No 54 Squadron

RAF Coningsby
1 Sep 1969 - 28 Mar 1974

54 Sqn

Formed at Castle Bromwich on 5 May 1916, No 54 Squadron, like many others formed at the same time, was tasked with Home Defence duties flying BE2Cs. Four months later, however, it transferred to day fighter missions and moved to France escorting bombers and attacking observation balloons. The final months of the War were spent flying Camels in ground attack as well as fighter sorties. In February 1919, the Squadron returned to the UK, disbanding some ten months later.

The Squadron was reformed at Hornchurch on 15 January 1930 as a fighter squadron equipped initially with Siskins then subsequently Bulldogs, Gauntlets and Gladiators before the Squadron's first monoplane, the Spitfire, arrived in March 1939. The early days of the Second World War were spent patrolling the Kent coast, until, in May-June 1940, the unit provided air cover for the evacuation of Dunkirk. Following on from this, the Squadron was heavily engaged in the Battle of Britain until moving North to regroup prior to undertaking coastal patrols. In mid-1942, the Squadron left for Australia and joined the battle against the Japanese before disbanding in October 1945. On 15 November, No 183 Squadron, a Tempest ground-attack unit based at Chilbolton near Oxford, was renumbered No 54 and the Squadron spent a year training pilots destined for overseas service before receiving Vampires and moving to Odiham a year later.

In 1948, six Vampires from the Squadron made history when they completed the first crossing of the Atlantic by jet aircraft. Following a three year stint with Meteors, Hunters arrived in 1955, and the Squadron took up ground-attack duties as part of No 38 Group, frequently deploying to trouble spots around the world as part of the Group's Offensive Strike Wing. This role continued after re-equipping with Phantoms at Coningsby during 1969 and subsequent Jaguars that were delivered during 1974. Remarkably, the Squadron, role and aircraft have remained the same, albeit at a different base (Coltishall) and updated Jaguar aircraft. With the move to a more expeditionary footing, the squadron has seen a number of operational deployments in recent years including Northern Iraq and the Balkans.

With the decision taken to run the Jaguar fleet down in anticipation of the arrival of its replacement, the Typhoon, No 54 was disbanded at RAF Coltishall on 11 March 2005.

On 5 September 2005, 54 Squadron officially reformed with a new role, 3 aircraft types at RAF Waddington as the Intelligence Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Operational Conversion Unit to train aircrews from the three ISTAR platforms E-3D Sentry, Nimrod R1 and Sentinel R.

  • 54 Sqn Crest

  • 54 Sqn Aircrew Ops Patch

  • 54 Sqn Montage

  • This the day 54 reformed at Coningsby (1/9/1969) showing their formation flypast above the 'borrowed' OCU Phantom XV403. For the pundits this jet was issued to 6 Sqn soon after the photo was taken and finished its career with 111 Sqn by flying into the North Sea off Aberdeen on 4/8/1978. Unfortunately the crew didn't survive. (Opens in New Window)

    Supplied by Pete Mears