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No. 502 (Ulster) Squadron RAF
Active 15 May 1925 – 25 May 1945
10 May 1946 – 10 March 1957
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Part of RAF Bomber Command (25–38,46)
RAF Coastal Command (38–45)
RAF Fighter Command (47–57)
Motto(s) Latin: Nihil timeo
(Translation: "I fear nothing")[1][2][3][4][5]
Battle honours Atlantic, 1939–44
Biscay, 1941–44
Channel & North Sea, 1942–45
Baltic, 1944–45[6][7]
These honours are all emblazoned on the squadron standard
Honorary Air Commodores Lord Londonderry
Viscount Brookeborough
Squadron Badge heraldry A red hand erased[5]
The red hand is taken from the arms of Ulster, 502 being the Ulster Auxiliary Squadron. The hand is erased though, instead of couped.[1][2][3][4]
Squadron Codes KQ (Apr 1939 – Sep 1939)[8][9]
YG (Sep 1939 – Feb 1943)[10][11]
V9 (Jun 1944 – May 1945, 1949–1953)[12][13]
RAC (May 1946–1949)[14][15]

No. 502 (Ulster) Squadron was a Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron that saw service in World War II.


Formation and early years

No. 502 squadron was originally formed on 15 May 1925 as No. 502 (Bomber) Squadron,[16] a Special Reserve squadron at RAF Aldergrove, and it was composed of a mixture of regular and reserve personnel. On 1 December 1925 the name No. 502 (Ulster) Squadron was adopted.[16] The squadron operated in the heavy night bomber role and as such it was initially equipped with Vickers Vimys from June 1925, re-equipping with Handley Page Hyderabads in July 1928. Vickers Virginias arrived in December 1931, but in October 1935 the squadron was transferred to the day bomber role for which it received Westland Wallaces, Hawker Hinds arriving in April 1937. Shortly after this, on 1 July 1937, it was transferred to the Auxiliary Air Force,[17] the Special Reserve being disbanded.[7]

In Coastal Command

The crew of a Whitley Mk VII of 502 Squadron on an anti-submarine patrol, August 1942

On 28 November 1938, No. 502 (Ulster) Squadron became part of RAF Coastal Command, and was re-equipped with Avro Ansons in January 1939. When war broke out, the squadron was used to fly patrols in the Atlantic off the Irish Coast. From October 1940, the Squadron flew with Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys. It was reported that on 30 November 1941 the squadron became the first Coastal Command unit to make a successful attack on a U-boat with air-to-surface radar, sinking U-Boat U-206 in the Bay of Biscay. This report has been countered with newer information that the U-206 was more probably sunk by the minefield, "Beech," laid there by the British after August 1940,[18] and that the squadron's attack was actually on U-71, which escaped without loss.[19]

In January 1942 the squadron officially moved to both Norfolk (RAF Docking) and Cornwall, where a maintenance station was set up at RAF St Eval. Until 1944 the squadron's main role was to carry anti-submarine patrols. In January 1943 conversion to Halifax GR.Mk.IIs began, the first patrol by this type being flown on 12 March. In addition to anti-submarine patrols, now also attacks on enemy shipping off the French coast were made. In September 1944 with the French coast back in Allied hands, the squadron moved to Scotland at RAF Stornoway to carry out attacks on German shipping off the Norwegian coast, remaining there until the end of the war. It was disbanded on 25 May 1945.[4]

Into the jet age

With the reactivation of the Auxiliary Air Force, No. 502 was reformed on 10 May 1946, again at RAF Aldergrove,[16] but now as a light bomber squadron, equipped with Mosquito B.25s from July 1946. In December night fighter Mosquitoes replaced the bombers, but in June 1948 the units of the by now Royal Auxiliary Air Force all converted to the day fighter role, 502 receiving Spitfire F.22s for the purpose. Jet conversion began in January 1951 with the arrival of Vampire FB.5s, which were supplemented by FB.9s in July 1954. The squadron continued to fly both types until, along with all the flying units of the RAuxAF, it was disbanded on 10 March 1957.[20][21]

No. 502 Squadron sent to return to Aldergrove

It was confirmed in September 2013 that the No. 502 Squadron is sent to return to Aldergrove after being disbanded in 1957. Its main mission is 'To provide trained personnel to work in support of RAF operations in the UK and worldwide.'[22][23]

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by no. 502 Squadron RAF, data from[4][20][21]
From To Aircraft Version
June 1925 July 1928 Vickers Vimy
July 1928 February 1932 Handley Page Hyderabad
December 1931 October 1935 Vickers Virginia Mk.X
October 1935 May 1937 Westland Wallace Mk.I
November 1935 May 1937 Westland Wallace Mk.II
April 1937 April 1939 Hawker Hind
January 1939 November 1940 Avro Anson Mk.I
August 1940 November 1940 Blackburn Botha Mk.I
September 1940 February 1942 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.V
November 1941 February 1943 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.VII
January 1943 March 1945 Handley Page Halifax GR.Mk.II Srs.IA
December 1944 May 1945 Handley Page Halifax GR.Mks.IIIA, VI
July 1946 December 1947 de Havilland Mosquito B.25
December 1947 June 1948 de Havilland Mosquito NF.30
June 1948 January 1951 Supermarine Spitfire F.22
January 1951 March 1951 de Havilland Vampire F.3
March 1951 March 1957 de Havilland Vampire FB.5
July 1954 March 1957 de Havilland Vampire FB.9

Squadron bases

Bases and airfields used by 502 Squadron, data from[4][20][21][24]
From To Base Remark
27 January 1925 27 January 1941 RAF Aldergrove, County Antrim Det. at RAF Hooton Park, Cheshire
27 January 1941 12 January 1942 RAF Limavady, County Londonderry Dets. at RAF Wick, Caithness, Scotland; RAF Chivenor,
Devon; RAF St Eval, Cornwall and RAF Reykjavik, Iceland
12 February 1942 22 February 1942 RAF Docking, Norfolk Det. at RAF St Eval, Cornwall
22 February 1942 2 March 1943 RAF St Eval, Cornwall
2 March 1943 25 March 1943 RAF Holmesley South, Hampshire Det. at RAF St Eval, Cornwall
25 March 1943 30 June 1943 RAF St Eval, Cornwall
30 June 1943 10 December 1943 RAF Holmesley South, Hampshire Det. at RAF St Eval, Cornwall
10 December 1943 11 September 1944 RAF St David's, Pembrokeshire, Wales
11 September 1944 25 May 1945 RAF Stornoway, Western Isles, Scotland RAF Wick, Caithness, Scotland
17 July 1946 10 March 1957 RAF Aldergrove, County Antrim

Commanding officers

Officers commanding no. 502 Squadron RAF, data from[4][25]
From To Name
May 1925 November 1926 S/Ldr. R.D. Oxland
W/Cdr. A.C. Wright, AFC
S/Ldr. C.L. King, MC, DFC
W/Cdr. F.P. Don
March 1932 W/Cdr. R.T. Leather, AFC
March 1932 1934 W/Cdr. L.T.N. Gould, MC
1934 W/Cdr. J.C. Russell, DSO
November 1937 S/Ldr. G.V. Tyrell, MC
November 1937 December 1940 W/Cdr. L.R. Briggs
December 1940 November 1941 W/Cdr. T.C. Cooper
November 1941 September 1942 W/Cdr. F.C. Richardson
September 1942 August 1943 W/Cdr. J.C. Halley
August 1943 May 1944 W/Cdr. N.M. Bayliss
May 1944 October 1944 W/Cdr. C.A. Maton, DSO, SAAF
October 1944 November 1944 W/Cdr. K.B. Corbould, DFC
November 1944 May 1945 W/Cdr. H.H.C. Holderness, DFC, AFC, RCAF
July 1946 S/Ldr. W.H. McGiffin
S/Ldr. D.F.B. Sheen, DFC & Bar, RAAF
1956 S/Ldr. N.G. Townsend, DFC
1956 March 1957 S/Ldr. J.H. Pearce




  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 978-0-85059-364-8.
  • 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: Airlif Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 978-1-84037-281-6.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 978-0-85130-164-8.
  • Hunt, Leslie. Twenty-one Squadrons: History of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 1925–57. London: Garnstone Press, 1972. ISBN 978-0-85511-110-6. (New edition in 1992 by Crécy Publishing, ISBN 978-0-947554-26-2.)
  • 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: Airlife Publishing, 1998 (second edition 2001). ISBN 978-1-84037-141-3.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1964 (new edition 1976). ISBN 978-0-354-01027-6.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 978-0-7106-0187-2.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 978-0-354-01028-3.

External links

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