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XV107

25(F) Squadron to reform

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I'm not sure I really understand the policy of reactivating squadrons purely because of seniority which, as far as I can tell, is based on how long a squadron has been active.  It seems particularly odd when you consider that 617 and 120 get special treatment because of their past deeds.  Why not then, 249 Squadron which had more air to air victories than any other fighter squadron in the RAF or some of the Mosquito squadrons that carried out the amazing pinpoint low level attacks on the Gestapo or Germany's heavy water plants - you can insert all sorts of criteria like Typhoon ground attack success, shooting down the most V1s, dropping the most tonnage of bombs etc etc.  I suppose my point is that there are many squadrons with equally or even more illustrious histories than the favoured older units but which will possibly never be resurrected because they are not 'senior' enough.  Seems a shame really. 

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It's because the question of how you define 'distinguished history'. Jeff Jefford covers it in his book, but in essence it became clear that the policy in place prior to 1957 (when there was a review) potentially favoured squadrons which had served in Western Europe during the Second World War - this meant that there was a real risk of 11 (arguably the world's first dedicated fighter squadron) and possibly other units with a distinguished First World War record (again, define 'distinguished'...) disappearing, and quite possibly for good. At the time, squadrons like 249 were safe from succumbing to likely extinction because the RAF was much larger.  The seniority (plus Royal Approval status) & role association system seemed to work - the Air Staff never claimed it to be ideal, but it seemed to be the best way of attempting to avoid making subjective judgements as to which numberplates should survive. There were too many squadrons which could be said to have distinguished histories to avoid serious controversy. 

 

It is a shame, as you say-  I'd contend that 111 (because of its contribution to the RAF's reputation via the Black Arrows) and 74 (defence diplomacy through the Tiger Association) ought to have some extra advantage, and 249 really ought to be there as well (Nicolson VC and its high scoring during the 2nd WW).

 

 

Edited by XV107

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On 8/25/2018 at 8:40 PM, XV107 said:

It's because the question of how you define 'distinguished history'. Jeff Jefford covers it in his book, but in essence it became clear that the policy in place prior to 1957 (when there was a review) potentially favoured squadrons which had served in Western Europe during the Second World War - this meant that there was a real risk of 11 (arguably the world's first dedicated fighter squadron) and possibly other units with a distinguished First World War record (again, define 'distinguished'...) disappearing, and quite possibly for good. At the time, squadrons like 249 were safe from succumbing to likely extinction because the RAF was much larger.  The seniority (plus Royal Approval status) & role association system seemed to work - the Air Staff never claimed it to be ideal, but it seemed to be the best way of attempting to avoid making subjective judgements as to which numberplates should survive. There were too many squadrons which could be said to have distinguished histories to avoid serious controversy. 

 

It is a shame, as you say-  I'd contend that 111 (because of its contribution to the RAF's reputation via the Black Arrows) and 74 (defence diplomacy through the Tiger Association) ought to have some extra advantage, and 249 really ought to be there as well (Nicolson VC and its high scoring during the 2nd WW).

 

 

Yes, as you say, distinguished is a somewhat subjective term.  I suppose my real beef is that there are so few squadrons these days, hence the loss of so many famous units, but that is a different matter altogether!

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Some very interesting discussion and thoughts here, all kept sensible, and yes I too think that there are very historic, but high numbered squadrons that will never see the light if day again sue to their "youth".

 

I've often thought that with the continued downsizing of the RAF and how it now operates now and the flexibility required, now would be a great time to revisit squadron strength, size and numbers.

 

Given that the RAF (fighter/strike) squadrons rarely deploy as a whole unit (12 - 14 aircraft I'd assume still) , and usually in 4's or 8's (for example BAP, Shader etc.), would it be good in future to reduce squadron strength to, in effect, flight strength, of 4 aircraft, thus increasing squadrons. With the added benefit of Squadron Leaders actually being that rather than one of several on a squadron. I'd imagine that behind this you'd have a good structure and ready made and rotatable deployment units.

 

As an example, 11 squadron at CBY with 12 aircraft or so could be come 11, 43 and 74 in the future and so on......

 

Not ideal and I'm sure there'd be some issues, but a good way surely to have a more flexible force, promote squadron heritage and preserve more squadrons.

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On ‎8‎/‎17‎/‎2018 at 3:19 PM, Lord Riot said:

Would be nice to see Lightnings (albeit the watered down American edition) lined up on Wattisham's apron with red and white chequerboard tail fins ...

In order for the checkerboard to make an impact, it would need more of a fin really. Size DOES matter. And a proper aeroplane attached to it, of course...

 

Edited by tempestfan
interesting quote in quote patchwork...

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From my perspective, which is one of somebody on the outside that hasn't and never will serve in the RAF, I really can't see today what squadrons matter any more. They've largely removed all the squadron markings from most aircraft and they pool what they have anyway so nobody knows who's flying what most of the time. Add to that that we won't even be able to tell the difference between the RAF and FAA soon and even the roundels are nearly impossible to see or distinguish on the F-35. 25 squadron? Crunchie's Flying Circus? Who knows?

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Squadron numbers do matter; to the RAF personnel.

Its all to do with the history of the squadron and the members who went before

Thats why the Dutch and the Norwegians keep squadrons with their RAF numbers; its to do with the legacy of what the members of those squadrons did in WW2

The squadron is a very big family; from the lowliest erk of WW1 era to the modern CO, they are in the same family unit. It transcends the years and ranks

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As Black Knight said, they are important. It's not about what colours the aircraft might carry, or badges, and what is displayed to us outside the fence, but it gives meaning and structure to a unit. The legacy of that squadron and those who have gone before adds to that sense of belonging and comradery. A good friend of mine was a JEngo on XXV in it's last incarnation and the pride that squadron carried, for it, and separate from collocated XI squadron was very noticeable. Other good friends have served noticeably on 1, 5, 29 and also other squadrons and it's always the same.

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That's good to know that there is still enough squadron identity left for those on the inside to feel that they belong to one. I do wonder if you took a poll of serving personnel how few actually care about having the aircraft they fly or service identifiable as belonging to their squadron? Perhaps very few.

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It may surprise some to know that people in uniform have an exceptionally strong sense of squadron pride and it’s somewhat disappointing that this is questioned. Sure, some types are pooled (transport aircraft for example) and whilst it’s no doubt great to have unit markings on aircraft, most would prefer aircraft to be marked (albeit these days, someone has to consider any maintance overhead), that is not what identifies and defines a squadron; its personnel do. They always have and they always will, they form a team and from the time they serve on the squadron, they belong and feel that they belong. They want to be better than other squadrons operating the same type and they see their unit as the best.

 

And yes, that loyalty will change as they go from squadron to squadron, but for those that do multiple squadron tours, most will have true affinity to just one at the end of the day. I was lucky enough to have served on 74(F) during the J years; no one will tell me that at that time, there wasn’t a better fighter squadron in the Royal Air Force (so there!!). I am saddened that it is highly unlikely that the legend  ‘I Fear No Man’ will not adorn the entrance to an operational squadron headquarters and that no Typhoon or Lightning’s will be coded T, I, G, E, R, S, Q, N, etc..., but that will never remove the history and I remain a proud member of the Squadron Association, even from afar. 

 

The reality is that, whilst these is no doubt an aircraft with squadron or operational markings makes for a more interesting looking modelling subject than a plainly marked one, we modellers will have to get used to less being more. However, whether it’s an A400, Lightning or MQ9 unit, the ‘squadron’ will exist and live through those that serve on it.

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There's great pride in squadrons. You only have to go to a Dining In Night marking the Battle of Britain to see this; as an example, the last one I attended was at Waddington. 54 Squadron had been tasked with organising it as a Battle of Britain numberplate. There was a distinct sense of pride that they'd been a Battle of Britain Spitfire squadron amongst the aircrew (92 was, of course, but as they currently don't have any aeroplanes, they were on the receiving end of much banter; 56 likewise since while they have access to aeroplanes, they flew Hurricanes, and were thus not quite as splendid (in the eyes of the 54 Sqn members there present).

 

All good-natured (and, of course, other Waddington-based squadrons did not serve in Fighter Command in 1940, either because of their kit or location overseas), but there was a distinct pride in being a Battle of Britain squadron that even the most unaware guest at the dinner would've noticed.

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I always find the topic of how people on Sqns feel about the Sqns an interesting one. Im currently in the RAF as an engineer, from my experience its more the ground officers and the aircrew that care about the Sqns identity and its history. When you get down to the lowest people on the Sqns such as the SAC's and the Cpl's, most of them dont really care about the Sqn identity and its history and in quite a few cases they dont have a interest in what aircraft they are working on. For alot of the younger guys on Sqns it seems to be more of a job than a life style now, its common now for people to join get their qualications and leave as soon as they can to get better paid jobs. Im not saying this is the case all the time, there are still alot of people in the RAF who love the history and the Sqn identities, im one of them (IX(B) sqn is the best sqn by far of course), this is just my personal view from my experience of being the RAF so far.

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2 hours ago, Motley said:

I always find the topic of how people on Sqns feel about the Sqns an interesting one. Im currently in the RAF as an engineer, from my experience its more the ground officers and the aircrew that care about the Sqns identity and its history. When you get down to the lowest people on the Sqns such as the SAC's and the Cpl's, most of them dont really care about the Sqn identity and its history and in quite a few cases they dont have a interest in what aircraft they are working on. For alot of the younger guys on Sqns it seems to be more of a job than a life style now, its common now for people to join get their qualications and leave as soon as they can to get better paid jobs. Im not saying this is the case all the time, there are still alot of people in the RAF who love the history and the Sqn identities, im one of them (IX(B) sqn is the best sqn by far of course), this is just my personal view from my experience of being the RAF so far.

Thans for your honest view from the shop floor,....... I was at Brize with the Army in the early 90`s and to be honest it was the same back then among most of the RAF junior ranks,...... more like civvies in uniform we thought. The living conditions, food and time off were so much better than the Army too,...... but hey, ...it was a transport base and we were used to roughing it in a fire trench for weeks on end!

Glad to hear that there is still `some' squadron pride left among the `erks'.

Cheers

           Tony 

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2 hours ago, Motley said:

I always find the topic of how people on Sqns feel about the Sqns an interesting one. Im currently in the RAF as an engineer, from my experience its more the ground officers and the aircrew that care about the Sqns identity and its history. When you get down to the lowest people on the Sqns such as the SAC's and the Cpl's, most of them dont really care about the Sqn identity and its history and in quite a few cases they dont have a interest in what aircraft they are working on. For alot of the younger guys on Sqns it seems to be more of a job than a life style now, its common now for people to join get their qualications and leave as soon as they can to get better paid jobs. Im not saying this is the case all the time, there are still alot of people in the RAF who love the history and the Sqn identities, im one of them (IX(B) sqn is the best sqn by far of course), this is just my personal view from my experience of being the RAF so far.

That's interesting what you say about the non-commissioned ground staff on modern day squadrons because only the other day I was talking to a local in my village pub who was a crew chief on 264 Squadron, when it flew Meteor NF14s, and he was very much of the opinion that  'his' squadron was the best in Fighter Command.   He also told me that he and all on the squadron were extremely proud that they could operate in the murky conditions of Linton-on-Ouse while the resident Hunter squadrons were grounded, to the extent that when the Hunters couldn't fly 264's Meteors used to take a diversion when taxiing so that they could pass right by the Hunter squadron offices just to annoy them! 

 

I think esprit de corps is a vital element of the armed forces, whether it be squadron, regiment or ship.  In my own small experience I remember how my ACF battalion, 5th Queens (now amalgamated out of existence but essentially part of the PWRR), was by far the greatest ever battalion that the British Army had ever fielded.  Our disdain for other units was particularly targeted at the regiment's other two battalions, 1st and 2nd Queens!  We had some rather fruity songs about the other battalions just so they knew who was boss.   And that's just in the Army Cadet Corps.

Edited by Meatbox8
Grammar

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1 hour ago, Meatbox8 said:

I think esprit de corps is a vital element of the armed forces, whether it be squadron, regiment or ship.

Quite so, and well said.

Most of my time in the RAF was spent in servicing hangars on various aircraft types.

But I did serve on 240 OCU Pumas. Not quite a Squadron, but not far off.

And, my groundcrew shift was better than the other shift.

By the time I left the service in 1994, it was a very different RAF to the one I'd joined in 1976.

And yes, even back then, some of us were proud of the heritage, yet others were just engineers.

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The last few posts are interesting in that the arguments in squadrons being important are possibly being made by ex service people who served during the Cold War and slightly after. My sense that squadron identity is waning is perhaps being to some degree backed up by accounts of current or at least more recently serving personnel. I’m only being devils advocate and aren’t trying to have a go at anybody. I just still see from the outside that the removal of visible squadron markings, pooling of aircraft, and increasing visibility of Serco, Cobham, AirTanker etc that the RAF is at least struggling to maintain parts of its history and make up.

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On 8/31/2018 at 12:55 PM, Filler said:

From my perspective, which is one of somebody on the outside that hasn't and never will serve in the RAF, I really can't see today what squadrons matter any more. They've largely removed all the squadron markings from most aircraft and they pool what they have anyway so nobody knows who's flying what most of the time. Add to that that we won't even be able to tell the difference between the RAF and FAA soon and even the roundels are nearly impossible to see or distinguish on the F-35. 25 squadron? Crunchie's Flying Circus? Who knows?

You may not realise but on a Main Operating Base, as well as the Flying Sqns,  you will have a Logs Sqn, Admin Sqn, Air Traffic Control Sqn,

 

What I am trying to say is a Sqn consists of the Ladies and Gents who work on it.  What aircraft or helicopters are painted like matter little.

 

 

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On ‎9‎/‎1‎/‎2018 at 9:23 PM, PLC1966 said:

You may not realise but on a Main Operating Base, as well as the Flying Sqns,  you will have a Logs Sqn, Admin Sqn, Air Traffic Control Sqn,

 

What I am trying to say is a Sqn consists of the Ladies and Gents who work on it.  What aircraft or helicopters are painted like matter little.

 

 

Exact;y, it's a needed organisational structure, a squadron is far far more than a standard and whether aircraft are painted brightly not!

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On 9/1/2018 at 9:06 PM, Filler said:

The last few posts are interesting in that the arguments in squadrons being important are possibly being made by ex service people who served during the Cold War and slightly after. My sense that squadron identity is waning is perhaps being to some degree backed up by accounts of current or at least more recently serving personnel. I’m only being devils advocate and aren’t trying to have a go at anybody. I just still see from the outside that the removal of visible squadron markings, pooling of aircraft, and increasing visibility of Serco, Cobham, AirTanker etc that the RAF is at least struggling to maintain parts of its history and make up.

 

I think it varies. My reference above to the D-i-N at Waddington is relatively recent as I'm referring to last year. There are freshly minted Fg Offrs of my acquaintance who can't quite see what the fuss is about, and others who are in their early 20s and who you can tell will probably end up as one of the officers for the association of the squadron they currently belong to. I've met NCOs (this in the last 6 months) who will banter away about why the squadron their mate serves with is rubbish before they get similar banter back, and other NCOs who appear alarmingly unaware of the fact that the squadron is part of the RAF's structure.  I do agree that some of the contractorisation means that the atmosphere has changed, although I'm not sure that the removal of markings is necessarily an issue for most. I suspect that it depends upon what you do and where you do it within the organisation; some areas will inevitably build a strong sense of loyalty to the squadron/squadrons, whereas others will not inculcate the same feelings.

 

Also, with a growing awareness of PERSEC again (for instance, I have several FB friends who, in their younger days, quite cheerfully gave big clues as to what they were commanding, whereas I have at least two other good friends who have no social media profile at all), I have a sense that some of the wider perceptions of squadron loyalty from those who are strongly into that aspect may have diminished, since it's something not talked about quite so much.

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The way things are going with defence spending, 74 Squadron will reform with Landrovers whilst 111 Squadron will reform with bicycles (until the next round of defence cuts of course).

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