Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
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at Molesworth in No 11 Group on 15 August 1946 to train fighter pilots.
Formed from No 1335 Conversion Unit and equipped with a variety of types
including Tempests, Hornets, Meteors and Vampires.
Disbanded at Driffield by being renamed No 203 Advanced Flying School on
31 August 1949, by which time it was in No 21 Group.
in No 12 Group by renaming No 203 AFS at Stradishall to train Meteor pilots.
Disbanded in No 11 Group on 3 June 1955
by renaming the Lightning Conversion Squadron at Middleton St George on 1 June
1963. Disbanded at Coltishall on 30
by renaming the Jaguar Conversion Unit at Lossiemouth on 1 October 1974.
Disbanded by being renamed No 16 (Reserve) Squadron on 1 November 1991.
Shadow/Reserve Squadron designations: -
Codes used: -
in No 12 Group at Andover by renaming No 43 OTU on 7 May 1947 to train aircrew
for AOP squadrons. Amalgamated with
No 22 EFTS and renamed The Air Observation Post School on 1 May 1950 at Middle
in No 12 Group at Leeming from No 13 and 54 OTUs on 1 May 1947.
Tasked with training night fighter crews, it was equipped with
Mosquito’s, Meteors and later Javelins. Disbanded
at Leeming on 15 September 1961.
in No 1 Sector at Leuchars on 1 May 1965. It
was tasked with training Javelin crews, particularly for overseas operations. Disbanded on 23 December 1966.
at Coningsby on 1 August 1968 to train Phantom crews.
Disbanded at Leuchars on 31 March 1991.
Squadron designations: -
at Leuchars from the Vampire Flight of No 226 OCU on 15 December 1950 to train
fighter pilots. It moved to Chivenor on 28 March 1951 until finally re-locating to
Brawdy on 2 September 1974, where it was effectively disbanded by being renamed Tactical Weapons Unit.
It later used Sabres
and then Hunters.
at Coningsby on 1 November 1984 to train Tornado crews in the air defence role.
Disbanded by being renamed No 56 (Reserve) Squadron on 1 July 1992.
Squadron designations: -
This was formed at Lindholme by renaming No 1653 Conversion Unit on 15 March 1947, equipped with Lancasters. It moved to Scampton in 1949 where it re-equipped with Lincolns, disbanding on 15 October 1952.
It was reformed at Upwood on 1 August 1953 by renaming the Lincoln Conversion Flight but disbanded on 1 February 1955 and reverted back to its previous title. It reformed again, this time at Waddington on 31 May 1956 to train Vulcan crews. It moved to Finningley on 18 June 1961 and on 8 December to Scampton, where it disbanded on 31 August 1981.
at Coningsby from a nucleus provided by No 16 OTU on 15 March 1947 to train light
bomber and PR crews on the Mosquito. Disbanded
on 4 December 1949.
at Bassingbourn to train Canberra crews on 1 December 1951, a role it continued until
disbanding at Wyton on 15 December 1990 when it was renamed Canberra Standardisation
CSTF was renamed No 231 OCU on 13
May 1991, again at Wyton but was disbanded
on 23 April 1993.
at Gaydon on 21 February 1955 to train Valiant crews.
In 1962 it also began training Victor crews.
It disbanded into the Tanker Training Flight at Marham on 30 June 1965
at Marham by renaming the Victor OCU on 6 June 1970.
Disbanded on 4 April 1986.
No 233 OCU originally formed on 1 September 1952 at RAF Pembrey, near Kidwelly, South Wales, and the unit’s Badge, approved in September 1953, depicted the head of a Welsh Wild-Cat, the motto ‘YMLAEN’, meaning ‘Forward’ in Welsh This badge was the only marking worn by the unit’s aircraft, and was positioned just below the front quarter-light of the cockpit of its Vampires. The role of the OCU was to train Vampire ground attack pilots, and later, Hunter day fighter pilots. The Station Commander was also the Officer Commanding the OCU. The OC Flying Wing was the Chief Instructor. The Station badge at that time was the No 233 OCU, which was adorned on all the RAF Pembrey Station vehicles
The aircraft operated by the OCU were:
Vampire FB5 - September 1952 - 1956
Vampire FB9 ?
Hunter F1 - December 1955 - September 1957
Tempest TT5 - February 1955 to June 1955
Vampire T11 - February 1953 to ?
Meteor T7 - September 1952 to February 1953
Meteor F8 - Late 1956 to September 1957
Balliol T2 ?
Tiger Moth T2 ?
Oxford T1 ?
Mosquito T3 ?
Mosquito TT35 - June 1955 to late 1956
Chipmunk T10 ?
The OCU disbanded on 1 September 1957.
No 233 OCU re-formed at RAF Wittering on 1 October 1970 by renaming the Harrier Conversion Unit, the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit, initially marking the Harriers with a yellow grasshopper with the words ‘Harrier Operational Conversion Unit’ markings in white, positioned on the lower side of the nose of its Harrier GR1s. On 3 August 1973, the CO unveiled the new OCU markings, and from May 1974 they slowly began to replace the earlier markings on the lower side of the noses of its Harriers 1As. These markings were the head of a Welsh Wild-Cat on a pale Blue disc, with two coloured bars on either side, coloured Red/Grey & Yellow/Black and outlined in pale Blue. These colours represented the then four operational Harrier squadrons. Red for No 1(F) Squadron, Yellow for No 3(F) Squadron, Black for No IV(AC) Squadron and Dark Sea Grey for No 20 Squadron. The OCU subsequently operated updated T2/2A, GR3 and T4/4A versions of the Harrier.
The role of the unit was to not only train new pilots to fly the Harrier, but also train Harrier Qualified Flying Instructors, Qualified Weapons Instructors, Electronic Warfare Instructors, Instrument Rating Examiners, and short courses for Test Pilots from Boscombe Down, Senior Officer Aquaint Courses and Refresher courses. The unit also provided the Harrier Examiners on behalf of the CFS, who conducted the annual evaluation of the front line Harrier squadron pilots. The OCU comprised two Flights, 'A' (Advanced) Flight being staffed by QFIs, and 'B' (Basic) Flight by QFIs, although some instructors had dual qualifications.
The Harrier GR5 Conversion Team (GR5CT) was formed within 233 OCU, and three pilots detached to the USMCAS at Cherry Point, North Carolina, to convert onto the AV-8B Harrier II, prior to delivery of the first new Harrier GR5 to Wittering. On 30 March 1988, the first ‘in-service’ flight took place of a GR5 from Wittering, a date which effectively marked the commencement of short conversion courses for the remaining OCU instructors and then initially 1(F) Sqn pilots. The first GR5 Long Course commenced in July 1989
Because there were no two-seat versions of the Harrier GR5, the OCU continued to use GR3 and T4/4A Harriers for the initial phase of the Harrier II conversion courses. The markings carried on the GR5s remained the same as the earlier marks of the units aircraft. The only difference was that the GR5s were painted overall in the NATO Green upper/Medium Green lower colour scheme.
On 1 September 1992, the Harrier OCU was re-designated No 20(R) Squadron. The aircraft operated by the unit were:
Harrier GR1 - 1 October 1970 to 1973
Harrier GR1A - 1971 to 1975
Harrier T2 - July 1970 to 1973
Harrier T2A - 1973 to 1976
Harrier GR3 - 1973 to 31August 1992
Harrier T4 & 4A - 1973 to 31 August 1992
Harrier GR5 - 29 May 1987 to 31 August 1992
Aircraft fin codes
GR1 to GR3
1969 -74 - The last two numbers of the serial number in RED
1974 - 76 - Two numbers (not the serial number) in PALE BLUE
1977 - 83 - Single PALE BLUE Letter
1984 - 88 - Single WHITE letter
1989 - 1992 - WHITE '3' + WHITE Letter
1988 - 1990 - Single WHITE letter
1990 - 1992 - WHITE '5' + WHITE Letter
Gp Capt T B Beresford 1 Sep 1952
Gp Capt W T F Wightman 11 Aug 1954
Gp Capt W A Toyne 26 Nov 1956 to 1 Sep 1957 (233 OCU disbanded.)
Wg Cdr L A B Baker 1 Oct 1970
Wg Cdr P King 1 Aug 1972
Wg Cdr R M Austin AFC 14 Jun 1974
Wg Cdr J D Rust 24 Jun 1977
Wg Cdr P Millar 22 Oct 1979
Wg Cdr A J Chaplin 12 Jul 1982
Wg Cdr S G Jennings 18 May 1984
Wg Cdr P W Day 19 Dec 1986
Wg Cdr P A Robinson 9 Jun 1989
Wg Cdr T A Harper 20 Mar 1992 - 31 Aug 1992
Squadron designations: -
My thanks to Norman Roberson for this detailed description of No 233 OCU.
at Calshot from No 4 OTU to train flying boat crews on 31 July 1947, equipped
with Sunderlands, it was disbanded on 17 October 1953, its tasking being taken over
by the Flying Boat Training Squadron.
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