[3 FTS | 45 (R) Sqn Introduction | 45 (R) Sqn History]

No. 45 (R) Squadron
History

55 Squadron 
Badge

There are few squadrons, which can claim to approach, let alone surpass, our Squadron's record of almost 42 years' service overseas. Since October 1916, when the Squadron went to France, it has worked its way halfway around the globe, through Italy, the Middle East, East Africa, India, Burma and finally, Malaya and Singapore.

No. 45 Squadron was formed at Gosport on 1 March 1916 and was facing the enemy in the battlefield six months later. After a year of fighter operations with the Sopwith 1Ĺ strutters on the Western Front it was equipped with Sopwith Camels and transferred to Italy where it took part in the battles of Piave and Grossa.Sopwith Strutter
      
Operating in company with No. 28 and No. 66 Squadrons, No. 45 Squadron gradually changed the air situation; how successfully is shown by their score for this period of 114 enemy aircraft destroyed for the loss of only six Camels. Even then the Squadron was operating in the strike role.
      
In September 1918 the Squadron returned to France, but the war was almost at an end. On 31 December 1919 the Squadron disbanded, but not for long.
      
On 1 April 1921, No. 45 Squadron was reformed in Egypt with DH9s, but the Squadron's success with the Sopwiths led to the unofficial adoption of a stylised camel on the noses of the new aircraft. The DeHavillands were quickly replaced with Vickers Vimys and then Vernons, before moving to Iraq, where it was intended to cover the Baghdad - Cairo air mail route. The Vernons were designed as troop transports, but under Squadron Leader Harris (later to be Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris), they were soon equipped with bomb racks. This was the period of Trenchard's experiment in policing vast areas of the Middle East from the air, and the Squadron was to play a large part in this.
      
Its first task, however, was to provide transport services between Baghdad and Kirkuk during the Kurdistan disturbances. It accomplished this and many other tasks with great success and its five-year period in Iraq was almost as eventful as its wartime career had been.
      
In 1927, the Squadron was absorbed into No. 47 Squadron, but immediately reformed with DH9As and returned to Egypt. Fairey IIIFs, Vincents and Wellesleys succeeded these in turn and when war broke out the Squadron was based at Fuka, North Africa equipped with Bristol Blenheims. Italy entered the war on 11 June 1940 and No. 45 Squadron bombed the Italian Air Force at El Adem on the same day. Owing to the heavy losses it incurred in the opening stages of the fighting, it was transferred to the Sudan but was soon involved in fighting again, this time is Abyssinia and Eritrea.
      
The Squadron returned to the western desert in December 1940 and operated there, with one short break, until June 1941 when it was sent to Palestine for operations against the Vice French Forces in Syria. From there it was moved on to Iraq where trouble was expected in Persia but its operations there were restricted to leaflet dropping and demonstration flights.
      
The Squadron returned once more to Libya in September 1941 and resumed bombing operations until the following January when it was withdrawn to prepare for its transfer to the Far East where war had broken out. The aircraft were flown to Burma in February 1942 while the Squadron was based at Calcutta.
      
Unfortunately a disastrous raid by the Japanese on the Squadron's advance base at Magwe during March 1942 robbed it of most of its aircraft. It took the Squadron some considerable time to recover itself particularly with regard to personnel who were obliged to make their way back through Burma to India by many devious routes.
      
No. 45 Squadron did not become operational again until it was able to hit back at the Japanese in June 1943 with its appropriately named Vengeance dive-bombers. It operated continuously against targets in enemy occupied Burma until early 1944 when it withdrew to Madras to re-equip with Mosquitoes. It first went into action with these in September 1944 and was soon creating havoc once more against enemy road and river transport. These operation increased in intensity until Rangoon was recaptured by our forces in May 1945, when the Squadron was withdrawn to India.
      
On 13 May 1945 the Squadron ceased operations in preparation for Operation Zipper. They were not resumed as the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the war to an end.
      
In May 1946 the Squadron again moved to Negombo, Ceylon, where they became a maritime strike Squadron. By November they re-equipped with the Beaufighter, and they became a light bomber Squadron again. But peacetime training was not to last for long; in August 1948, the Squadron commenced operations against terrorists in Malaya, and soon they were permanently based at Kuala Lumpur.
MeteorLate in 1949, the Squadron received the Brigand, an aircraft soon to become well known for its unreliability and poor performance, and moved to Tenga. The only incident of note during the Brigand's time was the Squadrons first of many visits to Hong Kong. There followed three years equipped with Hornets before the first jet aircraft for No 45 Squadron arrived, the Vampires and Meteors. These in turn were replaced by Venoms, then Canberra B2s and subsequently B15s in 1961. Peacetime training was interrupted by the Brunei revolt in 1962, when the Canberras were used as high speed transports and in confrontation with Indonesia. No. 45 Squadron's task was to patrol the thousand miles of frontier in Borneo.
      
The Squadron disbanded at Tenga on 13 January 1970, and reformed with Hunter FGA9s at RAF West Raynham on 1 August 1972 before moving to RAF Wittering later that year. HunterThis time No. 45 Squadron had been reformed due to a backlog in Flying Training so that holding pilots could complete a short tour of post-graduate flying on the Hunter prior to fast-jet OCUs. Using a quasi-operational squadron to support this concept had never been more than an interim solution, however, and when No. 229 OCU finally closed at RAF Chivenor in September 1974 to establish a dedicated Tornado Weapons Unit (TWU) at RAF Brawdy. No. 45 Squadron initially was reduced in size and then disbanded in July 1976.
      
By the early 1980s, the steady decline in the front line strength of the RAF had meant that the number of squadron number plates in use had grown progressively smaller. So, in January 1984, the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit (TWCU) at RAF Honington was given the shadow identity of 45(R) Squadron. However as part of the closure of the Tornado Units in Germany in the early 1990s, it was decided that three of the Squadron Nos. which had been involved in the Gulf War should be preserved. They were Nos. 15, 16 and 20 Squadrons. No. 45(R) Squadron was officially disbanded on 31 March 1992, instantly assuming the identity of No. 15 Squadron.Jetstream
New MOD policy on the remaining of OCUís and FTSís to squadrons led to the announcement that the Multi-Engine Training Squadron of No. 6 FTS, equipped with the Jetstream T1 at RAF Finningley was to become the new 45(R) Squadron on 1 July 1992. Now 80 years old, the squadron moved to RAF Cranwell in October 1995.


Date Last Updated : Monday, December 8, 2003 10:00 AM

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