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XV107

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  1. Numbering is dependent upon seniority - apart from for 120 and 617 Sqns, which received their squadron Standards ahead of the 25 year qualifying time as a mark of esteem from George VI. This means that they are treated as special cases and, were the RAF to go down to two frontline squadrons, the chances are they'd be 617 and 120. This underpinned the reumberings in 1945 to ensure that numberplates with greater seniority continued in service as it reduced in size. There was another wave of renumbering in the 1950s as the Sandys review slashed the size of the RAF. This meant that more junior numberplates were sacrificed to keep senior ones going. The most obvious example is 3 Squadron, which was on Hunters in 1957. Then when the RAFG Hunter force was reduced in the aftermath of the 'Sandystorm' and because it's one of the most senior squadrons (2 and 3 Sqns still argue which was the first to fly, and the 3 Sqn badge and motto reflect this), there was no question that it would survive. The question wasn't 'how?' but 'which extant squadron takes on the numberplate?' Thus, 96 Squadron was renumbered as 3 Sqn on 21 Jan 1959 and 3 Sqn became a Javelin unit - with the personnel who until 2359hrs on 20th January had been members of 96 Squadron. This, however, took place against a backdrop of decisions about the force structure of RAF Germany, which saw a reduction in the number of fighter squadrons. This meant that 3 Squadron's Javelins were no longer needed - so... 59 Squadron, flying Canberra B(I)8s was renumbered as 3 Squadron. (88 Squadron became 14 Squadron at the same time, again to preserve the senior numberplate). This, though, was noted to cause some resentment amongst personnel who had to adopt the identity of a brand new unit with which most of them felt little, if any, affiliation. The Air Council thus decided that renumbering would only occur in exceptional circumstances. The rules - in general terms are now: 1/ No squadron numberplate in use will be transferred to a newly-formed squadron, or replaced by that of a more senior unit which has recently disbanded on a type which has just been retired 2/ New squadrons will take the most senior numberplate available, but... 3/ ... 'role association' may trump this - so if a new fighter squadron is to form on a new type, if the most senior available numberplate is associated with (say) the maritime patrol role and the one after that is a fighter squadron, the new fighter squadron will get the numberplate of the senior fighter squadron. This doesn't always happen - see IX(B) moving from Tornado the Typhoon and 74 Squadron reforming on the Phantom when it ought to have been 39 or 45 Squadron; Jeff Jefford, the historian of squadrons (and squadron numbering) is late 45 Sqn and makes pointed remarks about 45 being a fighter squadron and thus an entirely legitimate choice for the Phantom unit (45 on F-4J(UK) and 74 as the TWCU numberplate would, Jeff contends, have been more appropriate). 4/ Previous rules that flying squadron numberplates would not be used by non-flying units have been discarded - thus 92, 19 and 20 Squadrons have no flying role; 23 Sqn is designated as the space operations squadron. Cynics might suggest that this is the Air Staff trying clear out all the numberplates that sit ahead of 74 Squadron so they can have a fast jet Tiger squadron again (the problem is that 5 and 100 are both senior and recently disbanded, while 43 and 111 are ahead of 74 in the lists...) Edit - should add that a squadron serving with a type which is to be retired and which the RAF wishes to keep going can re-equip; a squadron doesn't need to disband. This was done with the '(Designate)' squadron concept where the squadron continued to fly the type which was to retire while another squadron worked up on the new type: effectively two different squadrons, often at different stations. 19 Squadron serves as an example here: as the Lighting F2A fleet was being retired, 19 continued flying while a new squadron - 19 (Designate) Squadron worked up on the Phantom FGR2. At 23:59;59 hrs on the designated day, 19 Squadron ceased to exist on Lightnings and 61 second later, 19 Squadron had re-equipped on Phantoms - even though none of the personnel were the same . We don't have the resources to do that any more,, though - a squadron may re-equip, even if there are a few months' gap between retirement of the old type and new pilots & personnel coming on stream.
  2. Or they took note of the TA infantry unit in the 90s which, thanks to a request from a rather high-ranking individual suspecting his empire had become lax and was just sending stuff out on request (contrary to the 'if we were meant to issue it, we'd be called 'Supplies', see?' stereotype), set about attempting to see how long it would take before it was twigged that they were apparently attempting to obtain a Challenger 1 piece by piece.1 My informant still wistfully wonders over a pint or three whether they might well have ended up in the 'Riiight.... Er... Anyone got a Haynes manual for this?' stage had the QM not asked the senior chap (wishing to demonstrate that people needed to pay more attention to requests from TA units for bits and pieces) to intervene since the lack of 'What the Hell do you want that for?' missives after his latest request gave him a very nasty feeling that they were going to get the 120mm gun they'd just ordered and he'd nowhere secure to store it. Sprockets, bits of electronic kit, etc: yes; Gun, 120mm Tk L11A5: no...2 I digress, but I think the 'build my kit for free' option may well have been pursued by dishonest sorts as you suggest 1 IIRC, there was a belief that a couple of TA units had individuals taking advantage of their position and this laxity to obtain items of kit (nothing quite as dramatic as an MBT or weapons) which their unit had no need of, and which they then sold on. Once the MBT scam had proved this was entirely possible, an investigation followed leading to several convictions and exciting changes of career involving blanket stacking in remote places for the lax suppliers who'd enabled the crimes through being jack so-and-sos who'd not done their jobs properly 2 In reality, the scam lasted no more than six weeks with the attempt to requisition the gun meant to be the dead giveaway (which sadly for the careers of those involved in furnishing the requests wasn't), but he misses this out of the dit and the unsuspecting are left thinking that the TA unit was left with a very large pile of bits as if they'd bought the whole series of a 'build your own 1:1 scale Challenger Tank' magazines from Del Prado...
  3. Sadly, the Venom FB54 at Grove appears to have been a Kill for Storm Eunice... (from Twitter, original photographer not clear at the mo')
  4. As a further hint that it's the SAAF... The title of their 1970 Golden Jubilee Book was Per Aspera ad Astra, too!
  5. Although 54 is currently serving as the OCU, I believe that the debate as to whether there'll be a third Poseidon-only unit with an OCU function hasn't quite concluded yet. I suspect that the answer will be '120, 201 and 54' when the question is 'which RAF Squadrons operate the P-8?', but suggestions that 42 Sqn might make a reappearance were certainly being bounced around about 12 months ago and haven't entirely gone away (although my source for that is probably a bit out of date now). In early 2020, 22 Squadron's numberplate was still being spoken of as a possible OCU 'plate (think Beauforts and Ken Campbell VC, plus the maritime aspect of its SAR role), but the opportunity to bring it back earlier was taken with its allocation to the JHC OEU. [There had been a debate over the right numberplate for the JHC OEU, but the leading contender as an alternative to 22 - 225 - didn't have a squadron standard, and the decision to remove the 'R' suffix from OCUs/OEUs meant that the rule about current squadrons needing to have a standard kicked in] A previous OC 56(R) did ponder trying to get the Lightning F3 scheme painted on the tail of a Sentinel to mark the squadron's anniversary, but concluded that the chances of him getting permission ranged from 'Not on your nelly' to 'Er... nice idea, but, no'. 74 isn't that far off reappearing, in reality - since 19, 20, 23, 25 and 92 were the fighter numberplates ahead of it and are all now in use (12 & 20 non-flying and air traffic/airspace management related; 23 space operations; 25 Hawk and 92 - Air Warfare Centre tactics unit - I think that 5, 43 and 111 are the only ones with greater seniority and an air combat role association.
  6. Pretty decent, I thought. I toddled over to Hannants and - despite observation on another thread about need to dramatically reduce the stash size - did some back ordering (one can always cancel. In theory...) I'll definitely get a Bucc, a Spit 18 and possibly the XII (I must check how many I in fact have already, since I have a feeling I managed to forget ordering three from somewhere and bought another three. Owning my own flight of 41 Sqn in 1/48 might be a bit excessive...). The Anson will certainly be making an appearance in the stash, and I suspect that the F-86 may - although I have quite a few in 48th already (not all Airfix). The F-80 is pretty certain to be bought, as is the Meteor. I shall probably get a Boomerang or two, and I never got round to getting the Whirlwind - despite a friend building one at a 'bring something to do' day at school in 1980 and me thinking that it would be a good choice for my first helicopter if the local newsagent's model section had one in. And I may have concluded that despite having nowhere immediately obvious to put it, and probably needing to wait another 15 (damn, only 15?) years until I'm retired (probably) and thus able to devote enough time to do it justice, a Spit IX ought to find it's way onto the list... So all in all, I thought it a good effort by Airfix, and my wallet will take various hits accordingly this year/early 2023 (taking pre-emptive hits from Tempests and the like while I wait).
  7. Well, I shan't be buying more than one (very unlike me) because of the price, but equally don't plan to be hammering Airfix over this as I don't think that they can be blamed for starting the pandemic (I look forward, for the 2029 catalogue hearing that they've managed to LIDAR the Pangolin responsible and will be releasing a 1/35 scale kit of it...] or the shipping container cost issues, or the raw material issues. Shame, but there you go It also means that I can then wait for the RAF boxing(s) to appear and end up with three insulating the loft after reducing my now-ludicrously sized stash to manageable proportions (it is a properly, properly bonkers size thanks to the gifting and inheriting of kits)...
  8. Aviation Megastore appears to have them with a provisional price of €29.70. Assuming that a straight € to £ 'conversion' occurs, that does seem a little steep; I'll still get one, but suspect that my thoughts of having a flight's worth of Venoms will be put aside unless/until Airfix produce one for about a tenner less than that (they could, after all, get a decent number of boxings out of a Venom, as discussed before)
  9. This any help? It appeared in either Flight or an RAF magazine in the late 80s, as I recall. Copyright acknowledgement of the original would be to The Crown ('Cheers' Your Majesty!')
  10. Avro 504? And a 1½ Strutter? Be still, my beating wallet...
  11. Well volunteered. High-back Mk XIV fans of the world thank you for your sacrifice...
  12. Hopefully to be followed by an RC-135W with 51 Sqn markings as part of the package....
  13. Indeed - aircraft were to be saved, and those who weren't able to be in them had to do the best they could to escape. There are all sorts of tales about squadrons being 'exiled', but they're not true. 84 is supposed to have been exiled after 1918 because the squadron did something which upset Trenchard. Given that he could've vetoed their continuance as an RAF squadron in the post-1918 downsizing, where he personally selected the squadron numberplates that were to form the basis of the inter-war air force... he was presented with a list of numberplates, made a couple of changes (84 remaining on the list) and then set about assigning the squadrons to their various world-wide locations. People forget how small, relatively, the air force in the UK was in the early 1920s (at one point the RAF had no home-based fighter squadrons at all, albeit only for a few weeks). In reality, 84 was chosen as one of the overseas squadrons because that was where most of them were to start with and stayed overseas. There was never any reason for the unit to return to the UK to become part of the UK ORBAT. You also have comments about streaks of yellow appearing in squadron colours because ground crew were abandoned during the Second World War, only for the evidence to show that the yellow appeared in the inter-war years, requiring a time machine to be involved in the story at some point. One of the other legends, of course, is that after 74 Squadron went to the Far East and painted the tails of their Lightnings black, contrary to the Fighter Command instructions (after 56 rather took the you-know-what with the chequerboard tail), their absence from the ORBAT after 1971 was punishment for this. As well as the obvious point being that they weren't part of Fighter Command when in Singapore and thus could paint the tails black if the local AOC was happy (he was), the Air Staff in fact spent most of the period between 1971 and 1983 trying to reform 74 so that there was a Tiger Squadron, but the rules over seniority kept thwarting them until 39 Squadron was elbowed out of the way (supposedly earmarked for reformation on Canberras, so a different numberplate was needed and - oh! What a happy accident! - it was 74's that was next in line )to be the 'plate for the F-4J(UK) squadron. In between that, as noted elsewhere, the Air Staff looked (and failed) to reform the squadron on Phantom FGR2, Jaguar GR1, Hunter FGA9, Victor K1 [that is not a typo] Hunters again and Lightnings (proposed extra Lighting squadron after 1979). Then the F-4J(UK) came into service and 74 got that job, restoring them to the ORBAT, even if they've now been disbanded for longer than what was seen as an unconscionably long gap in the 1970s/early 80s and are unlikely to return.
  14. It's very outdated and written without the benefit of access to any official documentation, even that pertaining to the First World War. There are a fair few statements of 'fact' which are just plain wrong - the classic is his claim that the RFC didn't practice artillery spotting prior to 1914 - even when there were sources available which might have suggested otherwise. The book is often mentioned in histories of the First World War relating to air power, but is really only worth reading in conjunction with other, more recent work (e.g. Syd Wise's Canadian Airmen and the First World War despite the title, is almost a demi-official history of the RFC, RNAS and RAF, even it it is part of the RCAF's Official History series). I think it gets a bit better when it moves on (thanks to more readily available material, albeit still not official records) but it is designed as a critique and has a slightly polemical air about it. If it's only a couple of quid, I'd get it - part of the value in some ways lies in the book being part of a particular 'school' of critiques. Anything approaching a tenner and I'd wrinkle my nose a bit and think of the Eduard Spitfire dual combos the money might otherwise go towards. It's not that it isn't a reasonable book, just that it's a product of its time and falls into a variety of Pooh-traps that the Bear of that name would've been proud of setting for passing heffalumps, woozles and historians (with apologies to those who either don't have kids or who've not been reading their offspring the Pooh books seemingly every night for the last God-Knows-How-Long).
  15. [WAH Shield Raised] 120 = CXX in Roman Numerals. Some naughty aviators from a neighbouring squadron added the letters 'TS' to the 'CXX'. Imagine that the witty artists (they were doing a fine impression of another form of artist at the specific time of the painting) wished those seeing the painting to imagine that the 'XX' stood for the abbreviation of the United Nations, demonstrating their love, respect and affection for their rival squadron... [WAH Shield lowered]
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