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No. 540 Squadron RAF
Active 19 Oct 1942 – 30 Sep 1946
1 Dec 1947 – 31 Mar 1956
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Photographic reconnaissance
Part of No. 18 Group RAF, Coastal Command
No. 16 Group RAF, Coastal Command
No. 106 Group RAF, Coastal Command[1]
Motto(s) Latin: Sine qua non
(Translation: "Indispensable")[2][3]
Squadron Badge heraldry A mosquito[3]
The badge indicates the squadron as the first user of the de Havilland Mosquito[2]
Squadron Codes DH (Nov 1945 – Sep 1946
and Dec 1947 – Aug 1953)[4][5]

No. 540 Squadron RAF was a photoreconnaissance squadron of the Royal Air Force from 1942 to 1956.


Formation and World War II

The squadron was formed on 19 October 1942[2][3][6] from 'H' and 'L' flights of No. 1 PRU[2][7] at RAF Leuchars as a photoreconnaissance unit with the de Havilland Mosquito. It operated from Leuchars to carry out missions over Norway and Germany, while a detachment based at RAF Benson carried out similar missions over France and Italy. Another detachment, based at RAF Gibraltar covered the south of France and Algeria, but from 1944 on the unit was wholly based at RAF Benson, the range of the later Mosquito permitting missions deep in Austria or to the Canary Islands. In March 1945 the squadron went overseas, to France, coming back to the UK in November, again at RAF Benson where the unit was disbanded on 30 September 1946,[3] when it was renumbered to 58 Squadron.[6]


540 Squadron Canberra PR.3 at London Heathrow airport in June 1953

On 1 December 1947 no. 540 squadron was reformed at Benson,[3] from the Mosquito element of 58 Squadron,[6] taking up its old role and still flying Mosquitoes again as well. In December 1952 these gave way to English Electric Canberras, the last Mosquito leaving in September 1953. By that time the squadron had moved to RAF Wyton, where the unit disbanded on 31 March 1956.[3][6]

1953 London to Christchurch air race

In 1953 the squadron formed a "NZ Air Race Flight" to train and carry out the RAF participation in the 1953 London to Christchurch air race, Flight Lieutenant Monty Burton won the race in Canberra PR3 WE139 now on public display at the Royal Air Force Museum.

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by no. 540 Squadron RAF, data from[2][3][6]
From To Aircraft Version
October 1942 December 1942 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IV
October 1942 May 1943 de Havilland Mosquito Mk.I
October 1942 September 1943 de Havilland Mosquito Mk.IV
December 1942 September 1943 de Havilland Mosquito Mk.VIII
July 1943 March 1945 de Havilland Mosquito Mk.IX
May 1944 September 1946 de Havilland Mosquito Mk.XVI
November 1944 September 1945 de Havilland Mosquito Mk.VI
November 1944 November 1945 de Havilland Mosquito Mk.XXXII
November 1945 October 1946 de Havilland Mosquito Mk.XXXIV
December 1947 October 1951 de Havilland Mosquito PR.34
April 1951 September 1953 de Havilland Mosquito PR.34a
December 1952 March 1956 English Electric Canberra PR.3
June 1953 September 1954 English Electric Canberra B.2
May 1954 March 1956 English Electric Canberra PR.7

Squadron bases

Bases and airfields used by no. 540 Squadron RAF, data from[2][3][6][8]
From To Base Remark
19 October 1942 29 February 1944 RAF Leuchars, Fife Dets. At RAF Benson, Oxfordshire and RAF North Front, Gibraltar
29 February 1944 29 March 1945 RAF Benson, Oxfordshire Dets. at RAF North Front, Gibraltar; RAF Agadir, Morocco;
RAF Lossiemouth, Morayshire; Yagodnik, Russia;
RAF Dyce, Aberdeenshire and RAF Leuchars, Fife
29 March 1945 23 September 1945 Coulommiers, France
23 September 1945 6 November 1945 RAF Mount Farm, Oxfordshire
6 November 1945 30 September 1946 RAF Benson, Oxfordshire
1 December 1947 26 March 1953 RAF Benson, Oxfordshire
26 March 1953 31 March 1956 RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire

Commanding officers

Officers commanding no. 540 Squadron RAF, data from[2][9]
From To Name
October 1942 May 1943 W/Cdr. M.J.B. Young, DFC
May 1943 March 1944 W/Cdr. Lord M. Douglas-Hamilton, OBE
March 1944 September 1944 W/Cdr. J.R.H. Merifield, DSO, DFC
September 1944 W/Cdr. A.H.W. Ball, DSO, DFC

See also




  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Delve, Ken. The Source Book of the RAF. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1994. ISBN 1-85310-451-5.
  • 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 1918–1988. 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, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • 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.
  • Sturtivant, Ray, ISO and John Hamlin. RAF Flying Training And Support Units since 1912. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 2007. ISBN 0-85130-365-X.

External links

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