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45 Squadron is a squadron of the Royal Air Force.

Members of 45 Squadron in front of a Bristol Brigand at RAF Tengah, Singapore in 1950.

Contents

World War One

Formed during WWI at Gosport on 1 March 1916 as Number 45 Squadron, the unit was first equipped with Sopwith 1½ Strutters which it was to fly in the Scout role. Deployed to France in October of that year, the Squadron found itself suffering heavy losses due to the quality of its aircraft. This did not change until it transitioned to the Sopwith Camel in mid-1917. Transferred to the Austro-Italian front at the end of 1917, 45 Squadron there engaged in ground attack and offensive patrols until September 1918 when it returned to France. Assigned to the Independent Air Force, 45 Squadron provided long range bomber escort till the end of the war.

Mid-War Period

In 1919 the Squadron returned to England and disbanded. In April 1921 it reformed at Helwan, Egypt. Assigned Vickers Vernon bomber-transports, the unit provided troop transportation and ground support and mail services through out the Middle East, notably in support of anti-rebel operations in Iraq and the Palestine. During the mid-war years the unit transitioned to DH9As (1927) and Fairey IIIs (1929) and then a combination of Hawker Harts, Vickers Vincents and Fairey Gordons (1935).

At some point the unit adopted the nickname "The Flying Camels". The Squadron Badge is a winged camel, approved by King Edward VIII in October 1936. The badge and nickname derive from the Sopwith used by the unit in WWI and its long service in the Middle East.

World War II

At the start of World War II, 45 Squadron was assigned Bristol Blenheims and was assigned to the Western Desert Campaign, where it operated against Italian and German forces until 1942.

After that time, the unit was deployed to Burma and India, for service against the Japanese. During its time in India and Burma, 45 Squadron converted to Vultee Vengeance dive-bombers, followed by de Havilland Mosquitos.

During World War II, it included a significant number of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (NZAF) aircrew personnel, attached to it under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

It became one of only a few Allied units to have engaged German, Italian, Vichy French and Japanese forces.

Malayan Emergency

45 Squadron, RAF Butterworth, Malaya, 1957

After World War II, 45 Squadron served in the Malayan Emergency, flying out of RAF Station Tengah on the island of Singapore. There the unit engaged in ground attack operations against Communist Terrorists (CTs) engaged in a Chinese backed insurgency. Dubbed Operation Firedog, these operations lasted for 12 years until the successful conclusion of the war. The unit also engaged in operations to quell unrest on the Sarawak coast in British North Borneo during this time period. While operating in Malaya the unit initially flew Bristol Beaufighters but then transitioned to the Bristol Brigand (1949/1950) and then the de Havilland Hornet, de Havilland Venom, de Havilland Vampire and English Electric Canberra. The unit also had service aircraft, including the Bristol Buckmaster and the Harvard. Unit commanders during this time included Sqdn. Ldr. E. D. Crew who served from a date uncertain until the rotation to Squadron Leader A. C. Blythe in February 1950, among others.

1960s onwards

After re-equipping with Canberra B.15s in 1962, the squadron became involved in the Brunei Revolution and the subsequent Confrontation with Indonesia until its resolution in 1966. The squadron disbanded in February 1970 after the UK’s withdrawal from East of Suez.

On 1 August 1972, the squadron was reformed at RAF West Raynham, equipped with Hawker Hunters, as a ground-attack training unit. The squadron disbanded in July 1976 after this role was taken over by the Tactical Weapons Unit.

In January 1984, the squadron number, as No. 45 (Reserve) Squadron, was assigned to the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit (TWCU) at RAF Honington. As a 'Shadow Squadron' or war reserve, the squadron's war role was as a fully operational unit composed mainly of instructors, and assigned strike and other duties by SACEUR in support of land forces on the Continent resisting a Soviet assault on Western Europe, by striking at targets assigned by SACEUR, beyond the forward edge of the battlefield, deep within enemy-held areas, first with conventional weapons and later with tactical nuclear weapons if a conflict escalated to that level. The squadron's twenty-six Tornado aircraft were allocated thirty-nine WE.177 nuclear bombs,[1] although each Tornado was able to carry two weapons. The apparent mismatch between aircraft and weapons was because RAF staff planners expected that there would be sufficient aircraft surviving the conventional phase to deliver the squadron's full allocated stockpile of nuclear weapons. In 1992[2] this unit's designation changed to No. 15 (R) Squadron although it's peacetime and wartime roles remained unchanged. In 1994 it moved base to RAF Lossiemouth.[3][4]

Meanwhile, in July 1992, the No. 45(R) Squadron identity was transferred to the Multi-Engined Training Squadron (METS) at No. 6 FTS, RAF Finningley. The new 45(R) Squadron moved to RAF Cranwell in October 1995, and in 2003, replaced its BAe Jetstream T.1s with Beechcraft B200 King Airs operated by Serco.

Commanding officers

  • 20 March to 27 March 1916 Captain C E Ryan
  • 27 March to 24 April 1916 Major L A Strange
  • 24 April 1916 to 24 April 1917 Major W R Read
  • 24 April to 18 August 1917 Major H P Van Ryneveld
  • 18 August to 24 August 1917 Captain A T Harris[5]
  • 24 August 1917 to 16 July 1918 Major A M Vaucour (Killed in action on 16 July 1918)
  • 16 July to 23 July 1918 Captain R J Dawes
  • 23 July to 28 July 1918 Captain N C Jones
  • 28 July to 21 October 1918 Captain J A Crook
  • 21 October 1918 to 3 February 1919 Major A M Miller
  • 3 February to 26 September 1919 Captain J W Pinder
  • List incomplete
  • 1932 to 1935 Squadron Leader H W L Saunders[6]
  • List incomplete

References

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Notes

Bibliography

  • 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: Airlife Publishing, 1998 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF(retd.) The Flying Camels: The History of No. 45 Squadron, RAF. High Wycombe, UK: Privately Printed, 1995.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1964 (new edition 1976). ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.

External links


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