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No. 43 Squadron RAF (Disbanded)
43 Squadron RAF.jpg
Official badge of No. 43 Squadron RAF
Active 15 April 1916 - 31 December 1919
1 July 1925 - 16 May 1947
1 February 1949 - 7 November 1967
1 September 1969 - 13 July 2009
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Air defence
Base RAF Leuchars (Disbanded)
Nickname 'The Fighting Cocks'
Motto Latin: Gloria finis
("Glory is the end")
Colors RAF 43 Sqn.svg
Battle honours Western Front 1917-1918*, Arras, Ypres 1917*, Cambrai 1917, Somme 1918*, Lys, Amiens, Dunkirk*, Battle of Britain 1940*, Home defence 1940-1942, Fortress Europe 1942, Dieppe, North Africa 1942-1943*, Sicily 1943, Salerno, Italy 1943-1945, Anzio and Nettuno*, Gustav Line, France and Germany 1944*, Gulf 1991, Iraq 2003.
Honours marked with an asterisk* are emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron Badge A Gamecock[1]
Squadron Codes NQ (Nov 1938 - Sep 1939)
FT (Sep 1939 - May 1947)
SW (Feb 1949 - Apr 1951)
A (Carried on Phantoms)
G (Carried on Tornados)

No. 43 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operated the Panavia Tornado F3 from RAF Leuchars, Scotland until July 2009.




In World War I

The Squadron was formed at Stirling on 15 April 1916, from No. 18 Reserve Squadron[1] as a unit of the Royal Flying Corps, equipped with various types, which it used for training until December 1916 when Sopwith 1½ Strutters arrived. These were taken to the Western Front the following month, where it operated as an Army squadron carrying out fighter reconnaissance duties. In September 1917, Camels arrived and ground attack replaced the reconnaissance duties and the squadron continued in the vain until the end of the war. Snipes began to be received in August 1918 and conversion was completed in October but the Armistice prevented these playing a major part in the conflict, instead they were taken to Germany for occupation duties until August 1919 when the squadron moved to RAF Spitalgate where it disbanded on 31 December 1919.[2]

Between the wars

The squadron was re-formed at RAF Henlow on 1 July 1925[1][3][4] (or 1 July 1923[5][6]), again with Snipes. In 1926 the Squadron converted to Gamecocks, thus inspiring the Squadron badge and the nickname 'The Fighting Cocks'. The black and white checkered markings also date from this era[7]. The Squadron flew Siskins from 1928 and received the first production Hawker Fury Mk.I in May 1931.[8]

In World War II

Prior to the outbreak of World War II the squadron re-equipped with Hurricanes, it was with these aircraft that the squadron covered the Dunkirk retreat and fought in the Battle of Britain. In November 1942, 43 Squadron moved to North Africa, now flying Spitfires. The squadron ended the war in Austria and was disbanded in 1947.

Entering the jet age

In February 1949 No. 266 Squadron was renumbered to No. 43 Squadron, now flying Gloster Meteors from RAF Tangmere. The squadron moved to RAF Leuchars in 1950 and in 1954 began to receive the Hawker Hunter. During much of the 1960s the Squadron operated from Cyprus and was disbanded on 7 November 1967. 43 Squadron reformed at Leuchars on 1 September 1969 with the McDonnell Douglas Phantom which it flew until its replacement by the Tornado F.3 in September 1989.

Phantom FGR.2 of No. 43 Sqn

The Tornado Years

With the F3 the squadron participated in the 1991 Gulf War and maintained a presence in the Iraqi no-fly zones. 43 Sqn crew and personnel are tasked with the duty of QRA, both in Fife, and in the Falklands as part of 1435 Flight and participated in Operation Telic. When the squadron are not on operational taskings they fly daily training sorties through the week, all year round. In April 2008 the squadron absorbed 56 (Reserve) Squadron to perform the role of Tornado F3 Operational Conversion Unit, 56 Squadron having reformed in the ISTAR role.

Tornado F3

The Squadron was awarded the "Freedom of the city" of Stirling in 2005, the squadron being Stirling's home squadron in the past. [9] The squadron flagship, ZG757, had a gloss black spine and tail and 90th anniversary emblem on the tail.


No. 43F Sqn stood down on 13 July 2009 for the fourth time in its history. It has been earmarked as the third RAF Eurofighter Typhoon squadron to be established, probably at RAF Leuchars.[10]

See also

Notable Pilots

  • Barrie Heath. Heath shot down four German aircraft between 1940 and 1941. After the war he went on to become the chairman of the engineering giant GKN.




  • Beedle, J. 43 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps - Royal Air Force: The History of the Fighting Cocks, 1916-66. London: Beaumont Aviation Literature, 1966
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1980. ISBN 0-85130-083-9.
  • 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.
  • Saunders, Andy. No 43 ‘Fighting Cocks’ Squadron. Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84176-439-9.

External links


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