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No. 55 (Reserve) Squadron

Formed at Castle Bromwich, Warwickshire on 27 April 1916, No 55 Squadron has had a long and distinguished history. The Squadron first saw action the following year in the bomber role and was the first to be equipped with DH4s. It continued service throughout the First World War engaged in bombing, photography and reconnaissance.

After the war the Squadron undertook mail carrying duties before being disbanded in 1920. Reformed just one month later in Egypt, No 55 saw action in Turkey before moving to Iraq, where it remained until 1939 in a policing role. At the outbreak of the Second World War No 55 was based in Egypt, later moving to Libya. Its Bristol Blenheims flew in shipping patrols and later in the major North African campaigns. Re-equipped with Baltimores in 1942 the Squadron distinguished itself at the Battle of El Alamein, where it flew 352 operational sorties in the first 10 days; more than any other Desert Air Force light bomber squadron in the same period.

Eventually No 55 moved into Sicily and Italy, converting to Douglas Bostons during the last few months of the war. After the cessation of hostilities the Squadron was engaged in mail carrying duties once more before moving to Greece where it re-equipped with Mosquitoes. At this point the Squadron was disbanded. In 1960 No 55 re-formed at RAF Honington with Victor medium bombers. In 1965 it became a flight refuelling unit at RAF Marham and provided Victor tankers for long-range moves by RAF aircraft. With the retirement of Victor aircraft in 1993 came the disbanding of the Squadron once more. It was quickly reformed in the same year as No 55 (Reserve) Squadron with a new role; the ground training of aircrew on the VC10 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Brize Norton. This continued until March 1996 when it was yet again disbanded.

No 55 (Reserve) Squadron reformed within No 3 FTS at RAF Cranwell in November 1996 as the flying arm of the Navigator and Airman Aircrew School. On 1 November 2001 these organisation combined to become No 55(Reserve) Squadron providing all the flying training for the RAF's rear crew.  The Squadron operates a fleet of 11 Hawker Siddeley Aviation Dominie T1 aircraft, which is based on the HS125 but with airframe modifications and different engines; the Rolls Royce Viper rated at 3000lbs of thrust each. Each aircraft is operated by a pilot and pilots assistant. The remaining 4 seats are occupied by students and their instructors.

The aircraft are fitted with a navigation console designed to mirror that found in a generic fast jet and which allows information from a nose mounted radar and integrated navigation computer to be fed both instructor and student. The aircraft is operated at high, medium and low-level, over sea and land, depending on training requirements. The sorties normally take place in UK airspace; however, some are undertaken in Europe. The Squadron is planning to continue to operate the Dominie in this role until the aircraft's' retirement from service in 2015.

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

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