No. 10 Squadron RAF

No. 10 Squadron RAF

Official Squadron Badge of No. 10 Squadron RAF
Active 1 January 1915 – 31 December 1919
3 January 1928 – 20 December 1947
4 October 1948 – 20 February 1950
15 January 1953 – 15 January 1957
15 April 1958 – 1 March 1964
1 July 1966 – 14 October 2005
1 July 2011 -
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Role various
Nickname(s) "Shiny Ten"
Motto(s) Latin: Rem acu tangere
("To hit the mark")
Equipment Airbus Voyager
Battle honours Western Front, 1915–1918*; Loos; Somme, 1916; Arras*; Somme, 1918*; Channel and North Sea, 1940–1945; Norway, 1940; Ruhr, 1940–1945*; Fortress Europe, 1940–1944*, German Ports, 1940–1945; Biscay Ports, 1940–1945; Berlin, 1940–1945*; Normandy, 1944*, France and Germany, 1944–1945; Rhine; Gulf, 1991; Iraq, 2003.
Honours marked with an asterix* are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron Badge heraldry A Winged Arrow
Squadron Codes PB (Nov 1938 – Sep 1939)
ZA (Sep 1939 – Aug 1945 and 1948 – 1950)

No. 10 Squadron is a Royal Air Force squadron. The squadron has served in a variety of roles (observation, bombing, transport and aerial refuelling) over its 90-year history. It currently flies the Airbus Voyager in the transport/tanker role.


Formation and early years

Formed from a nucleus provided by No. 1 Reserve Aircraft Squadron,[1] as part of the Royal Flying Corps, on 1 January 1915 during World War I at Farnborough Airfield, Hampshire, 10 Squadron served on the Western Front in France in the spotting and bombing roles with a variety of aircraft types. It was disbanded on 31 December 1919 following the end of the war, like many other squadrons.[2]

Reformation and World War II

10 Squadron Halifax Mark II Series 1 based at RAF Leeming, December 1941

The squadron was reformed as a night bomber unit on Hyderabads at RAF Upper Heyford on 3 January 1928, before moving to RAF Boscombe Down in 1931 and later on to RAF Dishforth in 1937 to form part of the newly created No. 4 Group of RAF Bomber Command. During this time, the unit operated a variety of types, including Hinaidis, Virginias and Handley Page Heyfords, beginning the Second World War as the first unit equipped with the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley. The squadron remained a part of No. 4 Group throughout the war, re-equipping with the Halifax in December 1941.[3] On 8 July 1940 they moved to RAF Leeming, Yorkshire and again on 19 August 1942 to RAF Melbourne, Yorkshire

In Transport Command

Following the end of the war in Europe in 1945, the Squadron spent four years with Transport Command flying Dakotas, first in India and then, after a disbandment between 20 December 1947 and 4 October 1948 (when 238 Squadron was renumbered as No. 10 Squadron), in Europe, taking part in the Berlin Airlift and disbanding on 20 February 1950.

Back in Bomber Command

No 10 Squadron reverted to its original bomber role in the 1950s and early 1960s, seeing it take part in the Suez Crisis, equipped upon reformation at RAF Scampton on 15 January 1953 with the Canberra until disbandment exactly four years later on 15 January 1957, and after reforming at RAF Cottesmore on 15 April 1958 flying Victors until disbandment on 1 March 1964.

In the transport role again

Vickers VC-10 C.1 of No. 10 Squadron in 1977

On 1 July 1966, the squadron reformed yet again and became the first to receive the new Vickers VC10 C.1, reverting to an air transport squadron at RAF Fairford in July of that year. The unit moved to RAF Brize Norton in 1967, where it remained until disbanded in 2005. The C.1 differs from later marks of RAF VC10s in that they were delivered newly built as strategic transports.

Fourteen VC10 C.1s were delivered to 10 Squadron between 1966 and 1967. The C.1 was a variant of the civil 'Standard VC10' fitted with the wing and more powerful engines of the 'Super VC10'. The C.1 can carry 139 passengers in rear-facing seats, eight standard pallets or up to 78 medical evacuation stretchers. These VC10s were named after airmen who had been awarded the Victoria Cross.[4] The strengthened floor allowed the C.1 to transport 1,000 lb bombs for the Tornado GR1 force during the Gulf War, each aircraft carrying 50 per flight. During the war, 10 Sqn flew 1,326 sorties in more than 5,000 hours. The squadron also took part in most other operations involving British forces, including the 1982 Falklands War and the 2003 war in Iraq.

Introduced as air transport aircraft, the VC10 C.1 fleet was modified in 1993 to allow it to operate in the AAR role as well, by the installation of wing mounted refueling pods. The aircraft were then known as VC10 C.1(K)s.

An Airbus Voyager in 2013

The most visible role No. 10 Squadron's VC10s have played is that of VIP transport and aeromedical evacuations. In the VIP role the C1s have flown the British Royal Family, government ministers and Prime Ministers around the world. Later the VC10 VIP role was phased out, VIP transport being carried out by chartered British Airways 767s and the RAF BAe 146 fleet. However, former Prime Minister Tony Blair reverted to the VC10 for more sensitive flights, notably during his diplomacy to Pakistan and the Middle East after the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The rationalisation of the VC10 force led to No. 10 Squadron being disbanded in October 2005, with their C.1(K) aircraft transferred to No. 101 Squadron.

In 2011, with the closure of RAF Lyneham and the transfer of the RAF's Hercules force to Brize Norton, it was announced that No. 10 Squadron would be reformed as the first operator of the new Airbus Voyager.[5] The squadron was officially reformed on 1 July 2011.[6]

See also



  1. Philpott 2013, p.388
  2. Halley 1988, p. 38.
  3. Halley 1988, p. 39.
  4. VC10s in RAF service
  5. RAF Hercules fleet moves to Brize Norton – MOD, 4 July 2011
  6. Chairman's Message - RAF 10 Squadron Association


  • Ashworth, Chris. Encyclopedia of Modern Royal Air Force Squadrons. Wellingborough, UK: Patrick Stevens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-013-6.
  • Bennett, Donald C.T. Pathfinder (Bomber Crews). Goodall Publications, 1958 (reprinted 1988 and 1998 and by Crécy Publishing in 1999). ISBN 0-907579-57-4.
  • 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: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • 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.
  • Philpott, Ian The Birth of the Royal Air Force. Pen and Sword, 2013. ISBN 1473833124
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Sawyer, Group Captain Tom, DFC. Only Owls & Bloody Fools Fly at Night. London: Kimber, 1982 (republished by Crécy Publishing in 1985). ISBN 0-7183-0119-6.
  • Shirt, J. Gordon. Gordon's Tour with Shiny 10: Wartime Record of a Tour with RAF No.10 Squadron. Compaid Graphics, 1994. ISBN 0-9517965-3-4.
  • Silver, L. Ray. Last of the Gladiators: A World War II Bomber Navigator's Story. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 1995. ISBN 1-85310-464-7.
  • Smith, Arthur C. Halifax Crew: the Story of a Wartime Bomber Crew. Carlton Publications, 1983. (2nd edition, Yorkshire Air Museum Publications, 1987).
  • Travers, E. Cross Country. Sittingbourne, Kent, UK: Hothersall & Travers, 1989. (from log books & letters of 3 10 Squadron pilots: James Lindsay Travers, Herbert Gardner Travers & Charles Tindal Travers)
  • Ward, Chris. 10 Squadron (Bomber Command Profile no. 3). Berkshire, UK: Ward Publishing, 1996.
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