120 Squadron Nimrod MR2

120 Squadron

120 Sqn Crest


Standing on a demi-terrestrial globe, a falcon close - approved by King George VI in August 1944. The falcon commemorates the Squadron's time in Iceland and its predatory instinct



Key Dates:

1918 - Formed at Cramlington.

1941 - Carried out U Boat patrols for the duration of WWII.

Battle Honours:

Atlantic 1941-1945*, Biscay 1941-1944*, Arctic 1942-1944*, Channel and North Atlantic 1941-1944, South Atlantic 1982, Gulf 1991, Iraq 2003.

(Honours marked with an asterisk, may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard)

History of 120 Squadron:

Officially formed at Cramlington near Newcastle on 1 January 1918, Number 120 Squadron was intended as reinforcement for the Independent Force in France, but was not declared operational by the time of the Armistice and so remained in a state of limbo until March 1919 when the unit was assigned to mail duties with DH9As. Initial runs to France were later supplemented by trips to Cologne, but by October 1919, the British presence on the Continent had reduced and the unit disbanded. The Squadron did not reform until 2 June 1941, this time based at Nutts Corner, Northern Ireland, and flying B-24 Liberators on anti-U-boat patrols over the Atlantic.

The units first confirmed success was on 12 October 1942 when U-597 was sunk by depth charges. No 120 moved to Iceland in April 1943, operating from Meeks Field (later renamed Keflavik), and within six weeks of the move, a further four U-boats had been sunk. In March 1944, the Squadron returned to Northern Ireland and joined Coastal Command's massive anti-submarine efforts in support of Operation Overlord, the D-Day landings, and by the end of the war, No 120 was the RAF's highest scoring anti-submarine unit with 14 kills.

Despite this record, the Squadron was disbanded on 4 June 1945 and not reformed again October 1946 when No 160 Squadron at Leuchars was renumbered. Initially equipped with Liberators, these gave way over the coming months to Lancaster anti-submarine variants and it was with this aircraft that the unit deployed to Palestine in November 1947 to search for illegal immigrants. In 1950, No 120 moved north Kinloss and prepared for the introduction of the new Shackletons, the being accomplished during 1951 followed by a move to Aldergrove the following year. The unit returned to Kinloss in 1959 and did not replace its Shackletons until 1971 when the far superior Nimrod arrived. These aircraft are pooled with those of the other Kinloss-based squadrons (Nos 201 and 206) and were used to great effect during Operation Corporate (Falklands) in 1982 and Operation Granby (Gulf) in 1991.

In the aftermath of the October 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review an announcement was made to cancel the Nimrod MRA4 project.

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