RAF No 18 Squadron emblem

RAF 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron

Motto: Cave leonem cruciatum - 'Beware the tormented lion'

Badge: In front of a saltire, a lion rampant. The lion was adopted in view of the squadron's association with Scotland and the saltire to represent the cross of St Andrew, being fimbriated to show it as a white saltire on a blue background.

No 602 Squadron was formed on 12 September 1925 at Renfrew as a day bomber unit of the Auxiliary Air Force. Initially equipped with DH9As it began to replace these with Fawns in September 1927, though the latter were in turn replace by Wapitis in 1929. Harts began to arrive in February 1934 and the squadron re-equipped with Hinds in June 1936. On 1 November 1938 No 602 was redesignated an army co-operation squadron, but on 14 January 1939 this was changed to become a fighter unit, Gauntlets being received. These were replaced by Spitfires in May 1939 and during the early months of the war the squadron was engaged in intercepting German bombing raids on Scotland. When the Battle of Britain began, No 602 was still in Scotland, moving south in mid-August.

During the early months of the war 602 squadron armed with Spitfires was engaged in intercepting German bombing raids on Scotland. When the Battle of Britain began, 602 squadron was still in Scotland, moving south in mid-August and returning in December. In July 1941 it arrived in south-east England to take part in sweeps over France for a year before moving back to Scotland. In January 1943 the squadron moved to south-west England for convoy protection and escort missions and in April was part of the first group of squadrons which were to form the new Second TAF. After taking part in sweeps over France, it moved back to Scotland for defensive duties in January 1944, coming south again in March to begin fighter-bomber missions in preparation for the invasion. By the end of June, No.602 was operating from airstrips in Normandy and moved forward with the Army to Belgium before returning to the UK in September to fly sweeps over the Netherlands against V-2 rocket launching sites and their transport. It remained in East Anglia until disbanded on 15 July 1945.

602 was the first of 21 auxiliary squadrons to be formed within the Royal Air Force and began flying from Moorpark Aerodrome at Renfrew. It was originally a bomber squadron but converted to fighters in May 1939. Two of its pilots, The Maquis of Douglas & Clydesdale (later The Duke of Hamilton) and Flight Lieutenant David MacIntyre, were the first men ever to fly over Mount Everest. Such was the confidence of the Air Ministry in this unit that 602 was the first Auxiliary Squadron to be equipped with Spitfires - and, indeed, 7th in the whole Royal Air Force. With these Spitfires it was involved in the shooting down of the first German aircraft in UK skies in the Second World War. Later, the Squadron moved south into the thick of the Battle of Britain where it soon established itself as one of the leaders finishing the conflict with the second highest total of 'kills', the lowest pilot loss rate and the longest serving squadron in the front line. The roll of honour, proudly displayed in the museum, records this momentous time in our nation's history.

After a spell at Prestwick and Ayr in early 1941, 602 returned south flying strike sorties into Europe from Kenley and Redhill and later provided fighter cover during the dieppe Raid in August 1942. In September the squadron moved north to the Orkney and Shetland Islands to intercept the high level German reconnaissance raiders over Scapa Flow. It flew from bases in the south of England from January 1943 and transferred to the Second Tactical Air Force in November flying offensive sweeps over France and providing fighter escorts. Involved in the 'D' Day Invasion, 602 later flew from airfields in Europe before returning to England in September 1944 to concentrate on strikes against V2 rocket sites and other prime targets. The squadron disbanded on 15 May 1945 by which time it was credited with the destruction of 150 enemy aircraft.

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This webpage was updated 30th June 2023