RAF No 18 Squadron emblem

Spitfire PRXIX RAF 541Sqn

RAF No. 542 Squadron

Motto: Above all

Formed from A & E Flights of the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit at Benson on 19 October 1942.

Equipped with Spitfires, it operated from nearby Mount Farm conducting reconnaissance sorties over Europe throughout the rest of the war, disbanding on 27 August 1945.

The squadron reformed at Wyton on 17 May 1954, again in the PR role, but now equipped with Canberra PR 7s.  The nuclear tests carried out in Australia in 1956/57, required a number of specialised units and it was in order to carry out survey and sampling duties for these tests, that No 542 took on the role.  Officially the squadron disbanded on 1 October 1955 and was reformed to take part in the nuclear tests from 1323 Flight on 1 November 1955.  However, personnel serving at the time do not remember this, as they continued to serve on the squadron throughout this period at Kinloss, whilst 1323 was actually stationed at Goose Bay in Canada.

The squadron moved to Westonzoyland in December from where it was detached to RAAF Laverton until April 1957, when it returned to the UK.  It operated B2 Canberras in the 'filtering' role and B6 Canberras as 'bottlers' and the squadron operated in these roles for a number of months before 1323 Flight arrived in Australia. However, the squadron was formally disbanded by being re-numbered No 21 Squadron on 1 October 1958, a change not recognised by its personnel.

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This webpage was updated 30th June 2023