617 Squadron is based at RAF Marham. The Squadron adopted its name and badge after the famous Dams Raid in 1943. Previous aircraft flown include the Avro Lancaster, Lincoln and Vulcan; English Electric Canberra; and Panavia Tornado. They are now flying the F-35B Lightning fifth-generation combat aircraft.

After me, the flood



1943   Formed at RAF Scampton, specifically for an attack on dams in the Ruhr Valley using the Barnes Wallis-designed Upkeep 'bouncing bomb'. Flown on 16/17 May, the raid destroyed the Eder and Möhne dams. The unit returned to combat in July.

1944   Now flying from RAF Woodhall Spa, 617 Squadron began dropping the 12,000lb Tallboy and, later, 22,000lb Grand Slam bombs. As well as bombing, the unit supported the D-Day assault with Operation TAXABLE, a radar-spoofing mission. Between them, IX and 617 Squadrons, both employing Tallboys, sank the battleship Tirpitz in November.

1946   Toured India, before returning to the UK and re-equipping with Lincolns. A North America tour followed in 1947. The piston-engined bombers gave way to Canberra jets in 1952.

1955   After flying combat missions over Malaya, 617 Squadron returned to the UK and disbanded.

1958   Re-formed at RAF Scampton on the Vulcan B1, taking the Vulcan B2 from 1961. Introduced the Blue Steel stand-off missile into service in 1963, then switched to low-level missions from 1968. Disbanded in 1981.

1982   Stood up as a Tornado GR1 unit at RAF Marham, declaring operational capability on 16 May.

1990   Deployed to the Gulf, under Operation GRANBY, and fought in the campaign to free Kuwait from Iraqi invasion in early 1991.

1994   Transferred to RAF Lossiemouth and the Tornado GR1B, operating in the anti-shipping role alongside 12 Squadron.

2003   Contributed to the RAF Tornado GR4 force deployed for Operation TELIC, flying missions against Iraqi targets from Kuwait. Flew the first operational Storm Shadow mission, on 21 March. The squadron continued rotating into theatre until 2009, when regular rotations to Afghanistan, under Operation HERRICK began.

2011   617 Squadron crews flew Storm Shadow attacks during Operation ELLAMY over Libya, while the unit also continued deploying to Afghanistan.

2014   Disbanded on 28 February, after returning from a final HERRICK deployment on 30 January. Began re-forming in 2016, in preparation to become the UK’s first frontline Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning unit.

2018   Four 617 Squadron Lightnings landed at RAF Marham, the unit’s new home.

2019   Lightning Dawn saw 617 Squadron deploy to RAF Akrotiri for Operation SHADER sorties and subsequent training alongside Israeli and Italian F-35s.

2020   In June, 617 Squadron embarked operational Lightnings aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time. In September, the unit returned to the ship, alongside visiting US Marine Corps F-35Bs, in preparation for the vessel’s Carrier Strike Group 21 first operational sailing in 2021.


1943 - 1945*   Fortress Europe 

1943 - 1945*   The Dams

1944*   Biscay Ports 

1944 - 1945*   France and Germany 

1944*   Normandy 

1944*   Tirpitz

1944 - 1945*   Channel and North Sea 

1945*   German Ports

1991   Gulf 

2003 - 2011   Iraq 

*Honours marked with an asterisk, may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard.

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