No. 11 Squadron RAF
|No. 11 Squadron RAF|
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Part of||No. 1 Group RAF|
|Home station||RAF Coningsby|
|Motto(s)||Ociores acrioresque aquilis|
(Latin for Swifter and keener than eagles)
|March||Marching Through Georgia|
|Aircraft||Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4|
|Squadron tail badge|
|Squadron badge heraldry||Two eagles volant in pale, commemorating the unit's First World War operation of two-seater fighter-reconnaissance aircraft, eagles being chosen to symbolise speed and strength. Approved by King George VI in May 1937.|
No. 11 or XI Squadron (sometimes featuring a 'F' to represent its historic fighter role (No. 11(F) or XI(F) Squadron)), is one of the oldest fighter squadrons of the Royal Air Force: continuing the traditions established by the similarly numbered Royal Flying Corps squadron, established in 1915. After a history of equipment with numerous different aircraft types, the squadron most recently operated the Tornado F3 until 2005 when it was disbanded. It was reactivated in 2006 to operate the Typhoon F2, receiving its first aircraft (serial number ZJ931) on 9 October 2006.
World War 1
No. 11 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps was formed at Netheravon in Wiltshire on 14 February 1915 for "fighting duties", receiving two seat pusher Vickers Gunbus fighters in June, and deploying to France on 25 July 1915. Since all previous squadrons (Royal Flying Corps or other nations) were reconnaissance or army co-operation units, 11 can make a claim to be the oldest dedicated fighter squadron in the world. The squadron has had the honour of having two Victoria Cross winners serve in the unit.
The squadron's Gunbusses were soon pressed into service, with Second Lieutenant G. S. M. Insall being awarded a Victoria Cross for an action on 7 November 1915 in which he forced down and destroyed a German Aviatik observation aircraft. The Gunbus was already obsolete however, and was replaced by Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 fighters of similar layout, but higher performance, in June 1916. These in turn were replaced by Bristol Fighters in August 1917, these being used both for offensive patrols over German-held territory and for ground attack for the remainder of the war. The Squadron was disbanded at the end of 1919.
No. 11 Squadron numbered 19 flying aces in its ranks during the war. Among them were Victoria Cross winner Lionel Rees, as well as Andrew Edward McKeever, future Air Commodore John Stanley Chick, Eugene Coler, Albert Ball VC, Frederick Libby, Ronald Maudit, John Quested, Herbert Sellars, Donald Beard, Stephen Price and Hugh Hay Thomas Frederick Stephenson.
The twin Eagles on the Squadron's crest, awarded in May 1937, represent the two-seated fighters operated in the First World War.
Between the Wars
The Squadron reformed at RAF Andover in January 1923 as a day bomber squadron equipped with Airco DH.9As, soon moving to RAF Bircham Newton in Norfolk. In April 1924, these were replaced by the Fairey Fawn despite the fact that they offered little improvement in performance over the DH.9A, moving with them to RAF Netheravon in May that year. The unpopular Fawns were replaced by Hawker Horsleys in November 1926, in use until December 1928, when the squadron handed the Horsleys to 100 Squadron and was posted to Risalpur in India (now in Pakistan), flying Westland Wapitis in Army co-operation and carrying out punitive air raids against rebelling tribal forces. It replaced its Wapitis with Hawker Harts in February 1932, operations continuing as before. On 31 May 1935, the 1935 Quetta earthquake devastated the city of Quetta and the surrounding area. No. 11 Squadron, along with other RAF squadrons in the region, were used to aid the relief effort following the disaster. The squadron received Blenheim I monoplane bombers in July 1939, moving to Singapore the next month, just before the outbreak of World War II in Europe.
World War II
In April 1940 the squadron moved to India, and was briefly based at Karachi before was ordered to transfer to Aden due to the increasing likelihood of war with Italy. The first of the squadron's Blenheims reached Aden on 19 June 1940, nine days after Italy declared war on Britain, and flew its first combat mission of the war on 19 June. The squadron was heavily engaged in the early months of the Eastern Africa campaign, attacking Italian targets in Italian East Africa.
In early 1941 the squadron was sent to reinforce the Royal Air Force squadrons in Greece, fighting in the Greek Campaign first against the Italians and then the Germans. The few surviving aircraft and crews were evacuated to Crete and then on to Palestine. After reforming, the squadron served in the Syrian Campaign against the Vichy French and later took part in the Anglo-Soviet operation to secure the Persian oilfields for the Allies. After returning to Egypt the squadron took part in Operation Crusader.
Redeployed to Colombo, Ceylon in early 1942, the squadron was involved in attacks on Japanese shipping. During 1943, the Squadron re-equipped with Hurricanes and moved to Burma in the ground attack role, supporting the Fourteenth Army.
By January 1943, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel, or Australians serving in the RAF, made up almost 90% of the aircrews in the squadron (even though it was not officially an RAAF "Article XV squadron"). At the time, the Australian personnel included the CO, W/Cdr Harley Stumm.
11 Squadron was one of the few RAF squadrons to fight against Italian, German, Vichy French and Japanese forces.
The Squadron formed part of the occupation forces in Japan from August 1945 to February 1948, when it disbanded. Reforming in Germany during October 1949, they flew Mosquitos, Vampires and Venoms. The Squadron again disbanded in 1957, but reformed in January 1959 with Meteor night fighters. Javelins replaced the Meteors three years later and the Squadron was based at RAF Geilenkirchen West Germany equipped with this type until another disbandment in 1966.
Reforming in early 1967, No. 11 Squadron spent the next 21 years flying Lightnings, until May 1988. By that time it was one of the last two squadrons equipped with this aircraft and was based at RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire.
In February 2003 it was announced that some of No. 11 Squadron's Tornado F3s had been modified to carry the ALARM missile (as EF3s) to widen their capabilities to include suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD). The logic of this is clear, as Tornado GR4s are required to carry large offensive payloads while in recent conflicts the requirement for air superiority fighters has been limited.
Following the publication of the Future Capabilities study on 21 July 2004, XI(F) squadron disbanded in October 2005. The RAF announced that 11 Squadron would be the second front line squadron to re-equip with the Typhoon but would now be based at RAF Coningsby. The Squadron stood up at Coningsby on 29 March 2007, dropping the (F) designation in recognition of its new tasking as the Royal Air Force's lead Typhoon multi-role squadron.
In March 2011, 11 Sqn (assisted by some 29(R) squadron personnel and additional aircraft supplied by 29(R) and 3(F) Sqns) deployed to Gioia Del Colle, Bari, Italy, to help police the no-fly zone imposed by Resolution 1973 over Libya as part of Operation Ellamy.
XI(F) Squadron resumed the use of its '(F)' Fighter status during its centenary year, with celebrations taking place on 7 and 8 May 2015 in the form of a formal dinner with the Squadron Association, and a parade complete with flypast.
During February 2018, the squadron participated in Exercise Red Flag 18-1, the world's largest and most complex air combat exercise run by the US Air Force. For the duration of the exercise the squadron's Typhoons operated from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
List of aircraft operated by No. 11 Squadron.
- Vickers E.S.1 (1915–1915)
- Vickers FB.5/FB.9 (1915–1916)
- Bristol Scout (1915–1916)
- Nieuport 16/17 (1915–1916)
- Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b (1916–1917)
- Bristol F.2b (1917–1919)
- Airco DH.9A (1923–1924)
- Fairey Fawn (1924–1926)
- Hawker Horsley (1926–1928)
- Westland Wapiti (1928–1932)
- Hawker Hart (1932–1939)
- Bristol Blenheim Mk I/Mk IV (1939–1943)
- Hawker Hurricane Mk II (1943–1945)
- Supermarine Spitfire Mk XIV/Mk XVIII (1945–1948)
- de Havilland Mosquito FB.VI (1948–1950)
- de Havilland Vampire FB.5 (1950–1952)
- de Havilland Venom FB.1/FB.4 (1952–1957)
- Gloster Meteor NF.11 (1959–1962)
- Gloster Javelin FAW.4/FAW.5/FAW.9 (1959–1966)
- English Electric Lightning F.3/F.6 (1967–1988)
- Panavia Tornado F3 (1988–2005)
- Eurofighter Typhoon (2007 – present)
- Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 160. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
- "XI Squadron Song". XI Squadron Association. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
- "100th Typhoon arrives at RAF Coningsby". www.raf.mod.uk. Royal Air Force. 9 October 2006. Retrieved 26 October 2006.
- Ashworth 1989, pp. 51–52
- Guttman 2009, pp. 19–20.
- Ashworth 1989, p.52.
- "11 Squadron". theaerodrome.com. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
- Ashworth 1989, p.51.
- Lewis 1959, p.17.
- Delve 1985, p. 50.
- Moyes 1964, p. 65.
- Shores 1996, pp. 13–14.
- Shores 1996, pp. 17, 22.
- Shores 1996, p. 24.
- Shores 1996, pp. 27, 31, 40, 54–57, 59.
- George Odgers, 1968 (orig. 1957), Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 3 – Air: Volume II – Air War Against Japan, 1943–1945, Canberra, Australian War Memorial, p. 256.
- "11 Squadron Page". RAF Website. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
- "The last last Lightning show... [sic]". Air-Scene UK. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
- "RAF Typhoons join Exercise Red Flag in Nevada". Royal Air Force (Beta). 2 February 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
- "No.11 Squadron". National Cold War Exhibition. Royal Air Force Museum. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
Sources of information
- Ashworth, Chris. Encyclopedia of Modern Royal Air Force Squadrons. Wellingborough, UK:PSL, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-013-6.
- Delve, Ken. The Winged Bomb: History of 39 Squadron RAF. Earl Shilton, Leicester, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 1985. ISBN 0-904597-56-3.
- Lewis, Peter. Squadron Histories: R.F.C, R.N.A.S and R.A.F., 1912–59. London: Putnam, 1959.
- Guttman, Jon, et al. Pusher Aces of World War 1 Osprey Pub Co, 2009. ISBN 1-84603-417-5, ISBN 978-1-84603-417-6.
- Moyes, Philip. Bomber Squadrons of the R.A.F. And Their Aircraft. London: Macdonald, 1964.
- Shores, Chris. Dust Clouds in the Middle East: The Air War in East Africa, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Madagascar, 1940–1942. London:Grub Street, 1996. ISBN 1-898697-37-X.
- Shores, Chris. Giovanni Massimello and Russell Guest. A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940–1945: Volume One: North Africa June 1940–January 1942. London: Grub Street, 2012. ISBN 978-1-908117-07-6.
- Warner, Graham. The Bristol Blenheim: A complete history 2nd Edition. Crecy Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-85979-101-7.
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