'The oldest fixed wing flying squadron in the world’
Three concentric circles over all a Wake Knot - approved by HM King Edward VIII in May 1936. The circles represent the RAF and the Wake Knot is derived from the arms of Hereward the Wake and indicates the basic role of the unit as a guardian of the Army.
Hereward– ‘Guardian of the Army’
1912 - Formed at Farnborough.
1915 - 2nd Lt Rhodes-Moorhouse was the first airman to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).
1941 - Became one of the first photo-reconnaissance squadrons.
1991 - Took part in the Gulf War.
Current Aircraft and Location:
Western Front 1914-1918*, Mons, Neuve Chappelle*, Ypres 1915*, Loos, Somme 1916*, Arras, Somme 1918, Lys, France and Low Countries 1939-1940*, Dunkirk*, Fortress Europe 1942-1944, France and Germany 1944-1945, Normandy 1944*, Arnhem*, Walcheren, Rhine, Gulf 1991*, Iraq 2003*.
(Honours marked with an asterisk, may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard)
History of II(AC) Squadron:
II(Army Cooperation) Squadron was formed at Farnborough on 13 May 1912 as one of the original Squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). It quickly gained a pioneering reputation as it set the British altitude record of 16,000ft in August 1913 and, in August 1914, deployed the first British fixed-wing aircraft to fight in a war as the Squadron deployed to France.
World War I
The Squadron deployed to France with the R.E.1 and was later equipped with the B.E.2, Vickers FB5 and Bristol Scout. It initially performed reconnaissance duties but as technical innovations rapidly advanced, II(AC) Squadron increasingly acted in an air-to-surface attack role. On 26 April 1915, whilst conducting a raid on Courtrai, 2nd Lt Rhodes-Moorhouse became the first airborne recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC), which was awarded posthumously. A second VC was awarded to 2nd Lt Mcleod in April 1918 after he shot down 3 Fokker Triplanes and crash landed his damaged aircraft between lines before dragging his observer to safety from the wreckage. It was in 1916 that the Squadron began painting black triangles on the fuselage, which were later painted white, as a means of friendly identification to ground troops. To this day, the white triangles remain as the Squadron symbol.
On its return to the UK, II(AC) Squadron was soon conducting Army Cooperation activities in Ireland and in 1927 it deployed to China where it operated the Bristol F2.B fighter from Shanghai racecourse. In 1931, the Hereward knot was approved for use on the Squadron crest symbolising its close relationship to the Army.
World War II
At the outbreak of World War II, II(AC) Squadron was operating the Lysander aircraft in a reconnaissance role as well as performing supply drops and inserting Special Operations Executive (SOE) Agents into occupied France. In August 1941 it was equipped with the Tomahawk as the Lysander had become inadequate in the reconnaissance role and the Squadron proved the utility of fighter aircraft as a photo-reconnaissance platform. In 1942 II(AC) Squadron was re-equipped with the P-51 Mustang which it operated in tactical reconnaissance sorties in the D-Day landings in 1944. The Squadron flew 36 sorties on D-Day and it was a II(AC) Squadron aircraft that brought back the first aerial photographic images of the landings. II(AC) Squadron supported the Canadian Army as they advanced through Europe and saw out the war with later marks of the Spitfire.
Cold War Years
After World War II, the Squadron moved to Germany where it spent 47 years before moving to RAF Marham with the Tornado GR1A. The years in Germany saw II(AC) Squadron operate Swifts, Hunters, Phantoms and Jaguars in a number of large NATO exercises as well as deploying on exercise to El Adem in Libya in 1963.
Post-Cold War Years
In 1991, II(AC) Squadron conducted sorties in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD over Iraq and in 1999 it policed the No-Fly Zones of Northern and Southern Iraq. It then deployed twice more to Iraq in 2003 and 2005 as part of Operation TELIC flying the Tornado GR4. Following the retirement from service of the Harrier GR9, the Tornado GR4 began to operate in Operation HERRICK from Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan. II(AC) Squadron performed several tours of Operation HERRICK until British forces withdrew at the end of 2014. The Squadron also sent aircraft to Operation ELLAMY in Libya, performing long-range sorties from their base in RAF Marham.
On 9 January 2015, II(AC) Squadron became the fifth front-line Typhoon squadron and is now based at RAF Lossiemouth. It contributes to the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) mission of the Station, which maintains a high state of readiness 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in the defence of UK airspace. The Typhoon is a multi-role capable combat aircraft and the Squadron prepares to deploy on contingency operations around the globe as well as participating in large international exercises such as Red Flag.
Header Photo Credit: Berry Vissers/Squadron Prints Ltd