33 Squadron

33 Sqn Crest


A hart's head affrontée, couped at the neck - approved by HM King Edward VIII in May 1936. The badge was developed from an unofficial emblem produced in the early 1930s when the Squadron introduced the famous Hawker Hart bomber into service



Key Dates:

1916 - Formed at Filton..

1935 - Took part in the Abyssinian crisis.

1970 - The RAFs first Puma Squadron.

2014 -Delivery of Puma HC2

Current Aircraft and Location:

Current Aircraft: Puma HC2

Current Location: RAF Benson

Battle Honours:

Home Defence 1916-1918*

Palestine 1936-1939

Egypt and Libya 1940-1943*

Greece 1941*

El Alamein*

France and Germany 1944-1945*

Normandy 1944*



Gulf 1991*

Iraq 2003.

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

History of 33 Squadron:

No. 33 Squadron was formed at Filton on 12 January 1916 from personnel left behind by No. 12 Squadron when it departed for France. After its work-up period, the Squadron moved to Yorkshire and took up Home Defence duties with its BE2Cs. The main task was countering enemy airship raids on towns and cities in the North Midlands. For the remainder of the War, the Squadron continued this task, employing FE2B and 'Ds, Bristol F2Bs and Avro 504s, but, despite many interceptions, could not claim any successes.

After disbanding in June 1919, the Squadron did not reform until 1929, this time as a day bomber unit equipped briefly with Hawker Horsleys, but soon replaced by Harts. In 1935, the Squadron moved to Egypt during the Abyssinian crisis, and remained in the Middle East when the conflict was over. Shortly after however, the unit took up air policing duties over Palestine where Arabs had begun attacking Jewish settlements. With the outbreak of World War II, No. 33 moved to the Western Desert, active action beginning with the entry of Italy into the War in June of 1940. Conversion to ground attack Hurricanes was completed some six months later. Following the disastrous defence of Greece in 1941, the Squadron returned to the Western Desert before returning to the UK in April 1944 and receiving Spitfires. By the end of the year, No 33 had traded these in for Tempests and these were used on fighter sweep tasks until the end of the War.

With the cessation of hostilities, the unit remained in Germany until July 1949 when it was transferred to the Far East to undertake ground attack missions against Communist guerrillas in Malaya. The faithful Tempests were exchanged for Hornets in 1951, these continuing until the Squadron was disbanded briefly in 1955. In the following years, the Squadron found itself in a state of flux with several short-lived reformations until March 1965 when it reformed as a Bloodhound surface-to-air missile unit in Malaya. In 1970, the unit again disbanded, only to reappear the following year at Odiham as the RAF's first Puma squadron. The unit has taken part in several major RAF operations, most noticeably the Gulf War of 1991, and Operation Agricola, the Kosovo peacekeeping force. During the 1990's, the Squadron moved to RAF Benson, its current home. The squadron has been busy since, taking part in Operation Barwood in Mozambique, providing helicopter support to NATO forces in Bosnia and most recently taking part in operations in Iraq during Operation TELIC. On return from operations in Iraq in 2009, the Squadron was joined by No 230 Squadron at RAF Benson to co-locate the Puma Force. The most recent focus of the Squadron was the essential pre-deployment training for Land Forces for Operation HERRICK including Exercises GRAND PRIX and ASKARI THUNDER in Kenya. The Sqn is now equipped with Puma HC2 helicopters which have been upgraded to cope with the intense heat and higher altitudes that current operations demand, which could see the Puma Force deploying operationally again very shortly.

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