No. 207 Squadron RAF

Number 207 Squadron is an historic bomber squadron and, latterly, a communications and flying training squadron of the Royal Air Force. It was announced on 5 July 2017 that No. 207 Squadron will again reform to become the Operational Conversion Unit for the UK F-35B Lightning Force and will return to RAF Marham in Norfolk where it was last based in 1965.[11] No. 207 Squadron arrived at RAF Marham with six F-35Bs on 16 July 2019 before officially standing up on 1 August.[3][12]

No. 207 Squadron RAF
Active31 December 1916 – 1 April 1918 (RNAS)
1 April 1918 – 20 January 1920 (RAF)
1 February 1920 – 19 April 1940
1 November 1940 – 1 March 1950
4 June 1951 – 27 March 1956
1 April 1956 – 1 May 1965
3 February 1969 – 30 June 1984
12 July 2002 – 13 January 2012[1][2]
1 August 2019 – present[3]
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchAir Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Air Force
TypeFlying squadron
RoleOperational conversion unit
Part ofNo. 1 Group (Air Combat)
Home stationRAF Marham
Nickname(s)"Black Cat Squadron" (WW1)
"City of Leicester" (After 1939)
Motto(s)Latin: Semper paratus
("Always prepared")[4]
AircraftLockheed Martin F-35B Lightning
Battle honoursWestern Front, 1916–1918
Ypres, 1917*
Somme, 1918*
Amiens
Hindenburg Line*
Biscay Ports, 1941–1945
German Ports, 1941–1945*
Berlin, 1941–1945*
Ruhr, 1941–1945*
Baltic 1941–1945
Fortress Europe 1941–1944
France & Germany, 1944–1945*
Normandy, 1944*
Honours marked with an asterisk* are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
Commanders
Current
commander
Wing Commander Scott "Mox" Williams
Notable
commanders
Arthur Tedder
Vashon James Wheeler
Insignia
Squadron Badge heraldryA winged lion statant[4] Approved by King Edward VIII in May 1936.[5]
Squadron roundelRAF 207 Sqn.svg
Squadron Codes207 (Apr 1938 – Apr 1939)
NJ (Apr 1939 – Sep 1939)[6][7]
EM (Nov 1939 – Mar 1950)[8][9]
D (1983–1984)[10]

HistoryEdit

Formation and World War IEdit

 
Handley Page O/400 bomber D8345 of No. 207 Squadron about to land at Andover, May–June 1918.

The main contingent of No. 7 Squadron RNAS was formed from "B" Squadron of No. 4 Wing RNAS on 31 December 1916 at Petite-Synthe, France. However, it is noteworthy that an earlier contingent of the Squadron had previously formed in Kondoa Irangi, Tanganyika, in May 1916, flying Aéroplanes Voisins and Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2cs for seven months on reconnaissance and bombing duties until disbanding there in January 1917, thus leaving the component in France to endure thereafter.[13][14] Formed as a specialist night bomber squadron in France in December 1916, No. 7 RNAS flew its first missions on 3 February 1917, with four Short Bombers setting out against the Brugge (Bruges) docks.[15] In April of that year it re-equipped with Handley Page O/100s, using them for night raids, including attacks against rail targets and ammunition dumps during the Second Battle of Ypres.[15] The squadron then split into two in July 1917, with eight O/100s forming the initial equipment of 7A Squadron - later becoming 14 Squadron RNAS - while 7 Squadron continued with 10 O/100s.[16][17]

On the formation of the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918 it became No. 207 Squadron RAF, moving back to Netheravon in England for re-equipping with the more advanced version of the O/100, the Handley Page O/400, returning to France in July as part of No. 54 Wing and continuing to fly night raids against railway targets.[15] It moved to Germany as part of the Army of Occupation in January 1919, serving there until August, when it handed its aircraft to No. 100 Squadron and returned to England, where it disbanded on 20 January 1920 at RAF Uxbridge.[18]

Inter-war periodEdit

The squadron re-formed on 1 February 1920 at RAF Bircham Newton.[2] Its Airco DH.9As saw service in Turkey in 1922, when it was deployed to Constantinople under the command of Arthur Tedder as part of the British intervention in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922); the Squadron returned to England in September 1923.[15][18] It re-equipped with Fairey IIIFs in December 1927, and with the radial engined development of the IIIF, the Fairey Gordon in August 1932. In 1935, as a response to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, it was sent to Sudan. The Gordon's Armstrong Siddeley Panther engine proved unreliable in desert conditions, however, and they were replaced with Vickers Vincents. The following year, the squadron, again re-equipped with Gordons, returned home to RAF Worthy Down, joining RAF Bomber Command. It re-equipped with Vickers Wellesleys in 1937, only for them to be replaced with Fairey Battles early the following year. Based at RAF Cottesmore, the squadron took the role of an Operational Training Unit.[19]

Second World WarEdit

On 19 April 1940, the squadron's training role was assumed by No. 12 Operational Training Unit (OTU), allowing No. 207 Squadron to re-form on 1 November of that year as part of Bomber Command's No. 5 Group. At RAF Waddington, the squadron's crews were assigned the task of introducing the ill-fated Avro Manchester into service. Later moving to RAF Bottesford, the Manchesters were replaced by the much improved Avro Lancaster in March 1942. The squadron relocated to RAF Langar on 21 September, owing to the Bottesford runway surface breaking up and needing urgent repairs. In October 1943, No. 207 Squadron became the first occupant of the newly opened RAF Spilsby bomber station.[20]

The squadron was scheduled to form part of the Tiger Force against Imperial Japan. With the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Tiger Force plans were dropped and in November 1945, No. 207 Squadron relocated to RAF Methwold in Norfolk.[20]

Cold War (1946–1984)Edit

Bombing role (1946–1965)Edit

 
Vickers Valiant B.1 of No. 207 Squadron at Filton Airport, Bristol, in the 1960s.

After moving to RAF Mildenhall in 1949 and briefly replacing the Lancaster with the Avro Lincoln, the Squadron was disbanded on 1 March 1950. Re-formed on 4 June 1951 at RAF Marham, No. 207 Squadron flew the Boeing Washington B.1 until March 1954, when it was replaced by the English Electric Canberra, which remained in service with the squadron until it disbanded on 27 March 1956.[20]

On 1 April 1956, the squadron re-formed again at RAF Marham and was now equipped with the Vickers Valiant B.1. In October the same year, No. 207 Squadron deployed to RAF Luqa, Malta, to take part in the Suez Campaign,[21] flying 11 sorties over Egypt between October and November.[22] On 1 May 1965, the squadron disbanded with the grounding of the Valiant fleet.[20]

Communications role (1969–1984)Edit

 
de Havilland Devon C.2 VP981 of No. 207 Squadron, 1977.

No. 207 Squadron was re-formed on 3 February 1969 at RAF Northolt by redesignating the Strike Command Communications Squadron, which had been until 1 January 1969 the Southern Communications Squadron based at RAF Bovingdon.[23] It was equipped with Devon C.2s, Basset CC.1s and Pembroke C.1s, with the squadron first retiring the Bassets in 1974, and its last Pembroke being transferred to No. 60 Squadron in Germany in November 1975, leaving No. 207 Squadron with 14 Devons.[24] Detachments of the squadron were located at RAF Wyton and RAF Turnhouse. No. 207 Squadron was once more disbanded on retirement of the remaining Devons on 30 June 1984,[24] VP952 ending up at the RAF Museum St Athan.[25] In its last years it was part of No. 1 Group.[26]

Tucano (2002–2012)Edit

 
Tucano T1 ZF292 of No. 207 (Reserve) Squadron landing at RAF Linton-on-Ouse after Squadron disbandment flypast, 13 January 2012.

On 12 July 2002, one of the Flying Training Squadrons operating Short Tucano T.1s at No. 1 Flying Training School, RAF Linton-on-Ouse, was renumbered as No. 207 (Reserve) Squadron.[27] Tasked with Basic Fast Jet Training, the squadron provided training for both RAF and Royal Navy students – including Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, who was part of the squadron in 2008.[28]

The squadron was later disbanded on 13 January 2012 as a result of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.[29] The squadron's Standard was laid up at Lincoln Cathedral on 3 October 2013.[30]

F-35B Lightning (2019–present)Edit

On 5 July 2017, it was announced by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Stephen Hillier at RAF Marham that No. 207 Squadron would be the Operational Conversion Unit for the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning, being chosen due to its heritage as both a RNAS and RAF unit.[31]

 
Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning ZM137 at RIAT, 2016, this aircraft was delivered to Marham in July 2019.

No. 207 Squadron arrived at RAF Marham from MCAS Beaufort on 16 July 2019 with six Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightnings (ZM137, ZM139, ZM149, ZM150, ZM151 and ZM152) shortly before its reformation date of 1 August.[3] No. 207 Squadron made their first sortie from Marham on 29 July.[32] Wing Commander Scott Williams is the new squadron's first Officer Commanding who raised the squadron pennant when it stood up on 1 August.[12] On 28 January 2020, No. 207 Squadron became the first UK unit in a decade to operate jets in home waters from a British carrier – flying from HMS Queen Elizabeth.[33]

Aircraft operatedEdit

Aircraft operated include:[1][34]

Squadron basesEdit

 
RAF Spilsby 207 memorial on the airfield
 
Langar Airfield, England, September 1943
Bases and airfields used by No. 7 Squadron RNAS and No. 207 Squadron RAF, data from[1][35]
From To Base Remark
June 1916 12 January 1917 Kondoa Irangi, Tanganyika 1st no. 7 RNAS
31 December 1916 4 April 1917 Petite-Synthe, France 2nd no 7 RNAS
4 April 1918 22 April 1918 Coudekerque, France 1 April 1918 as No. 207 Squadron RAF
22 April 1918 13 May 1918 RAF Netheravon, Wiltshire
13 May 1918 7 June 1918 RAF Andover, Hampshire
7 June 1918 26 October 1918 Ligescourt, France
26 October 1918 1 December 1918 Estrées-en-Chaussée, France
1 December 1918 1 January 1919 Carvin, France
1 January 1919 10 May 1919 Merheim, Germany
10 May 1919 23 August 1919 Hangelar, Germany Present Bonn-Hangelar airfield
23 August 1919 8 October 1919 RAF Tangmere, West Sussex
8 October 1919 16 January 1920 RAF Croydon, Surrey
16 January 1920 20 January 1920 RAF Uxbridge, Middlesex
1 February 1920 29 September 1922 RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk
29 September 1922 11 October 1922 en route to Turkey
11 October 1922 22 September 1923 San Stephano, Turkey
22 September 1923 3 October 1923 en route to UK
3 October 1923 7 November 1929 RAF Eastchurch, Kent
7 November 1929 4 October 1935 RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk
4 October 1935 20 October 1935 en route to Sudan
20 October 1935 28 October 1935 Port Sudan, Sudan
28 October 1935 6 April 1936 Ed Damer, Sudan
6 April 1936 14 August 1936 Gebeit, Sudan
14 August 1936 29 August 1936 en route to UK
29 August 1936 20 April 1938 RAF Worthy Down, Hampshire
20 April 1938 24 August 1939 RAF Cottesmore, Rutland
24 August 1939 9 December 1939 RAF Cranfield, Bedfordshire
9 December 1939 5 April 1940 RAF Cottesmore, Rutland
5 April 1940 19 April 1940 RAF Cranfield, Bedfordshire Merged here into no. 12 OTU
1 November 1940 17 November 1941 RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
17 November 1941 20 September 1942 RAF Bottesford, Leicestershire Det. at RAF Syerston,
Nottinghamshire 24 August 1942
20 September 1942 12 October 1943 RAF Langar, Nottinghamshire
12 October 1943 30 October 1945 RAF Spilsby, Lincolnshire
30 October 1945 29 April 1946 RAF Methwold, Norfolk
29 April 1946 8 November 1946 RAF Tuddenham, Suffolk
8 November 1946 28 February 1949 RAF Stradishall, Suffolk
28 February 1949 1 March 1950 RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk
4 June 1951 27 March 1956 RAF Marham, Norfolk Washington-Canberra period
1 April 1956 1 May 1965 RAF Marham, Norfolk Vickers Vailant period
3 February 1969 30 June 1984 RAF Northolt, Middlesex Dets. at RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire
and RAF Turnhouse, Edinburgh
12 July 2002 13 January 2012[36] RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire
16 July 2019 Present RAF Marham, Norfolk Squadron personnel return from MCAS Beaufort, SC USA

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

Notes
  1. ^ a b c Jefford 2001, pp. 71–72.
  2. ^ a b RAF – 207 Squadron Archived 10 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  3. ^ a b c "Second Lightning Fight Jet Squadron Arrives In UK". www.raf.mod.uk. 17 July 2019. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
  4. ^ a b Halley 1988, p. 268.
  5. ^ "207 Sqn". RAF Heraldry Trust. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  6. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 13.
  7. ^ Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 51.
  8. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 35.
  9. ^ Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 70.
  10. ^ Flintham and Thomas 2003, p. 198.
  11. ^ "Identity of F-35 Lightning Training Squadron Announced". www.raf.mod.uk. Archived from the original on 28 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  12. ^ a b "A small ceremony took place yesterday to mark the standing up of 207 Squadron at RAF Marham". RAF Marham (Facebook). 2 August 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  13. ^ Hamlin 1999, p. 10.
  14. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 71.
  15. ^ a b c d Rawlings 1961, p. 19.
  16. ^ Robertson 1933, p. 1023.
  17. ^ Halley 1980, p. 217.
  18. ^ a b "RAF History – Bomber Command 60th Anniversary:No. 207 Squadron". Royal Air Force. 2004. Retrieved 5 April 2010.
  19. ^ Rawlings 1961, pp. 19–20.
  20. ^ a b c d Jefford, 1988, p. 69
  21. ^ "207 Squadron". Royal Air Force Museum. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  22. ^ "Valiant period 'album' - Suez". 207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  23. ^ Hamlin 1999, p. 166.
  24. ^ a b Burney 1984, p. 411.
  25. ^ Hamlin 1999, p. 172.
  26. ^ Isby and Kamps, Armies of NATO's Central Front, 1985.
  27. ^ Squadron Genealogy
  28. ^ "A brief history of No.7 Squadron RNAS and No.207 Squadron RAF". 207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  29. ^ Dave, Allport (14 January 2012). "207 (Reserve) Squadron Disbands". key.aero. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
  30. ^ "THE LAYING UP OF THE STANDARD OF No.207 (RESERVE) SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE". 207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  31. ^ "Identity of F-35 Lightning Training Squadron Announced". Royal Air Force. 5 July 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  32. ^ "207 Squadron take to the skies for the first time from their new Norfolk home". RAF Marham (Facebook). 29 July 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  33. ^ "Fighter Jets fly from British Carrier in Home Waters for the First Time in a Decade". raf.mod.uk. Royal Air Force. 28 January 2020. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  34. ^ Hamlin 1999, pp. 207–219.
  35. ^ Hamlin 1999, p. 190.
  36. ^ Dave, Allport (14 January 2012). "207 (Reserve) Squadron Disbands". key.aero. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
Bibliography
  • Aitken, Flt.Lt. W.M. (ed.) A History of No.207 Squadron – the First 68 Years. 207 Squadron RAF, 1984.
  • Bewsher, Paul. Green Balls: the Adventures of a Night Bomber. Greenhill Books, 1986. ISBN 0-947898-50-6. (reprint of William Blackwood 1919 edition).
  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Burney, Allan. "Devon Demob". Aircraft Illustrated, September 1984, Vol 17 No 9. pp. 407–411. ISSN 0002-2675.
  • Dick, David. 207 Squadron Memorial Book. 207 Sqn RAF Association, 1993.
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Goodwin, Barry and Raymond Glynne-Owen. 207 Squadron: RAF Langar, 1942–1943. Langar Airfield, York, UK: Quacks Books/207 Squadron Memorial Committee, 1994. ISBN 0-948333-41-3.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1980. ISBN 0-85130-083-9.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Hamlin, John F. Always Prepared – The History of 207 Squadron RAF. Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1999. ISBN 0-85130-285-8.
  • Jefford, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Laing, John A. The Washington Era: Marham June 1951 to March 1954. Perth, Scotland: Self-published, 1998.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 2nd edition 1976. ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. "Squadron Histories: No.207". Air Pictorial, January 1961. Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 19–20.
  • Robertson, F. A. de V. "No. 207 (Bomber) Squadron". Flight, 12 October 1933, pp. 1022–1024.
  • Wynn, Humphrey. Darkness Shall Cover Me: Night Bombing over the Western Front, 1918. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1989. ISBN 1-85310-065-X.
    • (also published as The Black Cat Squadron: Night Bombing in World War I). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990. ISBN 0874749921

External linksEdit