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RAF Vulcan Squadrons

 


 
During its service with the RAF the Vulcan was flown by nine squadrons (plus the OCU).
This page gives a brief overview of each of them.
Towards the bottom of this page is a table showing where each Vulcan squadron was based.


 

230 Operational Conversion Unit

Motto: "Temper the sword"
Badge: A sword in front of waves.
 

Before working with the Vulcan 230 OCU had the responsibility to train (convert) pilots to fly piston engined aircraft like the Lincoln & Lancaster. Vulcan XA897 was officially given to 230 OCU in 1956, but unfortunately it was destroyed returning from New Zealand. This set back prevented the OCU from acquiring a Vulcan until 1957. Training with the B2 began in 1960. During its life the 230 OCU was stationed at Waddington, Finningley and Scampton. The unit disbanded in August 1981.


9 Squadron

Motto: "Per noctem volamus" (Throughout the night we fly).
Badge: A bat. The badge is based on a device used previously.
Authority: King Edward VIII, November 1936.

No 9 squadron was home to English Electric Canberra and Avro Lincoln before being disbanded in 1959. It was reformed in 1962 and equipped with the Vulcan B2. In the Winter of 1964 the squadron moved to Cottesmore, and in early 1969 the wing was sent to Akrotiri along with 35 squadron. It stayed until 1975 before returning to Waddington. The squadron was disbanded in April 1982. Eight weeks later it became the first RAF squadron to operate the Tornado GR1 aircraft.
 


12 Squadron

Motto: "Leads the field".
Badge: A fox's mask. The squadron was once equipped with Fox aircraft which were, to a great extent, responsible for the early reputation of the unit. The badge and motto also denote a period in the squadron's career which was noteworthy in advancing to a marked degree the potential of fast daylight bombing.
Authority: King George VI, February 1937.

12 squadron flew Lincoln, Wellington and Lancaster aircraft before being disbanded in 1961. It was reformed at Coningsby a year later with the Vulcan B2. 1964 saw the squadron moved to Cottesmore where it stayed for three years before becoming one of the first casualties of the gradual "down-sizing" of the Vulcan force due to the Polaris nuclear deterrent programme. In more recent times 12 squadron has flown Buccaneers and Tornados on a regular basis.

 


27 Squadron

Motto: "Quam celerrime ad astra" (with all speed to the stars)
Badge: An elephant
Authority: King Edward VIII, October 1936

This squadron spent over 25 years stationed in the Middle East & India before returning to the UK in 1946. It was disbanded in 1956, and reformed at Scampton in April 1961. The squadron was equipped with Vulcan B2A aircraft each armed with Blue Steel missiles. In 1969 the Vulcan reverted to conventional bombing duties for 3 years before being disbanded. A year later it was reformed and used Vulcan SR2s to conduct maritime reconnaissance. This role continued until March 1982. 
 


35 Squadron

Motto: "Uno animo agimus" (We act with one accord).
Badge: A horse's head winged. The badge commemorates co-operation with the Calvary during the First World War.
Authority: King Edward VIII, October 1936.

This squadron flew the Halifax during the
 Second World War and went on to fly Lincolns and Canberras before it was disbanded in 1961. It reformed just over a year later and equipped with Vulcan B2s. It was the last Vulcan squadron to be established by the RAF. It moved from Cottesmore to Akrotiri in Cyprus during 1960 along with No9 squadron. After a six year tour of duty the unit returned to Scampton, where it stayed until February 1982 when it was disbanded.

 

44 Squadron

Motto: "Fulmina regis iusta" ("The King's thunderbolts are righteous").
Badge: On a mount an elephant. The badge is based upon the seal of Lo Bengula, the chief of the Matabeles on conquest. The seal shows an elephant which, in the case of this unit, is intended to indicate heavy attacks.
Authority: King George VI, October 1941.

This squadron was the first to fly the Avro Lancaster, followed by the Lincoln and Canberra before disbanding in 1957. It reformed 3 years later and was equipped with B1 Vulcans formerly owned by 83 squadron. 1964 saw 44 squadron become the first Vulcan squadron to convert to low-level bombing duties after the responsibility for Britain's nuclear deterrent past to the Navy. In 1967 the Vulcan B2 was introduced to the unit. The squadron was wound up in 1982.


 

50 Squadron

Motto: "Sic fidem servamus" ("Thus we keep faith").
Badge: A sword in bend severing a mantle palewise. This unit formed at Dover and adopted a mantle being severed by a sword to show its connection with that town, the arms of which include St. Martin and the beggar with whom he divided his cloak. The mantle is also indicative of the protection given to this country by the Royal Air Force.
Authority: King George VI, March 1940.

After flying Canberras, Lincolns and Lancasters 50 squadron disbanded in 1959. It reformed in 1961 and was equipped with the earlier Vulcan B1 specification aircraft. It was the first Waddington wing to receive the Vulcan B2 during the Autumn of 1965. The Falklands Conflict extended the operating life of the Vulcan, but sadly the last Vulcan was flown by the RAF on the 31st of March 1984. 50 squadron had the honour of being  the last Vulcan operational unit in the Royal Air Force. 

 

83 Squadron

Motto: "Strike to defend".
Badge: An attire. The red deer's antler is in reference to the squadron's association with Scotland. The attire has six points commemorating an outstanding occasion in the First World War when six DFCs were awarded for one operation - an extremely valuable reconnaissance-successfully completed by six individuals in three aircraft during 14/15th June 1918.) They were the only Allied aircraft in the air in weather which had grounded all others. The antler in black affords reference to night flying and the three top points stand for the crown of success met with by the squadron.
Authority: King George VI, April 1938.


As this squadron was the first to be equipped with the then, new Vulcan aircraft many of the operational procedures used by the subsequent Vulcan squadrons were developed by its crews. In the Winter of 1960 the squadron had been stationed at Scampton where it operated Vulcan B2 aircraft capable of delivering free-fall nuclear weapons. These were later upgraded to the Blue Steel missile. The squadron was disbanded in August 1969.

 


101 Squadron

Motto: "Mens agitat molem" ("Mind over matter").
Badge: Issuant from the battlements of a tower, a demi-lion rampant guardant. The squadron adopted the battlements of a round tower as symbolic of its claim to be the first squadron equipped with an aircraft fitted with a power-operated rotating turret (the Boulton Paul Overstrand). A lion being a fierce fighter is symbolic of the unit's fighting spirit by its position in the tower
Authority: King George VI, February 1938.

This squadron was the first to be given the Canberra jet, which it used successfully in combat over Malaya and Suez. After being disbanded in 1957 it was reformed and presented with Vulcan B1s which it flew from Scampton. It was the last unit to convert to the Vulcan B2. This squadron saw action over the Falklands, and were the penultimate squadron to fly the Vulcan. It was disbanded in August 1982 before reforming at Brize Norton with VC-10 refuelling tankers.

 


617 Squadron

Motto: "Aprés moi, le deluge" ("After me, the flood").
Badge: On a roundel, a wall in fesse, fracted by three flashes of lightning in pile and issuant from the breach, water proper.
Authority: King George VI, March 1944.

This is perhaps the most well known RAF bomber squadron due to its exploits during WWII when it destroyed the hydro-electric dams used by the German war-machine. It was disbanded shortly before 1956, but reformed in May 1958 to fly Vulcan B1s from Scampton. By September 1961 it was equipped with the B2 variant which was armed with the Blue Steel missile. The squadron was disbanded in 1981, but has since reformed and now flies the Tornado.
 


 

Squadron Base Dates Vulcan Type
230 OCU Waddington
Finningley
Scampton
1/7/56 - 1/6/61
1/6/61 - 1/12/69
1/12/69 - 1/8/81
B1 until 6/60
9 Sqdn Coningsby
Cottesmore
Akrotiri
Waddington
1/3/62 - 9/11/64
10/11/64 - 25/2/69
26/2/69 - 31/12/74
1/1/75 - 9/4/82
B2
B2
B2
B2
12 Sqdn Coningsby
Cottesmore
1/7/62 - 16/11/64
17/11/64 - 31/12/67
B2
B2
27 Sqdn Scampton
Scampton
1/4/61 - 29/3/72
1/11/73 - 31/3/82
B2
B2 (MRR)
35 Sqdn Coningsby
Cottesmore
Akrotiri
Scampton
1/12/62 - 6/11/64
7/11/64 - 14/1/69
15/1/69 - 15/1/75
16/1/75 - 28/2/82
B2
B2
B2
B2
44 Sqdn Waddington 10/8/60 - 21/12/82 B1 until 11/67
50 Sqdn Waddington 1/8/61 - 31/3/84 B1 until 11/66
K2 from '82
83 Sqdn Waddington
Scampton
21/5/57 - 9/10/60 B1 until 8/60
101 Sqdn Finningley
Waddington
15/10/57 - 25/6/61
26/6/61 - 4/8/82
B1
B1 until 1/68
617 Sqdn Scampton 1/5/58 - 1/1/82 B1 until 7/61
 

1 Group Crest

This badge represents No 1 Group.


Badge: A black panther's head. The badge commemorates the code-name Panther which the Group had in 1939 at the time of its mobilisation for service in France as the Advanced Air Striking Force.
Motto : Swift to attack
Authority: King George VI, June 1941. 


No. 1 (Bomber) Group came into being at Abingdon on 1st May 1936, when its nameplate was given to the Central Area of the Air Defence of Great Britain. The Group began life with three stations and ten squadrons: Abingdon, Nos. 15, 40, 98 and 104 Squadrons; Bircham Newton, Nos. 18, 21, 34 and 39 Squadrons; and Upper Heyford, Nos. 57 and 218 Squadrons.

This symbol was used when
 the Vulcan was taking part in military bombing exercises, or when a Vulcan was being used for public air displays 
to prevent "squabbling" between
 the different RAF squadrons!

 

 

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