No.54 Squadron

A lion rampant semée de Lys
A lion rampant semée de Lys
Audax omnia pereti - Boldness to endure anything
16 May 1916

No 54 Squadron was formed at Castle Bromwich on 15 May 1916. Initially responsible for Home Defence, it moved to France in December 1916 and operated as a fighter squadron. In January 1919 the unit handed over its aircraft and returned to the UK, where it disbanded on 25 October.

On 15 January 1930 the unit reformed at Hornchurch. The Squadron was still based at Hornchurch at the outbreak of the war and went into the Battle of Britain equipped with Spitfire 1s. It was the top-scoring RAF squadron, with 92 kills. It moved north to RAF Catterick for a short 'rest' period in September 1940 before returning south in February 1941. It undertook fighter sweeps and convoy escort duties until August 1942 when the squadron moved to Richmond, Australia and then to Darwin. It was the first RAF squadron to be allotted to the defence of Australia. The squadron saw sporadic action against Japanese forces and was disbanded on 31 October 1945.

On 15 November 1945 it reformed at Chilbolton with Tempests. It converted to jets in 1946. A North American tour in 1948 resulted in the squadron performing the first jet fighter formation Trans-Atlantic flight.

In March 1960, No 54 Squadron became a ground attack unit once more. In 1962 the unit joined No 1 Squadron to form the Offensive Support Wing of No 38 Group, Transport Command. On 1 September 1969 the squadron disbanded and re-formed on the same day operating the Phantom. On 1 January 1970 No 54 Squadron set a World Record during a deployment to the Far East, where it made a non-stop flight from the United Kingdom to Singapore in 14 hours, 8 minutes. On 23 April 1974 it disbanded. A new No 54 Squadron formed at RAF Lossiemouth on 29th March 1974, as the RAF’s first Jaguar Squadron.

The unit was heavily involved in the Gulf War in 1991 when pilots and ground crew from 54 Squadron helped form the 22-strong Jaguar Detachment based at Muharraq in Bahrain. During the 3 months of the war the detachment flew over 600 missions without loss.

Soon after the Gulf War, 54 Squadron was deployed to Incirlik Air Force Base in Southern Turkey to form part of the Coalition Forces patrolling Northern Iraq as part of Operation WARDEN.

Only 6 months after finishing its involvement in OPERATION WARDEN the Squadron deployed to Gioia del Colle, Italy in support of Operation DENY FLIGHT. The Squadron once again deployed to Italy in 1997 on Operation DELIBERATE GUARD with the modified Jaguar 96 aircraft.

RAF Jaguar squadrons were earmarked to take part in OPERATION TELIC against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, but Turkish refusal to allow them to operate from that country meant they did not take part in the hostilities. Based at Coltishall, the squadron was part of 38 Group's Offensive Strike Wing when it disbanded on 11 March 2005.

In September 2005, the unit re-formed at Waddington as the ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) Operational Conversation Unit (OCU) to train aircrews from the three ISTAR platforms - Sentry, Nimrod R1 and Sentinel R1.


Various types 1916 - 1916
Pup 1916 - 1916
Camel 1917 - 1919
Siskin IIIDC 1930 - 1930
Bulldog 1930 - 1936
Gauntlet 1936 - 1937
Gladiator 1937 - 1939
Spitfire I/II/V/VIII 1939 - 1945
Tempest II 1945 - 1946
Vampire 1/3/5 1946 - 1952
Meteor 8 1952 - 1955
Hunter 1/4/6/9 1955 - 1969
Phantom 2 1969 - 1974
Jaguar 1974 - 2005

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

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