RAF Banner with Crest.

81 Squadron



Non solum nobis - 'Not for us alone'


In front of a mullet, a dagger erect.

History of 81 Squadron:

No. 81 Squadron was formed on 7 January 1917 at Gosport as a training unit but was not mobilised before being disbanded on 4 July 1918. On 1 December 1939, the Communications Squadron at Mountjoie near Amiens was redesignated No. 81. It flew Tiger Moths until the German invasion when the Squadron returned to the UK and disbanded on 15 June 1940.

No. 81 reformed at Leconfield on 29 July 1941 as a fighter Squadron and in September flew its Hurricanes off the carrier 'Argus' to a North Russian Airfield. After a few weeks of operations the Hurricanes were handed over to the Russians and the Squadron returned to the UK at the end of November. After receiving Spitfires at Turnhouse No. 81 became operational again on 1 February 1942 on defensive duties, moving to southern England to begin offensive sweeps in May. At the end of October the Squadron moved to Gibraltar and on 8 November 19 Spitfires moved to the newly captured airport at Algiers/Mason Blanche. Fighter cover for the 1st Army was provided throughout the campaign in Tunisia and in June 1943, the Squadron moved to Malta. It then moved to Italy in September but was withdrawn in November and sent to India. Operations began at Alipore in January 1944 and defensive and ground attack missions were flown until No. 81 was withdrawn to Ceylon until it disbanded on 20 June 1945.

On the same day No. 123 Squadron was renumbered No. 81 but its Thunderbolts did not become operational before the war ended. In October, the Squadron was sent to Java for tactical reconnaissance duties and to provide cover for Allied road convoys against nationalist guerillas. On 30 June 1946, the Squadron was disbanded.

On 1 September 1946, No. 684 Squadron was renumbered No. 81 and flew Mosquito and Spitfire photographic reconnaissance aircraft adding fighter-reconnaissance Spitfires in August 1947. Conversion to Meteor PR.10s began in September 1953 and on 1 April 1954, No. 81 flew the RAF's last operational Spitfire mission and on 15 December 1955, the last Mosquito mission. The Squadron converted to Canberras from Meteors in 1958 which were flown until the Squadron was disbanded on 16 January 1970.

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