No.263 Squadron

A Lion rampant, holding in the forepaws a cross
A Lion rampant, holding in the forepaws a cross
Ex ungue leonem - From his claws one knows the lion
27 September 1918
30 June 1963

No 263 Squadron was formed from Nos 359, 436 and 441 flights at Otranto in southern Italy. It flew anti-submarine patrols over the Straits of Otranto. The squadron disbanded on 16 May 1919.

On 2 October 1939, it re-formed at RAF Filton as a fighter squadron, flying Gloster Gladiators. In April 1940 it was sent to Norway to provide air defence for the Anglo-Norwegian forces. The squadron shot down two Heinkel He 111’s, however enemy action destroyed all its aircraft within three days. The squadron returned to Britain to re-equip, returning in May with Hurricanes. The unit patrolled until Allied forces withdrew from Norway. These aircraft were lost when HMS Glorious was sunk by German surface ships.

On 12 June 1940, it re-formed at RAF Drem as the first to be equipped with the Whirlwind twin engine fighter. By November No 263 Squadron was operational with the Whirlwind, returning to South West England for convoy protection and Chameleon patrols. On 14 June 1941 offensive sweeps into France commenced with low level attacks on Maupertus and Querqueville airfields. In June 1942 the Whirlwind began fighter-bomber attacks on enemy shipping and airfields, taking part in numerous Rhubarb and Roadstead operations.

In December 1943 the squadron re-equipped with Typhoons, resuming fighter sweeps on 1 February 1944, attacking communications and V-1 launch sites. For D-Day the squadron attacked enemy shipping in the channel and radar sites in France. In July it adopted rockets for close support duties with the invading Allied armies. The squadron moved to France in August 1944 and flew ground attack missions for the rest of the war, disbanding on 30 August 1945.

On 29 August 1945, No 616 Squadron at RAF Acklington was renumbered No 263 Squadron, equipped with Meteors, until it converted to Hunters in 1955. These remained in squadron service until it was renumbered No 1 Squadron on 1 July 1959.
No 263 Squadron re-formed at RAF Watton as a Bloodhound Surface-to-Air Missile unit, disbanding on 30 June 1963.


Short 184, 320 1918 – 1919
Baby 1918 – 1919
F.3 1918 – 1919
Gladiator I, II 1939 – 1940
Hurricane I 1940 – 1940
Whirlwind I 1940 – 1943
Typhoon IB 1943 – 1945
Meteor F.3 1945 – 1948
Meteor F.4 1947 – 1954
Meteor F.8 1950 – 1955
Hunter F.2 1955 – 1956
Hunter F.5 1955 – 1956
Hunter F.6 1956 – 1958
Bloodhound I 1959 – 1963

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

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

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