RAF No 18 Squadron emblem

RAF No. 126 (Persian Gulf) Squadron

Originally intended to be a day bomber unit, it formed on 1 March 1918 at Old Sarum.  Equipped with DH9s, its aircraft and crews were needed to provide reinforcements for units on the Western Front and it disbanded on17 August 1918.

As the Axis onslaught on Malta gathered momentum, the need for enlarged air defence grew  and on 28 June 1941, 126 re-entered the Order of Battle when a flight of No 46 Squadron, en-route for the Middle East was re-directed and given the the number.  Equipped with Hurricanes it was mainly concerned with defence of the island and attacks against naval targets such as E-boats. However, in October the squadron began to carry out attacks against Axis targets in Siciliy although its main purpose remained air defence of Malta.  Spitfires arrived in March 1942 and continued operations in the same vein.  In September 1943, the squadron moved forward into Sicily and later onto the Italian Mainland, but on 1 April 1944, it departed the Mediterranean theatre and headed to the UK.

Back in Britain, the squadron was again equipped with Spitfires, which it flew from May on shipping patrols and Rhubarbs.  Another change occurred in December when the squadron re-equipped with Mustangs and with these it undertook bomber escort missions to aircraft of Bomber Command, who were now able to undertake daylight operations.  It also undertook long range anti shipping sweeps from May but these were short-lived as the war in Europe ended on the 8th.  From February 1946 the squadron began to revert to Spitfires, but the following month (10th) it disbanded for the last at Hethel.

Squadron Codes used: -
UN Allocated April - September 1939
V Jun 1942 - Dec 1942
MK Dec 1942 -Mar 1943
5J  Apr 1944 - Apr 1946

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This webpage was updated 30th June 2023