On Monday 6 September 2010, Number 6 Squadron, the first Typhoon fighter squadron in Scotland, officially stood up at Royal Air Force Leuchars.
The Typhoon is the RAF’s state of the art multi-role combat aircraft that entered operational service in 2007. The occasion was marked with a ceremony which involved the presentation of the Squadron’s Standard to the Officer Commanding. On 11 September the Squadron’s Standard will be paraded for the Chief of the Air Staff, accompanied by an iconic flypast, to mark the beginning of the RAF Leuchars Airshow and celebrate the reformation of the Squadron. Number 6 Squadron will be the first of three Typhoon squadrons planned to be based at RAF Leuchars. The Squadron will continue to build up and train over the next few months and will ultimately consist of approximately 200 people; many of whom are originally from Scotland. The Squadron will take over responsibility for providing the northern element of the Quick Reaction Alert force in March 2011, providing aircraft and crews on high alert to scramble and intercept unidentified aircraft approaching UK airspace.
Air Officer Scotland and Station Commander RAF Leuchars, Air Commodore Harry Atkinson said:
“It is a privilege to welcome 6 Squadron and its Typhoons to RAF Leuchars. The world-class Typhoon is a truly multi-role combat aircraft, which will serve us for decades to come; it is capable of providing critical support to our troops on the ground as well as control of the skies, both on overseas operations and at home. The aircraft is incredibly adaptable; however, 6 Squadron’s main focus over the coming months will be preparing to deliver Quick Reaction Alert from RAF Leuchars next spring.’
Wing Commander Roderick Dennis, Officer Commanding 6 Sqn, said:
“6 Squadron is delighted to be at RAF Leuchars. The Station and the area have a fantastic reputation across the RAF and enjoy strong links with the local community. It is our hope that 6 Squadron will quickly become part of the Leuchars family. The Squadron is particularly looking forward to the challenges and responsibilities of delivering the Quick Reaction Alert task.”
Formed at Farnborough on 31 January 1914, No 6 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps (RFC), worked up with fixed-wing aircraft and also had responsibility for the Kite Flight transferred from No 1 Squadron. After arriving in France in August 1914, the Squadron immediately lost its aircraft to other under-strength units. In July 1915, equipped with BE2s, Capt G L Hawker was awarded the VC for outstanding courage and determination during 11 months of continuous operational flying. The Squadron finished the War flying RE8s, and shortly after the end of the War, it transferred to Iraq and re-equipped with Bristol Fighters.
During the following years, it undertook operations against various uprisings before transferring to Egypt in 1929 and receiving Fairey Gordon bombers. Following increased tension between Arabs and Jews, No 6 Squadron moved to Ramleh in Palestine during 1937 with Hawker Hardys. During the early part of WWII, the Squadron and its Lysanders remained in Palestine, but detached aircraft to the Western Desert until 1941 when Hurricanes were on strength. Further action in the desert on anti-tank duties continued from 1942 until the end of the North African campaign and resulted in the Sqn’s nick-name of “The Flying Can Openers”. After converting to rocket-firing Hurricanes in 1944, the Squadron moved to Italy and flew the remainder of the War over the Balkans. A brief stint in Palestine after the War was followed by a move to Cyprus with Tempests.
During 1948 the Unit received Vampires and a series of moves around the Middle East followed before finally arriving back in Cyprus with Venoms. Before receiving Canberras in 1956, No 6 Squadron took part in the Suez operation with its Venoms. The Squadron finally left the Middle East in 1969 when it moved to Coningsby to become the first Phantom Squadron. During 1974, it moved to RAF Coltishall and re-equipped with Jaguar fighter bombers. Operational deployments with the Jaguar have seen the Squadron involved in Operation Granby (Gulf War 1), Warden (later Op Resinate North - Northern Iraq - until 2003) and Deny Flight (Balkans). In April 2006, No 6 Squadron moved to RAF Coningsby.
Personnel find themselves joining a Squadron with a history of 93 years of continuous operational service. In fact, before the disbandment in May 2007, the Squadron held the honour of having been in operational service longer than any other RAF squadron. The Squadron is also unique as having two standards, one British, the other Jordanian. The latter was awarded in celebration of the Squadron’s links with the Kingdom of Jordan. After a break of three years, the personnel of the re-formed 6 Squadron are proud to inherit their long and prestigious history, and hope to carry the Flying Can Openers symbol and traditions for many years to come.
Photography: RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2010