No. 57 Squadron RAF

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No. 57 Squadron RAF
Squadron badge
  • 8 Jun 1916 – 31 Dec 1919
  • 20 Oct 1931 - 9 Dec 1957
  • 1 Jan 1959 - 30 Jun 1986
  • 1 Jul 1992 - 14 Mar 2002
  • 1 Oct 2008 – present
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
BranchAir Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Air Force
TypeFlying squadron
RoleElementary Flying Training
Part ofNo. 3 Flying Training School
Home stationRAF Cranwell
Motto(s)Corpus non animum muto
(Latin for I change my body not my spirit)[1]
Battle honours * Honours marked with an asterisk may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Squadron badge heraldryIssuant from two logs fesse-wise in saltire a phoenix, commemorating that on one occasion during the First World War the whole of the flying personnel became casualties within a few days, but the squadron remained in action with new personnel. Approved by King George VI in December 1936.
Post 1950 squadron roundelRAF 1 Sqn.svg
Squadron codesEQ (Nov 1938 – Sep 1939)[2]
DX (Apr 1940 – Apr 1951)[2]
QT (1944 – Nov 1945, 'C' Flt)[2]

No. 57 Squadron RAF is a Royal Air Force flying training squadron.

First World War[edit]

57 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps was formed from on 8 June 1916 at Copmanthorpe, Yorkshire when it was split off from 33 Squadron, taking on its parent unit's part-time training role to allow 33 Squadron to concentrate on its main duties as a night fighter unit.[3] No. 57 Squadron continued in its training role, equipped with a mixture of Avro 504s and Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2s, until October that year, when it began to prepare for its planned role as a fighter-reconnaissance squadron, receiving Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2d two-seat pusher biplanes in November.[4]

On 16 December 1916 the squadron arrived at St. André-aux-Bois in France, moving to Fienvillers on 22 January 1917.[5][6] By April 1917 the F.E.2d was obsolete,[7] and the squadron suffered heavy losses supporting the British offensive at Arras.[8] Examples included the loss of five F.E.2s in combat with a formation of German two-seaters on 6 April and the shooting down of three F.E.2s from a formation of seven by a group of 20 German fighters.[9] The squadron re-equipped with more modern Airco DH4s in May 1917, changing role to long-range bomber-reconnaissance. After training on the new type, the squadron commenced operations near Ypres in June of that year, moving to Droglandt on 12 June and Boisdinghem on 27 June.[6][10] The squadron joined the 27th Wing, part of the V Brigade Royal Flying Corps, to support the British Army at the Ypres Offensive.[11] The squadron's activities included bombing railway junctions and German airfields during the Battle of Langemarck in August 1917 and reconnaissance duties during the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge in September.[12]

The squadron was deployed against the German Spring Offensive of 1918, attacking railway targets,[13] taking part in both low- and high-level attacks to try to stem the German advance.[14] From August 1918, the squadron carried out operations in support of the series of Allied offensives against the Germans that became known as the Hundred Days Offensive.[15]

It was one of the few bomber units to produce flying aces, having five on strength. William Edward Green scored nine wins,[16] James Grant[17] and Forde Leathley eight,[18] E. Graham Joy seven (plus one later in 205 Squadron),[19] and Arthur Thomas Drinkwater scored six, all in Airco DH.4s.[20] In total, the squadron claimed 166 German aircraft during the war, dropping 285 tons of bombs and taking 22,030 photos.[21]

Following the Armistice the squadron was assigned to mail carrying duties before returning to the UK in August 1919.[21] It was based at RAF South Carlton from 4 August 1919 as a cadre before being disbanded on 31 December 1919.[22]

Between the Wars[edit]

The squadron re-formed at Netheravon on 20 October 1931 equipped with the Hawker Hart single-engined light bomber.[23][24] It moved to RAF Upper Heyford on 5 September 1932.[6] In 1933, 57 Squadron took part in the annual RAF Air Display at Hendon, and together with 18 Squadron and 33 Squadron, demonstrated a formation takeoff by a three-squadron light bomber wing, repeating this display (this time in conjunction with 15 Squadron and 18 Squadron) at the 1935 show.[25] Another highlight was participation in the Royal Review of the RAF by King George V at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Duxford on 6 July 1935.[26][27] The squadron started to receive the Hawker Hind, an improved development of the Hart, in March 1936, replacing the Hart by May 1936.[6][28][29] On 1 May 1936 the squadron joined the newly established No. 1 Group RAF, which became part of RAF Bomber Command on 14 July 1936.[30] The squadron re-equipped with Bristol Blenheim Mk I twin-engined monoplane bombers from March 1938, discarding its last Hinds in May that year.[6] The squadron joined 2 Group on 1 January 1939,[31] training for both anti-shipping missions and low-level close support operations.[32]

Second World War[edit]

Flying Officer R.W. Stewart, a wireless operator on a Lancaster of 57 Squadron based at RAF Scampton speaking to the pilot from his position in front of the Marconi T1154/R1155 transmitter/receiver set

Following the outbreak of the Second World War the squadron moved to France as part of the Air Component of the British Expeditionary Force,[31] operating from Roye/Amy from 24 September 1939 in the strategic reconnaissance role and moving to Rosières-en-Santerre on 18 October.[4] Following the German invasion of May 1940, the squadron re-added bombing to its reconnaissance duties, but was forced to frequently change bases to avoid the German advance, moving to Poix on 17 May and Crécy-en-Ponthieu (the site of the Battle of Crécy in 1346) before evacuating to England on 21 May.[4] After a brief stay at Wyton[22] the squadron was tasked with carrying out anti-shipping strikes against the coast of Norway and moved to RAF Elgin in Scotland.[22]

No. 57 Squadron Lancaster with "Usual" area bombing load of 4000 pound blast bomb and incendiary bombs

The squadron moved to Feltwell in November 1940 to re-equip with the Vickers Wellington. In September 1942 the squadron moved to Scampton and converted to Avro Lancasters. This was followed by a move to East Kirkby in August 1943 from where it operated for the remainder of the war, until disbanding on 25 November 1945.[33]

During the War the squadron flew 5151 operational sorties and lost 172 aircraft.[34]


The squadron was re-formed on 26 November 1945 at RAF Elsham Wolds by re-numbering of 103 Squadron; it operated the Lancaster I and II and the Avro Lincoln.[22] On 2 December 1945 the squadron moved to RAF Scampton before moving to RAF Lindholme with the Lincolns, then moved again in October 1946 to RAF Waddington.[22] In May 1951 the squadron moved to RAF Marham where it converted to the Boeing Washington.[22] After converting it moved in June 1951 to RAF Waddington and in April 1952 to RAF Coningsby.[22] The Washingtons were retired in 1953 and the squadron re-equipped with the twin jet English Electric Canberra B.2 from May 1953. The following year the squadron moved to RAF Cottesmore, in February 1955 it moved to RAF Honington and in November 1956 returned to RAF Coningsby.[22] The squadron disbanded at Coningsby on 9 December 1957.[22]

Victor K.1A tanker of No. 57 Squadron in 1968.

The squadron re-formed on 1 January 1959 at Honington as part of the V bomber force equipped with the Handley Page Victor. In December 1965 the squadron moved to Marham to take on the role of a tanker squadron, before disbanding again on 30 June 1986.[35]

The squadron number plate was assigned to the Lockheed C-130 Hercules training unit, then No. 242 OCU, at RAF Lyneham on 1 June 1992.[36] The unit continued flying the Hercules until 14 March 2002. From 1 October 2008 the 57 Squadron plate was assigned to No. 2 Squadron, 1 EFTS as an elementary flying training squadron, at Wyton. The squadron was then moved to RAF Cranwell as part of No. 3 Flying Training School RAF in 2014. Under current plans, it will disband as a Tutor squadron in March 2018, to reform later that year as a Prefect squadron under MFTS.[37]

Aircraft operated[edit]

Dates Aircraft Variant Notes
1916 Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 BE2c
1916 Avro 504 504K
1916–1917 Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 FE2d
1917–1919 Airco DH.4
1919 de Havilland DH.9 DH.9A
1931–1936 Hawker Hart
1936–1938 Hawker Hind
1938–1940 Bristol Blenheim I
1940 Bristol Blenheim IV
1940–1942 Vickers Wellington IA, IC, II and III
1942–1946 Avro Lancaster I & III
1945–1951 Avro Lincoln B2
1951–1953 Boeing Washington B1
1953–1957 English Electric Canberra B2
1959–1966 Handley Page Victor B1
1966–1977 Handley Page Victor K1
1976–1986 Handley Page Victor K2
1992–2002 Lockheed Hercules
2008–2018 Grob Tutor T1
2018- Grob Prefect T1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 40. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. ^ a b c "No 56 – 60 Squadron Histories". Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  3. ^ Halley 1980, pp. 64, 93.
  4. ^ a b c Halley 1980, pp. 93–94.
  5. ^ Jones 1931, p. 285.
  6. ^ a b c d e Halley 1980, p. 94.
  7. ^ Bruce 1982, p. 423.
  8. ^ Jones 1931, p. 335.
  9. ^ Jones 1931, p. 369.
  10. ^ Moyes 1964, p. 85.
  11. ^ Jones 1934, p. 140.
  12. ^ Jones 1934, pp. 177–178, 182.
  13. ^ Jones 1934, pp. 311–312.
  14. ^ Jones 1934, pp. 323–325, 343–344.
  15. ^ Jones 1937, pp. 449, 459, 470, 491, 518, 523, 529.
  16. ^ Franks, et al, p. 66.
  17. ^ "James Grant". Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  18. ^ Franks, et al, p. 89.
  19. ^ Franks, et al, p. 69.
  20. ^ Franks, et al, p. 63.
  21. ^ a b Moyes 1964, p. 86.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jefford 1988, p. 43
  23. ^ Halley 1980, p. 93.
  24. ^ "Air Ministry Notices: New Bomber Squadrons". Flight, 30 October 1930, Vol. XXIII, No. 44, p. 1093.
  25. ^ Thetford Aeroplane Monthly July 1995, pp. 55–56.
  26. ^ Thetford Aeroplane Monthly July 1995, pp. 56–57.
  27. ^ "The King Reviews the Royal Air Force". Flight, 11 July 1935, Vol. XXVIII, No. 1385, pp. 40–45.
  28. ^ Thetford Aeroplane Monthly August 1995, p. 39.
  29. ^ Thetford Aeroplane Monthly July 1995, p. 55.
  30. ^ Thetford Aeroplane Monthly August 1995, p. 36.
  31. ^ a b Bowyer 1974, p. 484.
  32. ^ Bowyer 1974, p. 48.
  33. ^ Halpenny 1981, p. 89.
  34. ^ Falconer 2003, p. 242
  35. ^ "No. 57 Squadron". RAF Museum. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  36. ^ March, Peter R. (1998). Brace by Wire to Fly-By-Wire – 80 Years of the Royal Air Force 1918–1998. RAF Fairford: Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund Enterprises. p. 158. ISBN 1-899808-06-X.
  37. ^ "120TP Prefect | Royal Air Force". Retrieved 22 July 2018.


External links[edit]