No 17 Squadron

RAF Bruggen
16 Oct 1970 - 30 Jan 1976

14 Sqn

No 17 Squadron was formed at Gosport on 1 February 1915 and after a period of training embarked for Egypt in November. On 24 December, it began to make reconnaissance flights over the Turkish lines in Sinai, also flying in support of troops engaged with Turkish army units in the Western Desert. Detachments were also to be found in Arabia until July 1916, when the Squadron was sent to Salonika as a mixed unit of twelve BE2cs for reconnaissance and a scout component of two DH2s and three Bristol Scouts. At first it was the only RFC unit in Macedonia but was later joined by others in April 1918, handed over its fighters to a newly-formed No 150 Squadron. For the rest of the war, it was engaged in tactical reconnaissance and artillery spotting on the Bulgarian border. In December 1918, the squadron re-equipped with twelve DH9s and six Camels, sending A Flight to Batum to support the White Russian forces and B and C Flights to Constantinople in January 1919. On 14 November 1919, No 17 was disbanded.

Reforming at Hawkinge on 1 April 1924, with Snipes No 17 formed part of the fighter defence of the UK until the outbreak of World War Two. Successively equipped Woodcocks, Siskins, Bulldogs and Gauntlets, the squadron remained in the UK during the Abyssinian crisis but lost most of its Bulldogs as reinforcements for squadrons moving to the Middle East and had to fly Harts for a period. In June 1939, Hurricanes were received and flew defensive patrols until the German attack on France in May 1940. Fighter sweeps were then flown over Holland Belgium and French airfields were used to cover the retreat of allied troops. In June the squadron moved to Brittany as the remnants of BEF and RAF units in France were evacuated, retiring to the Channel Islands two days before returning to the UK. No 17 flew over southern England throughout the Battle of Britain, being moved to northern Scotland in April 1941. In November 1941, the squadron sailed for the Far East where war broke out in December. Diverted to Burma, it arrived in January 1942, as Japanese troops neared Rangoon. Defensive patrols were flown until the Rangoon airfields were overrun and No 17 moved north, eventually being cut off from India while operating from Lashio. The surviving aircraft were flown out and the ground personnel made their way across Burma to the Indian border. By the end of May, the squadron had re-assembled at Calcutta and in June received aircraft again for the defence of the area. Ground attack missions began in February 1943 and continued until August, when the squadron moved to Ceylon. Spitfires began to arrive in March 1944 and were taken back to the Burma front in November to fly escort and ground attack missions. In June 1945 , it was withdrawn to prepare for the invasion of Malaya and was taken by carrier to the landing beaches near Penang in early September soon after the Japanese capitulation. In April 1946, it arrived in Japan to form part of the Commonwealth occupation force until disbanded on 23 February 1948.

On 11 February 1949, No 691 Squadron based at Chivenor for anti-aircraft co-operation duties was renumbered No 17 Squadron, being officially disbanded on 13 March 1951, passing its tasks to No 3 CAACU which was formed five days later. No 17 reformed at Wahn on 1 June 1956 as a Canberra photographic reconnaissance squadron in Germany, disbanding on 31 December 1969. On 1 September 1970, No 17 reformed at Bruggen with Phantoms, which were flown until December 1975. Conversion to Jaguars began in September. In January 1985 the squadron began to convert to Tornado GR1s, the Jaguar element disbanding on 1 March 1985 when No 17 became fully equipped with Tornados. In 2003 No 17 became the first RAF squadron to receive the Eurofighter Typhoon. Based a Warton it's responsibilities include the evaluation of the new aircraft and its integration into full squadron service. On 19 May 2005, the Squadron officially reformed with the presentation of the Squadron Standard at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, to become No 17 (Reserve) Squadron, the Typhoon Operational Evaluation Unit, disbanding on 12 April 2013 once the Typhoon was fully operational. The Squadron stood up almost immediately at Edwards AFB, California, on 12 April 2013 as the joint RAF/Royal Navy Test and Evaluation Squadron for the new Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning under the name of No. 17 Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES)

  • 17 Sqn Crest

  • 17 Sqn Montage

  • 17 Sqn Groundcrew Patch

    Supplied by Terry Perkins
  • A pair of 17 Sqn Phantoms taking off at RAF Bruggen in 1974 (XV425 & XV487). Look closely and you'll see the Strike Camera Pods fitted to Stn 3!

    Supplied by Bunny Potts
  • A 17 Sqn Phantom XV497 taken at Wildenrath in January 1976. It was during the Sqn's final few weeks of operating the Phantom before converting to the Jaguar when during a station exercise at Bruggen, the Sqn's remaining four Phantoms were detached to Wildenrath for the duration.

    Supplied by Pete Mears
  • A picture from the mid 70's showing very well attired 17 Sqn personnel at Bruggen. The photo was supplied by the son of Philip Shier who is on top of the spine, 3rd from the right. Any other names, please let me know (though the pilot in the middle does remind me of Michael Schmacher!)

    Supplied by Paul Shier
  • XV474 pictured in the rain at a Squadron Families Day. Needless to say there was not much flying! This actual a/c now lives at the IWM Duxford

    Supplied by Pat Miller
  • XV397, taken at the engine run up pad in 17 squadron's revetment area. Sadly this a/c was lost on the 1st. June 1973, costing the life of Flt. Lt. Dave Baker, which was very sad for all of us on the squadron, as he was a popular, well liked chap,

    Supplied by Pat Miller