No.4 Squadron

	A sun in splendour divided per bend by a flash of lightning
A sun in splendour divided per bend by a flash of lightning
In futurum videre - To see into the future
01 August 1912

No 4 Squadron was formed in August 1912 at Farnborough from No 2 Flight. The unit moved to France in August 1914 to provide air reconnaissance to the British land forces. In the early months of the war the unit undertook a variety of missions against the Germans. Lt GW Humphries was probably one of the first pilots to carry out an air to ground attack, firing 250 rounds against an enemy convoy on 31 Oct 1914. Throughout the war No 4 Squadron flew artillery observation, reconnaissance and photographic missions. One of the squadron’s major contributions was the use of radio telephony to aid artillery units.

In February 1919 the unit returned to the UK as a cadre being brought back up to strength a year later. No 4 Squadron became involved with Irish internal security before being sent to Turkey during the 1922 Chanak crisis. It returned to the UK a year later. During the General Strike No 4 Squadron carried out patrols in the English/Scottish border region. In the 1930's the Squadron was designated an Army Co-operation unit, operating very closely with the army.

In September 1939 the Squadron deployed to France carrying out a reconnaissance and light-bombing role using Lysanders. During the battle for France No 4 Squadron lost many aircraft as well as nine aircrew. Upon its return to UK the squadron moved north and provided coastal patrol and air-sea rescue duties over the east coast. The squadron operated in a training role for much of 1942 until it was equipped with Mustangs and Tomahawks and began carrying out photographic reconnaissance missions in October of that year.
In August 1943 it joined Second TAF and flew a huge number of sorties over Germany and the Low Countries until the end of the war. On 31 August 1945 it disbanded in Germany and was immediately re-formed in the light bomber rôle.

The squadron remained in Germany for some 54 years, flying from a variety of bases with number of aircraft types including the unit’s longest serving aircraft, the Harrier. It was with the Harrier GR7 that the Sqn took part in OPERATION DENY FLIGHT over the Former Yugoslavia in 1985, and also OPERATION DELIBERATE FORCE from June 1998 until Jan 1999. The Sqn left RAF Germany in May 1999 and is now based at RAF Cottesmore.

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 April to July 2005 the Squadron was deployed to Kandahar in SE Afghanistan for reconnaissance and anti-terrorist operations, during which time it dropped bombs or fired rockets in support of friendly troops on 14 occasions. A second deployment was scheduled for winter 2005/2006. Upon its return in January 2006 upgraded Harrier GR.9s were expected.


Various types 1912 – 1916
BE2e 1915 – 1918
RE8 1918 – 1919
F2b 1920 – 1929
Atlas 1929 – 1932
Audax 1931 – 1937
Hector 1937 – 1939
Lysander 1939 – 1942
Tomahawk 1942 – 1942
Mustang I 1942 – 1944
Mosquito XVI 1944 – 1944
Spitfire XI 1944 – 1945
Typhoon 1944 – 1945
Mosquito VI 1945 – 1950
Vampire 5/9 1950 – 1954
Sabre 1954 – 1955
Hunter 4/6/10/9 1955 – 1960
Harrier 1/3/5/7/9 1970 – date (30 June 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 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

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