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No. 42 Squadron RAF
File:42 Squadron RAF.jpg
Official Badge of No. 42 Squadron RAF
Active 1 Apr 1916 (RFC) – 26 Jun 1919
14 Dec 1936 – 30 Jun 1945
1 Jul 1945 – 30 Dec 1945
1 Oct 1946 – 15 Oct 1947
28 Jun 1952 – 30 Mar 2010
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Maritime Patrol
Base RAF Kinloss
Motto(s) Latin: Fortiter in re
(Translation: "Bravely into action")[1][2]
Aircraft Nimrod MR.2
Battle honours Western Front, 1916–1918*
Italian Front & Adriatic, 1917–1918*
Somme, 1916
Arras, 1917
Ypres, 1917
Channel & North Sea, 1939–1942*
Biscay, 1940*
Baltic, 1941*
Fortress Europe, 1941
Pacific, 1943–1945
Eastern Waters, 1943*
Arakan, 1943–1944*
Manipur, 1944*
Burma, 1944–1945
South Atlantic, 1982
Gulf, 1991.
Honours marked with an asterisk (*) are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard[3]
Squadron Badge heraldry On a terrestrial globe, a figure of Perseus[1][2]
No. 42 Squadron was the 1st to use the Bristol Perseus engine and this accounts for the presence of Perseus in the badge; he was known always to achieve his object and destroy his enemies and he stands in front of a globe to signify his activities over many lands and seas[1]
Squadron Codes QD (Allocated Apr 1939 – Sep 1939, but probably not used)[4][5]
AW (Sep 1939 – Jun 1942
1943 – Dec 1945)[6][7]
QM (Oct 1946 – Oct 1947)[8][9]
A (Jun 1952 – 1956)[10][11]
42 (1956–1968)
Aircraft flown
Attack Hawker Hurricane
Republic Thunderbolt
Bristol Beaufighter
Bomber Vickers Vildebeest
Patrol Avro Shackleton
Hawker Siddeley Nimrod
Reconnaissance Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2
Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8

No. 42 Squadron of the Royal Air Force has served during World War I as an army co-operation squadron and during World War II in various roles. In recent years, it was the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) for the Nimrod MR.2, based at RAF Kinloss, Moray, until the Nimrod MR2's retirement in 2010.


First World War

Formed on 1 April 1916 from crews of 19 Squadron Royal Flying Corps at Filton, 42 Squadron spent the First World War flying reconnaissance sorties. Using BE2s (and later RE8s), the squadron spent time on both the Western Front and the Austro-Italian Front. On returning to England after the war, the squadron was disbanded at RAF Netheravon on 26 June 1919.[1][12]

Second World War

On 14 December 1936 'B' flight of No. 22 Squadron RAF was expanded into a new No. 42 Squadron.[1][2] In 1939 No. 42 Squadron was based at RAF Bircham Newton. Initially the unit was equipped with Vickers Vildebeests before re-equipping with Bristol Beauforts in January 1940. The squadron operated also a bomber unit in the Burma campaign flying Blenheims during 1942 and as a fighter-bomber unit flying Hurricanes during 1943. The squadron disbanded on 30 June 1945 but on the following day 146 squadron was renumbered to No. 42 Squadron and flew Thunderbolts.[2] The squadron fought on with these until the Burma campaign ended and thereafter the squadron disbanded on 30 December 1945 at Meiktela.[1][12]



On 1 October 1946 254 Squadron at RAF Thorney Island was renumbered to No. 42 Squadron. Equipped with Bristol Beaufighter, it was a strike unit in RAF Coastal Command until disbanded on 15 October 1947.[2][12]


On 28 June 1952, No. 42 Squadron was reformed, flying Avro Shackletons in the maritime reconnaissance role.[12]


The squadron converted to Nimrods in April 1971.[2][12] Disbanded as a front-line unit in October 1992, it was later reformed as No. 42 (Reserve) Squadron at RAF Kinloss, Moray, taking over from No. 236 OCU as the Nimrod Operational Conversion Unit (OCU).[13] The squadron flew its last Nimrod MR.2 flight on 30 March 2010,[14] and was formally disbanded on 26 May 2011.[15]

Aircraft operated

42 Squadron Avro Shackleton MR.2 of RAF Coastal Command in September 1956

Aircraft operated by no. 42 Squadron RAF, data from[1][2][12][16]
From To Aircraft Version
April 1916 August 1916 B.E.2 2d
April 1916 April 1917 B.E.2 2e
April 1917 February 1919 R.E.8
December 1936 December 1937 Vickers Vildebeest Mk.III
January 1937 March 1937 Vickers Vildebeest Mk.I
March 1937 April 1940 Vickers Vildebeest Mk.IV
September 1939 April 1940 Vickers Vildebeest Mk.III
April 1940 January 1942 Bristol Beaufort Mk.I
January 1942 February 1943 Bristol Beaufort Mk.II
February 1943 October 1943 Bristol Blenheim Mk.V
October 1943 June 1945 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IV
September 1944 December 1944 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc
April 1945 June 1945 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc
July 1945 December 1945 Republic Thunderbolt Mk.II
October 1946 October 1947 Bristol Beaufighter TF.10
June 1952 July 1954 Avro Shackleton MR.1/1A
January 1953 January 1966 Avro Shackleton MR.2
November 1965 September 1971 Avro Shackleton MR.3
August 1971 August 1984 Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR.1
August 1983 April 2011 Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR.2

See also

  • List of accidents and incidents involving the Avro Shackleton




  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Coleman, Ian. Resolute in Action: The History of 42 Squadron RAF, 1916–1992. St Mawgan, Cornwall, UK: Blackfords of Cornwall, 1992.
  • 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.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1981–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF(Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.

External links

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