XLI Squadron

RAF Coningsby
1 Apr 1972 - 31 Mar 1977


Number 41 Squadron was formed on 14 July 1916 at Gosport. Two months later, the unit moved to France equipped with FE8s, which proved unsuitable for their intended role as fighters and so were employed on ground attack missions. During 1917, the Squadron received SE5As for fighter and escort duties, although some ground attack missions were flown to great effect during the German offensive of 1918. Following the Armistice, the unit remained on the continent until February 1919 when it moved to Tangmere and was disbanded at the end of the year.

On 1 April 1923, No 41 Squadron reformed at Northolt as a fighter squadron, initially equipped with Snipes, these were replaced a year later by Siskins. During the Abyssinian crisis of 1935-36, the Squadron found itself in Aden on air-policing duties with two-seat Demons before returning the UK and re-equipping with Furys. In January 1939, No 41 received its first Spitfires - an association that was, remarkably, to last for the whole of World War II. Activity was light for the Squadron until May 1940 when it was used to provide fighter cover for the evacuation of Dunkirk and was part of No 11 Group during the Battle of Britain. In the following years, No 41 was employed on a variety of missions including convoy patrol, 'Rhubarb' interdiction flights and fighter interception. After joining the Second Tactical Air Force in September 1944, the Squadron flew fighter sweeps over the continent, moving to Germany as part of the occupation forces in July 1945.

In 1947, the unit spent 10 months as an instrument flying training unit, before reverting to its fighter role and receiving Hornets. The Squadron's first jet aircraft, the Meteor, arrived during 1951, and these remained until 1955 when Hunters took over. In 1958, the arrival of all-weather Javelins saw the unit based in East Anglia until disbandment in December 1963. September 1965 saw the Squadron reformed as a Bloodhound surface-to-air missile unit at West Raynham. Changes to the Bloodhound squadrons saw No 41 disbanded in September 1970, but on 1 April 1972, the Squadron reformed at Coningsby equipped with Phantoms. In 1976, a shadow squadron was formed at RAF Coltishall, flying the Sepecat Jaguar GR1, which then took over the squadron role. The Gulf War in 1991 saw the Squadron in action once again, followed by NATO/UN Operations over Bosnia, when it became the first RAF aircraft to drop a bomb in anger over Europe since 1945. On 1 April 2006, the Squadron took on Reserve status, with the standard being handed to the Fast Jet and Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit (FJWOEU).

41 Squadron was once again based at RAF Coningsby. The FJWOEU formed on 1 April 2004 by the merger of the Strike Attack OEU (SAOEU) from RAF Boscombe Down, the F3 OEU from RAF Coningsby and the Air Guided Weapons OEU (AGWOEU) from RAF Valley. The SAOEU formed, in 1983, as the Tornado OEU when a need for Service assessment of the GR1 Terrain Following Radar and weapon system effectiveness under tactical conditions was required. The Unit quickly proved its worth and was expanded five years later to include the Harrier II. Following its major avionics upgrade, the Jaguar GR3 joined the Unit in 1996. The F3 OEU formed in 1987 to develop tactics and doctrine for the employment of the Tornado F3 under operational conditions. AGWOEU, was formed to develop new technologies in the field of guided missiles. It was responsible for assisting with development of Air-to-Air missiles and providing technical and tactical advice to Strike Command squadrons, regarding missile firings.

As well as the development of operational tactics, the role of the FJWOEU is the evaluation of avionics and weapons such as ASRAAM, Brimstone and Storm Shadow, MBDA's precision attack stand-off missile that successfully saw operational service in Operation TELIC. The Unit's tasks are carried out in close liaison with Defence manufacturers, research institutions and front-line squadrons. 41(R) Sqn, FJWOEU is an arm of the Air Warfare Centre, whose motto is ' to test the weaponry and give advice'.

On 1 April 2010, the Boscombe Down-based Fast Jet Test Squadron (FJTS) was amalgamated into 41(R) Squadron to create a new entity, 41 Squadron Test and Evaluation Squadron, or "41(R) TES", in which form it continues today

  • 41 Sqn Crest

  • 41 Sqn Aircrew Ops Patch

  • 41 Sqn Montage

  • XLI Groundcrew Patch

    Supplied by Daz Talbot
  • The Phantom Phlasher patch, Originally made for the 41 Sqdn Photogs 1973/74.

    Supplied by Terry Taylor
  • A 41 Sqn photo from around 1972/73. Though a bit worse for wear, it is good quality and a lot of faces are viewable. Please send names if you can.... (Opens in New Window)

    Supplied by Graeme Barton