No.40 Squadron

A broom
A broom
Hostem coelo expellere - To drive the enemy from the sky
26 February 1916
01 February 1957

No 40 Squadron was formed at Gosport on 26 February 1916. It moved to France in August 1916. The squadron suffered very high losses with their first fighters, the FE8, which was completely outclassed by the German machines. The final debacle came in March 1917 when Jasta 11, led by von Richthofen, intercepted nine aircraft from the squadron. All the British aircraft were shot down. But after re-equipment it was able to provide effective fighter and ground attack missions until the end of the war. In February 1919 the unit returned to the UK and on 30 June 1919 disbanded.

On 1 April 1931 No 40 Squadron was reformed at RAF Upper Heyford as a day bomber unit. On the outbreak of war the unit moved to France with the Advanced Air Striking Force but returned before the year was out to re-equip. The squadron was involved in attacks on advancing German ground units from the opening of the May 1940 blitzkrieg. The squadron later turned its attention to the invasion barges in the Channel ports. In November 1940 it was redesignated a night bomber unit. In October 1941 the unit split into two; the aircraft and aircrew left for Malta and operations against enemy targets in North Africa and Italy while the ground echelon remained in the UK. The latter was renumbered No 156 Squadron on 14 February 1942. Meanwhile the detachment in Malta had been decimated by Axis operations and the remains withdrew to Egypt to allow the squadron to be rebuilt.

During the second half of 1942 and much of 1943 it attacked enemy targets along the North African coast. In December it moved to Italy and from then to the end of the war it attacked targets in the Balkans and northern Italy. It Moved back to Egypt in October 1945 and disbanded on 1 April 1947.

On 1 December 1947 the unit reformed at RAF Abingdon as a transport squadron. It was heavily involved in the 1948 Berlin Airlift. On 15 March 1950 the squadron disbanded. On 28 October 1953 the unit reformed again but this time as a light bomber squadron. On 15 December 1956 it merged with No 50 Squadron.


Various types 1916 - 1916
FE8 1916 - 1917
Nieuport 17 1917 - 1917
SE5A 1917 - 1919
Gordon 1931 - 1935
Hart (Special) 1935 - 1936
Hind 1936 - 1938
Battle 1938 - 1939
Blenheim IV 1939 - 1940
Wellington I/III/X 1940 - 1945
Liberator VI 1945 - 1946
Lancaster 7 1946 - 1947
York 1947 - 1950
Canberra 2 1953 - 1956

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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