No.42 Squadron

On a terrestrial globe, a figure of Perseus
On a terrestrial globe, a figure of Perseus
Fortiter in re - Bravely in action
01 April 1916

The squadron formed at Filton on 1 April 1916 and moved to France in August 1916. It flew spotting and reconnaissance sorties over the Western Front. In November 1917 it was transferred to the northern Italian front. Following the German March 1918 offensive the unit was transferred back to France. In February 1919 the squadron returned to the UK and on 26 June 1919 it disbanded.

On 14 December 1936 the squadron reformed at Donibristle as a torpedo bomber unit. It was not until 1940 that the unit received modern equipment and from June 1940 it was able to begin operational anti-shipping and mine laying missions. The squadron left for the Far East in June 1942 but while staging through the Middle East it was involved in attacks on German and Italian shipping in the Mediterranean. It arrived in Ceylon in December 1942 and began operations over Burma in March 1943. These operations were short lived as the unit converted to Hurricanes for ground attack work in August and began attacks in December. The unit disbanded on 30 June 1945 but the following day No 146 Squadron was renumbered No 42 Squadron. The unit disbanded on 30 December 1945.

On 1 October 1946 No 254 Squadron at Thorney Island was renumbered No 42 Squadron. It operated as a maritime strike unit until disbanded on 15 October 1947. No 42 Squadron re-formed on 28 June 1952 at St Eval as a maritime reconnaissance unit. The unit disbanded on 1 October 1992 and the Nimrod Operational Conversion Unit became No 42 (Reserve) Squadron.

In its new role as an Operational Conversion Unit, 42 (Reserve) Squadron is responsible for the type-specific training, standardisation and examination of crew members for the RAF’s fleet of Nimrod MR2 maritime patrol aircraft. Additionally the squadron maintains a specially trained crew for flight trials of aircraft equipped with new or updated equipment before the changes are applied to the rest of the RAF’s aircraft.


BE2c/d/e 1916 - 1917
RE8 1917 - 1919
Vildebeest 1936 - 1940
Beaufort 1940 - 1943
Hurricane II/IV 1943 - 1945
Thunderbolt 1945 - 1945
Beaufighter 10 1946 - 1947
Shackleton 1/2/3 1952 - 1971
Nimrod 1/2 1971 - current (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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