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41 Sqn 100 History

Inception and WWI

Formation of 41 Number 41 Squadron RFC was formed on 14 July 1916 at Gosport, equipped with the Vickers FB5 ‘Gun Bus’ and Airco DH2 ‘Scout’. Two months later, the unit moved to St Omer, France equipped with FE8s, which were deemed obsolete as fighter aircraft and instead were employed on ground attack missions. During 1917, in replacement for inadequate DH5 aircraft, the Squadron received SE5As which were flown to great effect on ground attack missions during the German offensive of 1918. The unit remained on the continent until February 1919 when it moved to Tangmere and was disbanded at the end of the year. 41 Sqn produced 17 aces during the course of the Great War, of which 10 were Canadian pilots. The Squadron’s pilots and ground crews were awarded 4 DSOs, 6 MCs, 9 DFCs, 2 MMs and 4 Mentions in Dispatches for their World War I service. The pilots were credited with destroying 111 aircraft and 14 balloons for the loss of 39 men.

Inter-War Years

Bulldog On 1 April 1923, No 41 Squadron was converted to a fighter squadron at Northolt, initially equipped with Snipes, these were replaced a year later by Siskins. During the Abyssinian crisis of 1935-36, the Squadron found itself in Aden on air-policing duties with two-seat Demons before returning to the UK and re-equipping with Furys. In April 1937, 41 Squadron’s badge and motto, “Seek and Destroy”, were unveiled for the first time and presented to the Squadron by the AOC in C, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding KCB CMG.

Battle of Britain and WWII

Finlay2 Following the declaration of World War II on 3 September 1939, 41 Squadron performed routine patrols in the north of England. At the end of May 1940, the Squadron flew south to Hornchurch to participate in the evacuation of Dunkirk and latterly the Battle of Britain as part of 11 Group. The price to the squadron was high, but so was the damage they inflicted on the Luftwaffe. On 5 September, the Squadron experienced one of the blackest days in its history; The Commanding Officer and OC B Flight were killed in action and three other pilots were shot down with two more wounded in action. On 31 October 1940, the Battle of Britain was considered officially over. 49 pilots flew with the Squadron between 10 July and 31 October 1940. Of these, 42 were British, 2 Canadian, 2 Irish and 2 New Zealanders. 10 were killed and 12 wounded in action (46% attrition). However, the Squadron claimed over 100 victories from July 1940 to the end of that year.

Spitfire In February 1943, the unit became the first of only two squadrons to receive the new Griffon-engined Spitfire Mark XII. 41 Squadron provided air support in the lead-up to, and throughout the D-Day landings and was then tasked with the destruction of Germany’s newest weapon, the V-1 flying bomb. Several pilots succeeded in bringing them down after expending all their ammunition, by flying alongside them and placing their own wingtips underneath that of the V1. The turbulence created between the wingtips was found to upset the flight of the bomb sufficiently to send it into the ground. 41 Sqn historyV1 After joining the Second Tactical Air Force in September 1944, the Squadron flew fighter sweeps over the continent, including participation in Operation Market Garden, before moving with the advancing front to Germany as part of the occupation forces in April 1945. By the end of the War, 41 Squadron had claimed 200 aircraft destroyed, 61 probably destroyed, 109 damaged and 53 V-1’s destroyed.

Post-War Years

On 31 March 1946, still based on the Continent, 41 Squadron was disbanded, however, it was immediately re-formed at RAF Dalcross in Scotland, flying the Spitfire Mk F21. In 1947, the unit spent 10 months as an instrument flying training unit, before reverting to its fighter role and receiving De Havilland Hornets.

hunter 41 sqn In 1951, the Squadron entered the jet age with the Meteor and four years later, the Hawker Hunter was adopted. On 14 July 1957, the Squadron was presented with a Standard displaying the unit’s Battle Honours by the CAS, Air Marshal Sir Theodore McEvoy KCB CBE, who had served three years with 41 Squadron as a young officer. bloodhound In 1958 the squadron was disbanded and immediately reformed flying Javelin aircraft based at RAF Coltishall and latterly RAF Wattisham until a further disbandment at the end of 1963. September 1965 saw the Squadron reformed as a Bloodhound surface-to-air missile unit at West Raynham. Changes to the Bloodhound squadrons saw No 41 disbanded in September 1970.

Modern Era

On 1 April 1972, the Squadron reformed at Coningsby as a tactical fighter reconnaissance and ground attack unit flying Phantoms. In 1976, a designate squadron was formed at RAF Coltishall, flying the Jaguar, which then took over the 41 Squadron Standard in March 1977, after the Coningsby unit was disbanded. In early 1991, during the First Gulf War, a large number of reconnaissance and bombing missions were flown against Iraqi forces with 41 Squadron deployed as part of the coalition forces. Later, the Squadron was deployed to Southern Italy, where it flew policing duties over Bosnia. It was during this time that one of the Squadron’s Jaguars became the first RAF aircraft to drop a bomb in anger over Europe since 1945.

tornado In July 2004, the Defence Secretary announced that 41 Squadron would be disbanded once again, the Jaguar retired and RAF Coltishall closed. On 1 April 2006, the Squadron took on Reserve status, with the Standard being handed to the Fast Jet and Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit (FJWOEU) at RAF Coningsby. Their new aircraft consisted of Panavia Tornados and Harrier GR9s. It remained in the role of FJWOEU until 2010, during which time it tested and introduced numerous systems that were subsequently deployed by British forces on the front line at various locations throughout the world, including Afghanistan.

On 1 April 2010, the Boscombe Down based Fast Jet Test Squadron (FJTS) was amalgamated into 41(R) Squadron to create a new entity, 41(R) Test and Evaluation Squadron, in which form it continues today. In April 2013 the Squadron added the Eurofighter Typhoon to it’s fleet of Tornado GR4 aircraft. The squadron role is carried out in close liaison with defence manufacturers, research institutions and front-line squadrons. As well as offering advice to frontline operators, the experienced aircrew and engineers of 41(R) Test & Evaluation squadron, in collaboration with industry partners, remain responsible for the development and evaluation of the next generation of aircraft, weapons and avionics.

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