15 aircraft such as the new Nieuports (23 m2, 18 m2, 15 m2, 13 m2), Spad and Breguet 24 was made to lay down a strong foundation for the Royal Thai Air Force.

The Army Air Division:
      The Ministry of Defense order dated March 19, 1918 created "Army Air Division" which had the following units under its command.
      1. Air Wings
      2. Army Flying Training School
      3. Aeronautical Workshops

The Change from Army Air Division to Air Division:
      The Ministry Defense realized the importance of air power not only for military purposes but also for other areas for example, commercial aviation and transportation. Therefore, being called "Army Aeronautical Department" did not entirely cover the mission, the Ministry of Defense issued an order dated 1 December 1921 changing the name of "Army Air Division" and "Army Flying Group" to"Air Division" and "Flying Group".

Building Our Own Aircraft:
    From the organization of the Flying Section to the Army Aviation Division, Lieutenant Coloel Phra Chalerm Arkas saw the three existing aircraft were insufficient. Daily flights would eventually wear down these aircraft. Maintenance and procurement of spareparts would be all the more difficult to obtain. Thailand, at the time, lacked necessary equipments for the purpose of logistical supports. A self-reliance techniques were employed towards the objctive of building Thailand's own aircraft.
    On May 24, 1915, Lieutenant Colonel Phra Chalerm Arkas, Commander of Army Aviation Division, made a test flight of the Army built Breguet biplane. It was built to meticulous scale using local material.
    In 1922,Fighter aircraft Type F-2 (Nieuport 15 square meters) was built.
    In 1923,Fighter aircraft Type F-3 (Spad type 7) was built.
    In 1924, Fighter aircraft Type F-4 (Nieuport Delarge) was built.
    In 1927, Bomber aircraft Type B-2 Boripat was designed and built. A number of these aircraft were in production. They were used for distant traveling on diplomatic mission abroad including India.
    In 1929, Fighter aircraft Type F-5 (Prachatipok) was designed and built.
    In 1936, Attack/Surveilance aircraft Type A-1 (Corsair V-93S) were built altogether 29 aircraft.
    In 1937, Attack/Surveillance aircraft Type A-1, second production were built altogether 25 aircraft. Additional Fighter aircraft Type F-10 first production were built altogether 25 aircraft.
    In 1939, Fighter aircraft Type F-10 second production were built altogether 25 aircraft.
    In 1974, Trainer aircraft Type RTAF 4 (Chandra) were built altogether 12 aircraft.
    In 1976, production of model aircraft Type RTAF 5 was built.
    In 1982, Trainer aircraft Type T-18a (Fantrainer) and its production rights were purchased from Germany. Altogether 25 aircraft were built.

Early Mission Abroad:
First Flight to French Indochina:
    On October 22, 1922, the Royal Thai Goverment dispatched four Breguets aircraft to French Indochina on friendship mission in return of an earlier visit made by that country on November 22, 1921. The Thai representative completed his mission, laid wreath and commemorative plaque in remembrance of the French soldiers who died in World War I at the monument in Hai Phong. The route taken on that mission was Don Muang - Nakhon Ratchasima - Roi Et - Nakhon Phanom Via Hanoi.

Second Flight to French Indochina:
    On December 31, 1930, the Ministry of War ordered the Air Division to dispatch three Boripat aircraft to Frence Indochina on another friendship mission using the same route to deliver the Royal Thai Government's communique to the French Indochina Government in Hanoi. Lieutenant General Phraya Chalerm Arkas was the flight director.

Flight to India:
    On November 23, 1929, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered an invitation from the Government of India to Ministry of War for His Majesty the King Prachatipok's Government to send a military aircraft on an official visit. The Ministry of War accepted the invitation, sending 3 Thai built Boripat aircraft on December 22, 1929. The Flight Director's aircraft (Lieutenant Colonel Luang Neramitr Paichayont) however encountered some difficulties and was forced to land in a forest area of Uthai Thani Province. Two other aircraft had to deliver the news of the incident. And again on December 24,1929, two Boripat aircraft took off from Don Muang via Rangoon arriving at their destination on January 1930. The return trip started on January 8, and arrived back in Thailand on January 17 of the same year.

From Air Force Division to the Royal Thai Air force:
    On April 9, 1937, the Air Force Division was designated the Royal Thai Air Force by the Ministry of War, reporting directly to the Minister of War.
    On April 27, 1937, a Royal Decree appointed Group Captain Phra Vechayanrangsarit (Muni Mahasantana), Director of the Air Force, as the Commander-in-Chief; Group Captain Phra Silpasakrakorn (Pakdi Ketsamlee), Deputy Director of the Air Force, as Deputy Commander-in-Chief; and Group Capatain Luang Kajsongkram, Staff Officer of the Air force, as Chief of the Air Staff.

The Royal Thai Air Force in Combat Mission:
French Indochina Conflict:

    The Royal Thai Air Force combat operations during the Indochina conflict included aerial warfare, ground attack, maritime war and air land battle. Air superiority over the theatre was achieved promoting the fame of the Royal Thai Air Force and three Royal Thai Air Force offcers were later awarded gallantry medals and twenty-four officers with bravery medals.

World War II and Heroic Deed at Wing 5:
    On December 8, 1941, at dawn, the Japanese forces invaded the eastern part of Thailand. Sentoki fighter aircraft attacked Wattana Nakhon Airfield, damaing the control tower, buildings and the runway. The other point of invasion was Wing 5, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. Officers, enlisted men and conscripts numbering 120 under the command of Wing Commander Mom Luang Prawas Jumsai withstood the attack with bravery. Over four hundred Japanese soldiers were killed while fourty men at Thai side died in the battle and only four suffered casualties. The fighting went on until the Government ordered a cease fire.

Korean War:
    On September 22, 1950, the Thai Government despatched forces to assist UN military operations in the Korea. The RTAF despatched three task force contingents to South Korea as follows:
    1. The first of the twenty-two Air Liaison Officers Team was sent to the United Nations Command in 1971.
    2. The first of the twenty-nine Air Nursing Team conducted its mission from December 26, 1950 to 1974.
    3. Twenty nine RTAF airlift mission teams conducted their missions from 1951-1971.

Vietnam War:
    On July 21, 1964, the Thai Government decided to render military assistance to the Vietnamese Government sending 17 RTAF pilots and personnel to conduct missions in the Republic of Vietnam. The contingent departed Thailand on September 29, 1964. This first contingent was named the "Victory Flying Unit" and the Thai pilots flew the C-47 aircraft and worked with Squadron 413, Wing 33 of the Vietnames Air Force.
    The cabinet later ordered the RTAF to despatch an additional group of pilot and other personnel assigned to the Victory Flying Unit on July 29, 1966. They flew the C-123 aircraft and also conducted operational mission with USAF pilots of the 19th Tactical Airlift Squadron of the United States Air Force. The team continuously conduct the mission until the seventh team returned to Thailand on December 15, 1971.
    Besides, the various operations in the aforementioned mission. The RTAF also despatched Cambodia during period of communist expansionism is these two countries.

Foreign Aid:
   Eversince the Thai Government's decision to send troops to join the United Nations forces in Korea, the United States has favourably considered increasing military assistance to the Thai Government. In September 1950, the first team of Joint Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) headed by Colonel McNock, Chief of Army, Commander Fay, Chief of Navy and Colonel Shrock, Chief of Air Force were assigned their posts in Thailand.
    On October 17, 1950, Field Marshal P. Phiboonsongkram, the Thai Prime Minister and the Unitd States Ambassador signed an agreement on military assistance from the United States to Thailand. According to this agreement, RTAF would receive various types of aircraft such as T-33, F-84G and F-86F.
    Besides the aforementioned assistance, the RTAF received education and training assistance from other friend countries. The RTAF sends personnel to attend various foreign institutions such as the Air Force Academy. Command and Staff College and the Armed Force Staff College in the United States. Japan, Australia, Germany, United Kingdom, Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia, France, Malaysia, Philippines and India
.

The RTAF Headquarters Relocation:
    In 1974, the Thai Government planned to utilize the area on the westside of Don Muang Airport to develop into the International Airport. Therefore, the RTAF Headquarters was moved to the new area which is on the east side of the airport on March 22, 1983.

The RTAF Memorial:
    The first RTAF memorial was built during 1917-1920. At first, there was no official name but it had been known to the RTAF personnel as "The Aviator Memorial." In 1948, the RTAF expanded part of its Headquarters, which dwarfed "The Aviation Memorial." The Directorate of Civil Engineering redesigned the memorial to a more august dimension.   In 1983, the RTAF Headdquarters moved to its present location on the east side of Don Muang Airport. It was decided to move the old memorial from its old site on the west side of the airport to its new location near the new Headquaters building on the west side on March 24, 1983. The dedication ceremony of the memorial coincided with the opening ceremony for the RTAF Headquarters on March 27, 1983 Air Force Day.

The Construction of the Royal Statue of the Royal Statue and the Busts of tge RTAF Founding Fathers:
    In 1913, Field Marshal His Royal Highness Prince Chakrabongse Bhuvanart first established aviation in Thailand and continued to lead the way in developing aviation activities
. His statue was designed and located in front of the Department of Civil Aviation (or Airport Authorities of Thailand). Later the RTAF constructed the busts of Air Marshal Phraya Chalerm Arkart, Group Captain Phraya Vehasayarn and Group Captain Phraya Tayarnpikart. These three important men were the pioneers and founding fathers of the RTAF. They accomplished much and built the RTAF to what it is today. The busts are located near Chandrubeksa Stadium and the opening ceremony of the three busts was on March 27, 1957 (Present location is in RTAF Headquarters area facing to Air Academy School).

The Construction of the Royal Statue of Somdech Prasrinagarindra Boromarajajonani:
    The gracious Somdech Prasrinagarindra Boromarajajonani regularly offered her services to benefit not only the affluent, but also the underprivileged-spreading happiness to all. She initiated a programme to send volunteer doctors out into remote areas of the country to help those who do not receive regular medical care. Because the RTAF is assigned to provide airlift support for the said programme the RTAF decided to commemorate her sponsorship of this programmme , and this demonstration of her great love for her country and her people, by constructing a bronze statue which is now honored by being displayed in front of the RTAF Headquarters.
    His Majesty the King of Thailand graciously designated HRH the Crown Prince of Thailand to preside over the opening ceremony of the Royal Statue on November 21, 1996.

Royal Thai Air Force Today:
 
Mission: Mission of the Royal Thai Air Force is to prepare and employ air power in defence of the Kingdom of Thailand.
    Organization: The RTAF comprises of 5 groups as follows,
          Headquarters:
          - Office of the RTAF Secretariat
          - Directorate of Administrative Services
          - Directorate of Personnel
          - Directorate of Intelligence
          - Directorate of Operations
          - Directorate of Logistics
          - Office of the RTAF Comptroller
          - Directorte of Air Inspection
          - Office of the RTAF Information Technology

          Combat Group:
          Air Combat Command:
          - 1st. Air Division
    
     - 2nd. Air Division
          - 3rd. Air Division

          - 4nd. Air Division
          - Flying Training School
          - Directorate of Air Operation Control
          - RTAF Security Force Command
          Logistics Support Group:
       Air Support Command:

          - Logistics Centre
    
     - Directorate of Aeronautical Engineering
    
     - Directorate of Communication and Electronics
          - Directorate of Armament
          - Directorate of Aerial Reconnaissance

          - Directorate of Medical Services
          - Directorate of Quarter Master
          - Directorate of Civil Engineering
          - Directorate of Transportation
          Education and Training Group:
   
    
Education and Training Command:
          - Directorate of Education and Training
          - Institute of Higher Education
          - RTAF Academy
          Special Services Group:
          - Directorate of Finance
          - Directorate of Welfare
          - Science and Weapon System Development Centre
          - Office of RTAF Audit
          - Office of Donmuang RTAF Base Commander 

The Royal Thai Air Force and National Development:
  Support for Royally-Initiated Projects:

     His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej ( Rama IX) of Thailand always has determination to assist his subjects, alleviate distress, and bring happiness to them ever since the early days of his reign. Thus, numerous royally-initiated projects took shape following His Majessty's initiatives. The Royal Thai Air Force plays a vital role in supporting some of these projects.

The Royal Rainmaking Project:
     The Royal Thai Air Force has played an important role in the Royal Rainmaking Project since 1972 by providing aircraft to support the Ministry of Agricuture and Cooperatives' Rainmaking Projects. A Royal Rainmaking Operation Flying Unit was established consisting of various types of aircraft such as C-47, C-123K, AU-23 and Nomad. On the auspicious occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary Celebrations (Golden Jubilee) of His Majesty's Accession to the Throne, The Air Force has been developing these aircraft for higher capability in rainmaking in order to fulfill the Royal Project and as a tribute to His Majesty - "The Great Developer King of the Thai nation."

Aerial Photography For The Royal Initiatives:
   To solve flood problems, His Majesty the King expressed his wish to the Royal Thai Air Force for aerial photos of topographical conditions in Bangkok areas and its suburbs including watershed areas for problem solving. The Royal Thai Air Force responded to his wish by providing aircraft and helicopters to take photos. His Majesty the King expressed his appreciation to all working personnel and air crews.

Conservation of Forests and Environment:
    
To honor His Majesty the King, the Royal Thai Air Force has followed the course of the Royal Initiatives by conducting a variety of environmental development activities. These include: Reforestation Projects with Royal Thai Air Force areas, Reforestation in the National Botanic Park and the Public Park in Wattana Nakorn District, Saraburi Province, and the Coral Reef Conservation Project at Wing 53 in Prachuab Khiri Khan Province. In addition, the Royal Thai Air Force, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, has provided observation aircraft survey forest areas throughout the country and monitor their fertile conditions.

The Royal Thai Air Force For the Nation and the People:
    The Royal Thai Air Force realizes that the importance of air power will defend our sovereignty, monarchy and national interest as well as the prosperity of the people of Thailand.
    To confront future threats, modern combat aircraft must be able to accomplish their assigned missions both strategically and tactically. They must be able to use air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons effectively. Therefore, the modern versions must be multi-role fighters such as the F-16 A/B which is in service in the Royal Thai Air Force. Additionally, capabilities of the modern versions include operating around-the-clock and prolonging their flight for 3.5-5 hours
in order to increase their potential as a force multiplier. Operations with the support of tankers, are also in future development plans.
     In addition to fighters, other types of aircraft, such as airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, and takers are also needed in order to accomplish the mission. The Air Force has planned to procure new aircraft and upgrade those aircraft currently in service to have the capabilities mentioned above.

Concise History of RTAF:
    On March 27, 1915, the Army Aviation Unit was organized as the Army Air Corps. The Royal Thai Air Force celebrates this date as "Air Force Commemoration Day."
    On March 29, 1918, the Army Air Corps was upgraded to Army Air Division.
    On December 1, 1921, the Ministry of War realized that the role of the Army Air Division was no longer limited to army affairs; its name was thus changed to the Aeronautical Department.

    On April 12, 1935, the Aeronautical Department became the Air Force Division, reporting directly to the Minister of Defence.
    On April 9, 1937, the Air Force Division was designated the Royal Thai Air Force. This day is commemorated as "Air Force Day."

    Historically speaking, Thai aviation started with only three pilots and eight aircraft at Sra Phathum Airfield or presently the Royal Bangkok Sports Club.
Since the aviation developed, Sra Phathum Airfield was deemed too small and inconvenient. The three Pioneers and Founding Fathers therefore relocated the airfield to Don Muang for its site and location were more suitable.
    The Ministry of War realized that aviation had an important role not only in military but also in civil activities. The role of the Army Air Division was no longer limited to army affairs, its name was thus changed to the Aeronautical Department. On April 12, 1935, the Aeronautical Department became the Air Force Division, reporting directly to the Minister of Defence and finally it was designated the Royal Thai Air Force
on April 9, 1937.

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