A winged numeral '1' - approved July 1936 by King Edward VIII as the authorised version of a badge which had originated during World War I featuring a wreathed roundel from which sprouted a pair of Royal Flying Corps wings and on which the figure '1' was superimposed.
In omnibus princeps - First in all things
- 1912 - Founder squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, the RAF's predecessor.
- 1940 - Flew Hurricane fighters during the Battle of Britain.
- 1969 - World's first Harrier 'jump-jet' squadron.
- 2012 - 4th Front-line RAF Typhoon squadron
Current Aircraft and Current Location:
Current Aircraft: Typhoon FGR4
Current Station: RAF Leuchars
Western Front 1915-1918*, Ypres 1915*, Neuve Chappelle, Loos, Somme 1916*, Arras, Ypres 1917, Lys, Amiens, Somme 1918, Hindenburg Line, Independant Force and Germany 1918*, Kurdistan 1922-1925, Iraq 1923-1925, France and Low Countries 1939-1940*, Battle of Britain 1940*, Channel and North Sea 1941-1945, Home Defence 1940-1945, Fortress Europe 1941-1944*, Arnhem, Normandy 1944, France and Germany 1944-1945*, Biscay 1944-1945, Rhine, South Atlantic 1982*, Kosovo, Iraq 2003*.
(Honours marked with an asterisk, may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard).
History of 1(F) Squadron:
No 1(Fighter) Squadron, Royal Air Force Cottesmore, can trace its history back to 1878 when it was formed at Woolwich as No 1 Balloon Company of the Royal Engineers. It became No 1 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps on 13 May 1912, still with balloons, but re-equipped with aircraft 2 years later.
First World War
Its first large operation was the Battle of Arras in 1917, during which the squadron scorecard reached 200 enemy aircraft. In January 1918 the Squadron was re-equipped with SE5As and engaged in low level attacks on advancing German forces. With this enemy offensive repulsed, No 1(Fighter) Squadron turned its attention increasingly toward flying bomber escorts as the Allied bomber offensive was launched.
Returning to the UK in March 1919, the Squadron disbanded in the following January, only to reform the next day in, with Nieuport Nighthawks and Sopwith Snipes. Fifteen months later the Squadron moved in Hinaldi in Iraq, where it was employed in carrying out policing duties, until it again disbanded in November 1926. In February 1927 No 1(Fighter) Squadron began its long association with Tangmere, in Sussex, where it was reformed as a Home Defence Fighter Squadron with Siskins. Receiving Hawker Fury 1s in February 1932, the Squadron gained a reputation for its aerobatics prowess, giving displays at venues throughout the world. The Squadron started to re-equip with Hurricanes in October 1938, albeit that its association with Gladiators in 1937, led to ‘B’ Flight breaking away to form No 72 Squadron.
Second World War
By the outbreak of the Second World War the Squadron had worked up sufficiently to deploy to France as part of 67 Wing of the Advanced Air Striking Force. In October it flew over enemy territory for the first time and on the 30th of that month claimed its first victory, a Dornier DO17. Further occasional combat took place and the successes mounted. However, the situation developed significantly in April 1940, and 10th May was the date on which No 1(Fighter) Squadron became fully operation in every sense of the word. Fighting was intense and a week later the Squadron was bombed out of its base at Berry-au-Bac; then began a series of retreats ending finally in a return to the UK. The Squadron was back at Tangmere by 23rd June and operational the following month. In August it marked its entry into the Battle of Britain by destroying 2 Messerschmitt BF110s; there was no let up in the fighting until 9th September when the Squadron moved North to Wittering for a rest.
It returned South for the New Year when it engaged in fighter sweeps and carried out bomber escort duties. In February, it started Rhubarb and night flying; during the month the first of its Hurricane 11As arrived. This heralded a period of change for the Squadron whose strength now included both Czechs and Poles; the emphasis increasingly focused on night flying. In July the Squadron returned to Tangmere and, having achieved night operational status, this became its main task. The Squadron continued to conduct night intruder patrol until re-equipping with Hawker Typhoons in July 1942;it then moved North to Acklington where it reverted to daytime operations.
The Unit exchanged its Typhoons for Spitfire X1s in April 1944 and with these continued its bombing raids. In June the Squadron began anti-V patrols (Divers) and this became its exclusive occupation, eventually tallying 39 hits. In the autumn it reverted to carrying out bomber escorts; to extend its range it sued the airfield at Haldegham on the Continent as an advanced landing ground. In May 1945 it converted to Spitfire F21s but these were only used operationally to cover the Channel Island landings.
Post Second World War
In 1946 the Squadron returned to Tangmere and took delivery of its first jet aircraft, Gloster Meteors. These aircraft were followed by Hawker Hunter F5s, which were flown from Cyprus during 1956 Suez crisis.
In June 1958 No 1(Fighter) Squadron was disbanded but was reformed almost immediately on 1st July, to fly Hunter F6s from Stradishall, by renumbering No 2683 Squadron. It then moved to Waterbeach from where, flying Hunter FGA9s, it operated in the ground attack role as part of 38 Group. The Squadron continued in this role for the next 8 years, operating out of Waterbeach and then West Raynham.
The Falklands War
July 1969 heralded a move to Wittering to commence conversion to the Harrier and become the first operational squadron in the world to fly this unique vertical/short take off and landing aircraft. Since this time No 1(Fighter) Squadron has served in many parts of the globe, including Belize and most notably, the South Atlantic during the Falklands War in 1982, where it undertook the air defence role in Ascension Island before deploying for aircraft carrier based operations over the Falkland Islands equipped with Sidewinder air to air missile.
Aircraft flew for 9 hours, direct to Ascension Island which set a new distance/duration record for the Harrier. Some aircraft then flew direct to the South Atlantic, where they operated from HMS HERMES. During this conflict, over 130 sorties were flown against heavily defended targets on the Islands; 3 aircraft were shot down by enemy fire. All 3 pilots ejected successfully, although one, who sustained shoulder injuries, was captured and became the only prisoner of war; he was later repatriated to the UK. The Squadron moved to RAF Stanley in the Falkland Islands at the end of hostilities and took on air defence duties until the latter part of the year when it returned to Wittering.
Night Capable GR7
No 1(Fighter) Squadron continued to fly the Harrier GR3 until 1989 when it converted to the second generation Harrier GR5. In September 1992, having converted to the current state of the art, computer driven night capable GR7, the Squadron commenced an intensive night flying programme to conduct a trial into the use of the Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and Night Vision Goggles (NVG) which give the aircraft its extended role capability.
Northern Exclusion Zone
In April 1993 the Harrier Force took over the policing of the Northern Exclusion Zone in Iraq from Jaguar aircraft. August 1993 saw No 1(Fighter) Squadron deploy to Incirlik in Turkey to take its turn in conducting ‘Operation Warden’. The 3 Harrier squadrons were rotated on a regular basis until 1995 when this commitment ceased for the Harrier Force. In support of ‘Operation Deny Flight’ Harrier aircraft replaced Jaguars in August 1995; No 1(Fighter) Squadron deployed to Gioia Del Colle, Italy, in late November for the first of 2 spells of operations in the Bosnia theatre.
In 1999 the Squadron flew over 800 combat missions as part of OP ALLIED FORCE, the NATO air campaign over Kosovo. In spring 2003, the Squadron went to war again flying combat missions by day and night during OP TELIC, the UK contribution to coalition war fighting operations in Iraq. In December 2004, the Squadron deployed on OP HERRICK for the first time in support of coalition and ISAF operations in Afghanistan.
As part of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review on 19 October 2010 the decision was made for the retirement of the Harrier. The final flight consisting of 17 Harriers was made from RAF Cottesmore on 15 December 2010, with the Squadron formally disbanding on 28 January 2011.
On 15 September 2012, No 1 (Fighter) Squadron (1 (F) Sqn) re-formed at RAF Leuchars as the RAF’s 4th Front line Typhoon squadron, becoming the second Typhoon unit based in Scotland. The primary task at RAF Leuchars is to maintain the Quick Reaction Alert (Interceptor) North mission. 1(F) Sqn joins 6 Sqn in providing crews and aircraft at high states of readiness 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to police UK airspace whilst also providing capability and support to contingent operations worldwide.