Merlin Helicopter

78 Squadron

78 Squadron Crest


A heraldic tiger rampant and double queued - approved by King George VI in November 1939. The theme of the badge was based on the Squadron's aircraft at the time, the Whitley, which had Tiger engines and twin tails.


'Nobody unprepared'.

Key Dates:

1916 - Formed at Newhaven.

1940 - Flew the duration of WWII as part of Bomber Command.

1986 - Provides transportation and SAR in the Falkland Islands.

2007 - Relocated to RAF Benson and was re-equipped with Merlin HC Mk3/3a helicopters

    Current Aircraft and Location:

    Current Aircraft: Merlin HC Mk3/3a

    Current Location: RAF Benson

    Battle Honours:

    Home Defence 1916-1918*

    Fortress Europe 1940-1944*

    Ruhr 1940-1945*

    Invasion Ports 1940

    Biscay ports 1940-1943

    Berlin 1940-1944*

    Channel and North Sea 1942-1945*

    Normandy 1944*


    France and Germany 1944-1945*


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

    The History of 78 Squadron:

    Formed at Newhaven on 1 November 1916, Number 78 Squadron and its BE2s was designated as a Home Defence unit, responsible for intercepting marauding Zeppelins as they attacked targets on the south coast, moving some six months later to London to defend the capital when German bomber raids started. Shortly before the Armistice in November 1918, the unit started to re-equip with 1½-Strutters, but never received its full complement before disbanding, like many other squadrons, in 1919.

    The Squadron was not reformed until 1 November 1936 when 'B' Flight of No 10 Squadron based at Boscombe Down was retitled. Now flying Heyford night bombers, the Squadron moved to Dishforth in Yorkshire and became part of the newly created No 4 Group. In the Summer of 1937, No 78 began converting to Whitleys, and following the outbreak of World War II, was tasked with the training of newly formed crews prior to posting on to operational squadrons. The unit joined the front line bomber force in July of 1940, taking up night bomber duties until re-equipping with Halifaxes in 1942. For the remainder of the European War, the unit continued in this role, but in May 1945 it was transferred to Transport Command and, after converting to Dakotas, moved to Egypt. Here, No 78 took up route flying around the Mediterranean, North Africa and Middle East, receiving Vallettas in 1950, before disbanding at Fayid, Egypt at the end of September 1954.

    On 24 April 1956, No 78 Squadron reformed, this time in Aden as a tactical transport unit equipped initially with Pioneers and then the larger Twin Pioneer. Detachments were undertaken all around the region, and it was felt that some sort of firepower capability should be added to the aircraft, and so guns were mounted in the rear entrance and missiles fitted under the wings. In 1962, the unit achieved what is believed to be the first firing of a guided missile by the RAF in an attack against rebel forces in Aden - quite an achievement for a transport squadron! No 78 Squadron was disbanded in December 1971. Reforming in the Falklands on 22 May 1986, the Squadron flew Chinooks and Sea Kings, the latter having a secondary search and rescue role.

    On 3 Dec 2007, No 78 Squadron relocated to RAF Benson and was re-equipped with Merlin HC Mk3/3a helicopters as a dedicated Support Helicopter Squadron. Having ‘inherited’ an existing operational flight from its sister Merlin Squadron, No 78 Squadron personnel and aircraft were immediately deployed on operations in Iraq. Following the drawdown of Operation TELIC in 2009, the aircraft and personnel were quickly redeployed to Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan.

    Text size: