No. 550 Squadron RAF

No. 550 Squadron RAF
Active 25 Nov 1943 – 31 Oct 1945
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Role Bomber
Motto(s) Latin: Per Ignem Vincimus
(Translation: "Through fire we conquer")[1][2]
Squadron Badge heraldry In front of flames of fire a sword erect point upwards.[2]
The badge is symbolic of the squadron's power to force its way through barrage of fire and fighter opposition to drop its bombs. It can also be taken as symbolic of the squadron's raids with both incendiary and high-explosive bombs.[1]
Squadron Codes BQ (Nov 1943 – Oct 1945)[3][4]
Aircraft flown
Bomber Avro Lancaster
Four-engined heavy bomber

No. 550 Squadron RAF was a heavy bomber squadron of the Royal Air Force during World War II.


550 Squadron aircrew with Lancaster "Press on Regardless" at RAF North Killingholme

No. 550 squadron was formed at RAF Waltham (near Grimsby), Lincolnshire on 25 November 1943 from 'C' Flight of 100 Squadron.[5] Equipped with Avro Lancasters, they began operating in the same month, as part of No. 1 Group RAF. On 26/27 November, 8 of their Lancasters were dispatched to make bombing runs over Berlin; 7 succeeded, with the other failing to return after the mission.[6] In early 1944, it was moved to RAF North Killingholme, Lincolnshire where it continued operations over German targets until May 1945, when it began dropping food over the Netherlands as a relieve effort as part of Operation Manna.[6] The squadron completed 3,582 operational sorties with the Lancaster with a loss of 59 aircraft.[7] It was disbanded at North Killingholme on 31 October 1945.,[2] the same day that North Killinghome closed.[8]

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster B1 bomber in the markings of No 550 squadron on one side (BQ-B) and No 100 squadron on the other (HW-R).

Operation Banquet

Before standing up as an operational bomber unit 550 Squadron was allocated to the Air Fighting Development Unit under 'Operation Banquet' anti-invasion plans.[9]

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by No. 550 Squadron RAF[2][5]
From To Aircraft Version
November 1943 October 1945 Avro Lancaster Mks.I, III

Notable aircraft

Three of the Lancasters that flew with 550 Squadron managed to survive one hundred operations or more, and one nearly did so:

No. 550 Squadron RAF aircraft with the most number of operations[10]
Serial no. Name Operations Call-sign Fate Remarks
EE139 "Phantom of the Ruhr" 121 BQ-B Scrapped 19-02-1946 Also flew with No. 100 Squadron RAF.
Current Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
Lancaster flies BQ-B call-sign.[11]
PA995 "The Vulture Strikes" 101 BQ-V Failed to return, 11-03-1945 Flew all missions with 550 Squadron[12]
ED905 "Ad Extremum/Press on Regardless" 100+ BQ-F Crashed 20-08-1945 with No. 1656 Conversion Unit Also flew with No. 103 Squadron RAF
and No. 166 Squadron RAF[13]
W5005 "SS-Nan" 94 BQ-N Ditched in Humber estuary 26/27-08-1944 Also flew with No. 460 Squadron RAAF

Squadron bases

Bases and airfields used by No. 550 Squadron RAF[2][5]
From To Base
25 November 1943 3 January 1944 RAF Waltham, Lincolnshire
3 January 1944 31 October 1945 RAF North Killingholme, Lincolnshire



  1. 1 2 Moyes 1976, p. 267.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Halley 1988, p. 411.
  3. Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 23.
  4. Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 65.
  5. 1 2 3 Jefford 2001, p. 98.
  6. 1 2 Moyes 1976, p. 268.
  7. Falconer 2003, p. 255.
  8. "History of 550 Squadron". 550 Squadron and North Killingholme Association. 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  9. Lake, Alan (1999). Flying Units of the RAF. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-84037-086-6.
  10. Moyes 1976, p. 362.
  11. Franks 1994, pp. 9–96.
  12. Franks 1994, pp. 199–202.
  13. Franks 1994, pp. 79–84.


  • Bowyer, Michael J.F.; John D.R. Rawlings (1979). Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 0-85059-364-6. 
  • Falconer, Jonathan (2003). Bomber Command Handbook 1939–1945. Stroud, England: Sutton Publishing. pp. 203–204. ISBN 0-7509-3171-X. 
  • Flintham, Vic; Andrew Thomas (2003). Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84037-281-8. 
  • Franks, Norman (1994). Claims to Fame: The Lancaster. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 1-85409-220-0. 
  • Halley, James J. (1988). The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-164-9. 
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G. (2001). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-85310-053-6. 
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. (1976). Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd. ISBN 0-354-01027-1. 
  • Lake, Alan (1999). Flying Units of the RAF. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-84037-086-6. 
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