No.48 Squadron

On anequilateral triangle a Petrel’s head erased
On anequilateral triangle a Petrel’s head erased
Forte et fidele - By Strength and faithfulness
15 April 1916
07 January 1976

Formed on 15 April 1916 at Netheravon the squadron moved to France in March 1917 as a two-seat fighter unit. The squadron made a disastrous operational debut on 5 April 1917. Five Albatros DIIIs of Jasta 11 led by Manfred von Richthofen attacked a patrol of six F2As led by Capt W Leefe-Robinson VC. Due to a major tactical error on the part of the British four of the RFC machines were shot down in the resulting combat. In June 1919 the unit was transferred to India. On 1 April 1920 it was renumbered No 5 Squadron.

On 25 November 1935 the unit reformed at RAF Bicester as a navigation training unit. The unit established a number of firsts at this time – the first squadron to be equipped with Ansons, the first to be fully equipped with monoplanes and the first to use retractable undercarriage aircraft in the Service. In 1936 the unit increased to eighty Ansons to cope with the RAF Expansion Scheme which required large numbers of aircrew. In September 1938 the unit became a general reconnaissance unit. On the outbreak of war it began flying anti-submarine patrols along the Channel coast. The unit provided anti-E-boat cover for the Dunkirk evacuation in May/June 1940. In July 1940 it moved to Merseyside and then July 1941 it moved to the Shetlands. It began anti-shipping strikes of the coast of Norway in October. In December 1942 it moved to RAGF Gibraltar. In February 1944 it returned to the UK, re-equipped and transferred to Transport Command. The unit was involved in the Normandy landings in June 1944 and the operations over Arnhem in September. In March 1945 it was involved with the Rhine Crossing. In August 1945 it moved to India but disbanded on 16 January 1946.

On 15 February 1946 No 215 Squadron was renumbered No 48 Squadron. It again operated as a transport unit but with VIP and light communications added to its tasks. It lost these additional tasks on 15 September 1947. It played a major role in re-supplying anti terrorist ground forces in the Malayan Emergency. On 3 March 1967 it disbanded.

On 1 October 1967 reformed at RAF Changi, Singapore. In September 1971 the unit returned to the UK and on 7 January 1976 disbanded.


BE12 1916 – 1917
F2b 1917 – 1920
Cloud 1936 – 1936
Anson I 1936 – 1941
Beaufort 1940 – 1940
Hudson III/V/VI 1941 – 1944
Dakota III/IV 1942 – 1946
Dakota 4 1946 – 1951
Anson 19 1947 – 1947
Hastings 1957 – 1967
Hercules 1 1967 – 1976

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

« back to all squadrons