335th Squadron (HAF)

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335th Squadron
335 Μοίρα
335 MB.png
The badge of 335 Sq.
Active 7 October 1941-
Country  Greece
Branch Hellenic Air Force
Role Multirole
Part of 116th Combat Wing
Garrison/HQ Araxos Air Base
Aircraft flown
Bomber F-16 Block 52+

The 335th Squadron (Greek: 335 Μοίρα, 335 M), callsign "Tigers", is the oldest squadron in service with the Hellenic Air Force.[1] It is based at Araxos Air Base in the Peloponnese, forming part of the 116th Combat Wing. Until March 2008, the squadron was equipped with the A-7H Corsair, and is operating with 30 newly purchased F-16 Block 52+ aircraft.[2]

History[edit]

Foundation and World War II[edit]

No. 335 (Greek) Squadron RAF
335RHAF.PNG
The unofficial Squadron Badge of No. 335 (Greek) Squadron RAF
Active 10 October 1941 - 31 July 1945
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Allegiance  Greece
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Fighter squadron
Part of RAF Fighter Command
Motto Αίεν Υψικρατείν
(Greek:"Always dominate the Heights")
Insignia
Squadron Code FG (Oct 1941 - Jul 1946)

In April 1941, the German Wehrmacht overran Greece. The Greek government under King George II fled to Allied-controlled Egypt, were it began to establish expatriate Greek Armed Forces. These were formed out of personnel that had been evacuated from Greece or fled to the Middle East during the Occupation, and were equipped and organised along British lines, coming under British command. They had also been formed from Greeks who migrated to Egypt or were born in Egypt before the War.

Major Xenphon Varvaresos, Commanding Officer of the squadron, in front of a Hawker Hurricane Mark I at Aqir, Palestine
Members of the squadron celebrating the successful bombing of the Italian XX Corps headquarters, Oct. 28, 1942.

The squadron was formed as the 335th Royal Hellenic Pursuit Squadron (335 Βασιλική Ελληνική Μοίρα Διώξεως, 335 Β.Ε.Μ.Δ.), designated within the British Royal Air Force as No 335 (Greek) Squadron, on 10 October 1941 at Aqir airfield in Palestine.[3][4] Its first commander was Squadron Leader Xenophon Varvaressos,[4][5] and the personnel was provided from a core of Greek pilots who were undergoing training in Iraq, augmented by others who had fled from Greece.[1] Initially it was equipped with Hurricane Mk I aircraft, and employed while training in defensive duties until January 1942. Subsequently the squadron was transferred to El Daba in Egypt, where it was declared as fully operational on 12 February 1942.[6] The squadron began operations over the Western Desert, where it operated continuously until late 1942, participating in convoy protection, bomber escort and ground attack roles. Between June and September 1942, it was re-equipped with Hurricane IIBs.[7] Under Squadron Leader Ioannis Kellas, the squadron participated in the air operations of the Second Battle of El Alamein; on 28 October 1942, the second anniversary of the Italian invasion of Greece, the squadron organized a strafing attack on the Italian XX Corps headquarters, an operation that was a huge morale booster for the expatriate Greeks.[1][8]

In the aftermath of the Allied victory, the squadron returned to shipping protection duties, while being outfitted with the newer Spitfire Mk Vb and Vc aircraft from December 1943 onwards.[9] On 15 September, the squadron was moved along with its sister unit to the Italian theatre, from where it carried out operations primarily over occupied Yugoslavia.[10]

In November the Greek squadrons returned to liberated Greece, where they were engaged in operations against the remaining German garrisons in the Aegean islands and Crete. On 31 July 1945, the squadron was disbanded from the RAF and transferred to Greek control.[7] The motto of the 335 Squadron Αίεν Υψικρατείν ("Always dominate the Heights") is now the official motto of the Hellenic Air Force.

Post-war history[edit]

F-104G Starfighter painted in the special "Tiger" scheme for the type's decommissioning from 335 Squadron.
335 Sq. A-7E Corsair II painted in a special "Tiger" scheme at the "Archangel" Air Show, 2005.

Following the hand-over, the squadron was deployed to Sedes Air Base near Thessaloniki. From there, after the outbreak of the Greek Civil War, the squadron participated in operations against the Communist guerrillas. In June 1947 it was equipped with Spitfires Mk IX and XVI, which were retained until October 1953, when the squadron, now based at Elefsis, was equipped with jet aircraft: the US-made F-84 Thunderjet fighter-bombers and RT-33A reconnaissance aircraft.[1] The redesignated 335th Fighter-Bomber Squadron (335 Μοίρα Διώξεως-Βομβαρδισμού) came under the 111th Combat Wing at Nea Anchialos until September 1957, when it redeployed to 110th Combat Wing at Larissa, where it was equipped with F-84F jets.[1]

In November 1960, the squadron was transferred to Tanagra and assigned to ground strike duties as the 335th Strike Squadron (335 Μοίρα Κρούσης), where it remained until its transfer to Araxos in June 1977. In May 1965 the squadron was equipped with the F-104G, and would continue flying the Starfighters until May 1992.[1] In December 1987 the squadron received 10 RF-104 aircraft and formed a separate Photoreconnaissance Flight. These aircraft remained in service until the type was decommissioned in May 1992.

On 3 April 1993, the squadron was established as the 335th Bomber Squadron (335 Μοίρα Βομβαρδισμού), flying the A-7H Corsair, from a batch of 62 aircraft handed over by the US Air Force as surplus following the First Gulf War.[1] The squadron operated the aircraft until 2008, when it began receiving new F-16 Block 52+ Advanced aircraft. Converted to a multirole squadron, it became operational with the type in February 2010.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g 335 Squadron, Hellenic Air Force website
  2. ^ "Ptisi & Diastima" magazine, vol.280, Jan09
  3. ^ see image of the relevant order
  4. ^ a b The Desert Squadrons, p. 51
  5. ^ "Hellenic Squadron’s Commander". www.ww2incolor.com. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  6. ^ The Desert Squadrons, p. 52
  7. ^ a b RAF Squadron Histories
  8. ^ The Desert Squadrons, p. 53
  9. ^ The Desert Squadrons, p. 54
  10. ^ The Desert Squadrons, p. 75

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]