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No 71 - 75 Squadron Histories

No 71 (Eagle) Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed from a nucleus of Australian personnel on 27 March 1917 at Castle Bromwich, it was equipped with a variety of types for training and working up.  Once this was complete the squadron received its operational equipment in te form of Camels, which it took to the Western Front in December 1917.  However, on 19 January 1918 the squadron was redesignated No 4 Sqn, Australian Flying Corps and in this guise it operated until the Armistice before joining the Army of Occupation, being disbanded at Bruay on 28 February 1919.

During WW2 an number of Americans volunteered to fly in the RAF or RCAF and by late 1940 sufficient personnel were available to permit the formation of a separate unit.  As such, No 71 became the first of  the 'Eagle' squadrons when it was formed Church Fenton on 19 September 1940. Its first equipment was, ironically, American built Buffalos, but these were found to be completely unsuited to European conditions and in November Hurricanes arrived as the squadron's operational equipment.  On 5 February 1941, the squadron became operational from Kirton-in-Lindsey but in April moved to Martlesham Heath.  The squadron remained in the south for the rest of its time in the RAF, converting to Spitfires in August.  71 Squadron took part in the full range of offensive operations and defensive duties being carried out by Fighter Command at that time, but on 29 September 1942 the squadron, together with the other two (121 and 133) 'Eagle' squadrons were transferred to the US Army Air Force to become the 4th Fighter Group, with No 71 becoming the 334th Fighter Squadron.

A new No 71 Squadron, in the fighter-bomber role, was formed at Gutersloh on 16 September 1950.  Equipped with Vampire FB Mk 5s, it replaced these with Sabre F Mk1 and 4s in October 1953 at the same reverting to the day fighter role.  The Sabres began to be replaced with Hunters in April 1956, being fully equipped by the following month but a year later, on 30 April 1957, the squadron disbanded at Bruggen, to where they had moved in May 1956.

In January 2009, the number was allocated to an Air Combat Service Support Unit as No 71 (Inspection and Repair) Squadron within No 42 Expeditionary Support Wing and whilst provisionally based at St Athan, provides a range deployable inspection and repair facilities anywhere it is required and immediately provided deployed resources to Kandahar in Afganistan.

Squadron Codes used: -


EL Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
XR Nov 1940 - Sep 1942 (also used initially on transfer to USAAF)
L Sep 1950 - Oct 1953

Images below are courtesy of Tony Mills, for a larger view of each image, click on the picture

71 Squadron Hunters in the Hanger Close up of 71 Sqn's Eagle Line up of No 71 Sqn's Hunters prior to their final sortie, 1957
Hunters of No 71 Sqn in the  Hanger, 1956 Close up of 71 Sqn's Eagle Line up of No 71 Sqn's Hunters prior to their final sortie, 1957
No 71 Sqn - Inter Legue Champions, 1956-57
No 71 Sqn - Inter League Champions, 1956-57


A Sabre of No 71 Sqn probably at Bruggen
A Sabre of No 71 Sqn probably at Bruggen (courtesy David Beaton)

[Aircraft & Markings | Commanding Officers]

No 72 (Basutoland) Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed from a nucleus provided by the CFS, it formed on 2 July 1917 and following training, it was spilt into a number of parties, which were then transported to Mesopotamia.  The squadron came back together at Basrah on 2 March 1918, but its varied equipment was again spilt into detachments, which were attached to numerous Army formations to provide fighter cover and reconnaissance facilities.   The squadron finally re-assembled at Baghdad with the end of war and on 13 February 1919 it was reduced to cadre for return to the UK, disbanding on 22 September 1919.

The squadron reformed on 22 February 1937 at Tangmere from a nucleus provided by No 1 Squadron.  Again it was as a fighter unit, its initial equipment being Gladiators and on 1 June 1937 it moved north to Church Fenton.  Spitfires arrived in April 1939, but the squadron remained in the north until June 1940, when it moved to Gravesend to assist in covering the evacuation from Dunkirk.  It operated throughout the Battle of Britain as part of the Biggin Hill sector moving to Coltishall and then Leuchars in November.   It rejoined the Biggin hill sector in July 1941, where it undertook offensive sweeps over Northern France, remaining there until August 1942, when it was withdraw for service overseas.

From September it was at Ouston until moving to Gibraltar in November, from where it supported the Allied landing in North Africa.  The squadron operated in the fighter and bomber escort roles in support of Allied forces in Tunisia until moving to Malta in June 1943, where it began operations over Sicily.   Following the landings on the island the squadron transferred there, from where it could support the invasion of Italy, to where it  moved in September.

No 72 was one of the units allocated to cover 'Operation Dragoon', the Allied invasion of Southern France and in July 1944 it transferred to Corsica for this purpose.  The squadron remained in France for six weeks after which it returned to Italy, where it conducted fighter patrols and ground attack operations until the end of the war.  The squadron remained in the area as part of the occupation forces in both Italy and Austria until disbanding on 30 December 1946.

The squadron was reformed on 1 February 1947, when No 130 Squadron at Odiham was renumbered.  Equipped with Vampires, it was again tasked with day fighter duties and these remained its task when it converted to Meteor F Mk 8s in July 1952.  However, a role change occurred in February 1956, when it converted to Meteor NF Mk 12 and 14s and the night fighter role.  In April 1959, it began converting to the all-weather fighter role, when it received Javelin FAW Mk 4s and in June FAW Mk 5s, by which time the Meteors had been retired.  Both types continued to be operated until the squadron disbanded on 30 June 1961 at Leconfield, to where it had moved on conversion to the Javelin.

A major role change for the squadron took place on 15 November 1961, when it reformed, at Odiham once again, as a Support Helicopter unit equipped with the Belvedere HC Mk 1.  In August 1964, the Belvederes were replaced by Wessex HC Mk 2s and a detachment of these was operated from Manston in the ASR role for a while.  The squadron moved to Benson in April 1981, but the following November it was transferred to Aldergrove in Northern Ireland to provide support force the forces operating in the province.  In January 1997 the squadron began to receive Puma HC Mk 1s and both types were operated until the squadron disbanded in 2002.  However in July that year it was decided to allocate the number to one of the flying training squadrons of No 1 Flying Training School at Linton-on-Ouse.  With the withdrawal of the Tucano from RAF service, the number-plate was transferred to the Texan Integration Squadron of No 4 FTS at RAF Valley on 31 October 2019.


90th Anniversary Tucano

72 Squadron Tucano in its 90th Anniversary markings

Photo courtesy - Flt Lt E Mannings, 72 Sqn


Standards Battle Honours*
30 June 1966

AM Sir Ronald Lees.

Mesopotamia, 1918: Channel & North Sea, 1939-1942: Dunkirk: Battle of Britain 1940: Fortress Europe, 1941-1942: North Africa, 1942-1943: Mediterranean, 1942-1943: Sicily, 1943: Italy, 1943-1945: Salerno: Anzio & Nettuno:

Squadron Codes used: -  

RN Oct 1938 - Apr 1939, Sep 1939 - Dec 1946
SD  Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
FG Jan 1947 - Apr 1951
A Carried on Wessex
E Carried on Chinooks

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

To contact the Sqn Historian please call Erik Mannings on 01347 847674 (GPTN 95871 7674) or email with any history information. The postal address is - No 72 Squadron, Royal Air Force Linton on Ouse, York, YO30 2AJ.

No 72 Squadron Association: - Mr Tom Docherty 01309 675059 email or the President Mr Rodney Scrase on 0208 464 8055 email

No 73 Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed at Upavon on 1 July 1917, it trained as a Camel fighter unit and moved to France in January 1918.  Initially conducting fighter patrols and escort duties, following the German 'Michael' Offensive of March 1918, it found itself carrying ot ground attack sorties as well.  It later developed tactics in co-operating with tanks, which it continued until the end of the war.  It did not remain on the continent long after the Armistice, returning to Yatesbury in February 1919, where it disbanded on 2 July.

The squadron reformed, again in the fighter role on 15 March 1937, moving to Debden in June.  At the same time its initial equipment of Furies were replaced by Gladiators.  In November the squadron moved again, this time to Digby where in July 1938, it converted to Hurricanes.  With the outbreak of war the squadron joined the Advanced Air Striking Force in France to provide defensive cover to the AASF's airfields.  As the German advance continued after May 1940, the squadron moved further back towards the coast until 18 June, when it returned to Church Fenton to recuperate and re-equip.  It spent most of the Battle of Britain here in the night fighter role, moving to Castle Camps in September.

The squadron was now earmarked for service in the Middle East and in October it ceased operations and on 13 November it boarded HMS Furious and left for Takoradi in West Africa.  The ground echelon had travelled separately and they arrived in Egypt at the end of November, with the air echelon flying the Takoradi Route, arriving at Heliopolis on 6 December.  For the remainder of the North African campaign, the  squadron flew shipping escort patrols, ground-attack operations and night fighter patrols.  New equipment arrived in June 1943, when the squadron received Spitfires and these were taken to Italy in October.  The squadron converted to the fighter-bomber role in April 1944, operating in this role over the Balkans for the remainder of the war.  A detachment was sent to Greece to help put down a Communist take over from December 1944 to January 1945.  In April 1945, the squadron moved to Yugoslavia remaining there until July, when it transferred to Malta.

It now became one of Malta's permanent units and converted to Vampires, in Cyprus, from August to October 1948.  Venoms replaced these in November/December 1954 at Habbaniya, to where the squadron had moved in May 1953.  Two years after this, with the withdrawal of the RAF from Iraq, the squadron moved to Cyprus, where it converted to the Canberra in May 1957.  When the Akrotiri Strike Wing was replaced by Vulcans, the squadron finally disbanded on 3 February 1969.


Standards Battle Honours*

Western Front, 1918: Maine, 1918: Lys: Amiens: Arras: Hindenburg Line: France & Low Countries, 1939-40: Battle of Britain, 1940: Egypt & Libya, 1940-43: Mediterranean, 1941-43: El Alamein: El Hamma: South East Europe 1943-45:  Italy 1943-45:

Squadron Codes used: -

HV Oct 1938 - Sep 1939
TP Sep 1939 - Nov 1940

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

No 74 (Trinidad) Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed at Northolt on 1 July 1917 as a training unit, it moved to London Colney nine days later. In March 1918 it received its operational equipment in the form of SE5As and these were taken to France in April.  Until the end of the war it was involved in fighter patrols and later ground attack operations and in February 1919 it returned to Lopcombe Corner, where it disbanded on 3 July.

The squadron reformed as a unit on 3 September 1935 on-board the Neuralia en-route to Malta as a result of the Abyssinian crisis, although at this time it was not formally known as 74 Squadron, merely as the 'Demon Flights'  It received the number 74 on 14 November and it remained on Malta until July 1936, when its aircraft were dismantled and returned to Britain.  It became established at Hornchurch in September, where it remained until June 1940.

It converted to the single seat fighter role in April 1937, when it received Gauntlets, which in their turn were replaced by Spitfires in February 1939.  During May and June 1940, it covered the evacuation from Dunkirk and then participated in the early stages of the Battle of Britain, being withdrawn to Wittering in August to rest.  It rejoined No 11 Group, at Biggin Hill, in October from where in January 1941, it began offensive operations over France.  Further moves to Manston in February and Gravesend in May were followed by a further 'rest' period at Acklington in July.  It then moved to Llanbedr, Long Kesh in Northern Ireland and Atcham, before being despatched to the Middle East in April 1942.

On arrival in the Middle East, there were insufficient aircraft to equip it, so until December it operated as a Maintenance Unit in Palestine and Iraq.  It received Hurricanes eventually and continued to operate in Iraq until May 1943, when it was sent to Egypt, where it was tasked with defensive duties and shipping escort patrols.  Spitfires returned to the squadron in September and these were used to support British landings on some of the Aegean islands.  The squadron then remained in the Eastern Mediterranean area until April 1944, when it was returned to the UK in preparation for 'Operation Overlord'.

Back in the UK it was re-assembled at North Weald, equipped with Spitfire IXs, and formed part of the Air Defence of Great Britain (the re-named Fighter Command).  It covered the actual landings in Normandy and then became involved in combating the V-1 flying bomb attacks on Southern England until July, when it transferred to 2nd Tactical Air Force.  In August it moved onto the continent in the fighter-bomber role and continued in this role as well as providing fighter escort to No 2 Group's bombers until the end of the war.

A new chapter in the squadron's history began in May 1945, when it returned to the Colerne, where it re-equipped with the Meteor F Mk 3 and together with No 616 and No 504 Squadrons formed the RAF's first jet fighter Wing.  Retained as part of the post-war RAF fighter force, it moved to its permanent peace-time station at Horsham St Faith in October 1946 and remained there until June 1959.  Progressive upgrading introduced Meteor F MK 4s in December 1947 and F Mk 8s in October 1950 and ten in in March 1957 the squadron received Hunters.  From 20 July 1951 to 31 July 1954, No 34 Squadron was linked to No 74.

In June 1959, the squadron moved to Coltishall and it was here a year later that the squadron began to introduce the first and only all-British designed supersonic interceptor, the English Electric Lightning, into service.  In 1964 the squadron moved to a new base at Leuchars in Scotland and then in June 1967, it became the first fighter squadron to make the journey from the UK to Singapore using air-to-air refuelling.  It remained in the Far East until the withdrawal of British forces from the area and disbanded on 31August 1971. 

The squadron reformed on 19 October 1984 at Wattisham, when following the detachment of RAF Phantoms to the Falkland Islands for defensive duties, it was necessary to buy surplus US Navy Phantom F4Js, to boost the UK's air defences.  In December 1990 Phantom FGR Mk 2s were added to the strength and these remained its sole type following the retirement of the F4J (UK)s in January 1991.  The squadron disbanded again on 1 October 1992.  The squadron was re-activated on 5 October 1992, when one of the squadrons at No 4 Flying Training School at Valley was allocated the number 74 and was retained until disbanding on 22 September 2000.


Standards Battle Honours*
1st - 3 June 1965

HRH The Princess Margaret.

2nd - 11 May 1990

AVM B L Robinson who deputised for ACM Sir Frederick Rosier.

Western Front, 1918: France & Low Countries, 1940: Dunkirk: Battle of Britain, 1940: Fortress Europe, 1940-1941 & 1944: Home Defence, 1940-1941: Mediterranean, 1943: Walcheren: Normandy, 1944: France & Germany, 1944-1945: Rhine:

Squadron Codes used: -  

JH Feb 1939 - Sep 1939
ZP Sep 1939 - Apr 1942
4D Apr 1944 - Apr1951
TA - TZ Carried on Hawks

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

No 74 Squadron Association: - Bob Cossey, 16 Pine Road, Thorpe, Norwich, Norfolk, NR7 9LE: tel 01603 464071; e-mail: 

No 74 Squadron Association website: -

No 75 (New Zealand) Squadron

Click here to go to badgesFormed as a home defence unit at Goldington on 1 October 1916, it was tasked with the defence of the Bedfordshire area.  Initially equipped with BE2c's, it soon received BE12s and from January 1917 BE2e's.  It moved to Elmswell in East Anglia in September 1917, losing its BE2c's and adding FE2b's at the same time.  Its final move came in May 1918 when it transferred to North Weald for the defence of London.  In July 1918 it received Avro 504K night fighters and then in October Pups.  Camels arrived in December 1918 and Snipes in March 1919, but two months later the squadron disbanded on 13 June.

When it reformed at Driffield on 15 March 1937, it was in the bomber role, having been formed from 'B' Flight of No 215 Squadron.  Initially it was allocated four Virginias and seven Ansons for training, but in September its operational equipment began to arrive in the form of Harrows and by November was fully equipped.  In July 1938 it moved to Honington, becoming a Group Pool squadron, tasked with training crews for other bomber units in March 1939.  At this time it received Ansons once again and by July the Harrows had all left and the unit moved to Stradishall.  With the outbreak of war a further move took place, this time to Harwell and a month later its Ansons were transferred to No 148 Squadron.  Finally on 4 April 1940, the squadron was absorbed into the newly formed No 15 Operational Training Unit.

Since 1 June 1939, there had been a group of New Zealand crews training in Britain on the Wellington, which they were planning to take back to New Zealand.  However, on the outbreak of war the New Zealand government gave their permission for the unit to be absorbed into the RAF and so on the same day No 75 was absorbed into No 15 OTU, a new No 75 Squadron was formed from this New Zealand Flight and it now adopted the title No 75 (New Zealand) Squadron.  Based at Feltwell it joined No 3 Group, moving to Mildenhall in August, where it remained until November 1942 and from where it operated four versions of the Wellington.

In November 1942 it converted to Stirlings at Newmarket and operated from there until June 1943, when it moved to Mepal, where it remained until the end of the war.  Lancasters replaced the Stirlings in March 1944 and these remained its equipment until October 1945, the squadron having moved to Spilsby in July 1945.  In September 1945 it had begun to receive the Lincoln but on 15 October it was disbanded.

However, its story did not stop there, for in December 1946, the Air Ministry suggested that the number should be transferred to the Royal New Zealand Air Force, which duly took place.  Since joining the RNZAF, the squadron has operated, Venturas, Mosquitoes, Vampires, Canberras and Skyhawks but on 13 December 2001 the squadron was disbanded

Squadron Codes used: -  

FO Oct 1938 - Sep 1939
AA Apr 1940 - Oct 1945
JN Feb 1943 - Oct 1945 ('C' Flt only)

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

No 75 (NZ) Squadron Association: -


Glen Turner

Secretary / Treasurer

3 Pain Street

Bulls 4818





*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 08/05/24

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