No.70 Squadron

A demi-winged lion erased
A demi-winged lion erased
Usquam - Anywhere
22 April 1916

No 70 Squadron was formed at Farnborough on 22 April 1916, and was the first Squadron to be equipped with the new Sopwith 1½ Strutter fitted with a synchronised machine-gun as standard. The unit moved to France in Flights. A Flight moving on 24 May, B Flight on 29 June and C Flight on 30 July 1916. It was engaged on the Western Front in bomber, reconnaissance, fighter and escort duties. During this period one of the Squadron's commanding officers was Major A W Tedder, later Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Lord Tedder. In July 1917 it was the first squadron to re-equip with Camels which it continued to fly until the end of the war. In February 1919 it returned to the UK and disbanded on 22 January 1920.

On 1 February 1920 No 58 Squadron was renumbered No 70 Squadron. The unit operated at Heliopolis, Egypt as a bomber-transport squadron. In December 1921 the squadron moved to Iraq and was instrumental in setting up the mail route from Cairo to Baghdad and on to India. In 1928 it became involved in the first air evacuation. 500 British citizens were uplifted from Kabul, Afghanistan to safety during that country’s civil war.

The Squadron left Iraq in August 1939 moving to Helwan, Egypt. In 1940 the unit converted to a heavy bomber unit equipped with Wellingtons. During the war the Squadron's bases moved with the battlefront of the desert armies across North Africa and in December 1943 it moved north into Italy with the invading army, where it remained until the end of the war. In October 1945 the squadron moved back to the Middle East where it disbanded on 31 March 1946.

On 15 April 1946 No 178 Squadron was renumbered No 70 Squadron at Fayid, Egypt. The unit disbanded on 1 April 1947. The unit re-emerged on 1 May 1948 when No 215 Squadron was renumbered. This unit undertook transport duties in the Middle Eastern area. During 1955 the unit moved from Egypt to Cyprus and the first Hastings transport aircraft joined the squadron at Nicosia. During the Suez crisis in 1956 the Squadron dropped paratroops as part of the assault on El Gamil airfield. No 70 Squadron played major roles in the evacuations from West Pakistan in 1971, the UK-Cairo airlift and, in 1974, the Cyprus airlift. With the rundown of overseas RAF forces the unit returned to the UK in 1975. In the early 1980s the squadron became heavily involved in the Rhodesian ceasefire mission, and 'Khana Cascade', a relief operation in Nepal. In 1982 the unit was fully committed in the Falklands conflict. During these operations a Squadron crew set a world record for the longest Hercules flight of 28 hours and four minutes.

During 2003 men and machines from this unit participated in Operation Telic. Coalition forces, led by the United States overthrew the Iraqi regime led by Saddam Hussein in a short campaign.

The unit continues to be involved in many operations and relief flights around the world, being one of two squadrons still flying the Hercules C1/C3 aircraft.


!½ Strutter 1916 - 1917
Camel 1917 - 1919
Snipe 1918 - 1919
O/400 1920 - 1920
Vimy 1920 - 1922
Vernon 1922 - 1926
Victoria 1926 - 1935
Valentia 1935 - 1940
Wellington I/III/X 1940 - 1945
Liberator VI 1945 - 1946
Lancaster I 1946 - 1947
Dakota 4 1948 - 1950
Valetta 1950 - 1955
Hastings 1956 - 1968
Argosy 1967 - 1972
Hercules C1/C3 1970 - current (17 March 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 198

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