No. 42 Squadron RAF

No. 42 Squadron of the Royal Air Force has served during World War I as an army co-operation squadron and during World War II in various roles. In recent years, it was the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) for the Nimrod MR.2, based at RAF Kinloss, Moray, until the Nimrod MR2's retirement in 2010.

No. 42 Squadron RAF
Active1 Apr 1916 (RFC) – 26 Jun 1919
14 Dec 1936 – 30 Jun 1945
1 Jul 1945 – 30 Dec 1945
1 Oct 1946 – 15 Oct 1947
28 Jun 1952 – 26 May 2011
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Motto(s)Latin: Fortiter in re
(Translation: "Bravely into action")[1][2]
Battle honoursWestern Front, 1916–1918*: Italian Front & Adriatic, 1917–1918*: Somme, 1916
Arras, 1917: Ypres, 1917: Lys: Channel & North Sea, 1939–1942*: Biscay, 1940*: Baltic, 1941*: Fortress Europe, 1941: Pacific, 1943–1945: Eastern Waters, 1943*: Arakan, 1943–1944*: Manipur, 1944*: Burma, 1944–1945: South Atlantic, 1982: Gulf, 1991.
Honours marked with an asterisk (*) are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard[3]
Squadron Badge heraldryOn a terrestrial globe, a figure of Perseus[1][2]
No. 42 Squadron was the 1st to use the Bristol Perseus engine and this accounts for the presence of Perseus in the badge; he was known always to achieve his object and destroy his enemies and he stands in front of a globe to signify his activities over many lands and seas[1]
Squadron CodesQD (Allocated Apr 1939 – Sep 1939, but probably not used)[4][5]
AW (Sep 1939 – Jun 1942
1943 – Dec 1945)[6][7]
QM (Oct 1946 – Oct 1947)[8][9]
A (Jun 1952 – 1956)[10][11]
42 (1956–1968)


First World War

Formed on 1 April 1916 from crews of 19 Squadron Royal Flying Corps at Filton, 42 Squadron spent the First World War flying reconnaissance sorties. Using BE2s (and later RE8s), the squadron spent time on both the Western Front and the Austro-Italian Front. On returning to England after the war, the squadron was disbanded at RAF Netheravon on 26 June 1919.[1][12]

Second World War

On 14 December 1936 'B' flight of No. 22 Squadron RAF was expanded into a new No. 42 Squadron.[1][2] In 1939 No. 42 Squadron was based at RAF Bircham Newton. Initially the unit was equipped with Vickers Vildebeests before re-equipping with Bristol Beauforts in January 1940. The squadron operated also a bomber unit in the Burma campaign flying Blenheims during 1942 and as a fighter-bomber unit flying Hurricanes during 1943. The squadron disbanded on 30 June 1945 but on the following day 146 Squadron was renumbered to No. 42 Squadron and flew Thunderbolts.[2] The squadron fought on with these until the Burma campaign ended and thereafter the squadron disbanded on 30 December 1945 at Meiktela.[1][12]



On 1 October 1946 254 Squadron at RAF Thorney Island was renumbered to No. 42 Squadron. Equipped with Bristol Beaufighter, it was a strike unit in RAF Coastal Command until disbanded on 15 October 1947.[2][12]


On 28 June 1952, No. 42 Squadron was reformed, flying Avro Shackletons in the maritime reconnaissance role.[12]


The squadron converted to Nimrods in April 1971.[2][12] The squadron served in Gulf 1 Operation Granby where one of its crew was credited with having achieved the highest number of "Assisted Kills", achieved operating in a High Air Threat environment. The same crew subsequently received the Arthur Barratt Memorial Award. Disbanded as a front-line unit in October 1992, it was later reformed as No. 42 (Reserve) Squadron at RAF Kinloss, Moray, taking over from No. 236 OCU as the Nimrod Operational Conversion Unit (OCU).[13] The squadron flew its last Nimrod MR.2 flight on 30 March 2010,[14] and was formally disbanded on 26 May 2011.[15]

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by no. 42 Squadron RAF, data from[1][2][12][16]
April 1916August 1916B.E.22d
April 1916April 1917B.E.22e
April 1917February 1919R.E.8
December 1936December 1937Vickers VildebeestMk.III
January 1937March 1937Vickers VildebeestMk.I
March 1937April 1940Vickers VildebeestMk.IV
September 1939April 1940Vickers VildebeestMk.III
April 1940January 1942Bristol BeaufortMk.I
January 1942February 1943Bristol BeaufortMk.II
February 1943October 1943Bristol BlenheimMk.V
October 1943June 1945Hawker HurricaneMk.IV
September 1944December 1944Hawker HurricaneMk.IIc
April 1945June 1945Hawker HurricaneMk.IIc
July 1945December 1945Republic ThunderboltMk.II
October 1946October 1947Bristol BeaufighterTF.10
June 1952July 1954Avro ShackletonMR.1/1A
January 1953January 1966Avro ShackletonMR.2
November 1965September 1971Avro ShackletonMR.3
August 1971August 1984Hawker Siddeley NimrodMR.1
August 1983April 2011Hawker Siddeley NimrodMR.2

See also



  1. Rawlings 1982, p. 65.
  2. Halley 1988, p. 95.
  3. Barrass, M. B. (2015). "No. 41–45 Squadron Histories". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  4. Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 12.
  5. Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 51.
  6. Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 18.
  7. Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 63.
  8. Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 86.
  9. Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 155.
  10. Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 126.
  11. Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 192.
  12. Jefford 2001, p. 42.
  13. "42 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  14. Hastings, David. "BAE System Nimrod: Squadron Service". Target Lock. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  15. "Squadron Disbandment Parade". Royal Air Force. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  16. Coleman 1992, p. 110.


  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Coleman, Ian. Resolute in Action: The History of 42 Squadron RAF, 1916–1992. St Mawgan, Cornwall, UK: Blackfords of Cornwall, 1992.
  • 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: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1981–1988. 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, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 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.

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