Military Wiki
No. 16 Squadron RAF
16 Squadron badge
Active 10 February 1915 – Present
Role Elementary Flying Training
Garrison/HQ RAF Cranwell
Motto(s) Operta aperta,
(Hidden things are revealed)
Equipment Grob Tutor
Battle honours Western Front 1915–1918, Neuve Chapelle, Loos, Somme 1916, Arras, Ypres 1917, France and Low Countries 1940, Dunkirk, Fortress Europe 1943–1944, France and Germany 1944, Normandy 1944, Arnham, Ruhr 1944–1945, Gulf 1991
Squadron Badge Two keys in saltire. The badge symbolises army co-operation duties. The keys indicate the unlocking of the enemy's secrets; the gold key by day, the black key by night.
Squadron Roundel RAF 111 Sqn.svg

No. 16 Squadron is a flying squadron of the Royal Air Force. It formed in 1915 at Saint-Omer to carry out a mixture of offensive patrolling and reconnaissance and was disbanded in 1919 with the end of the First World War. The squadron reformed on 1 April 1924 and again took on a reconnaissance role which it continued throughout the Second World War.

Post-war, the squadron was disbanded and reformed several times and was converted to a bomber squadron. Equipped with the Tornado GR.1 from 1984 the squadron took part in the Gulf War in 1990. It was again disbanded in September 1991, before reforming in November 1991 as the Operational Conversion Unit for the Jaguar. With the Jaguar's imminent withdrawal from service, the squadron disbanded once more in 2005.

16 Squadron reformed again and took on its current role on 1 October 2008. Based at RAF Cranwell, it instructs pilots in elementary flying using the Tutor.


Early years

An observer of the Royal Flying Corps in a Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c reconnaissance aircraft demonstrates a C type aerial reconnaissance camera fixed to the side of the fuselage, 1916

The Squadron was formed at Saint-Omer, France on 10 February 1915 from elements of Nos. 2, 6 and 9 Squadrons. It immediately began fighting in the First World War under Hugh Dowding. For the rest of the Great War, the 'Saints'[1] were deployed throughout Northern France and operated a mixture of aircraft including Bleriot XI, Martinsyde S.1 and Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c on offensive patrol and tactical reconnaissance duties.[2] Disbandment occurred on New Year's Eve 1919 followed by reformation at Old Sarum on 1 April 1924. Initially the Bristol Fighter was operated in the tactical reconnaissance role and this was followed by the Atlas and Audax.

World War 2

RAF Supermarine Spitfire Mk.PR.XIX painted in the colours of 16 Squadron, 2nd Tactical Air Force

In May 1938 the Lysander arrived[3] and the Squadron continued in its tactical role in wartime France from April 1940.[4] In November 1940 they returned to England and conducted roving sea patrols searching for both downed aircrew and enemy forces.[5]

From April 1942, 16 Squadron was re-equipped with the Allison-engined North American P-51 Mustang I and tasked to conduct fighter sweeps and reconnaissance duties over France from its base at RAF Weston Zoyland in Somerset.

The Spitfire Mk V took over this role from September 1943. On 2 June 1943 the Squadron became part of the Strategic Reconnaissance Wing of the 2nd Tactical Air Force as a high-altitude photo reconnaissance unit[6] with Spitfire PR Mk XIs based at Hartford Bridge. In the build-up to D Day, No 16 supplied photographs instrumental to the planning of the Allied landings.[7] Afterwards essential reconnaissance continued to be provided until the end of the war.

Into The Jet Age

16 Squadron was disbanded at Celle on 1 April 1946 but reformed at RAF Fassberg the same day and took the 24 cylinder Hawker Tempest Mk V on charge until converting to the radial-engined Mk II on 7 June 1946. On 7 December 1948 No. 16 took delivery of its first jet aircraft, the de Havilland Vampire FB.5, which gave way to the de Havilland Venom FB.1 in November 1954 until disbandment at Celle once more on 1 June 1957.

No. 16 Squadron English Electric Canberra B(I)8 in 1972 wearing Tiger markings

A Royal Air Force Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S2B aircraft in flight

As East-West relations cooled, the Squadron reformed at Laarbruch on 1 March 1958 and would remain there until 1991. 16 Squadron maintained a permanent readiness state, tasked with meeting the Soviet threat, in the expected conventional phase and with the use of tactical nuclear weapons. The Canberra B(I).8 equipped with dual-key nuclear weapons was operated for 14 years but gave way to the Buccaneer S.2B on 16 October 1972. The squadron's twelve Buccaneers were equipped with a variety of conventional weapons and eighteen British WE.177 nuclear bombs.[8] Although Buccaneers could carry two WE.177 weapons, after taking into account attrition in the conventional phase of a high-intensity European war, and after withholding some aircraft in reserve, RAF planners expected that squadron strength remaining would still be sufficient to deliver the nuclear weapons stockpile. The Buccaneer distinguished itself in many bombing exercises, among its victories included winning the Salmond Trophy in 1978 and 1979. The Squadron re-equipped with the Tornado GR.1 in 1984, retaining its role in countering a Soviet threat in Europe with conventional weapons and eighteen WE.177 nuclear bombs. A similar ratio of 1.5 weapons per aircraft as with the Buccaneer.[9]

Ahead of Operation GRANBY in 1990 and the first Gulf War, the squadron deployed to Tabuk airbase. No. 16 was the lead squadron in the deployment with No. 20 and crews from other Tornado GR.1 squadrons. The 'Tabuk Force' used JP233s and 1,000 lb bombs on low-level sorties against Iraqi airfields and other targets. Some of the Squadron's aircraft later formed a TIALD flight that conducted accurate medium-level bombing.[10] Following hostilities, the Squadron disbanded on 11 September 1991 but reformed in November at RAF Lossiemouth as No. 16(R) Squadron, a reserve squadron and an Operational Conversion Unit, replacing and taking over the aircraft and weapons of 226 OCU, training and converting new pilots for the Jaguar. Although no longer a front-line operational squadron, as a reserve, or shadow squadron, its twelve aircraft were equipped with conventional weapons and eight WE.177 nuclear weapons for use in a high-intensity European war, and it remained assigned to SACEUR for that purpose.[11] [12] [13] [14]

Although a non-operational squadron, its pilots were still involved in Operation DENY FLIGHT and Operation NORTHERN WATCH. The Squadron moved to Coltishall in the summer of 2000 but disbanded on 11 March 2005 as the Jaguar approached retirement.[15][16] The Squadron Standard[17] was laid up in Notre-Dame Cathedral Saint-Omer, France on 20 March 2005 where it remains today - once laid up in a place of worship, a Standard can never be removed.

Current role

16 Squadron's 'Saint' logo. The nickname stems from the original formation at Saint Omer. In the past, the logo has been painted onto 16 Squadron aircraft and worn as a badge on the flying suits. The badge is presented to student pilots after their first solo sortie.

On 1 October 2008, the Squadron was reformed at RAF Cranwell as part of 22 Group operating the Grob Tutor.[18] 16(Reserve) Squadron continues its training role by instructing new Royal Air Force pilots in Elementary Flying Training (EFT)[19] as part of 1 EFTS. From 2005 to 2008 the unit was previously known as 1 Squadron, 1 EFTS following a restructuring of the RAF's pilot training.[20][21] 16(R) Squadron instructs a third of the RAF's new pilots and some pilots from overseas; the rest are shared between 57(R) Squadron at RAF Wyton and 85(R) Squadron at RAF Church Fenton. The Squadrons' role is to provide pilots to the more advanced flying training courses on their way to earning the coveted pilot wings and joining the front line. In early 2008, Prince William took his first steps on his aviation career at No. 16 Squadron's site flying his first solo sortie in Tutor G-BYXN;[22][23][24] his father was also taught to fly at RAF Cranwell in 1971.[25]

Prior to joining one of the three EFT Squadrons, trainee pilots will have completed Initial Officer Training (IOT) at RAF College Cranwell and are all commissioned officers. Some pilots arrive with no previous military flying experience but others have accrued a number of flying hours during time with a University Air Squadron. Additionally, a number of international pilots are trained to the same standards as RAF pilots. Mainly from the Middle-East, they typically undergo an English language course at York St John University before completing IOT with their RAF colleagues at RAF College Cranwell. Recent international students include pilots from the Air Forces of Iraq,[26] Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

A 16(R) Squadron student pilot flies his first solo formation sortie.

Following an intensive ground school, the EFT course covers the rudiments of flying, stalling and circuits with the pilots flying their first solo after just 10 hours of tuition. They then advance to spinning, aerobatics, instrument flying, formation flying and low level navigation. As the course progresses, emergency handling and airmanship are introduced, this includes simulated engine failures and the use of emergency frequencies. EFT culminates in the Final Handling Test which is a composite sortie comprising any elements taught during the course.

After FHT and approximately 60 hours of flying, successful pilots are selected according to their capability, service need and personal preference to one of the three advanced flying training streams - Fast Jet, Rotary Wing or Multi-Engine. Those selected for Fast Jet training move to RAF Linton-on-Ouse to fly the Tucano with either No. 72 Squadron or No. 207 Squadron, successful pilots then move to RAF Valley to fly the Hawk. Prospective Rotary Wing pilots go to the DHFS to fly the Squirrel and Griffin. Multi-Engine pilots remain at RAF Cranwell and move across the airfield to No. 45 Squadron and fly the Enhanced Avionics Tutor and King Air. Simon Flynn is a student of note currently acing the EFT course on 16 Sqn. He brings his unique mix of Red Arrows skill, precision and chat to the Squadron. In August 2013, the Squadron was lucky enough to be kindly presented with a top of the range Nespresso coffee machine from the Glorious nation of Kuwait as a thank you for hosting members of its Air Force for so long.

Aircraft operated

From To Manufacturer Aircraft
February 1915 March 1915 Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.5
February 1915 March 1915 Vickers F.B.5
February 1915 March 1915 Blériot XI
February 1915 May 1915 Martinsyde S.1
March 1915 May 1915 Voisin III
March 1915 May 1917 Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c
May 1915 November 1917 Farman Aviation Works S.11
March 1915 December 1919 Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8
1924 1931 Bristol Aeroplane Company F.2 Fighter
1931 1934 Armstrong Whitworth Atlas
1934 1938 Hawker Audax
1938 1942 Westland Lysander
1942 1944 North American Aviation P-51 Mustang
1944 1946 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XI
1946 1948 Hawker Tempest V
1948 1948 Hawker Tempest II
1948 1954 de Havilland Vampire FB.5
1954 1957 de Havilland Venom FB.1
1958 1972 English Electric Canberra B(I).8
1972 1984 Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B
1984 1991 Panavia Tornado GR.1
1991 2005 SEPECAT Jaguar GR.1 and GR.3
2008 Present Grob Tutor

Commanding officers

From To Rank Name
8 February 1915 23 July 1915 Major F V Holt[27]
23 July 1915 January 1916 Major H C T Dowding[28]
January 1916 5 August 1916 Major D W Powell[29]
5 August 1916 16 June 1917 Major P C Maltby[30]
16 June 1918 June 1918 Major C F A Portal[31] DSO and Bar MC
June 1918 1919 Major A W C V Parr
1924 1925 Squadron Leader J O Archer CBE
1925 1928 Squadron Leader W A Coryton[32] MVO
1928 1931 Squadron Leader D O Mulholland AFC
1931 1933 Squadron Leader A R Churchman[33] DFC
1933 1934 Squadron Leader J R I Scrambler AFC
1934 1936 Squadron Leader R P Musgrave-Whitman OBE MC
1936 1938 Squadron Leader T Humble
1938 1939 Squadron Leader R E S Skelton
1940 1940 Wing Commander T Humble
1940 1941 Wing Commander R C Hancock
1941 1942 Wing Commander P W Stansfeld
1942 1942 Wing Commander A F Pallot
1942 1943 Wing Commander J R Davenport
1943 1943 Wing Commander R I M Bowen DFC
1943 1943 Squadron Leader Mackie
1943 1944 Squadron Leader E M Goodale DSO
1944 1945 Squadron Leader A N Davies DFC
1945 1946 Squadron Leader A S Baker DFC
1946 1948 Squadron Leader D C Usher DFC DFM
1948 1948 Squadron Leader R E Mooney
1948 1949 Squadron Leader L A Malins DSO DFC
1949 1951 Squadron Leader L H Lambert DFC AFC
1951 1952 Squadron Leader J E J Sing DFC
1952 1952 Squadron Leader R H Benwell
1952 1954 Squadron Leader R U P De Burgh
1954 1956 Squadron Leader G G G Walkington
1956 1956 Squadron Leader C E Keay
1956 1958 Flight Lieutenant H E Clements
1958 1960 Wing Commander J R Forsythe[34] DFC
1960 1963 Wing Commander J E Holland DFC
1963 1964 Wing Commander J V Horwood
1964 1966 Wing Commander A L Bennett
1966 1968 Wing Commander J C Newby
1968 1970 Wing Commander L C Swalwell
1970 1973 Wing Commander K J Appleboom
1973 1975 Wing Commander R A Edwards
1975 1977 Wing Commander W I C Stoker
1977 1980 Wing Commander D Cousins AFC
1980 1983 Wing Commander P C Norriss[35]
1983 1984 Wing Commander E R Cox
1984 1986 Wing Commander R H Goodall AFC
1986 1988 Wing Commander R F R Carr
1988 1991 Wing Commander I Travers Smith DSO[36]
1991 1992 Wing Commander N C Rusling
1992 1995 Wing Commander J W White
1995 1997 Wing Commander B W Newby AFC
1997 2000 Wing Commander A J Sudlow MBE
2000 2002 Wing Commander P Allan
2002 2005 Wing Commander G Stockill
2008 2009 Squadron Leader I S Smith[37]
2009 2013 Squadron Leader S J Foote
2013 Present Squadron Leader Parkinson


From To Location Notes
10 February 1915 5 March 1915 Saint-Omer Formation.
6 March 1915 31 May 1915 La Gorgue Detachment to Aire.

Battle of Neuve Chapelle began 10 March 1915.

1 June 1915 17 July 1915 Choques
18 July 1915 11 December 1915 Merville Battle of Loos between 25 and 28 September 1915.
12 December 1915 30 August 1916 La Gorgue
31 August 1916 24 May 1917 Bruay Battle of the Somme between 1 July and 18 November 1916.
25 May 1917 20 October 1918 Camblain-l'Abbe
21 October 1918 24 October 1918 La Brayelle
25 October 1918 13 February 1918 Auchydisambiguation needed
14 February 1918 31 December 1918 Fowlmere Disbanded following cessation of hostilities.
1 April 1924 16 February 1940 Old Sarum Reformed as Army co-operation squadron.

1938 - First squadron to operate the Lysander.

17 February 1940 12 April 1940 Hawkinge
13 April 1940 13 April 1940 Amiens
14 April 1940 18 May 1940 Bertangles Battle of France commenced 10 May 1940.
19 May 1940 2 June 1940 Lympne Dunkirk evacuation between 26 May and 4 June 1940.
3 June 1940 28 June 1940 Redhill First RAF squadron to operate there.
29 June 1940 2 August 1940 Cambridge
3 August 1940 14 August 1940 Okehampton Detachment to Cambridge.
15 August 1940 3 June 1941 Western Zoyland Detachments to Okehampton, Roborough, RAF Tilshead, St Just and Bolt Head.

Battle of Britain occurred between 10 July and 31 October 1940.

4 June 1941 5 June 1941 Okehampton
6 June 1941 8 September 1941 Weston Zoyland Detachments to Lee-on-Solent and RAF Tilshead.
9 September 1941 10 September 1941 Okehampton
11 September 1941 24 September 1941 Weston Zoyland
25 September 1941 2 October 1941 Thruxton
3 October 1941 22 November 1941 Weston Zoyland Detachment to Farnborough.
23 November 1941 26 November 1941 Lympne
27 November 1941 31 December 1942 Weston Zoyland Detachment to Okehampton.
1 January 1943 25 February 1943 Andover
26 February 1943 12 March 1943 Ford
13 March 1943 5 April 1943 Andover
6 April 1943 8 April 1943 Weston Zoyland
9 April 1943 15 May 1943 Andover
16 May 1943 21 May 1943 Weston Zoyland
22 May 1943 31 May 1943 Andover
1 June 1943 28 June 1943 Middle Wallop
29 June 1943 15 April 1944 Hartford Bridge Operated in Strategic Reconnaissance Wing of the 2nd Tactical Air Force.
16 April 1944 19 September 1945 Northolt D-Day on 6 June 1944. Disbanded following cessation of hostilities.
19 September 1945 1 April 1946 Celle Reformed and disbanded. Renumbered from 268 Squadron.
1 April 1946 31 May 1946 Fassberg Reformed from 56 Squadron.
1 June 1946 11 June 1946 Manston
12 June 1946 20 June 1946 Fassberg
21 June 1946 13 July 1946 Sylt
14 July 1946 4 September 1946 Fassberg
5 September 1946 15 September 1946 Manston
16 September 1946 3 February 1947 Fassberg
4 February 1947 20 March 1947 Gatow
21 March 1947 7 May 1947 Fassberg
8 May 1947 19 May 1947 Ahlhorn
20 May 1947 12 July 1947 Fassberg
13 July 1947 11 August 1947 Zeltweg
12 August 1947 5 October 1947 Fassberg
6 October 1947 16 October 1947 Middle Wallop
17 October 1947 2 November 1947 Fassberg
3 November 1947 23 November 1947 Lübeck
24 November 1947 31 November 1947 Fassberg
1 December 1947 5 January 1948 Gütersloh
6 January 1948 1 February 1948 Gatow
2 February 1948 13 July 1948 Gütersloh Berlin Airlift begins on 24 June 1948.
14 July 1948 6 August 1948 Lübeck
7 August 1948 1 November 1950 Gütersloh Berlin Airlift ends 11 May 1949.
2 November 1950 1 June 1957 Celle Disbanded.
1 March 1958 6 June 1972 Laarbruch Cuban Missile Crisis between 8 and 28 October 1962.
8 Jan 1973 29 Feb 1984 Laarbruch
1 Mar 1984 11 Sep 1991 Laarbruch Squadron took part in Operation GRANBY.
1 November 1991 20 July 2000 Lossiemouth Became a Reserve squadron as Jaguar OCU.
21 July 2000 11 March 2005 Coltishall Coltishall, the last surviving operational RAF base involved in the Battle of Britain, closed on 30 November 2006.
1 October 2008 Present Cranwell Elementary flying training.

See also


  1. The squadron has been known as the 'Saints' due to its formation at Saint Omer, the unofficial stickman logo from the novels and TV series was adopted in the 1960s. This logo could be found on many 16 Squadron aircraft and as badges worn on the right arm of flying suits.
  2. "From the diary of Capt W T L Allcock RFC 1915-17". Airwar1 web site. 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  3. "Westland Lysander". History of War web site. J Rickard. 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  4. "16(AC) Sqn activities, May to Jun 1940". Traces of World War 2 web site. Bart FM Droog. 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  5. "16 Sqn during 2nd World War". History of War web site. J Rickard. 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  6. "Early Reconnaissance Spitfires markings". The Spitfire site. Martin Waligorski. 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-17. [dead link]
  7. "Gp Capt P W Stansfield's account of D-Day". Memories of D-Day web site. Portsmouth City Council. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  8. RAF nuclear front line Order-of-Battle 1973
  9. RAF nuclear front line Order-of-Battle 1984
  10. "RAF Aircraft deployed during Op GRANBY". Royal Air Force web site. MOD. 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  11. Weapon overview @ Carriage
  12. RAF nuclear frontline Order-of-Battle 1992
  13. RAF nuclear frontline Order-of-Battle 1993
  14. RAF nuclear frontline Order-of-Battle 1994
  15. "16(R) and 54(F) Squadrons Stood Down". Target Aviation Photography web site. Targeta. 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  16. "Come In Numbers 16 And 54, Your Time Is Up". Airscene UK web site. Airscene UK. 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  17. "RAF Squadron Standards". Royal Air Force web site. MOD. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  18. "EFT Squadrons". RAF Cranwell web site. MOD. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  19. "RAF Flying Training". 22 Group web site. MOD. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  20. "Brief history of JEFTS". Unofficial RAF Church Fenton web site. I Herbert. 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  21. "Letter regarding the Marston Report". University of Bristol. Bristol MEC. 2005. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  22. "'Sharp eyes' William's first solo flight". BBC News. 17 January 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  23. "Prince thrilled to fly solo". BBC News. 17 January 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  24. "Prince William Joins The RAF". Ministry of Defence web site. MOD. 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  25. "Biography of Prince Charles". Prince of Wales web site. UK Gov. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  26. "Chocks away for Iraq's RAF pilot graduate". RAF web site. MOD. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  27. "Biography of Air Vice-Marshall Felton Holt". Air of Authority web site. M B Barrass. 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  28. "Biography of Air Chief Marshall Lord Dowding of Bentley Priory". Air of Authority web site. M B Barrass. 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  29. "List of 16 Sqn personnel - Feb to May 1916". Airwar1 web site. 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  30. "Biography of Air Vice-Marshall Sir Paul Maltby". Air of Authority web site. M B Barrass. 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  31. "Biography of Marshall of the RAF Viscount Portal of Hungerford". Air of Authority web site. M B Barrass. 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  32. "Biography of Air Chief Marshall Sir Alec Coryton". Air of Authority web site. M B Barrass. 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  33. "Biography of Air Commodore Alan Churchman". Air of Authority web site. M B Barrass. 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  34. "Obituary for Air Commodore Paddy Forsythe". Times Online web site. London: Times Newspapers Ltd.. 4 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-25. 
  35. KBE awarded in 2000.
  36. "RAF Honours awarded during Operation GRANBY". Royal Air Force web site. Royal Air Force. 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  37. "BBMF Fighter Pilots 2009". Royal Air Force web site. Royal Air Force. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 

External links

Coordinates: 53°01′39″N 0°28′40″W / 53.02743°N 0.47773°W / 53.02743; -0.47773

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).