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No. 72 (Reserve) Squadron RAF
Badge of No. 72 Squadron RAF
Active 28 June 1917 - 22 September 1919
22 February 1937 - 30 December 1946
1 February 1947 - 30 June 1961
15 November 1961 - Easter 2002
July 2002 - present
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Flying training
Base RAF Linton-on-Ouse
Nickname Basutoland
Motto Swift
Equipment Tucano T1
Battle honours Mesopotamia 1918*, Channel and North Sea 1939-1942, Dunkirk*, Battle of Britain 1940*, Fortress Europe 1941-1942*, North Africa 1942-1943*, Mediterranean 1942-1943, Sicily 1943*, Italy 1943-1945, Salerno*, Anzio and Nettuno*
The honours marked with an asterisk* are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron badge heraldry A Swift Volant
The swift in the squadron's badge is symbolic of speed[1]
Squadron Codes RN (Oct 1938 - Apr 1939, Sep 1939 - Dec 1946)
SD (Apr 1939 - Sep 1939)
FG (Jan 1947 - Apr 1951)
A (on Wessex)
E (on Chinook)
Insignia RAF 72 Sqn.svg

No. 72 (Reserve) Squadron Royal Air Force is currently a training reserve squadron based at RAF Linton-on-Ouse using the Short Tucano T1, a modified version of the Brazilian Embraer EMB-312 Tucano training aircraft.




First World War

No. 72 Squadron was formed on the 28th of June in 1917 at Upavon.[2] On Christmas Day, the squadron left for the Middle East and regrouped at Basra on the 2nd of March. Here, they assisted the Army in their various missions, and were disbanded in September 1919.

Second World War

No. 72 squadron was reformed on 22 February 1937 from 'B' flight of No. 1 Squadron. In 1939, the squadron was outfitted with Spitfires which replaced the Gloster Gladiators that came with the flight from No. 1 Squadron. These were used in Air defence and convoy protection duties following the start of the war. Then, in 1940, the squadron moved to assist in the evacuation of Dunkirk.

During the Battle of Britain, No 72 spent the early days at RAF Acklington as part of No. 13 Group RAF, before moving south during September to aid the main defence force. The squadron was then moved to North Africa to support the Tunisian campaign before being supplied with the updated Spitfire IX in 1942. They then assisted the British 8th Army as they advanced through Italy and France up until the German surrender. At this point they were moved to Austria. It was here they were disbanded on 30 December 1946.

The squadron also had an Air Training Corps squadron named after it which is situated in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland

Post war jets

The squadron was reformed on 1 February 1947 at RAF Odiham. The following years saw Vampires, Meteor F.8s (1952), NF.12s (1955) and Javelins (1959) all flown until the Squadron was disbanded at RAF Leconfield on 30 June 1961.

Helicopter and training

RAF Short Tucano of no. 72 sqn at Shoreham Airport, 2005

On 15 November 1961 No. 72 squadron was reformed, now as a helicopter unit. They were equipped with twin-rotor Belvederes HC.1s until the Wessex HC.2 replaced these aircraft in August 1964. For the next thirty-eight years they continued to use these aircraft and in that time the Squadron saw action in Malaya, provided post-disaster assistance following the Torrey Canyon tanker disaster in 1967 and supported the security forces in Northern Ireland from 1981, during this time the squadron, whilst suffering only two human casualties was always a target for IRA marksmen. In 1983 "V for Victor" was hit by more than 30 rounds from a 0.5 in machine gun though it flew on. The Squadron disbanded in April 2002, the Wessex helicopters being flown to RAF Shawbury where they are stored. In July 2002 No. 1 Flying Training School divided its strength between two new reserve Squadrons, one of which was No 72, reformed as 72 (Reserve) Squadron operating the Tucano at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.[3]

Aircraft operated

Dates Aircraft Variant
Mar 1918 Jan 1919 Spad S.7
Mar 1918 Nov 1918 Martinsyde G.100
Mar 1918 Feb 1919 Bristol M.1 M.1c
Mar 1918 Feb 1919 Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 S.E.5A
May 1937 May 1939 Gloster Gladiator Mk. I
Apr 1939 Apr 1941 Supermarine Spitfire Mk. I
May 1940 May 1940 Gloster Gladiator Mk. I, II
Jul 1941 Jan 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vb, Vc
Jul 1942 Aug 1942 Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX
Feb 1943 Aug 1946 Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX
Feb 1947 Oct 1948 de Havilland Vampire F.1
Jun 1948 Feb 1950 De Havilland Vampire F.3
Nov 1949 Jul 1952 De Havilland Vampire FB.5
Jul 1952 Feb 1956 Gloster Meteor F.8
Feb 1956 Jun 1959 Gloster Meteor NF.12
Feb 1956 Jun 1959 Gloster Meteor NF.14
Apr 1959 Jun 1961 Gloster Javelin FAW.4
Jun 1959 Jun 1961 Gloster Javelin FAW.5
Nov 1961 Aug 1964 Bristol Belvedere HC.1
Aug 1964 Easter 2002 Westland Wessex HC.2
Jan 1997 Easter 2002 Westland Puma HC Mk.1
July 2002 present Short Tucano


See also


  1. ^ Rawlings 1978, p. 176.
  2. ^ a b Jefford 2001, p. 50.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Halley 1988, p. 140.


  • Docherty, Tom. Swift to Battle: No. 72 Fighter Squadron RAF in Action. Volume 1: 1937 to 1942, Phoney War, Dunkirk, Battle of Britain, Offensive Operations. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen and Sword, 2009. ISBN 978-1-84415-829-4.
  • Docherty, Tom. Swift to Battle: No. 72 Fighter Squadron RAF in Action. Volume 2: 1942 to 1947, Volume 2: North Africa, Malta, Sicily, Southern France and Austria. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Pen and Sword, 2009. ISBN 978-1-84884-087-4.
  • 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, 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 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.
  • Robinson, Anthony. RAF Fighter Squadrons in the Battle of Britain. London: Arms and Armour Press Ltd., 1987 (Reprinted in 1999 by Brockhampton Press, ISBN 1-86019-907-0.)
  • No 71 - 75 Squadron Histories

External links


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