No.16 Squadron

Two keys in saltire, the wards upwards and outwards
Badge
Two keys in saltire, the wards upwards and outwards
Motto
Operta aperta - Hidden things are revealed
Formed
10 February 1915
Disbanded
11 March 2005

No 16 Squadron was formed on 10 February 1915 at St Omer in France from detached flights of Nos 2,5 and 6 Squadrons. The Squadron's main role in World War One was photographic and tactical reconnaissance plus artillery spotting. The unit returned to the UK in February 1919 and disbanded on 31 December.

It reformed at RAF Old Sarum on 1 April 1924 as an army co-operation squadron. For the next ten years it was attached to the School of Army Co-operation. In June 1938 it became the first Lysander squadron. The unit moved to France in April 1940 but after a few operational missions it was withdrawn to the UK. In April 1942 it re-equipped with high performance aircraft allowing it to resume tactical reconnaissance missions. From September 1943 No 16 Squadron changed its role to photographic reconnaissance. After the war it briefly used its Spitfires as high speed mail carriers for occupation forces. The squadron disbanded on 20 October 1945.

Through an administrative mix up there were three No 16 Squadrons for a short period in 1945. In September the original one still existed. However No 487 Squadron was renumbered on 19 September as was No 268 Squadron. Once the confusion was sorted out a new No 16 Squadron was based in Germany until it disbanded in June 1957. On 1 March 1958 the squadron reformed as a Canberra interdictor unit at Laarbruch. It retained this aircraft until 6 June 1972 when it re-equipped with the Buccaneer S2B. Still at Laarbruch 16 Squadron re-equipped with the Tornado GR1 in March 1984 and flew this aircraft until September 1991, seeing action in the Gulf War.

On 11 September 1991 No16 Squadron disbanded but its number was applied in Reserve status to 226 Jaguar Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Lossiemouth on 1 November 1991. However with the planned introduction of the Jaguar’s replacement, the Eurofighter Typhoon, there was no longer a need for a conversion unit and so on the 11 March 2005 16 Squadron disbanded.


AIRCRAFT

Various types including Bleriot XI 1915 – 1915
BE2c/d/e/f/g 1915 – 1917
RE8 1917 – 1919
F2b 1924 - 1931
Atlas 1931 - 1933
Audax 1933 - 1938
Lysander I/II/III 1938 - 1943
Gladiator 1940 - 1940
Mustang I 1942 - 1943
Tomahawk 1943 - 1943
Spitfire XI/IX/XIX/XIV/XVI 1943 - 1946
Tempest 5 1946 - 1947
Tempest 2 1947 - 1948
Vampire 5 1948 - 1954
Venom 1954 - 1957
Canberra B(I)8 1958 - 1972
Buccaneer 1972 - 1984
Tornado 1 1984 - 1991
Jaguar 1991 - 2005


Reference Sources

The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force James J Halley Air Britain (Historians) Ltd 1988

RAF Squadrons Wg Cdr C G Jefford Airlife 2001

Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their aircraft Phillip J R Moyes Macdonald & Jane’s 1976

Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their aircraft John D R Rawlings Crecy Books 1993

Coastal Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their aircraft John D R Rawlings Jane’s Publishing 1982

RAF Website

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