RAF No 18 Squadron emblem

RAF No 87 (United Provinces) Squadron

Motto: Maximus me Metuit (The most powerful fear me)

Formed at Upavon from 'D' Squadron of the CFS on 1 September 1917, it was equipped with Avro 504Ks, Pups and SE5As for training. Dolphins began to arrive in December and it was these which the squadron took to the Western Front in April 1918. I t flew fighter and ground attack operations until the end of the war and returned to Ternhill in February 1919, where it disbanded on 24 June.

The squadron reformed, again in the fighter role on 15 March 1937 at Tangmere. It was equipped with Furies initially, but in June Gladiators began to replace these, whilst at the same time the squadron moved to Debden. Conversion to Hurricanes began in July 1938 and on the outbreak of war the squadron was dispatched to France as part of the Air Component of the BEF. Following the German invasion the squadron was heavily involved in air action for the next two weeks, but then needed to be withdrawn to recuperate and re-equip.

Re-equipment took place at Church Fenton and in July the squadron returned to the South-West where it carried out both day and night patrols as part of no 10 Group. It gradually began to concentrate on night operations and these were extended to night intruder sorties from March 1941 and these continued until November 1942. At this point the squadron was detached to Gibraltar to support 'Operation Torch', the Allied landings in North Africa. It continued to provide defensive cover for the 1st Army throughout the North African campaign.

Spitfires replaced the Hurricanes in April 1943 and in September it moved to Sicily. In January 1944 the squadron operated detachments from Italy from where it carried out fighter sweeps over the Balkans. The squadron re-located to the Italian mainland in June and from the following August it began to conduct fighter-bomber operations. These were maintained until the end of the war, after which the squadron remained as part of the occupation forces until disbanding Tissano on 30 December 1946.

The squadron number was briefly activated when it was linked with No 56 Squadron from 11 February 1949 to 31 December 1951. The squadron being reformed the following day at Wahn in the night fighter role. It was equipped with Meteor NF Mk 11s and these where operated until December 1957, although Javelins had begun to arrive in August. However, on 3 January 1961 the squadron disbanded for the final time.

Squadron Codes used: -

PD Oct 1938 - Sep 1939
LK Sep 1939 - Dec 1946
B Jan 1952 - Jan 1961

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This webpage was updated 30th June 2023