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No. 41 Squadron RAF
41 Squadron badge
Official Squadron Badge of No. 41 Squadron RAF
Active 14 July 1916
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Operational Evaluation Unit
Base RAF Coningsby
Motto Seek and Destroy
post 1950 aircraft insignia RAF 41 Sqn.svg
Equipment Tornado GR4, Harrier GR9/9A
Battle honours Western Front, 1916-1918*; Somme, 1916*; Arras; Cambrai, 1917*; Somme, 1918; Lys; Amiens*; Battle of Britain, 1940*; Home Defence, 1940-1944; Fortress Europe, 1940-1944*; Dieppe*; France & Germany, 1944-1945*; Arnhem: Walcheren: Gulf, 1991.
The honours marked with an asterix* are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron Badge A double-armed cross
The badge is adapted from the arms of St Omer, which was the squadron's first overseas Headquarters and with which the squadron has since maintained a link[1]
Squadron Codes PN (Jan 1939 - Sep 1939)
EB (Sep 1939 - Feb 1951)
G (Used on Jaguars)

No. 41 Squadron (also written as "No. XLI Squadron") of the Royal Air Force is currently the RAF's Fast Jet and Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit, based at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire. The squadron celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2006, and is one of the oldest RAF squadrons in existence.




First World War

As No. 41 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps it was originally formed at Gosport in mid April 1916 with a nucleus of men from 28 Squadron RFC. However, on 22 May 1916, the squadron was effectively disbanded when it was re-numbered "27 Reserve Squadron". 41 Squadron was re-formed on 14 July 1916 with a nucleus of men from 27 Reserve Squadron, and equipped with the Vickers F.B.5 'Gun Bus' and Airco D.H.2 'Scout'. These were replaced in early September 1916 with the Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8, and it is these aircraft which the squadron took on their deployment to France on 15 October 1916. The F.E.8 was already obsolete as a pure fighter, and No. 41 used theirs mainly for ground attack - until July 1917, by which time the unit had become the last "pusher" fighter squadron in the RFC. At this time the squadron was re-equipped with new DH 5 fighters. With the DH 5, the squadron remained a specialist ground attack unit - giving distinguished service in this role in the Battle of Cambrai, which started in November 1917. In early 1918 the unit finally received S.E.5a fighters and became a "pure" fighter squadron. After the end of the First World War the unit was reduced to Cadre in February 1919 and returned to the UK, where the squadron was disbanded on 31 December 1919.

Between the wars and Second World War

The squadron reformed at RAF Northolt on 1 April 1923, equipped with the Sopwith Snipe. In 1924, it began receiving the first Armstrong Whitworth Siskin III biplanes. The squadron was sent to the Aden Protectorate during the Abyssinian crisis of 1935-1936, and returned to the UK in August 1936. Based at Catterick, Yorkshire, from September 1936 until May 1940, they were the third RAF squadron to ever be equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire, at the end of December 1938. The squadron continued to fly various versions of the Spitfire throughout the war. They took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940 and the Battle of Britain. The squadron claimed over 100 victories from July 1940 to the end of that year. On February 11, 1942, the squadron took part in the attack on the German Kriegsmarine's Prinz Eugen, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau after they escaped from Brest and made a dash up the Channel to the safety of their home ports. In August 1942, the squadron also supported the ill-fated Canadian landings at Dieppe.

In February 1943, they became the first squadron of only two to ever receive the new Griffon-engined Spitfire Mark XII, and used these with some success against the V1 flying bomb from June-August 1944. In April 1945, the squadron moved forward with the advancing front and made its first base in Germany, just southwest of the town of Celle, and only a short distance south of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. After the cessation of hostilities, the squadron was based a short time at Kastrup (Copenhagen) but then returned to Germany where it became a part of the Allied occupying forces, 'BAFO'. By the end of the War, 41 Squadron had claimed 200 aircraft destroyed, 61 probably destroyed, 109 damaged and 53 V-1's destroyed.

Post War

In 1947, the squadron was temporarily converted to an instrument training squadron, but received the De Havilland Hornet upon reverting back to fighter defence. The squadron received their first jet aircraft in 1951 when they took delivery of the Gloster Meteor F.4. Four years later, these aircraft were replaced with Hawker Hunters. They again changed aircraft in 1958 to Gloster Javelins. They remained flying this type until their disbandment in 1963. In September of 1965 the squadron reformed as a surface-to-air-missile (SAM) squadron until September 1970 where they again disbanded. In 1972 they reformed at RAF Coningsby with F-4 Phantoms. On 1st July 1976, 41 Sqn Designate formed with the SEPECAT Jaguar, operating in a tactical reconnaissance role, based at RAF Coltishall. The Sqn became operational in 1977. The squadron was involved the first Gulf War (Operation Granby) and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1993 to 1995.[2]

Fast Jet and Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit

A 41 Sqn Jaguar GR3 during "Operation Northern Watch" in 1999.

The Fast Jet and Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit (FJWOEU) was formed before it assumed the 41 Squadron number plate. It was created on 1 April 2004 from the merger of the Strike Attack OEU (SAOEU), the F3 OEU and the Air Guided Weapons OEU (AGWOEU). Due to the retirement of its Jaguars and the start of the drawdown of the Tornado F.3, 41 Squadron currently operates the Harrier GR.9 and GR.9A and Tornado GR.4.



  1. ^ Rawlings 1978, p. 106.
  2. ^ Rawlings 1978, pp. 106.114.


  • 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, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • 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.

External links


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