No.501 Squadron

A boar’s head couped
A boar’s head couped
Nil time - Fear nothing
14 June 1929
10 March 1957

No 501 Squadron was formed at RAF Filton on 14 June 1929 as a Special Reserve unit. This unit was known as the “City of Bristol” squadron until 1936 when it changed to the “County of Gloucester” squadron. It began to receive operational equipment in March 1930 after a period of training.

In July 1936 the squadron transferred to the Auxiliary Air Force and changed its name to encompass a larger recruitment area. At the end of 1938 the unit became a fighter squadron. At the beginning of World War Two the unit undertook defensive patrols. In May 1940 it moved to France to provide fighter cover to the AASF.

It retired through Brittany and returned to the UK in June. No 501 Squadron was involved in the Battle of Britain throughout and in early 1941 went over to the offensive flying fighter sweeps over France. It moved to Northern Ireland in October 1942. In April of the following year it returned to southern England and resumed it fighter sweeps.

No 501 Squadron converted to Tempests in July 1944 and used them against German flying-bombs (V-1). After the launch sites had been overrun by Allied forces it moved to East Anglia to counter air launched flying bombs. On 20 April 1945 it disbanded.

On 10 May 1946 the unit reformed as an Auxiliary Air Force fighter squadron. In October of that year it received its aircraft. It continued to operate as a day fighter unit until finally disbanded on 10 March 1957.

The unit was reformed by re-numbering the RAuxAF Role Support Squadron in June 2001. The unit’s task is to support the Air Transport and Air to Air Refuelling Force. The squadron includes a flight of Hercules Reservist aircrew operating from RAF Lynham. The unit has no aircraft allotted to it.


Avro 504N 1929 - 1930
DH(A 1930 - 1930
Wapiti 1930 - 1933
Wallace 1933 - 1936
Hart 1936 - 1938
Hind 1938 - 1939
Hurricane I 1939 - 1941
Spitfire I/II/V/IX 1941 - 1944
Tempest V 1944 - 1945
Spitfire 16 1946 - 1949
Vampire 1/5/9 1948 – 1957

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

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