No. 6 Squadron RAF

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No. 6 Squadron RAF
Squadron badge
Active31 January 1914 (1914-01-31) – 1 April 1918 (RFC)
1 April 1918 – 31 May 2007 (RAF)
6 September 2010 – present
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
BranchEnsign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
TypeFlying squadron
RoleMulti–role combat
Part ofNo. 1 Group (Air Combat)
Home stationRAF Lossiemouth
Nickname(s)'The Flying Tin Openers'[1]
Motto(s)Oculi Exercitus
(Latin for 'The eyes of the army')[2]
AircraftEurofighter Typhoon FGR.4
Battle honours * Honours marked with an asterisk may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Wing Commander N J Rees
Squadron tail badgeRAF 6 Sqn Shield.svg
Squadron badge heraldryAn eagle, wings elevated, preying on a serpent. The use of the Royal Regiment of Artillery's red lightning bolt on a light background, was adopted in recognition of the squadron's close cooperation with the Royal Artillery during the First World War.[3] The badge was approved by King George VI in January 1938.
RoundelRAF 6 Sqn.svg
Aircraft codesEA–EZ (Present)

Number 6 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 at RAF Lossiemouth.[4] It was previously equipped with the SEPECAT Jaguar GR.3 in the close air support and tactical reconnaissance roles, and was posted to RAF Coltishall, Norfolk until April 2006, moving to RAF Coningsby until disbanding for the first time in its history on 31 May 2007. The squadron officially reformed as a Typhoon squadron on 6 September 2010.[5] No. 6 Squadron is unique in having two Royal standards, having been awarded its second one by King Abdullah I of Jordan in October 1950 due to its long period of service in the Middle East.


First World War[edit]

Lanoe Hawker's RFC Scout C 1611, flown by Hawker on 25 July 1915 in his Victoria Cross-earning engagement.

The squadron was formed on 31 January 1914, at Farnborough as No. 6 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. Its first squadron commander was Major John Becke.[6] The squadron had an initial aircraft inventory of two Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2s and two Farmans, with the squadron also initially incorporating a flight operating man-lifting kite.[7] The squadron, equipped with a mixture of B.E.2s, Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.8s and Farmans crossed the English Channel in October 1914 to support IV Corps in its attempt to prevent the Germans from capturing Antwerp.[8][9] In November, the squadron joined the newly formed 2nd Wing of the RFC, with the role of supporting the Second and Third Corps.[10]

On 25 July 1915, Captain Lanoe Hawker attacked three German aircraft in succession. The first aerial victory for Hawker that day occurred after he emptied a complete drum of bullets from his aircraft's single Lewis machine gun into a German aircraft which went spinning down. The second victory saw a German aircraft driven to the ground damaged, and the third saw a German aircraft – an Albatros C.I of FFA 3 – burst into flames and crash. For this feat he was awarded the Victoria Cross.[11]

Inter-war years[edit]

Hawker Hardy aircraft operating from RAF Ramleh airfield in the 1930s

Following the Armistice, the squadron transferred to Iraq, arriving in July 1919. Operating in the army co-operation role in Northern Iraq, it was equipped with Bristol Fighters. It was later re-equipped with Fairey Gordons and assumed the bomber role, Hawker Harts replacing these in 1935.[12]

Second World War[edit]

A No. 6 Squadron Hawker Hurricane IID over the Western Desert during 1942.
No. 6 Squadron Hawker Hurricane Mk.IId BP188 over the Western Desert during 1942.

The squadron relocated to Palestine in 1938, reverting to the army co-operation role with Hawker Hardys, adding Gloster Gauntlets and Westland Lysanders.[13] When hostilities with Italy broke out in June 1940, the squadron deployed one flight of aircraft to Egypt to work with the army, with the remainder of the squadron remained in Palestine.[14] Between September 1940 and September 1943 the squadron saw action in the tank-busting, 40 mm cannon-firing Hawker Hurricane Mk. IID, over the Western Desert.[13]

In the spring of 1944, the squadron moved to a coastal field south-east of Termoli, Italy. The squadron flew Hurricane Mk.IVs equipped with rocket projectiles. Moored Axis ships were attacked at Yugoslav harbours and the Dalmatian islands. They were strongly defended by anti-aircraft gunners on Siebel ferries with their multiple guns, as the ships were being used to supply the German forces. Squadron detachments were also made to Bastia in Corsica, Araxos near Patras in Greece, Brindisi, and near Ancona. A fixed 44-gallon extra petrol tank under the port wing increased the Hurricanes' duration to almost three hours at 160 mph cruising speed. The airfield on Vis (island) was extensively used as an advanced base from May 1944 to February 1945, usually to top up tanks before each armed reconnaissance.[15][16]

Post-Second World War/Cold War[edit]

In July 1945, the squadron moved to Palestine where it cooperated with the police, patrolling the Kirkuk-to-Haifa oil pipeline to prevent terrorist attacks. The squadron remained in the Middle East until 1969. During this period, the squadron went from being equipped with Hurricanes (and for a brief period four Spitfires due to a lack of available Hurricanes) to Hawker Tempest Mk. VIs and subsequently de Havilland Vampire FB.5s.[17]

In January 1950, the squadron moved to RAF Habbaniya in Iraq with many moves back and forth between RAF Habbaniya and RAF Shaibah in Iraq, RAF Abu Sueir and RAF Deversoir in the Suez Canal Zone, RAF Nicosia in Cyprus, RAF Mafraq and RAF Amman in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and detachments throughout the Middle East. While visiting Amman on 15 October 1950, No. 6 Squadron was awarded a Royal Standard by King Abdullah I of Jordan in recognition of the squadron's service in the Middle East since 1919.[18] The squadron continued its close relationship with Jordan throughout the early 1950s, with both King Talal and King Hussein. During this period, it continued to operate Vampires FB.5s and FB.9s(1952) and two twin-seat Gloster Meteor T.7s until it re-equipped with de Havilland Venom FB.1 in February 1954 and the Venom FB.4 in June 1955.[19]

On 6 April 1956, after a brief period back at RAF Habbaniya in Iraq the squadron returned to Cyprus and operated from RAF Akrotiri.[20] From there it attacked Egyptian airfields during the Suez Crisis. In 1957, the squadron again re-equipped, this time with English Electric Canberras, which it continued to operate from Akrotiri until 1969.[21]

A No. 6 Squadron SEPECAT Jaguar GR.3 over northern Iraq during 2000.
A No. 6 Squadron SEPECAT Jaguar GR.3 over northern Iraq during 2000.

Having been located outside of the UK for 50 years, the squadron returned in 1969 and was the first to receive the Phantom FGR.2 at RAF Coningsby the same year, before re-equipping with the Jaguar GR.1 and T.2 at RAF Lossiemouth in 1974. The squadron then moved to RAF Coltishall, being declared operational in the tactical nuclear role with twelve aircraft and eight WE.177 nuclear bombs until 1994, when the squadron's nuclear role was terminated and the weapons withdrawn.[22][23]

Post-Cold War[edit]

The squadron continued at RAF Coltishall in its non-nuclear role until Coltishall closed on 1 April 2006, and the squadron moved to RAF Coningsby. The squadron's aircraft were deployed to the Gulf as part of Operation Granby (Gulf War), for which it received battle honours, and later as part of the Northern No-Fly-Zone. The squadron deployed to Italy for operations over Bosnia from 1993.[24]

The squadron was the last to fly the SEPECAT Jaguar, and was disbanded on 31 May 2007. The Jaguar's intended replacement in RAF service was the Eurofighter Typhoon. The RAF announced that No. 6 Squadron was to be the fourth operational front-line squadron equipped with the Typhoon and the first with Tranche 2 aircraft, initially scheduled to reform in 2008 at RAF Leuchars in Fife. However, this was delayed until 2010, with the squadron reforming at RAF Leuchars on 6 September 2010, when a closed standing-up ceremony was performed to mark the squadron's reforming, including the arrival of the new Typhoon aircraft in 6 Squadron colours from RAF Coningsby.[4] It has taken over the role of Quick Reaction Alert for the north of the United Kingdom from No. 111 Squadron RAF, the RAF's last Panavia Tornado F.3 squadron, in March 2011.[4][25] In November 2011 four Typhoons from No. 6 Squadron flew to RMAF Butterworth to participate in aerial wargames for the 40th anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements.[26][27] In August 2013, several Typhoons from No. 6 were exercising with HMS Dragon and US fighters in the Gulf.[28] In June 2014, the squadron began to move to its new home in RAF Lossiemouth.[29]

The squadron participated in the 2018 missile strikes against Syria during the Syrian Civil War.[30]

In March 2020, the squadron was awarded the right to emblazon a battle honour on its squadron standard, recognising its role in Bosnia during 1995.[31]

Aircraft operated[edit]

Two Eurofighter Typhoons FGR.4 of No. 6 Squadron carry Paveway II training rounds en route to the Cape Wrath range in Scotland during March 2013.
Two Eurofighter Typhoons FGR.4 of No. 6 Squadron carry Paveway II training rounds en route to the Cape Wrath range in Scotland during March 2013.

Aircraft operated included:

Commanding officers[edit]

Commanding officers included:[32][33]

List of commanding officers
From To Name
February 1914 March 1915 Major J H W Becke[6]
March 1915 December 1915 Major G S Shephard[34]
December 1915 September 1916 Major R P Mills, MC, AFC[35]
September 1916 June 1917 Major A S Barratt, MC[36]
June 1917 July 1918 Major A W H James, MC
July 1918 February 1920 Major G C Pirie, MC[37]
February 1920 May 1920 S/Ldr W Sowrey[38]
May 1920 April 1922 S/Ldr E A B Rice
April 1922 January 1924 S/Ldr E R Manning, DSO, MC
January 1924 November 1925 S/Ldr D S K Crosbie, OBE
November 1925 November 1926 S/Ldr D F Stevenson, DSO, MC[39]
November 1926 January 1928 S/Ldr C N Lowe, MC, DFC
January 1928 February 1930 S/Ldr C H Keith
February 1930 February 1931 S/Ldr C R Cox, AFC
February 1934 January 1937 S/Ldr H M Massey, DSO, MC[40]
February 1940 September 1940 S/Ldr W N McKechnie, EGM
September 1940 April 1941 S/Ldr E R Weld
April 1941 February 1942 S/Ldr P Legge
February 1942 January 1943 W/Cdr R C Porteous, DSO
January 1943 May 1943 S/Ldr D Weston-Burt, DSO
May 1943 May 1944 W/Cdr A E Morrison-Bell, DFC
May 1944 August 1944 S/Ldr J H Brown, DSO, DFC
August 1944 November 1944 S/Ldr R H Langdon-Davies, DFC
November 1944 July 1946 S/Ldr R Slade-Betts, DFC
August 1946 December 1946 S/Ldr C E Mould
December 1946 November 1947 S/Ldr C K Gray, DFC
November 1947 July 1950 S/Ldr D Crowley-Milling, DSO, DFC Bar
July 1950 November 1952 S/Ldr P A Kennedy, DSO, DFC, AFC
November 1952 October 1954 S/Ldr E J Roberts
October 1954 November 1956 S/Ldr P C Ellis, DFC
November 1956 July 1957 S/Ldr G P Elliott
May 1969 August 1970 W/Cdr D Harcourt-Smith
August 1970 December 1972 W/Cdr J E Nevill
December 1972 June 1974 W/Cdr B W Lavender
June 1974 Jul 1975 W/Cdr R J Quarterman
Jul 1975 Dec 1977 Wg Cdr N R Hayward
Dec 1977 Mar 1980 Wg Cdr G B Robertson
Mar 1980 Aug 1982 Wg Cdr M N Evans
Aug 1982 Dec 1984 Wg Cdr D W Bramley
Dec 1984 Jun 1987 Wg Cdr N A Buckland
Jun 1987 Dec 1989 Wg Cdr I Reilly
Dec 1989 Feb 1992 Wg Cdr (later Gp Capt) J Connolly, AFC
Feb 1992 Jul 1994 Wg Cdr A D Sweetman
Jul 1994 Dec 1996 Wg Cdr I A Milne
Dec 1996 Jul 1999 Wg Cdr M J Roche
Jul 1999 Jul 2002 Wg Cdr R W Judson
Jul 2002 Jul 2004 Wg Cdr M J Sears, MBE
Jul 2004 Apr 2006 Wg Cdr W A Cruickshank
Apr 2006 May 2007 Wg Cdr J M Sullivan
Sep 2010 Oct 2012 Wg Cdr R Dennis
Oct 2012 Aug 2014 Wg Cdr M R Baulkwill
Aug 2014 Nov 2016 Wg Cdr J R E Walls, DSO
Nov 2016 May 2019 Wg Cdr W D Cooper
May 2019 Sep 2021 Wg Cdr M D’Aubyn
Sep 2021 Present Wg Cdr N J Rees



  1. ^ "1939 – 1945". 6 Squadron RAF Association. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  2. ^ Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 160. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  3. ^ Smith, Peter C. (1974). Royal Air Force squadron badges (1 ed.). St. Ives [Cambs.]: Balfour Publications. p. 14. ISBN 0-85944-012-5.
  4. ^ a b c d McManamon, Craig (7 September 2010). "Typhoons mark a new era at RAF Leuchars". The Courier (Dundee). Archived from the original on 11 September 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  5. ^ Dsouza, Cavin (5 October 2010). "Eurofighter Typhoon replaces Tornado F3 in No. 6 Squadron of the Royal Air Force". Defence Aviation. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b Barrass, M. B. (2015). "J. H. W. Becke". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  7. ^ Yoxall Flight 28 December 1950, p. 617
  8. ^ Yoxall Flight 28 December 1950, p. 618
  9. ^ Raleigh 1922, p. 346
  10. ^ Raleigh 1922, p. 435
  11. ^ "No. 29273". The London Gazette. 24 August 1915. p. 8395.
  12. ^ "1919-1935". 6 Squadron Association. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  13. ^ a b "No. 6 Squadron (RAF): Second World War". History of War. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  14. ^ Yoxall Flight 4 January 1951, p. 11
  15. ^ Jefford, C.G. (2001). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  16. ^ The "Tin-opener". No 6 Squadron (RAF) Association Newsletter. July 2014.
  17. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 26
  18. ^ "6 Squadron Standards". 6 Squadron RAF Association. Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  19. ^ Jefford, C.G. (2001). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  20. ^ Air Chief Marshal Sir David Lee, "Flight From The Middle East," (H.M.S.O. London, UK, 1980), ISBN 0117723568, 106; Jefford, "RAF Squadrons," 1988, 26.
  21. ^ Brookes, Andrew (2014). RAF Canberra Units of the Cold War. Osprey. ISBN 978-1782004110.
  22. ^ Burnell, Brian. "WE.177C". A Guide to British Nuclear Weapon projects. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  23. ^ Burnell, Brian (2009). "Nuclear weapons details and No. 6 Squadron data for 1975". A Guide to British Nuclear Weapon projects. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  24. ^ "1991-2003". 6 Squadron Association. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  25. ^ "Squadron with Style". Royal Air Force. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  26. ^ "MINDEF". Singapore Ministry of Defence. 2 November 2011. Archived from the original on 5 August 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  27. ^ "Malaysian exercise resounding success for RAF Typhoon squadron". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  28. ^ "Dragon controls Typhoon in test of ultimate air and sea power". Navy News. 21 August 2013. Archived from the original on 30 April 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  29. ^ Gibson, Ali (23 June 2014). "6 Squadron Mark Relocation to RAF Lossiemouth". Forces TV. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  30. ^ "Strikes on Syria: Tornado back at war". Air Forces Monthly. 14 April 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  31. ^ "RAF Squadrons Receive Battle Honours from Her Majesty The Queen". Royal Air Force. 24 March 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  32. ^ Rawlings 1982, p. 17.
  33. ^ Rawlings 1978, pp. 33,561.
  34. ^ Barrass, M. B. (2015). "G S Shephard". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  35. ^ Barrass, M. B. (2015). "R. P. Mills". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  36. ^ Barrass, M. B. (2015). "A. S. Barratt". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  37. ^ Barrass, M. B. (2015). "G. C. Pirie". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  38. ^ Barrass, M. B. (2015). "W. Sowrey". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  39. ^ Barrass, M. B. (2015). "D. F. Stevenson". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  40. ^ Barrass, M. B. (2015). "H M Massey". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 24 July 2015.


External links[edit]