No.5 Squadron

A maple leaf
A maple leaf
Frangas non flectus - Thou mayst break but
26 July 1913

No 5 Squadron formed at Farnborough on 26 July 1913. It moved to France in August 1914 at the outbreak of World War One to fight on the Western Front. Within the month the Squadron earned the distinction of becoming the first Royal Flying Corps squadron to force down an enemy aircraft by gunfire. The Etrich Taube crash-landed near Le Cateau in France, the victors being Lt Wilson and Lt Rabagliati of the Royal Flying Corps. In September 1919 the squadron returned to the UK and disbanded on 20 January 1920.

No 5 squadron re-formed on 1 April 1920 in India for operations on the North West Frontier and Baluchistan, On the outbreak of the Second World War the Squadron moved to Calcutta for air defence duties. It became a light bomber squadron on 10 June 1940. In February it was re-designated a fighter squadron. During the opening phases of the Far East War, No 5 Squadron was involved in fighter duties but as the Japanese air threat receded into 1943 it became heavily committed to flying escort and ground-attack missions. After the War the squadron remained in India until the grant of independence when it disbanded on 1 August 1947.

On 11 February 1949 No 595 Squadron was renumbered No 5 Squadron at RAF Pembrey. The unit operated a variety of aircraft on Anti-Aircraft Artillery Co-operation duties. It disbanded again on 25 September 1951 only to be re-formed in Wunsdorf, Germany, on 1 March 1952. The squadron disbanded again on 12 October 1957. That same year, it re-formed one last time at Laarbruch, as a night fighter unit. It returned to UK in 1965 for re-equipment. It was now part of the "Cold War" UK Air Defence Force and remained so for 22 years. In December 1987 the squadron moved to RAF Coningsby to re-equip with the Tornado F3.

The Squadron provided the first combat component in Saudi Arabia for the Gulf War in August 1990. The Squadron was on duty in Cyprus when Saddam Hussein's armies invaded Kuwait and it quickly deployed to begin flying Combat Air Patrols (CAPs) 3 days later over Saudi Arabia. In 1993 and 1995 the Squadron became involved in UN "No Fly Zone" missions over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In 1994 No 5 Squadron became the world's first operational JTIDS/Link 16 equipped fighter squadron. This revolutionary data link system gave the Squadron's aircrew increased situation awareness allowing it to return simulated kill ratios of up to 7:1 against superior performance aircraft. This has been demonstrated in the COPE THUNDER and RED FLAG exercises in North America several times.

The unit disbanded on 27 September 2002, but re-formed at RAF Waddington on 1 April 2004 to operate the RAF’s new Bombardier Sentinel R1 ASTOR aircraft.


Various types 1913 – 1917
BE2c/e/f/g 1916 – 1917
RE8 1917 – 1919
F2b 1919 – 1919
F2b 1920 – 1931
Wapiti 1931 – 1940
Hart 1940 – 1941
Audax 1941 – 1942
Mohawk 1941 – 1943
Hurricane II/III 1943 – 1944
Thunderbolt I/II 1944 – 1946
Tempest 2 1946 – 1947
Spitfire 9/16 1949 – 1951
Oxford 1949 – 1951
Martinet 1949 – 1951
Harvard 1949 – 1951
Beaufighter 10 1950 – 1951
Vampire 3/5 1950 – 1953
Venom ¼ 1952 – 1957
Meteor 11 1959 – 1960
Javelin 5/9 1960 – 1965
Lightning 3/5 1965 – 1988
Tornado 3 1987 – 2002
Sentinel R1 2006 - 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

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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