Pictured here: RIVET JOINT Landing at RAF Waddington

51 Squadron

51 Sqn Crest


A goose volant - approved by King George VI in December 1937. It was chosen as a play on the word 'Anson', which the Squadron was flying when the badge was being designed, as 'Anser' is the Latin word for Goose, and it was felt that a heavy wild fowl was appropriate for a bomber squadron.


Swift and Sure.

Key Dates:

1916 - Formed at Thetford.

1948 - Took part in the Berlin Airlift.

1974 - The only RAF squadron to receive the Nimrod R1.

    Current Aircraft and Location:

    Current Aircraft: RC-135 Rivet Joint

    Current Location: RAF Waddington

    Battle Honours:

    Home Defence 1916-1918*, Channel and North Sea 1940-1943, Norway 1940*, France and Low Countries 1940, Ruhr 1940-1945*, Fortress Europe 1940-1944, German Ports 1940-1945, Invasion Ports 1940, Biscay Ports 1940-1944, Berlin 1940-1944, Baltic 1940-1944*, Biscay 1942, Italy 1943*, France and Germany 1944-1945*, Normandy 1944, Walcheren, Rhine, South Atlantic 1982, Gulf 1991, Kosovo, Iraq 2003.

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

    History of 51 Squadron:

    Number 51 Squadron formed at Thetford, Norfolk, on 15 May 1916 as a Home Defence unit equipped with BE2 and BE12 aircraft. For the remainder of the First World War, the Squadron flew its BE2s and BE12s on anti-Zeppelin patrols, the unit also providing night flying training for newly qualified pilots with Avro 504Ks. In June 1919, the Squadron was disbanded at Sutton's Farm, Hornchurch.

    The squadron reformed on 5 March 1937 when 'B' Flight of No 58 Squadron, was renumbered at Driffield. Virginias and Ansons were flown until Whitleys arrived in early 1938, and it was these aircraft that the Squadron flew its first operational missions of the Second World War. The flights took place on the very first night of the War, 3/4 September 1939, and the Squadron dropped leaflets over Germany. Bombing missions started in May 1940, and continued until 1942 when No 51 was assigned to anti-submarine patrols over the Bay of Biscay as part of Coastal Command. The following year, Halifaxes replaced the ageing Whitleys and the unit returned to Bomber Command as a 'main force' squadron for the remainder of the European War. Within weeks, the Squadron had transferred to Transport Command converting to Stirlings for troop and freight flights to India. These aircraft were replaced during 1946 with Yorks.

    In August 1948, the unit transferred to Wunsdorf in Germany and joined Operation Plainfare, the Berlin Airlift, flying supplies into the German capital. A year later, No 51 relocated to Bassingbourn and took up long-range route flying until it was disbanded in October 1950. The Squadron reformed in August 1958 when No 192 Squadron based at Watton was redesignated. The unit operated as a Special Duties squadron in Signals Command flying Comets and a variety of Canberras on surveillance flights from Wyton until 1974 when the Comets were replaced by a specialised version of the Nimrod, the R1. The Canberras were finally retired during 1976. Now based at Waddington, the Squadron continuing its highly specialised task as part of No 2 Group.

    Nimrod R1 retired on the 28 June 2011 at RAF Waddington.

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