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No. 5 Squadron RAF
A Sentinel R.1 in 2007
A Sentinel R.1 in 2007
Active 26 July 1913 – 1947
1959 – 2003
2004 – present
Role Ground Reconnaissance (ASTOR)
Garrison/HQ RAF Waddington
Motto(s) (Latin): Frangas non flectas
("Thou mayst break, but shall not bend me")
Equipment Raytheon Sentinel
Battle honours World War I: Mons, Ypres 1915, Loos, Arras, Somme 1918, Amiens
World War II: Arakan 1942–1944, Burma 1944–1945
Squadron badge heraldry A maple leaf
Squadron roundel RAF 5 Sqn.svg

No. 5 Squadron of the Royal Air Force is the operator of the new Sentinel R1 Airborne STand-Off Radar (ASTOR) aircraft and is based at RAF Waddington.


As No. 5 Squadron Royal Flying Corps, it was formed at Farnborough on 26 July 1913,[1] and following the outbreak of the First World War deployed to France on 15 August, equipped with a variety of aircraft types to carry out reconnaissance for the BEF.[2] It flew its first missions on 21 August and on the next day, an Avro 504 of 5 Squadron was the first British aircraft to be shot down, its crew of pilot Second Lieutenant Vincent Waterfall and navigator Lt Charles George Gordon Bayly being killed.[2][3][4]

No 5 Squadron standardised on the B.E.2, specialising as observers for artillery, re-equipping with the R.E.8 in May 1917, and working closely with the Canadian Corps, through to the end of the war and into 1919, when it moved into Germany as part of the Army of Occupation.[5] (Its association with the Canadian Corps lead the incorporation of a maple leaf in the squadron's badge when it was approved in June 1937.[2])

Thereafter in 1920, the squadron was reformed at Quetta, India (now part of Pakistan). There it continued working in Army Air Cooperation for operations on the North West Frontier. From 1920 until 1941 they had a succession of aircraft: Bristol Fighters, Westland Wapitis, Hawker Harts and Hawker Audaxs. In 1942 they received American built Mohawks and became escorts to Blenheim bombers over north west Burma. These were replaced in turn by Hawker Hurricanes and P-47 Thunderbolts. No. 5 Squadron converted to Tempest IIs in February 1946, but disbanded on 1 August 1947.[6]

On 11 February 1949 it reformed Wales for target-towing but in 1951, the squadron moved to Germany to fly the de Havilland Vampire and its successor the Venom. The squadron was part of the defence cuts of 1957 but was restored in 1959 as a night fighter squadron at RAF Laarbruch, Germany, first flying the Gloster Meteor NF.11 before re-equipping with the delta winged Gloster Javelin. It moved to RAF Binbrook in 1965 with the English Electric Lightning interceptor keeping these until 1987.[6] From then until 2003, when it was disbanded at RAF Coningsby, No.5 Squadron flew the Tornado F3 and with this aircraft it was the first RAF squadron (accompanied by No. 29 Squadron) to be deployed as part the UK's contribution to the Gulf War. It reformed on 1 April 2004.

The first production Sentinel R1 made its maiden flight on May 26, 2004. The ASTOR system officially entered service with the No. 5 Squadron on 1 December 2008. Full Operating Capability is expected by the end of 2010.[7] The new radar-equipped aircraft provides battlefield and ground surveillance for the British Army in a similar role to the American JSTARS aircraft.

From 2009, the squadron also operated four Shadow R1 aircraft, based on the Beechcraft King Air 350.[8] These were transferred to No. 14 Squadron RAF in 2011.[9]

See also



  1. Lewis 1959, p.14.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ashworth 1989, p.34.
  3. Jackson 1990 p.56
  4. "Casualty Details:Vincent Waterfall". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  5. Ashworth 1989, pp. 34—35.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ashworth 1989, p.356.
  7. "ASTOR Enters Service". Air International, Vol 76 No. 1, January 2009. p.5.
  8. Royal Air Force Yearbook 2009, p23
  9. "14 Squadron". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 18 February 2012.


  • Ashworth, Chris. Encyclopedia of Modern Royal Air Force Squadrons. Wellingborough, UK:PSL, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-013-6.
  • Bartlett, S/Ldr C.P.O., DSC. Bomber Pilot, 1916–18. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan, 1974. ISBN 0-7110-0545-1.
  • Bartlett, S/Ldr C.P.O., DSC. In the Teeth of the Wind (The Story of a Naval Pilot on the Western Front, 1916–1918). London: Leo Cooper, 1994. ISBN 0-85052-318-4.
  • 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.
  • Jackson, A. J. Avro Aircraft since 1908. London:Putnam, Second edition, 1990. ISBN 0-85177-834-8.
  • 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, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Lewis, Peter. Squadron Histories: R.F.C, R.N.A.S and R.A.F., 1912–59. London: Putnam, 1959.
  • Moxon, Oliver. Bitter Monsoon: The Memoirs of a Fighter Pilot. London: Robert Hale, 1955. (Being the Memoirs of Stephan James, Burma 1944).
  • 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.
  • 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 0-354-01028-X.
  • Strange, L.A. Recollections of an airman. London: Greenhill Books, 1989. ISBN 1-85367-043-X. (Reprint of the original edition of 1933, with new material added).
  • Yoxall, John. "No. 5 Squadron: A History of the "Fighting Fifth": Part 1". Flight, Vol. 72, No. 2543, 18 October 1957. pp. 618–623.
  • Yoxall, John. "No. 5 Squadron: A History of the "Fighting Fifth": Part 2". Flight, Vol. 72, No. 2544, 25 October 1957. pp. 642–646.
  • Yoxall, John. "No. 5 Squadron: A History of the "Fighting Fifth": Part 3". Flight, Vol. 72, No. 2546, 8 November 1957. pp. 642–646.

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