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No 86 - 90 Squadron Histories

No 86 Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed at Wye on 1 September 1917, it was intended to be equipped with Dolphins for service on the Western Front, but the need to reinforce existing units led to its disbandment on 4 July 1918.  It was again planned to form with Dolphins on 21 October 1918 for deployment on 28 November  but it was then brought forward to 28 September at Brockworth, but was then postponed.  Formation was then scheduled for 30 October, again at Brockworth, but with Salamanders in the ground attack role.  These plans were then amended again, with formation on Salamanders at Bircham Newton on 14 November 1918 with a move to France planned for 28 January 1919, however, the Armistice ended all such plans and the formation was suspended.

The squadron finally formed at Gosport on 6 December 1940 in the coastal fighter role equipped with Blenheim IVs.  Following training the squadron moved to Wattisham in March 1941 and began convoy escort patrols off the East Anglian coast, with a move to North Coates coming in May.  Beauforts replaced the Blenheims from June 1941 with the squadron being fully equipped with the new type by July.  These  were used for minelaying, reconnaissance and air-sea rescue patrols, but in October the squadron undertook torpedo training and began anti-shipping operations on 11 November.  In 1942 the squadron moved around the coast , to St Eval in January, Wick in March and Thorney Island in July, where it was reduced to cadre on 26 August.

The squadron began to be brought back up to strength in October with the arrival of new crews and Liberators.  Initially the squadron trained crews for No 160 Squadron, but when this was complete they began the training of their own crews and it began operations with Liberators in February 1943.  A move to Aldergrove in Northern Ireland took place a month later with a further move to Ballykelly in September.  In March 1944 the squadron moved to Reykjavik in Iceland for three months, returning to Scotland in July, where it remained for the remainder of the war.

With the end of the war and the need for increased transport units, the squadron transferred to Transport Command on 10 June 1945.  Joining No 301 Wing, the squadron moved to Oakington in August and began trooping flights to India from October.  The squadron finally disbanded on 25 April 1946.

Squadron Codes used: -  

BX Dec 1940 - Aug 1942
XQ Oct 1943 - Apr 1946

[Aircraft & Markings | Commanding Officers]


No 87 (United Provinces) Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed at Upavon from 'D' Squadron of the CFS on 1 September 1917, it was equipped with Avro 504Ks, Pups and SE5As for training.  Dolphins began to arrive in December and it was these which the squadron took to the Western Front in April 1918.  I t flew fighter and ground attack operations until the end of the war and returned to Ternhill in February 1919, where it disbanded on 24 June.

The squadron reformed, again in the fighter role on 15 March 1937 at Tangmere.  It was equipped with Furies initially, but in June Gladiators began to replace these, whilst at the same time the squadron moved to Debden.  Conversion to Hurricanes began in July 1938 and on the outbreak of war the squadron was dispatched to France as part of the Air Component of the BEF.  Following the German invasion the squadron was heavily involved in air action for the next two weeks, but then needed to be withdrawn to recuperate and re-equip.

Re-equipment took place at Church Fenton and in July the squadron returned to the South-West where it carried out both day and night patrols as part of no 10 Group.  It gradually began to concentrate on night operations and these were extended to night intruder sorties from March 1941 and these continued until November 1942.  At this point the squadron was detached to Gibraltar to support 'Operation Torch', the Allied landings in North Africa.  It continued to provide defensive cover for the 1st Army  throughout the North African campaign.

Spitfires replaced the Hurricanes in April 1943 and in September it moved to Sicily.  In January 1944 the squadron operated detachments from Italy from where it carried out fighter sweeps over the Balkans.  The squadron re-located to the Italian mainland in June and from the following August it began to conduct fighter-bomber operations.  These were maintained until the end of the war, after which the squadron remained as part of the occupation forces until disbanding Tissano on 30 December 1946.

The squadron number was briefly activated when it was linked with No 56 Squadron from 11 February 1949 to 31 December 1951.  The squadron being reformed the following day at Wahn in the night fighter role.  It was equipped with Meteor NF Mk 11s and these where operated until December 1957, although Javelins had begun to arrive in August.  However, on 3 January 1961 the squadron disbanded for the final time.

Squadron Codes used: -  

PD Oct 1938 - Sep 1939
LK Sep 1939 - Dec 1946
B Jan 1952 - Jan 1961

[Aircraft & Markings | Personnel, aircraft and locations | Commanding Officers]


No 88 (Hong Kong) Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed on 24 July 1917 at Gosport but it was early 1918 before it received its equipment of Bristol Fighter, which it took to France in April 1918.  It operated in the fighter reconnaissance role but also took a very active part in offensive missions and by the end of the war was credited with the destruction of 164 enemy aircraft.  It operated in the Dunkirk area for the whole of the war until it moved to Belgium on 18 November 1918, where it disbanded on 10 August 1919.

The squadron reformed in the light bomber role on 7 June 1937 at Waddington.  Initially equipped with the Hawker Hind, these began to be replaced by Fairey Battles in December 1937.  On the outbreak of war the squadron moved to France as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force.  Losing most of its equipment during the German advance, the squadron returned to the UK in June 1940, where it re-equipped  and moved to Northern Ireland, where it carried out patrols.  It continued on these duties until July 1941 when it moved to Swanton Morley, having re-equipped with Blenheim IVs in February 1941.

Now operating as part of No 2 Group's daylight bombing force, it became the first squadron to be equipped with the Douglas Boston, which it received in December 1941.  It continued to operate with No 2 Group for the remainder of the war carrying out low level attacks against communication centres, coastal targets and shipping, and tactical bombing mission in support of the Allied advance.  It also laid smokescreen for both the Dieppe raid and the Normandy landings.  Moving to France in October 1944 to be closer to the ground units it was supporting, it disbanded on 6 April 1945.

The squadron was revived on 1 September 1946 when No 1430 Flt at Kai Tak, Hong Kong, was re-numbered.  It was now involved in transport operations using Sunderlands and operated throughout the Far East.  By the time the Korean War broke out on July 1950, the squadron had been re-allocated to the General Reconnaissance role.  It operated from Japan for a period during the war but in June 1951 the squadron moved to Singapore and disbanded there on 1 Oct 1954.

No 88's final incarnation began on 15 January 1956 when it reformed at Wildenrath in Germany as a Canberra intruder unit equipped with the Mk B (I) 8 version of this versatile aircraft.  The squadron disbanded for the final time, so far, on 17 December 1962 when it was re-numbered No 14 Squadron.

Squadron Codes used: -

HY Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
RH Sep 1939 - Apr 1945

No 88 Squadron - 1960's Click on image to enlarge

Photo of No 88 Squadron taken in the 1960's

[Aircraft & Markings | Personnel, aircraft and locations | Commanding Officers]

No 80 Squadron Association


No 89 Squadron

Click here to go to badgesInitially planned as a Camel unit for deployment to France in March 1918, it began to form on 1 September 1917.  Its operational aircraft was later changed to SE5As but following various deferments the squadron disbanded on 29 July 1918 at Upper Heyford.  It began to form again on 11 November  1918, the day the Armistice came into force as a Buzzard unit at Fowlmere, but this was immediately suspended.  Further plans called for the unit to form at Chingford on 14 December as a Dolphin squadron but again this plan was cancelled and No 89 never formally formed.

The squadron eventually formed as a night fighter unit at Colerne  on 25 September 1941, equipped with Beaufighters, although it was intended for deployment in the Middle East, for where it set off in November.  Operations in North African began in December and from June 1942 it operated a detachment in Malta.  This detachment also began night intruder sorties over Sicily and other detachments operated along the North African coast until the squadron departed for Ceylon in October 1943.

It was now involved in night patrols in defence of Ceylon, but the lack of activity in the area led to it beginning night intruder operations over Burma from September 1944. From February 1945 Mosquitoes began to replace the Beaufighters, the conversion being complete by April.  These aircraft were flown until the end of the war and in September 1945 it moved to Singapore, but in March 1946 the squadron lost its Mosquitoes and received a few Walruses, which it flew on air-sea rescue duties for a further month before being reduced to cadre and disbanded on 1 May 1946.  The cadre was transferred to No 22 Squadron.

The squadron reformed once more on 15 September 1955 at Stradishall.  It was again a night fighter unit but was now equipped with the Venom NF Mk 3, which it used until receiving Javelin FAW Mk 2s and 6s in October 1957, which it flew for a further year, when it was disbanded by being renumbered No 85 Squadron on 30 November 1958.

Squadron Codes used: -  

LG Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939

[Aircraft & Markings | Commanding Officers]


No 90 Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed initially at Shawbury on 8 October 1917 as a fighter unit destined for the Western Front, its personnel were used as reinforcements and consequently it disbanded on 3 August 1918.  Reformed on 14 August as a home defence unit at Buckminster, it was equipped with the fighter version of the Avro 504K but disbanded again  on 13 June 1919, without seeing any action.

No 90 Squadron reformed as a bomber unit when 'A' Flight of No 101 Squadron at Bicester was raised to squadron status on 15 March 1937.  Initially equipped with Hinds, Blenheim Is began to arrive in May and the squadron was fully equipped by June.  However, it immediately became a Blenheim training squadron for No 6 Group and on 4 April 1940, it merged with No 35 Squadron to form No 17 Operational Training Unit.

The squadron's next incarnation began on 7 May 1941 when it became the first RAF squadron to operate the Boeing Fortress.  It was planned to use these high altitude bombers on daylight missions, but the early versions of this aircraft lacked the defensive armament to cope with European operations.  Another shortcoming of the type was the way in which it was deployed, being used for small single high level operations. Of the 51 operations carried out by the squadron, 26 were aborted without a single bomb being dropped.  During this period the squadron continued to operate Blenheim IVs, but on 14 February 1942, the squadron was disbanded.

The squadron re-entered the order of battle on 7 November 1942, when it reformed as Stirling unit in No 3 Group operating from Bottesford.  Operations began in January 1943 and continued until the end of war, with Lancasters replacing the Stirlings by June 1944.  Retained as part of the post-war bomber force, the squadron received Lincolns in May 1947 and these were retained until the squadron disbanded on 1 September 1950.

Just over a month later on 4 October, the squadron reformed, yet again, but this time as a Washington unit at Marham, although the first aircraft did not arrive until December.  Conversion to Canberras began in November 1953 and was completed in March 1954, when the last Washington departed.  Another disbandment came on 1 May 1956, but on 1 January 1957, a new 90 Squadron formed at Honington intended as part of the V-Force.  Valiants arrived in March and continued to be operated, in the flight refuelling role from April 1962, until the squadron was disbanded following the grounding of the Valiant fleet with metal fatigue problems on 16 April 1963.

Standards Battle Honours*
Standard originally announced on 26 Nov 1963 , effective from 1 Apr 1963 but presented:-


Home Defence, 1917-18: Fortress Europe, 1941, 1943-44: Berlin, 1941, 43: German Ports, 1941, 1943-44: : Ruhr, 1941, 1943-45: Channel & North Sea, 1941, 1943-44: Baltic, 1943-45: Normandy, 1944: France & Germany, 1944-45: The Rhine

Squadron Codes used: -  

TW Oct 1938 - Sep 1939
WP May 1941 - Sep 1950, Oct 1950 - Apr 1951
 XY Mar 1943 - Oct 1944 carried by 'C' Flt only

[Aircraft & Markings | Personnel, aircraft and locations | Commanding Officers]

*Honours in Black are those the squadron has a been granted the right to emblazon on the Squadron Standard, but does not do so.

Honours in Red  are those actually emblazoned on the Squadron Standard

Honours in Blue are those the squadron has not been granted the right to emblazon on the Squadron Standard

Squadron badge image on this page is courtesy of Steve Clements

Crown Copyright is reproduced with the permission of the Directorate of Intellectual Property Rights

This page was last updated on 08/06/17 using FrontPage 2003

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