Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

 

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226 - 235 Operational Conversion Units


[Badges]

226 Operational Conversion Unit

Formed 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.

Reformed in No 12 Group by renaming No 203 AFS at Stradishall to train Meteor pilots.  Disbanded in No 11 Group on 3 June 1955

Reformed by renaming the Lightning Conversion Squadron at Middleton St George on 1 June 1963.  Disbanded at Coltishall on 30 September 1974.

Reformed 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: -

Squadron From To
No 145 1 Jun 1963 13 Apr 1964
No 65 1 Sep 1970 17 Jun 1974

Codes used: -

BB, KD, XL 1948 – 1949
HX, KR, TO, UU 1948 - 1951

Aircraft & Markings

 

227 Operational Conversion Unit

Formed 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 Wallop.

Codes used: -  

BD, PF 1947 - 1950

Aircraft & Markings 

 

228 Operational Conversion Unit

Formed 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.

Reformed 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.

Reformed at Coningsby on 1 August 1968 to train Phantom crews.  Disbanded at Leuchars on 31 March 1991.  

Shadow/Reserve Squadron designations: -

Squadron   From   To  
No 137   11 Jan 1956   15 Sep 1961  
No 11   11 Jan 1966   23 Dec 1966  
No 64 (R)   16 May 1968   31 Jan 1991  

Aircraft & Markings

   

229 Operational Conversion Unit

Formed 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.

Reformed 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.  

Shadow/Reserve Squadron designations: -

Squadron   From   To  
No 127   11 Jan 1956   22 Oct 1958  
No 234   22 Oct 1958   2 Sep 1974  
No 131  15 Mar 1958 22 Oct 1958  
No 145   22 Oct 1958  1 Jun 1963  
No 63   1 Jun 1963   2 Sep 1974  
No 79   2 Jan 1967  2 Sep 1974  
No 65 (R)   31 Dec 1986   30 Jun 1992  

Codes used: -

ES, RS 1950 - 1959

 Aircraft & Markings

230 Operational Conversion Unit

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.  

Codes used: -

YW, A3   1948 - 1949
SN   1949 - 1951

 Aircraft & Markings

231 Operational Conversion Unit

Formed 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.

Reformed 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 Training Flight.

The CSTF was renamed No 231 OCU  on 13 May 1991, again at Wyton but was disbanded  on 23 April 1993.  

Aircraft & Markings

 

 232 Operational Conversion Unit

Formed 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

 Reformed at Marham by renaming the Victor OCU on 6 June 1970.  Disbanded on 4 April 1986.  

 

 Aircraft & Markings

 

 233 Operational Conversion Unit

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

 

Support aircraft

 

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 
 
GR5
1988 - 1990 - Single WHITE letter
1990 - 1992 - WHITE '5' + WHITE Letter 

 

Officers Commanding

 

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

Shadow/Reserve Squadron designations: -

Squadron   From   To  
No 129  11 Jan 1956   1 Sep 1957 

My thanks to Norman Roberson for this detailed description of No 233 OCU.

Aircraft & Markings

 

235 Operational Conversion Unit

Formed 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.

Codes used: -  

TA 1947 - 1951
D 1951 - 1953

Aircraft & Markings

Back to Organisational IndexBack to Organisational Index               [Top of Page]                                236 - 242 OCU  Forward to 236 - 242 OCUs