No. 29 Squadron RAF: Wikis


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No. 29 Squadron RAF
29 Squadron badge
Official Squadron Badge of No. 29 Squadron RAF
Active 7 November 1915 - 1919
1923 - 1974
1975 - 1998
2003 - present
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Operational Conversion Unit (air defence)
Base RAF Coningsby
Motto Latin: Impiger et Acer
("Energetic and keen")
Colors RAF 29 Sqn.svg
Equipment Eurofighter Typhoon
Battle honours Western Front, 1916-1918*; Somme, 1916*; Arras; Ypres, 1917*; Somme, 1918*; Lys; Channel & North Sea, 1939-1940*; Battle of Britain, 1940*; Home Defence, 1940-1945*; Fortress Europe, 1943-1945: Normandy, 1944: France & Germany, 1944-1945* Arnhem.
Honours marked with an asterisk* are emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron Badge An eagle in flight preying on a buzzard
The squadron badge symbolises air combat[1]
Squadron Codes YB (Dec 1938 - Sep 1939)
RO (Sep 1939 - Apr 1951)
B (Carried on Tornados)

No. 29 Squadron of the Royal Air Force was first raised in 1915, and is one of the world's oldest fighter squadrons. The second British squadron to receive the Eurofighter Typhoon, it is currently the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) for the RAF's newest fighter.




Service in World War I

This unit was first raised as a reserve squadron, initially equipped with the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c, in November 1915. In early 1916 however No. 29 became the fourth squadron to receive the Airco DH.2 "pusher" fighter, and was posted to France in March 1916 - helping to end the Fokker Scourge and establish Allied air superiority in time for the Battle of the Somme.

By late 1916 the DH.2 was outclassed by new German fighters, but No. 29 kept its pushers until March 1917, when it was re-equipped with Nieuport 17s. These were replaced with later Nieuport types, such as the Nieuport 24bis, as these became available. Due to a shortage of the Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a the squadron retained its Nieuports until April 1918, becoming possibly the last operational unit to operate “vee strut” Nieuport fighters. At this time the squadron finally received the S.E.5a, which it retained for the rest of the war. After a short period with the army of occupation in Germany, the Squadron returned to the UK in August 1919 and was disbanded on 31 December 1919.

"Inter-war" years (1923-1939)

The squadron was reformed on 1 April 1923, initially equipped with Sopwith Snipes. These were replaced with Gloster Grebes in January 1925, In turn, these were replaced by the Armstrong Whitworth Siskin III A in March 1928 and Bristol Bulldogs in June 1932.

In March 1935, nearly twenty years after it was first raised as a single seat fighter squadron, the squadron received two seater Hawker Demons, which it operated until 1938. This included service in Egypt from October 1935 to 1936, during the Abyssinian crisis. The squadron also operated a few old Fairey Gordons for night patrols in Egypt.

As part of the Royal Air Force’s modernisation and expansion in the late 1930s, No. 29 received Bristol Blenheim F.1 heavy fighters in December 1938.

Second World War

A Beaufighter Mk IF (B-RO) of No. 29 Squadron.

No 29 began the Second World War with its Blenheims, which at the period operated as day fighters – especially on convoy protection patrols. From June 1940 it became a night fighter squadron, receiving some of the first Beaufighters in November, though it was February 1941 before the squadron was fully equipped with the new fighter. Various marks of the de Havilland Mosquito were flown by the squadron from May 1943 culminating in the Mosquito NF30. From the middle of 1944 most of the squadron’s missions took it over the continent.

1945 to 1998

During the immediate post-war years the squadron remained a night/all weather fighter unit. The Mosquitoes continued to serve until replaced by Gloster Meteor NF11s in August 1951. In November 1957 these were superseded by Gloster Javelins.

29 Squadron Typhoon F2
29 Squadron Typhoon "three ship" waiting to take on fuel

In January 1957 the squadron moved north, first to Northumberland and then in July 1958 to Scotland, conversion to Javelins taking having taken place in November 1957. In February 1963 No 29 moved to Cyprus and in December 1965 went to Zambia for nine months on detachment during the Rhodesian crisis.

From 1967 the squadron operated the English Electric Lightning F3 at RAF Wattisham until 1974 when they equipped with the F-4 Phantom and moved to RAF Coningsby. A detachment was provided for the defence of the Falklands in August 1982, after the Falklands War, and following repairs to the airfield at Stanley. In 1987, 29 Squadron was one of the first units to receive the Tornado F3; deploying to Saudi Arabia after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and participating in Operation Desert Storm. No. 29 flew the Tornado until disbanding in 1998, as part of the Strategic Defence Review.

The current squadron

The squadron was reformed in 2003, this time as the Typhoon operational conversion unit (OCU). This is its current role.

List of Commanding Officers

Major L Dawes 07 Nov 1915
Major EL Conran MC 25 May 1916
Major WA Gratton-Bellew MC 05 Sep 1916
Major HV Champion de Crespigny MC 22 Mar 1917
Major CMB Chapman MC 21 Jul 1917
Major HV Champion de Crespigny MC 04 Oct 1917
Major CH Dixon MC 20 Nov 1917
Major HG White 09 Feb 1919
Sqn Ldr The Hon LJE Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes 01 Apr 1923
Sqn Ldr RHG Neville MC 12 Aug 1924
Sqn Ldr ML Taylor AFC 10 Aug 1927
Sqn Ldr PE Scott 06 Dec 1929
Sqn Ldr EJD Routh 09 Jun 1930
Sqn Ldr HD O'Neill 14 Apr 1931
Sqn Ldr JH Butler 18 Aug 1933
Sqn Ldr C Chapman DSC 20 Aug 1934
Sqn Ldr EP Mackay 10 Dec 1935
Sqn Ldr DM Fleming 14 Apr 1936
Sqn Ldr JB Lynch 19 Aug 1937
Sqn Ldr RC Jonas 17 Dec 1937
Sqn Ldr MWS Robinson 02 Dec 1938
Sqn Ldr PS Gomez 13 Feb 1939
Sqn Ldr ER Bitmead 08 Jul 1940
Sqn Ldr SC Widdows DFC 16 Jul 1940
Wg Cdr EL Colbeck-Welch DFC 13 Jun 1941
Wg Cdr R Cleland 10 Jul 1942
Wg Cdr CM Wight-Boycott DSO 10 Sep 1942
Wg Cdr CM Miller 20 Jan 1943
Wg Cdr REX Mack DFC 12 Jun 1943
Sqn Ldr PW Arbon 23 Feb 1944
Wg Cdr GF Powell-Shedden DFC 29 Apr 1944
Wg Cdr JW Allan DSO DFC 18 Dec 1944
Sqn Ldr TC Wood DFC 31 Dec 1945
Sqn Ldr D Hawkins DFC 01 Nov 1946
Sqn Ldr MJB Young DFC 10 Mar 1949
Sqn Ldr M Shaw DSO 07 Jul 1949
Sqn Ldr HE Bodien DSO DFC 15 Aug 1951
Sqn Ldr BPT Horsley AFC 30 Jun 1952
Sqn Ldr EB Sismore DSO DFC 11 May 1953
Wg Cdr JAC Aiken 02 Jan 1956
Wg Cdr W Harbison AFC 02 Jan 1958
Wg Cdr AR Gordon-Cumming 15 Jul 1959
Wg Cdr RE Gardiner DFC 03 Jul 1961
Wg Cdr EGP Jeffery 18 Apr 1962
Wg Cdr K Burge 01 Jan 1965
Wg Cdr R Neil 23 Nov 1966
Sqn Ldr LA Boyer 10 May 1967
Wg Cdr LW Phipps AFC 18 Sep 1967
Wg Cdr B Carrol 20 Jan 1969
Wg Cdr P Carter 31 Jul 1971
Wg Cdr JDC Hawtin 07 Jul 1973
Wg Cdr BW Lavender AFC 31 Dec 1974
Wg Cdr DI Oakden 04 Jul 1975
Wg Cdr TC Elworthy 23 May 1977
Wg Cdr ID Macfadyen 01 Feb 1980
Wg Cdr GC Smith AFC 17 Dec 1982
Wg Cdr ID Macfadyen 01 Jun 1983
Wg Cdr AJH Alcock MBE 02 Aug 1983
Wg Cdr NJ Sudborough 13 Nov 1985
Wg Cdr LA Doble 01 Apr 1987
Wg Cdr RWD Trotter 10 Nov 1989
Wg Cdr P Hodgson 24 Jul 1992
Wg Cdr MJ Routledge 20 Jan 1995
Wg Cdr N Randle 18 Jul 1997
Wg Cdr JJ Hitchcock 01 Dec 2003
Sqn Ldr IJ Hargreaves 05 Nov 2004
Wg Cdr AJ Mackay 01 Apr 2005
Sqn Ldr AJ Gregory 06 Jun 2007
Wg Cdr JJ Stringer 07 Sep 2007
Wg Cdr AJ Seymour Nov 2009

Squadron markings and the "Misspelled Roman numeral" tradition

Since the late 1920s, the squadron marking has been three (red) Xs (XXX). Since this closely resembles the Roman numeral for "29" (XXIX) there is a "traditional" belief among current squadron personnel that this originated as a "misspelling" of the Roman numeral.

A line up of 29 Squadron Siskins, in the late 1920s.

Although various accounts of how this originated exist, the most common explanation is that a mis-understood instruction to ground crew to paint "2 X's in front of the roundel and IX behind it" meaning "X,X,(roundel), and 'IX' or 'one-X')" resulted in "XX(roundel)'one times' X". As with most such traditions, several minor variations on this story exist. In fact, the marking was always applied as "XXX(roundel)XXX"(as illustrated at the head of this article) - or as "XXX(roundel)" on smaller types, such as Siskins - unfortunately, neither lends much support to the "tradition".

It seems probable that the original adoption of "XXX" for the 1930s squadron marking was nothing to do with Roman numerals, but was a reference to the brewers mark for "extra strong", frequently applied to kegs of beer, and that it is only a coincidence that this resembles the numeral for "29" (XXIX)[2]. It should be noted that the use of Roman numerals for numbering RAF units is a relatively modern development - in any case it was certainly not the practice in the RAF in the 1920s. Nor, so far as it is known, has 29 squadron ever been officially referred to as "XXX squadron" - or as "XXIX squadron" for that matter.

Summary of Aircraft operated

See also



  1. ^ Rawlings 1978, p. 80.
  2. ^ Robertson 1957, p. 68.


  • Halley, James J. Famous Fighter Squadrons of the RAF: Volume 1. Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Hylton Lacey Publishers Ltd., 1971. ISBN 0-85064-100-4.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Rawlings, John. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1969 (second edition 1976). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Robertson, Bruce. Aircraft Camouflage and Markings, 1907-1954. Letchworth, Harleyford Publications, 1957.

External links


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