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No. 63 Squadron RAF
Active 31 August 1916 - 1920
February 1937 - April 1940
15 June 1942 - 30 January 1945
1 September 1946 - 31 October 1958
30 November 1958 - 23 September 1992
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Day-bomber
aircrew training
Motto(s) Latin: Pone nos ad hostem
("Follow us to find the enemy")
Battle honours
Squadron Badge A dexter arm in bend couped below the elbow grasping in the hand a battle axe[1]
Post 1950 Squadron Roundel RAF 63 Sqn.svg
Squadron Codes 63 (Feb 1937 - Nov 1938)
NE (Nov 1938 - May 1939)
ON (May 1939 - Sep 1939)
UB (Sep 1946 - Apr 1951)

No. 63 Squadron RAF was an bomber aircraft and training squadron of the British Royal Air Force that was active during various periods from 1916 to 1992. Originally using De Havilland DH4 aircraft in World War I, it was last equipped with BAe Hawk jet trainers.


In World War I

No. 63 Squadron was formed on 31 August 1916 at Stirling, Scotland as a squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. The squadron was intended to operate as a day-bomber unit over the Western Front in France, and was therefore equipped with de Havilland DH4 aircraft; however at the last minute the squadron was re-tasked to operate against the Turkish army in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and was re-equipped with R.E.8's for its new mission, when the squadron arrived in the Middle East in August 1917. No. 63 Squadron remained in Mesopotamia for the rest of the war, and it was disbanded in 1920.

Prelude to war

In February 1937, now as a Royal Air Force unit, the squadron was refounded at Andover, Hampshire as a bomber unit, and three months later became the first unit to receive the Fairey Battle aircraft. Early in 1939 the unit was assigned an aircrew training role, and received a number of Avro Ansons, but the unit lost its separate identity in April 1940 when it became a part of No. 12 OTU.

In World War II

On 15 June 1942 No. 63 Squadron was reformed from part of No. 239 Squadron at Gatwick, Sussex, and commenced flying from Odiham with Alison engined Mustangs in January 1943. In January 1944 the squadron moved to Turnhouse in Scotland and was re-equipped with Hawker Hurricanes in April 1944, converting to Spitfire Vs in early May '44. By the end of September the squadron was based at Lee on Solent, preparing for D-Day. during the allied landings 63 Squadron flew spotter flights above the Royal Navy, providing a form of Forward Air Control (FAC) for the naval gunners supporting the troops on land. The pilots of the squadron at this stage were drawn from former Army co-operation units, the Royal Marines and the Fleet Air Arm as well as the RAF. In September 1944 the squadron re located to North Weald. The squadron was disbanded on 30 January 1945.

Post-war: enter the jets

A Hawker Hunter fighter jet in the markings of No. 63 Sqn

No. 164 Squadron was renumbered as No. 63 Squadron on 1 September 1946, using Spitfires. In April 1948 the squadron was re-equipped with Gloster Meteor jet fighters. The squadron moved to Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, in May 1950, where it remained until it was disbanded on 31 October 1958, having operated Hawker Hunter fighters for the last two years.[2] 63 Squadron reformed as a 'Shadow' unit for the Day Fighter Combat Squadron of the Central Fighter Establishment from 30 November 1958 until 1 June 1963. On the same day the number was transferred to No 229 OCU as the 'Shadow' designation for one of its constituent squadrons. On 2 September 1970 No 229 OCU was re-designated as a Tactical Weapons Unit and 63 squadron remained one of its 'Shadow' units. 63 squadron was transferred to No 2 TWU on 1 August 1980 operating BAe Hawk and when that unit was redesignated No 7 FTS on 1 April 1992, 63 Squadron remained a component part until 23 September 1992; when 63 Squadron last disbanded and its role was transferred to 19(R) Squadron.

Aircraft operated

From To Aircraft Version
Jul 1916 June 1917 various
Aug 1917 Dec 1919 Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 B.E.2e
Aug 1917 Apr 1919 de Havilland DH4
Aug 1917 Feb 1918 Bristol Scout
Aug 1917 Apr 1918 Spad S.7
Sep 1917 Feb 1920 Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8
Sep 1917 Aug 1919 Martinsyde G.102
Jan 1919 Dec 1919 Bristol M.1 M.1c
Feb 1919 Apr 1919 Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 S.E.5a
May 1919 Aug 1919 Sopwith Camel
Feb 1937 Mar 1937 Hawker Hind
Mar 1937 Jun 1937 Hawker Audax
May 1937 Apr 1940 Fairey Battle
Mar 1939 Apr 1940 Avro Anson Mk.I
Jun 1942 May 1944 P-51 Mustang Mk.I, Ia
Mar 1944 May 1944 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc, Mk.IV
Mar 1944 Jan 1945 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
Sep 1946 Mar 1948 Supermarine Spitfire LF.16e
Apr 1948 Jun 1948 Gloster Meteor F.3
Jun 1948 Jan 1951 Gloster Meteor F.4
Dec 1950 Jan 1957 Gloster Meteor F.8
Nov 1956 Sep 1992 Hawker Hunter various
Aug 1980 Sep 1992 BAE Hawk




  1. Halley 1988, p. 128.
  2. "RAF History: History of No. 63 Squadron". RAF History website. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  3. Halley 1988, p. 129.
  4. Jefford 2001, p. 48.


  • 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, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Rawlings, John. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1969 (second edition 1976). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.

External links

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