No.1 Squadron

The numeral
The numeral "I" winged
In omnibus princeps First in all things or Foremost in Everything
13 May 1912

No. 1 Squadron, Royal Air Force, can trace its history back to 1878 when it was formed at Woolwich, London, as No.1 Balloon Company of the Royal Engineers. It became No. 1 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps on 13 May 1912 still with balloons, but re-equipped with aircraft 2 years later. It moved to Netheravon, Wiltshire, in November 1914 and worked up to join the Expeditionary Force in France as a Corps Squadron in March 1915. During the later years of the war the Squadron became a fighter unit. Returning to the UK in March 1919, the Squadron disbanded the following January, only to reform the next day in India. Fifteen months later the Squadron moved to Hinaidi in Iraq where it was employed in carrying out policing duties until it again disbanded on 1 November 1926.

In February 1927 the unit was reformed as a Home Defence Fighter Squadron. During the early 1930s the Squadron gained a reputation for its aerobatic prowess, giving displays at venues throughout the world.

At the beginning of World War 2 the Squadron deployed to France as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force. Following the German attacks in May 1940 No 1 Squadron became involved in intense air combat and a series of hectic withdrawals. The Squadron was heavily involved in fighting during the Battle of Britain.
In 1941 the unit became part of the air campaign against German occupied Europe with a short interlude in 1944 when it took part in anti-V1 patrols (Divers).

In 1946 the Squadron took delivery of its first jet aircraft, Gloster Meteors. During the 1956 Suez crisis the unit operated from Cyprus. On 23 June 1958 No 1 Squadron was disbanded but was reformed almost immediately on 1st July by renumbering No.263 Squadron. With the arrival of Hunter FGA 9 aircraft it began ground attack operations. July 1969 conversion began to the Harrier and No 1 Squadron became the first operational fix-wing V/STOL squadron in the world.

Throughout the Cold War period the unit has served in many parts of the globe. Locations included Belize in the 1970s and 1980s, and most notably, the South Atlantic during the Falklands War in 1982.

No 1 Squadron and its Harrier aircraft were involved in policing of the Northern Exclusion Zone in Iraq. In 1995 the unit deployed to Gioia del Colle, Italy for the first of two spells of operations in the Bosnia theatre and later in air operations against the Serbs.

During 2003 men and machines from this unit participated in Operation Telic. Coalition forces, led by the United States overthrew the Iraqi regime led by Saddam Hussein in a short campaign.

From December 2004 to April 2005 and again in January 2006 the squadron was detached to Kandahar in SE Afghanistan for reconnaissance and anti-terrorist operations.

On 14 November 2005 the squadron was the first front-line unit to receive the upgraded Harrier GR.9 variant.


Lighter-than-air    1912 - 1914
Various types    1914 - 1915

Avro 504    1914 - 1915
BE8    1915 - 1915
Bristol Scout    1915 - 1915
Caudron G.III    1915 - 1915
Martinsyde S1    1915 - 1915

Morane Type L    1915 - 1917

Nieuport 12/14    1916 -

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