51 Squadron

Using cutting edge technology to provide strategic and tactical level intelligence.

Crest for 51 Squadron

Swift and Sure.


  • Based at RAF Waddington hub, of the RAF's Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance fleet
  • Developed from the 1960s as a specialist in collecting electronic intelligence
  • Former aircraft include the Whitley II, Lincoln, Canberra B2 and Nimrod R1
  • Key support to Coalition efforts on Operation SHADER


1916 - Formed at Thetford.

1948 - Took part in the Berlin Airlift.

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

2011 - Took part in Operation ELLAMY.

2013 - Received the Airseeker (RC-135W Rivet Joint).

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 


Iraq 2003-2011

Libya 2011

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

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