No.81 Squadron

In front of a mullet, a dagger erect
In front of a mullet, a dagger erect
Non solum nobis - Not for us alone
07 January 1917
16 January 1970

Formed at Gosport on 7 January 1917, No 81 Squadron was a training unit but was not mobilised before it disbanded on 4 July 1918. The unit reappeared with a dual number on 20 November 1918. It was known as No 1 Squadron Canadian Air Force/No 81 Squadron. This unit undertook training duties until 28 January 1920 when it disbanded.

On 1 December 1939, The Communications Squadron based at Mountjoie, France was re-designated No 81 Squadron. Its Tiger Moth aircraft flew communication duties until the German advance forced its return to UK where it disbanded on 15 June 1940.

On 29 July 1941 the unit reformed at RAF Leconfield as a fighter squadron. In September 1941 it flew off HMS Argus to North Russian airfields to assist our Soviet Ally. After a few weeks it handed over its aircraft and returned to UK. By 1 February 1942 the squadron had been re-equipped and was operational again.. It began offensive sweeps in May. At the end of November it moved to Gibraltar to take part in the invasion of North Africa. It later moved to Algeria to provide fighter cover to Allied troops. In June 1943 it moved to Malta to cover the Sicily landings and in September it moved again to Italy. In November 1943 it was transferred to India. Operations began in the new year.. In flew support and ground attack missions against the Japanese until August 1944 when it was withdrawn to Ceylon. The squadron disbanded on 20 June 1945.

On the same day No 123 Squadron was renumbered at Bobbili, India but did not become operational before the end of the war. In October 1945 it was sent to Java to provide air support against nationalist guerrillas. On 30 June 1946 the squadron disbanded.

On 1 September 1946 No 684 Squadron at Seletar, Singapore was renumbered N o 81 Squadron. The unit flew photographic reconnaissance missions for many years as a part of Far East Air Force. On 1 April 1954 the unit flew the RAF’s last operational Spitfire mission. With the rundown of the FEAF the unit was disbanded on 16 January 1970.


Camel 1917 - 1918
Tiger Moth 1939 - 1940
Rota 1939 - 1940
Hurricane II 1941 - 1941
Spitfire V/IX/VIII 1942 - 1915
Thunderbolt 1945 - 1946
Mosquito 16/34 1946 - 1955
Spitfire 19/18 1946 - 1954
Anson 19 1949 - 1949
Meteor 10 1953 - 1961
Canberra 7 1960 - 1970
Pembroke 1956 – 1958

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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