No.12 Squadron

A fox’s mask
A fox’s mask
Leads in the field
14 February 1915

No 12 Squadron was formed on 14 February 1915 at Netheravon and moved to France in September 1915 under the command of Major C L N Newall (MRAF Sir Cyril Newall –CAS 1937-1940). The unit undertook reconnaissance missions during World War One. The squadron formed part of the occupation forces after the war. It disbanded on 27 July 1922.

On 1 April 1923 the squadron reformed at RAF Northolt as a day bomber unit. In July 1926 it introduced the Fairey Fox into service; the only squadron so equipped. The highly polished cowlings of the unit’s Fox bombers resulted in the squadron acquiring the nickname “Shiny Twelve”. In October 1935 it was moved to Aden during the Abyssinian crisis but returned to the UK in August 1936. As part of the Advanced Air Striking force it moved to France in September 1939. During the Battle of France in May/June 1940 Flying Officer D E Garland and Sgt T Gray were pilot and observer in the lead Fairey Battle attacking bridges over the Albert Canal. The attack was decimated by the German ground and air defences and many of the aircraft did not return including the lead aircraft. Posthumous awards of the Victoria Cross were made to the two men although the third crew member, LAC Reynolds, received nothing. Throughout the following years of World War Two the unit formed part of the main bomber force. One of this squadron’s Lancasters – ME758 “N-Nuts” flew 108 operational sorties between May 1944 and April 1945.

The squadron was retained as part of the peace-time Bomber Command. In October 1955 a squadron detachment was sent to Malaya for bombing operations against guerrillas. In March 1956 it returned to the UK but soon after was sent to Malta to take part in bombing operations against Egyptian targets during the Suez Crisis. It disbanded on 13 July 1961.

On 1 July 1962 it reformed as a part of the V-bomber force. On 31 December 1967 it disbanded again. On 1 October 1969 it reformed at RAF Honington as a Buccaneer unit mainly involved in maritime strike. No 12 Squadron saw action in the Gulf War using their Buccaneers as laser designators for Tornado precision bombing operations.

The Squadron converted to the Tornado GR1B in 1993, keeping the maritime attack role but also being committed to overland strike/attack operations. In December 1998 the United States and Great Britain ordered air strikes against Iraq over Saddam Hussein's continued development of weapons of mass destruction. The British contribution to the Operation fell to 12 Squadron who were on standby in Kuwait. On 17th December 1998 the Squadron carried out attacks on military targets in Iraq. The Squadrons' Tornados dropped laser guided bombs which were guided to their targets by airborne laser designator pods also carried by the Tornados.

No 12 Squadron swapped their Tornado GR1Bs for GR4s in 2001 with deployments continuing in the Gulf area, men and machines from this unit participating in Operation Telic during 2003. Coalition forces, led by the United States overthrew the Iraqi regime, led by Saddam Hussein, in a short campaign, the Squadron continued to support operations in Iraq during 2005.


Various types 1915 - 1915
BE2c 1915 - 1917
Bristol Scout 1915 - 1916
Voisin LA 1915 - 1915
RE5/7 1915 - 1916
Fe2b 1916 - 1916
BE2d/e 1916 - 1917
RE8 1917 - 1919
F2b 1918 - 1922
DH9A 1923 - 1924
Fawn 1924 - 1926
Fox 1926 - 1931
Hart 1931 - 1936
Hind 1936 - 1938
Battle 1938 - 1940
Wellington II/III 1940 - 1942
Lancaster I/III 1942 - 1946
Lincoln 1946 - 1952
Canberra 2/6 1952 - 1961
Vulcan 2 1962 - 1967
Buccaneer 2 1969 - 1993
Tornado GR1/4 1993 – 2006

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 t

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