No 71 (Eagle) Squadron

Motto: First from the eyries

Formed from a nucleus of Australian personnel on 27 March 1917 at Castle Bromwich, it was equipped with a variety of types for training and working up. Once this was complete the squadron received its operational equipment in te form of Camels, which it took to the Western Front in December 1917. However, on 19 January 1918 the squadron was redesignated No 4 Sqn, Australian Flying Corps and in this guise it operated until the Armistice before joining the Army of Occupation, being disbanded at Bruay on 28 February 1919.

During WW2 an number of Americans volunteered to fly in the RAF or RCAF and by late 1940 sufficient personnel were available to permit the formation of a separate unit. As such, No 71 became the first of the 'Eagle' squadrons when it was formed Church Fenton on 19 September 1940. Its first equipment was, ironically, American built Buffalos, but these were found to be completely unsuited to European conditions and in November Hurricanes arrived as the squadron's operational equipment. On 5 February 1941, the squadron became operational from Kirton-in-Lindsey but in April moved to Martlesham Heath. The squadron remained in the south for the rest of its time in the RAF, converting to Spitfires in August. 71 Squadron took part in the full range of offensive operations and defensive duties being carried out by Fighter Command at that time, but on 29 September 1942 the squadron, together with the other two (121 and 133) 'Eagle' squadrons were transferred to the US Army Air Force to become the 4th Fighter Group, with No 71 becoming the 334th Fighter Squadron.

A new No 71 Squadron, in the fighter-bomber role, was formed at Gutersloh on 16 September 1950. Equipped with Vampire FB Mk 5s, it replaced these with Sabre F Mk1 and 4s in October 1953 at the same reverting to the day fighter role. The Sabres began to be replaced with Hunters in April 1956, being fully equipped by the following month but a year later, on 30 April 1957, the squadron disbanded at Bruggen, to where they had moved in May 1956.

Squadron Codes used: -
EL Allocated Apr 1939 - Sep 1939
XR Nov 1940 - Sep 1942 (also used initially on transfer to USAAF)
L Sep 1950 - Oct 1953

 

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This webpage was updated 25th January 2019