No. 45 Squadron RAF

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No. 45 Squadron RAF
45 Squadron badge
  • 1 Mar 1916 – 1919
  • 1 Apr 1921 – Jan 1970
  • 1972 – present
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Air Force
Type Flying squadron
Role Multi-engine pilot and weapons systems operator training
Part of No. 3 Flying Training School
Home station RAF Cranwell
Nickname(s) 'Flying Camels'
Motto(s) Per ardua surgo
(Latin for Through difficulties I arise)[1]
Aircraft Beechcraft King Air B200
Battle honours * Honours marked with an asterix are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron badge heraldry A winged camel, commemorating the Sopwith Camel used for a large part of the First World War, and the squadron's long association with the Middle East. Approved by King Edward VIII in October 1936.

45 Squadron is a flying squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was established on 1 March 1916 as part of the Royal Flying Corps.

First World War

Formed during World War I at Gosport on 1 March 1916 as Number 45 Squadron, the unit was first equipped with Sopwith 1½ Strutters which it was to fly in the Scout role. Deployed to France in October of that year, the Squadron found itself suffering heavy losses due to the quality of its aircraft. This did not change until it transitioned to the Sopwith Camel in mid-1917. Transferred to the Austro-Italian front at the end of 1917, 45 Squadron there engaged in ground attack and offensive patrols until September 1918 when it returned to France. Assigned to the Independent Air Force, 45 Squadron provided long-range bomber escort till the end of the war.

During the course of the war, some thirty flying aces had served in the squadron's ranks. They included future Air Vice-Marshal Matthew Frew, Cedric Howell, Geoffrey Hornblower Cock, future Air Commodore Raymond Brownell, John C. B. Firth, Kenneth Barbour Montgomery, Mansell Richard James, Norman Macmillan, Peter Carpenter, Richard Jeffries Dawes, Norman Cyril Jones, Ernest Masters, Henry Moody, Thomas F. Williams, William Wright, James Dewhirst, James Belgrave, Edward Clarke, Alfred Haines, Thomas M. Harries, Alan Rice-Oxley, Earl Hand, Sir Arthur Harris, 1st Baronet, Charles Gray Catto, John Pinder,[2] and future Group Captain Sidney Cottle.[3]

Inter-war period

In 1919 the Squadron returned to England and disbanded. In April 1921 it reformed at Helwan, Egypt. Assigned Vickers Vernon bomber-transports, the unit provided troop transportation and ground support and mail services throughout the Middle East, notably in support of anti-rebel operations in Iraq and the Palestine. During the mid-war years the unit transitioned to DH9As (1927) and Fairey IIIs (1929) and then a combination of Hawker Harts, Vickers Vincents and Fairey Gordons (1935).

At some point the unit adopted the nickname "The Flying Camels". The Squadron Badge is a winged camel, approved by King Edward VIII in October 1936. The badge and nickname derive from the Sopwith used by the unit in World War I and its long service in the Middle East.

Second World War

Members of 45 Squadron in front of a Bristol Brigand at RAF Tengah, Singapore in 1950

At the start of World War II, 45 Squadron converted to Bristol Blenheims. From mid-1940 it took part in the North African Campaign and on 11 June, was one of three squadrons that participated in the Allies' first attack on the Regia Aeronautica (Italian air force) base at El Adem: 18 Italian aircraft were destroyed or damaged on the ground, for the loss of three British aircraft.[4] The following day, the squadron participated in an attack on shipping at Tobruk, damaging the Italian cruiser San Giorgio.[5]

During late 1940 the squadron supported Allied ground forces in the East African Campaign, while based at Gura, in Eritrea. During its time at Gura, the squadron suffered losses – on 2 October two Blenheims were shot down by an Italian ace, sergeant-major Luigi "Gino" Baron; among the aircrew killed was 45 Squadron's CO, Sqn Ldr John Dallamore.[6] His successor was acting Sqn Ldr Patrick Troughton-Smith.

After returning to North Africa, the squadron operated against Italian and German forces in Libya, Egypt and on the Mediterranean.

From mid-1942 the unit was deployed to Burma and India, for service against the Japanese. Three aircraft from the Squadron participated in the first Allied bombing raid against Bangkok. During its time in India and Burma, 45 Squadron converted to Vultee Vengeance dive-bombers, followed by de Havilland Mosquitos.

During World War II, it became one of only a few Allied units to have engaged German, Italian, Vichy French and Japanese forces. 45 Squadron included a significant number of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) personnel, who were drawn from an unofficial joint pool of aircrew.

Malayan Emergency

45 Sqn. Venoms at RAF Butterworth, Malaya, in 1956/57

After the Second World War, 45 Squadron served in the Malayan Emergency, flying out of RAF Station Tengah on the island of Singapore. There the unit engaged in ground attack operations against Communist Terrorists (CTs) engaged in a Chinese backed insurgency. Dubbed Operation Firedog, these operations lasted for 12 years until the successful conclusion of the war. The unit also engaged in operations to quell unrest on the Sarawak coast in British North Borneo during this time period. While operating in Malaya the unit initially flew Bristol Beaufighters but then transitioned to the Bristol Brigand (1949/1950) and then the de Havilland Hornet, de Havilland Venom, de Havilland Vampire and English Electric Canberra. The unit also had service aircraft, including the Bristol Buckmaster and the Harvard. Unit commanders during this time included Sqdn. Ldr. E. D. Crew who served from a date uncertain until the rotation to Squadron Leader A. C. Blythe in February 1950, among others.

1960s onwards

45 Sqn. Canberra B.15s at RAF Tengah, Singapore, in 1963
Hawker Hunter FGA9 of 45 Squadron in 1976 with the "Winged Camel" insignia marked on its nose

After re-equipping with Canberra B.15s in 1962, the squadron became involved in the Brunei Revolution and the subsequent Confrontation with Indonesia until its resolution in 1966. The squadron disbanded in February 1970 after the UK's withdrawal from East of Suez.

On 1 August 1972, the squadron was reformed at RAF West Raynham, equipped with Hawker Hunter FGA.9s, as a ground-attack training unit. The squadron disbanded in July 1976 at RAF Wittering after this role was taken over by the Tactical Weapons Unit.

In January 1984, the squadron number, as No. 45 (Reserve) Squadron, was assigned to the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit (TWCU) at RAF Honington. As a 'Shadow Squadron' or war reserve, the squadron's war role was as a fully operational unit composed mainly of instructors, and assigned strike and other duties by SACEUR in support of land forces on the Continent resisting a Soviet assault on Western Europe, by striking at targets assigned by SACEUR, beyond the forward edge of the battlefield, deep within enemy-held areas, first with conventional weapons and later with tactical nuclear weapons if a conflict escalated to that level. The squadron's twenty-six Tornado aircraft were allocated thirty-nine WE.177 nuclear bombs,[7] although each Tornado was able to carry two weapons. The apparent mismatch between aircraft and weapons was because RAF staff planners expected that there would be sufficient aircraft surviving the conventional phase to deliver the squadron's full allocated stockpile of nuclear weapons.

On 1 April 1992 the unit was disbanded and TWCU title dropped, with its aircraft and personnel becoming No. 15 (Reserve) Squadron, whilst maintaining the same training role.[8]

In July 1992, the No. 45(R) Squadron identity was resurrected and adopted by the Multi-Engined Training Squadron (METS) at No. 6 FTS, RAF Finningley. The new 45(R) Squadron moved to RAF Cranwell in October 1995, and in 2003, replaced its BAe Jetstream T.1s with Beechcraft B200 King Airs operated by Serco. Shortly after, 45(R) Squadron also received King Air B200 GT aircraft with uprated engines, advanced avionics and a glass cockpit in order to bring training in line with what students will progress to on front line aircraft such as the C-17 Globemaster, Voyager and A400M Atlas.


The Squadron now operates under the command of No. 3 FTS and runs the Multi Engine Advanced Flying Training (MEAFT) course for pilots, whilst simultaneously training NCA rear-crew for Fixed Wing, Rotary and ISTAR roles throughout the RAF. Student pilots undertake Ground School studies before beginning simulator based training alongside the flying syllabus. The Squadron currently operates a mixed fleet of King Air B200s and King Air B200 GTs, which are normally flown by the students towards the advanced phase of the course. Course No. 215 was the first to have a pair of students fly the entire syllabus on the 'GT', this was then replicated for Course No. 217. In 2017, Course No. 226 became the latest all GT course due to groundings in the previous summer.

45 Sqn King Air B200 GT parked at La Rochelle Airport in France, 2015 during Course No. 217's Overseas Training Flight

The pilot syllabus is broken down into the following stages:

  • General Handling, including Asymmetric Flight
  • Instrument Flying, leading to a basic Instrument Rating (IR)
  • Night Flying
  • Radio Aids Navigation
  • Emergency Handling
  • Procedural Flying
  • Airways
  • Formation
  • Low Level Navigation
  • Overseas Training Flight

Although the students learn a vast number of new disciplines and techniques to build upon their Elementary Flying Training, the focus on the Squadron is Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Emergency Handling. Students are encouraged to develop their airmanship and decision making, with the aim of producing the front line captains of tomorrow. Asymmetric flight is perhaps the most significant change to previous flying experiences and as such it is covered thoroughly throughout the course to ensure students are confident with handling the aircraft on just one engine. Most of the training is completed around Lincolnshire, with regular visits to RAF Scampton, Marham and Coningsby along with local civilian airports Doncaster and Humberside for circuit training and Instrument Approaches. Short detachments are also often run to escape poor weather and maximise the output of the King Airs and staff alike.

Commanding officers

1 March 1916 to 31 December 1919

  • 20 to 27 March 1916 Captain C E Ryan
  • 27 March to 24 April 1916 Major L A Strange
  • 24 April 1916 to 24 April 1917 Major W R Read
  • 24 April to 18 August 1917 Major H P Van Ryneveld
  • 18 to 24 August 1917 Captain A T Harris (acting)[9]
  • 24 August 1917 to 16 July 1918 Major A M Vaucour (killed in action on 16 July 1918)
  • 16 to 23 July 1918 Captain R J Dawes
  • 23 to 28 July 1918 Captain N C Jones
  • 28 July to 21 October 1918 Captain J A Crook
  • 21 October 1918 to 3 February 1919 Major A M Miller
  • 3 February to 26 September 1919 Captain J W Pinder
  • List incomplete

1 April 1921 to 18 February 1970

  • List incomplete
  • 1 November to 20 November 1922 Squadron Leader T F Hazell[10]
  • 20 November 1922 to 14 October 1924 Squadron Leader A T Harris[9]
  • 14 October 1924 to 30 November 1925 Squadron Leader R M Hill
  • List incomplete
  • 15 November 1928 to 4 March 1932 Squadron Leader F J Vincent[11]
  • 1932 to 1935 Squadron Leader H W L Saunders[12]
  • 14 September 1935 to 1937 Squadron Leader A R Churchman[13]
  • List incomplete
  • March 1940 to 2 October 1940 Squadron Leader John Walter Dallamore (killed in action)[14]
  • 2 October 1940 – ? Squadron Leader Patrick Phillip Troughton-Smith
  • 1944 to 1945 Squadron Leader George Oswald Leonard Dyke DFC
  • List incomplete
  • 24 November 1947 to 1948 Squadron Leader F L Dodd[15]
  • 23 July 1948 to 1950 Squadron Leader E D Crew[16]
  • List incomplete
  • 27 August 1951 to ? Squadron Leader I S Stockwell[17]
  • 1956 to ? Squadron Leader G S Cooper
  • List incomplete

1 August 1972 to present

  • List incomplete
  • February 2005 to April 2007 J Bowland
  • List incomplete
  • June 2014 to August 2016 Wing Commander D Catlow
  • August 2016 to Present Wing Commander R Tombola



  1. ^ Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 170. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. ^ "45 Squadron". The Aerodrome. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  3. ^ Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. p. 122.
  4. ^ Playfair, Vol. I, page 112.
  5. ^ Playfair, Vol. I, pages 110, 112.
  6. ^ Håkan Gustavsson, 2015, "Biplane fighter aces, Italy, Sergente Maggiore Luigi 'Gino' Baron", Biplane Fighter Aces from the Second World War (4 June 2015). (See also the Italian language Wikipedia article on Gino Baron.)
  7. ^ "RAF nuclear frontline Order-of-Battle 1984". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  8. ^ March, Peter R. (1998). Brace by Wire to Fly-By-Wire – 80 Years of the Royal Air Force 1918–1998. RAF Fairford: Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund Enterprises. p. 158. ISBN 1-899808-06-X.
  9. ^ a b "A T Harris". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  10. ^ "Royal Air Force: Appointments". Flight. XIV (731): 791. 28 December 1922. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  11. ^ "F J Vincent". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  12. ^ "H W L Saunders". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  13. ^ "A R Churchman". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  14. ^ J.N. Houterman. "Royal Air Force Officers 1939–1945 – D". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  15. ^ "F L Dodd". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  16. ^ "E D Crew". Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  17. ^ "I S Stockwell". Retrieved 13 September 2013.


  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF(retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 1998 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF(retd.) The Flying Camels: The History of No. 45 Squadron, RAF. High Wycombe, UK: Privately Printed, 1995.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1964 (new edition 1976). ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Playfair, Major-General I.S.O.; Molony, Brigadier C.J.C.; with Flynn, Captain F.C. (R.N.) & Gleave, Group Captain T.P. (2009) [1st. pub. HMSO:1954]. Butler, Sir James, ed. The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume I: The Early Successes Against Italy, to May 1941. History of the Second World War, United Kingdom Military Series. Uckfield, UK: Naval & Military Press. ISBN 1-84574-065-3.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Shores, Christopher F., Franks, Norman L. R., Guest, Russell. Above the Trenches: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. Grub Street, 1990. ISBN 0-948817-19-4, ISBN 978-0-948817-19-9.

External links

  • Official website
  • Air of Authority: No 41–45 Squadron Histories
  • 45 Squadron, Justin Museum of Military History
  • Peter A. Weston, Lancaster Radar/Radio/Navigator, 186 Sqdn, Stradishall, East Anglia (World War Two) / 45 Sqdn (Malaya)/ 209 Sqdn (Korea), RAF, Justin Museum of Military History
  • 45 Squadron Photograph, Tengah, Singapore, 1950, Justin Museum of Military History
  • Peter Weston Bristol Brigand Photograph Collection, Justin Museum, photographs of 45 Squadron Brigands in Action
  • Peter Weston Bristol Beaufighter Photograph Collection, Justin Museum, photographs of 45 Squadron Beaufighters in Action
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