No. 1 Squadron RAF

Number 1 Squadron, also known as No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron, is a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was the first squadron to fly a VTOL aircraft.[6] It currently operates Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth.[6]

No. 1 (F) Squadron RAF
Active1 April 1911 – 13 May 1912 (RE)
13 May 1912 – 1 April 1918 (RFC)
1 April 1918 – 20 January 1920 (RAF)
21 January 1920 – 1 November 1926
1 February 1927 – 23 June 1958
1 July 1958 – 28 January 2011
15 September 2012 – present
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchRoyal Air Force
TypeFlying squadron
RoleMulti–role combat
Part ofNo. 1 Group RAF
Home stationRAF Lossiemouth
Motto(s)In omnibus princeps
(Latin for First in all things)[1]
AircraftEurofighter Typhoon FGR4
Battle honours * Honours marked with an asterisk may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron tail badge
Squadron badge heraldryA winged numeral "1". Approved by King Edward VIII in July 1936 as the authorised version of a badge which had originated during the First World War.
Post 1950 squadron roundel
Squadron CodesNA (Nov 1938 – Sep 1939)[2][3]
JX (Sep 1939 – Apr 1951)[4][5]
FA–FZ (Present)

The squadron motto, In omnibus princeps ("First in all things") reflects the squadron's status as the RAF's oldest unit, having been involved in almost every major British military operation from the First World War to the present time. These include the Second World War, Suez Crisis, Falklands War, Gulf War, Kosovo War, and Operation Telic (Iraq).


1878 to 1918

No. 1 Squadron's origins go back to 1878 when its predecessor, No. 1 Balloon Company, was formed at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich as part of the Balloon Section.[7] On 1 April 1911 the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers was created. The battalion initially consisted of two companies, with No. 1 Company, Air Battalion taking responsibility for lighter than air flying. The first Officer Commanding was Captain E. M. Maitland.[8]

On 13 May 1912, with the establishment of the Royal Flying Corps, No. 1 Company of the Air Battalion was redesignated No. 1 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. No. 1 Squadron was one of the original three Royal Flying Corps squadrons. Maitland continued as the new squadron's Officer Commanding and he was promoted to major several days after the establishment of the squadron. It retained the airships Beta and Gamma, adding Delta and Eta, as well as kites and a few spherical balloons. However, in October 1913 a sudden decision was made to transfer all the airships to the Naval Wing of the RFC (which became the Royal Naval Air Service by Admiralty dictat, not Cabinet decision, on 1 July 1914). While retaining kites 1 Squadron was reorganised as an 'aircraft park' for the British Expeditionary Force.[9]

On 1 May 1914, Major Charles Longcroft was appointed as the new squadron commander. Apart from a few weeks as a supernumerary in August and September 1914, Longcroft continued as the squadron commander until January 1915.[10]

The squadron was reformed as an aircraft squadron in August 1914, and equipped with a mixture of Avro 504s and Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.8s, crossed over to France on 7 March 1915. It operated mainly in the reconnaissance rôle, with a few single seat fighters for escort purposes. It retained Morane Parasols for reconnaissance, until becoming a dedicated fighter squadron on 1 January 1917, flying Nieuport 17s and Nieuport 27.[12]

The obsolete Nieuports were replaced by more modern S.E.5as in January 1918. On incorporation into the RAF on 1 April 1918 the squadron kept its numeral; No 1 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) was displaced to become No. 201 Squadron RAF.[note 1]

No. 1 Squadron had among its ranks no fewer than 31 flying aces. They include Robert A. Birkbeck, Quintin Brand (later Air Vice Marshal), William Charles Campbell, Percy Jack Clayson, Edwin Cole, Philip Fullard (later Air Commodore), Eustace Grenfell, Louis Fleeming Jenkin, Tom Hazell, Harold Albert Kullberg, Charles Lavers, Francis Magoun, Guy Borthwick Moore, Gordon Olley, Harry Rigby, William Wendell Rogers and William Rooper.[13]

Between the wars

The squadron returned to the UK from France in March 1919, being formally disbanded on 20 January 1920. On the next day it reformed at Risalpur in the North West Frontier of India (now part of Pakistan), flying the Sopwith Snipe and from January 1920. It moved to Hinaidi near Baghdad in Iraq in May 1921, to carry out policing duties, retaining its Snipes,[14] although it also received one Bristol Jupiter engined Nieuport Nighthawk for evaluation.[15] It remained in Iraq, carrying out strafing and bombing against hostile tribal forces until November 1926 when it was disbanded.[16]

In early 1927 it was reformed at RAF Tangmere, Sussex as a Home Defence Fighter Squadron, equipped with the Armstrong Whitworth Siskin.[15] After receiving the Hawker Fury Mk.1 in February 1932, the squadron gained a reputation for aerobatics, giving displays throughout the United Kingdom and at the Zurich International Air Meeting in July 1937, where its display impressed but it was clear that it was outclassed by the German Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Dornier Do 17 also displayed at Zurich. The squadron re-equipped with the Hawker Hurricane Mk.I in October 1938.[17]

Second World War

On the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 the squadron was deployed to France as part of the RAF Advanced Air Striking Force. In October it flew over enemy territory for the first time and soon claimed its first victory, shooting down a Dornier Do 17 on 31 October.[18] Further successes were made during the Phoney War, until the Battle of France erupted in May 1940. Within a week the squadron was bombed out of its base at Berry-au-Bac, north-west of Paris. A series of retreats followed, ending only when the squadron evacuated from France on 18 June,[19] with a return to Tangmere on 23 June.[20]

In August 1940 the squadron entered the Battle of Britain and was heavily engaged until 9 September, when the squadron was transferred to No. 12 Group was sent to RAF Wittering to refit, rest and recuperate.[21]

It returned to No. 11 Group in early 1941 and was employed in fighter sweeps and bomber escort duties. In February, it began "Rhubarb" (low-level sweeps over occupied territory) and night flying missions, and was re-equipped with the Hurricane IIA. In this period its pilots included Karel Kuttelwascher DFC, who was the RAF's highest-scoring night intruder pilot and highest-scoring Free Czechoslovak pilot.[22]

The squadron carried out night intruder patrols until July 1942, when it was re-equipped with the Hawker Typhoon fighter-bomber and relocated to RAF Acklington, Northumberland where it reverted to daytime operations.[21]

The squadron was equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX in April 1944, and in June began anti-V1 patrols, shooting down 39 flying bombs. Missions were also flown over the Falaise Gap, strafing targets of opportunity. Later in the year it reverted to bomber escort duties, based at Haldegham. It was involved in supporting Operation Market Garden : the parachute drops into the Netherlands, and later in support of the Allied counter-offensive in the Ardennes. The squadron dropped 250 lb bombs on to 'Key Points' (KPs), directed by radar to counter the adverse weather conditions. In May 1945 it converted to the Spitfire Mk.XXI, but these were only used operationally to cover landings on the Channel Islands.[7]


In 1946, the Squadron returned to Tangmere and took delivery of its first jet aircraft, the Gloster Meteor. In October 1948, Major Robin Olds, USAF, under the U.S. Air Force/Royal Air Force exchange program, was posted in and flying the Gloster Meteor jet fighter. He eventually served as commander of the Squadron at RAF Station Tangmere, an unusual posting for a non-commonwealth foreigner in peacetime.[23]

The Squadron was then equipped with the Hawker Hunter F.5, which were flown from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus during the 1956 Suez Crisis. The squadron disbanded on 23 June 1958. However, on 1 July 1958 the squadron was reformed by re-numbering No. 263 Squadron at RAF Stradishall.[24] It then moved to RAF Waterbeach from where, flying the Hunter FGA.9, it operated in the ground attack role as part of No. 38 Group. The Squadron continued in this role for the next eight years, operating out of Waterbeach and then RAF West Raynham. Flight Lieutenant Alan Pollock of No. 1 Squadron was responsible for the infamous and very unofficial flying display on the 50th anniversary of the RAF in 1968.[25]


Under the command of Squadron Leader Bryan Baker, the squadron became the world's first operator of a V/STOL aircraft with the arrival of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier in 1969,[6] declared operational the following year. A detachment from No. 1 Squadron was deployed to the British Fleet during the Falklands War, operating from HMS Hermes and flying ground attack missions against Argentine forces.[26][27] It replaced its first generation Harriers with Harrier IIs from 23 November 1988, being declared fully operational on the Harrier GR.5 on 2 November 1989.[28] The squadron was the subject of an episode of the BBC documentary series Defence of the Realm before and during its participation in the Bosnian War as part of NATO's Operation Deny Flight.[29] During the Kosovo war the Squadron flew sorties as part of NATO's Operation Allied Force.[30]

No. 1 Squadron left the "home of the Harrier" at RAF Wittering for RAF Cottesmore on 28 July 2000.[31] Cottesmore became home to all operational RAF Harrier squadrons – No. 20 (Reserve) Squadron, later renumbered as No. 4 (R) Squadron, the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit remained at Wittering. The squadrons both flew missions during the Iraq War and were awarded the "Iraq 2003" battle honour.[32]

One outcome of the Strategic Defence and Security Review by the coalition government in 2010 was the decision to take the RAF's Harriers out of service almost immediately. All Harrier units, including No. 1 (F) Squadron, ceased Harrier flying on 15 December 2010, with No. 1 (F) Squadron formally disbanding on 28 January 2011.[6]


On 15 September 2012, the squadron reformed on the Eurofighter Typhoon at RAF Leuchars.[33][34] The squadron participated in multiple exercises in foreign countries including Exercise Shaheen Star in the United Arab Emirates during January 2013 and Exercise Bersama Shield in Malaysia during March 2013.[35]

On 8 September 2014, No. 1 (F) Squadron relocated to RAF Lossiemouth, to operate alongside No. 6[36] and XV (R) squadrons, as well as "D" Flight, No. 202 Squadron (SAR) and No. 5 Force Protection Wing.[37]

On 14 November 2019 the squadron deployed 4 fighters to Keflavik Air Base as part of the NATO Air Policing, Iceland. The squadron also deployed an addition 100 personnel to support the squadron and forces based in Iceland.[38]

Aircraft operated

Commanding officers

List of commanding officers of No. 1 Squadron, including date of appointment, sourced from Halley,[20] Shaw[39][40] and Franks & Connor.[41]

  • Major E M Maitland (13 May 1912)
  • Major C A H Longcroft (1 May 1914)
  • Major W G H Salmond (28 January 1915)
  • Major P B Joubert de la Ferté (19 August 1915)
  • Major G F Pretyman (24 November 1915)
  • Major G C St P de Dombasle (24 December 1916)
  • Major A Barton-Adams (20 June 1917)
  • Major W E Young (3 August 1918)
  • Squadron Leader J O Andrews (21 January 1920)
  • Squadron Leader J B Graham (18 September 1920)
  • Squadron Leader G G A Williams (10 November 1922)
  • Squadron Leader E O Grenfell (8 October 1923)
  • Squadron Leader E D Atkinson (25 May 1924)
  • Squadron Leader C.N. Lowe (19 April 1926)
  • Squadron Leader E D Atkinson (11 April 1927)
  • Squadron Leader E O Grenfell (19 March 1928)
  • Squadron Leader C B S Spackman (27 July 1931)
  • Squadron Leader R W Chappell (21 November 1933)
  • Squadron Leader C W Hill (1 October 1934)
  • Flight Lieutenant T N McEvoy (acting) (31 January 1936)[42]
  • Squadron Leader C W Hill (1 December 1936)
  • Squadron Leader F R D Swain (12 April 1937)
  • Squadron Leader I A Bertram (15 January 1938)
  • Squadron Leader P J H Halahan (17 April 1939)
  • Squadron Leader D A Pemberton (24 May 1940)
  • Squadron Leader M H Brown (10 November 1940)
  • Squadron Leader R E P Brooker (23 April 1941)
  • Squadron Leader J A F MacLachlan (3 November 1941)
  • Squadron Leader R C Wilkinson (31 July 1942)
  • Squadron Leader A Zweigbergh (30 May 1943)
  • Squadron Leader J Checketts (3 April 1944)
  • Squadron Leader H P Lardner-Burke (29 April 1944)
  • Squadron Leader D G S R Cox (11 January 1945)
  • Squadron Leader R S Nash (21 April 1945)
  • Squadron Leader H R Allen (9 January 1946)
  • Squadron Leader C H MacFie (26 October 1946)
  • Flight Lieutenant N H D Ramsey (acting) (7 May 1947)
  • Squadron Leader T R Burne (15 July 1947)
  • Major R Olds (USAF) (4 February 1949)
  • Squadron Leader T R Burne (1 October 1949)
  • Major D F Smith (USAF) (10 January 1950)
  • Squadron Leader J L W Ellacombe (18 August 1950)
  • Squadron Leader R B Morison (21 November 1952)
  • Squadron Leader D I Smith (27 July 1953)
  • Squadron Leader F W Lister (1 December 1953)
  • Flight Lieutenant H Irving (acting) (1 June 1955)
  • Squadron Leader R S Kingsford (8 August 1956)
  • Squadron Leader L de Garis, AFC (5 July 1958)
  • Squadron Leader J J Phipps (1 December 1958)
  • Squadron Leader P V Pledger (1 January 1961)
  • Squadron Leader F L Travers-Smith (1 January 1963)
  • Squadron Leader D C G Brook (28 December 1964)
  • Squadron Leader G. Jones (1 November 1966)
  • Squadron Leader L A B Baker (20 September 1968)
  • Wing Commander J A Mansell (10 April 1969)
  • Squadron Leader L A B Baker (21 May 1969)
  • Wing Commander D Allison (4 August 1969)
  • Squadron Leader L A B Baker (October 1969)
  • Wing Commander K W Hayr (1 January 1970)
  • Wing Commander E J E Smith (6 January 1972)
  • Wing Commander P P W Taylor (3 December 1973)
  • Wing Commander J G Saye (9 July 1976)
  • Wing Commander R B Duckett (17 July 1978)
  • Wing Commander P T Squire (26 March 1981)
  • Wing Commander J D L Feesey (23 December 1983)
  • Wing Commander I M Stewart (13 June 1986)
  • Wing Commander I R Harvey (3 October 1988)
  • Wing Commander C C N Burwell (17 May 1991)
  • Wing Commander D Walker (29 April 1994)
  • Wing Commander M A Leakey (18 March 1996)
  • Wing Commander I Cameron (acting) (26 November 1997)
  • Wing Commander A Golledge (9 January 1998)
  • Wing Commander S M Bell (26 October 1999)
  • Wing Commander K A Lewis (1 November 2006)
  • Wing Commander D F Haines (31 October 2008)
  • Wing Commander M Flewin (15 September 2012)[34]
  • Wing Commander M Sutton (9 October 2014)


  1. The war diary of No. 1 Squadron held by the Australian War Memorial, starts in January 1918.



  1. Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 110. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, p. 11.
  3. Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 51.
  4. Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, p. 59.
  5. Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 81.
  6. "Squadron Histories 1-5". Air of Authority. 2014. Archived from the original on 1 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  7. "History of 1(F) Squadron". 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  8. "Air Commodore E.M. Maitland". Flight. 1 September 1911. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  9. Mead, Peter (1983). The Eye in the Air, History of Air Observation and Reconnaissance for the Army 1785–1945. HMSO. p. 48. ISBN 0-11-771224-8.
  10. "C. A. H. Longcroft". Air of Authority. 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  11. "Scout Squadron ID?". 27 May 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  12. Halley 1971, p.10.
  13. "1 Squadron Aces". 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  14. Halley 1971, p.12.
  15. Halley 1971, p.15.
  16. Halley 1971, pp.12–15.
  17. Halley 1971, p.16.
  18. Halley 1971, p.20.
  19. Halley 1971, pp. 20–21.
  20. Halley 1971, p. 28.
  21. "No. 1 Squadron : Second World War". History of War. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  22. "Karel Kuttelwascher – One of the Few". Free Czechoslovak Air Force. 1 January 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  23. Sherwood, John Darrell (1999), Fast Movers: Jet Pilots and the Vietnam Experience, Free Press, p. 12, ISBN 978-0-312-97962-1
  24. "No. 263 Squadron". RAF Museum. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  25. "Jever Steam Laundry – 4 Sqn personnel Pollock 004". Retrieved 16 May 2011.
  26. Ashworth 1989, p.26.
  27. Evans 1998, pp. 74–75.
  28. Evans 1998, p.123.
  29. "Defence of the Realm". BBC. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  30. "Britain's best in Kosovo action". BBC. 16 April 1999. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  31. Graveling, Tony; Tulloch, James (1 May 2001). "RAF Cottesmore". Meteorological Office, RAF Cottesmore. doi:10.1002/wea.6080570405. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  32. Lord Drayson, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (9 June 2005). "Battle and Theatre Honours". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Lords.
  33. "Typhoon Growth Continues with Reformation of No1(F) Squadron". RAF. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  34. "Typhoon Force Grows as Historic Squadron Reforms at Leuchars". 15 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  35. Air Forces Monthly. Stamford, Lincolnshire, England: Key Publishing Ltd. April 2013. p. 9.
  36. "Typhoon aircraft relocate to RAF Lossiemouth". 8 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  37. "RAF Lossiemouth - RAF Station homepage". 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  38. "RAF deploys Typhoons to Iceland | Jane's 360". Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  39. Shaw 1971, pp.245–246.
  40. Shaw 1986, p. 188.
  41. Franks and O'Connor 2000, p. 244.
  42. "T. N. McEvoy". Air of Authority. 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.


  • Ashworth, Chris. Encyclopedia of Modern Royal Air Force Squadrons. Wellingborough, UK:PSL, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-013-6.
  • Bowyer, Michael J.F and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Evans, Andy. BAE/McDonnell Douglas Harrier. Malborough, Wiltshire, UK: The Crowood Press, 1998. ISBN 1-86126-105-5.
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A Full Explanation and Listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied Air Force Unit Codes Since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlif Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Franks, Norman and Mike O'Connor. Number One in War and Peace: The History of No. 1 Squadron, 1912–2000. London: Grub Street, 2000. ISBN 1-902304-55-1.
  • Halley, James J. Famous Fighter Squadrons of the RAF: Volume 1. Windsor, UK: Hylton Lacey, 1971. ISBN 0-85064-100-4.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 1998 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Shaw, Michael. No. 1 Squadron. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1986. ISBN 0-7110-1581-3.
  • Shaw, Michael. Twice Vertical: The History of No. 1 Squadron Royal Air Force. London: Macdonald & Company Ltd, 1971. ISBN 0-356-03799-1.
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