43 Squadron - Tornado F3

43 Squadron

43(F) Squadron


A black gamecock - approved by King Edward VIII in July 1936. The badge was developed from an unofficial design produced in 1926 when the Squadron was equipped with the Gloster Gamecock.


Gloria finis - 'Glory is the end'. The motto of the Brook family, Sqn Ldr AF Brook being the Squadron Commander from July 1925 to January 1928.

Key Dates:

1916 - Formed at Stirling.
1940 - Took part in the Battle of Britain as part of 11 Group.
1991 -Took part in operation Granby in Iraq.
2003 -Took part in operation Telic in Iraq.
2009 -Disbanded July 2009.

Battle Honours:

Western Front 1917-1918*, Arras, Ypres 1917*, Cambrai 1917, Somme 1918*, Lys, Amiens, Dunkirk*, Battle of Britain 1940*, Home defence 1940-1942, Fortress Europe 1942, Dieppe, North Africa 1942-1943*, Sicily 1943, Salerno, Italy 1943-1945, Anzio and Nettuno*, Gustav Line, France and Germany 1944*, Gulf 1991, Iraq 2003.

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

History of 43(F) Squadron:

The Squadron was formed at Stirling on 15 April 1916, as a unit of the Royal Flying Corps, moving to France in 1917 for the spring offensive.

After wartime service in Europe the Squadron disbanded in 1919 but re-formed at Henlow in 1925 with Sopwith Snipes. In 1926 the Squadron converted to Gloster Gamecocks, thus inspiring the Squadron badge and the nickname 'The Fighting Cocks'. The Squadron flew Siskins from 1928 and Furies from 1931.

In 1939 the Squadron operated Hurricanes from RAF Tangmere, covering the Dunkirk retreat and fighting in the Battle of Britain, during which the Squadron was credited with 60 'kills'. Later, operating Spitfires, the Squadron joined the Desert Air Force and supported the Sicily landings and the advance through Italy into southern France. In 1949 the Squadron, which had disbanded 2 years previously, again re-formed and entered the jet age with Gloster Meteors. It came to Leuchars in 1950 and in 1954 became the first squadron to receive the Hunter.

Her Majesty the Queen presented 43(Fighter) Squadron with its Colours for the first time in June 1957 at RAF Leuchars, returning once again in May 1988 to present a replacement Standard.

During most of the 1960s the Squadron was based in Cyprus and Aden, where it disbanded on 14 October 1967. In 1969, the Fighting Cocks returned to RAF Leuchars and began flying the Phantom FG1 aircraft, operating in the maritime air defence role. After operating for almost 20 years with the Phantom, the Squadron began re-equipping with the Tornado F3 aircraft in July 1989 and was declared operational one year later. In November 1990 the Squadron deployed to Saudi Arabia as the lead RAF Tornado F3 Squadron at Dhahran and was on active service throughout the Gulf War, returning to RAF Leuchars in March 1991.

Between 1993 and 1995 the Squadron flew operationally in support of Operation DENY FLIGHT over Bosnia-Herzegovina, and since 1998 Squadron crews have been deployed on a rotational basis to Saudi Arabia to mount Offensive Counter Air missions over Iraq in support of Operations BOLTON and RESINATE.

In February 2003, the Fighting Cocks were part of the RAF Leuchars Wing deployment to Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, from where they launched Offensive Counter Air missions to dominate the Iraqi airspace in support of Operation TELIC, the United Nations mission in Iraq. The Squadron returned to RAF Leuchars, with the disbandment of the RAF presence in Saudi Arabia, at the end of April 2003.

The Squadron continues to provide UK air defence in the form of 24-hour Quick Reaction Alert, both at RAF Leuchars in Scotland and at RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands, and has recently equipped with the highly potent combination of Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile and the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile.

In 2005, the Squadron were honoured to receive the ‘Freedom of the City of Stirling’, the birthplace of 43 Squadron. This prestigious award marks the first time that any RAF Squadron has been awarded the Freedom of any city and it cemented 43 Squadron’s historic ties with the city of its foundation.

As part of the Tornado F3 force drawdown, 43 (Fighter) Squadron and 56 (Reserve) Squadron, the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU), merged on 25 April 2008. This new merged squadron, named 43 (Fighter) Squadron, will be significantly bigger than the present unit and will extend its current front-line role to include the current OCU’s task of training ab-initio pilots and weapon systems officers. The new squadron will also be responsible for other advanced training including, amongst others, the Qualified Weapons Instructor course.

The ‘new’ squadron has taken on 26 aircraft, 30 pairs of permanent aircrew and about 260 engineering personnel. This increase in size was necessitated a move from the current HAS accommodation to the ‘waterfront’ line on the north west of the airfield. The new squadron is a de-facto fusion of the 2 current squadrons. Wing Commander David Hazell assumed command of the squadron and will no doubt ensure that the current ethos and spirit of the Fighting Cocks will be persevered.

43(Fighter) Squadron: The Fighting Cocks, Gloria Finis.

No. 43(F) Squadron disbanded in July 2009.

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