No. 45 Squadron RAF

No. 45(R) Squadron RAF

Official Squadron Badge of No. 45(R) Squadron RAF
Active 1 March 1916 – 1919
1 April 1921 – January 1970
1972 – present.
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Role Multi Engine Advanced Flying Training
Base RAF Cranwell
Motto(s) Latin: Per ardua surgo
("Through difficulties I arise")
Equipment Beechcraft King Air B200
Battle honours Western Front 1916–1917*, Somme 1916, Ypres 1917, Italian Front and Adriatic 1917–1918, Piave, Independent Force and Germany 1918*, Kurdistan 1922–1924, Iraq 1923–1925, Egypt and Libya 1940–1942*, East Africa 1940*, Syria 1941, Burma 1942*, Arakan 1943–1944*, Burma 1944–1945*.
Honours marked with an asterix* are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron badge heraldry A winged camel

45(R) Squadron is a flying squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was established on 1 March 1916 as part of the Royal Flying Corps.

First World War

Formed during World War I 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.

During the course of the war, some thirty flying aces had served in the squadron's ranks. They included future Air Vice-Marshal Matthew Frew, Cedric Howell, Geoffrey Hornblower Cock, future Air Commodore Raymond Brownell, John C. B. Firth, Kenneth Barbour Montgomery, Mansell Richard James, Norman Macmillan, Peter Carpenter, Richard Jeffries Dawes, Norman Cyril Jones, Ernest Masters, Henry Moody, future Air Marshal Thomas Williams, William Wright, James Dewhirst, James Belgrave, Edward Clarke, Alfred Haines, Thomas M. Harries, Alan Rice-Oxley, Earl Hand, Sir Arthur Harris, 1st Baronet, John Pinder,[1] and future Group Captain Sidney Cottle.[2]

Inter-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 throughout 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 World War I and its long service in the Middle East.

Second World War

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

At the start of World War II, 45 Squadron converted to Bristol Blenheims. From mid-1940 it took part in the North African Campaign and on 11 June, was one of three squadrons that participated in the Allies' first attack on the Regia Aeronautica (Italian air force) base at El Adem: 18 Italian aircraft were destroyed or damaged on the ground, for the loss of three British aircraft.[3] The following day, the squadron participated in an attack on shipping at Tobruk, damaging the Italian cruiser San Giorgio.[4]

During late 1940 the squadron supported Allied ground forces in the East African Campaign, while based at Gura, in Eritrea. During its time at Gura, the squadron suffered losses – on 2 October two Blenheims were shot down by an Italian ace, sergeant-major Luigi "Gino" Baron; among the aircrew killed was 45 Squadron's CO, Sqn Ldr John Dallamore.[5] His successor was acting Sqn Ldr Patrick Troughton-Smith.

After returning to North Africa, the squadron operated against Italian and German forces in Libya, Egypt and on the Mediterranean.

From mid-1942 the unit was deployed to Burma and India, for service against the Japanese. Three aircraft from the Squadron participated in the first Allied bombing raid against Bangkok. 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 became one of only a few Allied units to have engaged German, Italian, Vichy French and Japanese forces. 45 Squadron included a significant number of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) personnel, who were drawn from an unofficial joint pool of aircrew.

Malayan Emergency

45 Sqn. Venoms at RAF Butterworth, Malaya, in 1956/57.

After the Second World War, 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

45 Sqn. Canberra B.15s at RAF Tengah, Singapore, in 1963.
Hawker Hunter FGA9 of 45 Squadron in 1976 with the "Winged Camel" insignia marked on its nose.

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 Hunter FGA.9s, as a ground-attack training unit. The squadron disbanded in July 1976 at RAF Wittering 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,[6] 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[7] 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.[8][9]

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. Shortly after, 45(R) Squadron also received King Air B200 GT aircraft with uprated engines, advanced avionics and a glass cockpit in order to bring training in line with what students will progress to on front line aircraft such as the C-17 Globemaster, Voyager and A400M Atlas.


The Squadron now operates under the command of No. 3 FTS and runs the Multi Engine Advanced Flying Training (MEAFT) course for pilots, whilst simultaneously training NCA rear-crew for Fixed Wing, Rotary and ISTAR roles throughout the RAF. Student pilots undertake Ground School studies before beginning simulator based training alongside the flying syllabus. The Squadron currently operates a mixed fleet of King Air B200s and King Air B200 GTs, which are normally flown by the students towards the advanced phase of the course. Course No. 215 was the first to have a pair of students fly the entire syllabus on the 'GT', this was then replicated for Course No. 217.

45(R) Sqn King Air B200 GT parked at La Rochelle Airport in France, 2015 during Course No. 217's Overseas Training Flight.

The pilot syllabus is broken down into the following stages:

Although the students learn a vast number of new disciplines and techniques to build upon their Elementary Flying Training, the focus on the Squadron is Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Emergency Handling. Students are encouraged to develop their airmanship and decision making, with the aim of producing the front line captains of tomorrow. Asymmetric flight is perhaps the most significant change to previous flying experiences and as such it is covered thoroughly throughout the course to ensure students are confident with handling the aircraft on just one engine. Most of the training is completed around Lincolnshire, with regular visits to RAF Scampton, Marham and Coningsby along with local civilian airports Doncaster and Humberside for circuit training and Instrument Approaches. Short detachments are also often run to escape poor weather and maximise the output of the King Airs and staff alike.

Commanding officers

1 March 1916 to 31 December 1919

1 April 1921 to 18 February 1970

1 August 1972 to present



  1. "45 Squadron". The Aerodrome. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  2. Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. p. 122.
  3. Playfair, Vol. I, page 112.
  4. Playfair, Vol. I, pages 110, 112.
  5. Håkan Gustavsson, 2015, "Biplane fighter aces, Italy, Sergente Maggiore Luigi 'Gino' Baron", Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War (4 June 2015). (See also the Italian language Wikipedia article on Gino Baron.)
  6. "RAF nuclear frontline Order-of-Battle 1984". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  7. "RAF nuclear frontline Order-of-Battle 1992". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  8. "RAF nuclear frontline Order-of-Battle 1994". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  9. "Weapon overview @ Carriage". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  10. 1 2 "A T Harris". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  11. "Royal Air Force: Appointments". Flight. XIV (731): 791. 28 December 1922. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  12. "F J Vincent". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  13. "H W L Saunders". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  14. "A R Churchman". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  15. J.N. Houterman. "Royal Air Force Officers 1939–1945 – D". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  16. "F L Dodd". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  17. "E D Crew". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  18. "I S Stockwell". Retrieved 13 September 2013.


  • 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.
  • Playfair, Major-General I.S.O.; Molony, Brigadier C.J.C.; with Flynn, Captain F.C. (R.N.) & Gleave, Group Captain T.P. (2009) [1st. pub. HMSO:1954]. Butler, Sir James, ed. The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume I: The Early Successes Against Italy, to May 1941. History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series. Uckfield, UK: Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84574-065-3. 
  • 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.
  • Shores, Christopher F., Franks, Norman L. R., Guest, Russell. Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. Grub Street, 1990. ISBN 0-948817-19-4, ISBN 978-0-948817-19-9.
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