2 Squadron History

RAF Marham 1954 - 1982

RAF Marham 1954 - 1982 - Tanking
On 21st January 1956, 214 Sqn re-formed at Marham with Valiant B1’s, first of the V Bombers. Powered by four Avon 204 engines, the Valiant had a top speed of just over 550 mph. 207 Sqn disbanded on 27th March, re-forming on 1st April with Valiants. That same month, a party of VIP’s arrived on the station. The visitors included Mr N Kruschev accompanied by Marshal Bulganin, Mr I V Kurbachov (a nuclear scientist) and Mr A N Tupolev, the Russian aircraft designer.

90 Sqn disbanded on 1st May 1956 and in July, 35 Sqn left for Upwood. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh inspected the Station that month and presented 207 Sqn with a new standard. 148 Sqn re-formed at Marham on 1st July with Valiant aircraft. During September/October 1956, 148, 207 and 214 squadrons were detached to Luqa airfield in Malta, while 115 Sqn went to Nicosia airfield in Cyprus to take part in the Suez operations. All of these squadrons returned to Marham in November/December. On 1st July 1957, 115 Sqn was disbanded.

With the arrival of a nuclear capability in 1957, RAF Marham was awarded it's own Station crest. A Blue bull with the motto "Deter". The glaring bull symbolises a deterrent which aptly refers to the acquirement of a nuclear deterrent capability - hence the motto "DETER"

Valiant to Valiant flight refuelling trials began in 1957 and in 1958, 214 Sqn became the trials and development unit. This squadron retained it’s bomber role while taking part in the trials which lasted until May 1960. The Valiants of 214 Sqn flew on several long range non-stop flights, using in flight refuelling, including: Marham to Nairobi, 4350 miles in 7 hrs 40 minutes on 7th April 1959, Marham to Changi, 8110 miles in 15 hrs 35 minutes on 25th May 1960 and Marham to Vancouver, 5007 miles in 10 hrs 28 minutes on 5th July 1960.

RAF Javelins, Vulcans, Victors, Lightnings and Valiants were converted as receiver aircraft from 1960. 214 Sqn was kept busy with training and deployments overseas as well as taking part in trials with Royal Navy Scimitar and Sea Vixen fighters, and a compatibility exercise with a USAF Destroyer, Super Sabre and Voodoo aircraft. 214 Sqn lost it’s bomber role in April 1962 and officially became a tanker squadron, while 49, 148 and 207 squadrons remained as bombers and in 1963 were assigned to NATO in the tactical role.

To protect Marham and it’s aircraft from air attack, 242 Sqn was formed on 1st October 1959 with Bloodhound Mk1 surface to air missiles until being disbanded on 30th September 1964. In 1964, the Marham Station Flight had five aircraft on strength: three Chipmunks and two Ansons. For the peak holiday weekends of Summer 1964 an Argosy C1 was on standby at Marham to transport police to Mods and Rockers riots in different parts of the country. In December 1964, all Valiant aircraft were grounded because of severe metal fatigue in the main wing spars and were officially withdrawn from service at the end of January 1965. 214 Sqn disbanded on 28th February, followed by 148 Sqn in April and 49 and 207 Sqn on 1st May. Their aircraft were all scrapped on site at Marham except for Valiant B(K)1 XD818, which was preserved within the Station and XD816 which continued to fly from Boscombe Down for several months with special clearance, before it too was scrapped.

On 24th May 1965, 55 Sqn arrived with initial equipment of six interim two-point Victor BK1A tankers. In August 1965 a demonstration of the RAF’s newly gained in flight refuelling capability took place at Marham with the Victor BK1A tankers of 55 Sqn and Lightning F2 fighters of 19 Sqn taking part. 57 Sqn moved to Marham with Victor B1 and B1A bombers on 1st December 1965, becoming a Victor K1 three point tanker squadron in June 1966.

214 Sqn re-formed at Marham on 1st July 1966 with three point tankers. Supporting the Victors was the Air Refuelling School, the Victor Flight Simulator and the Tanker Training Flight. The latter flight used Victor bombers and tankers which carried TTF on their fins.

In April 1968 RAF Marham changed from 3 Group, Bomber Command to 1 Group (Bomber) Strike Command. The three Victor squadrons were kept busy refuelling the fighter squadrons when training and deploying overseas, as well as escorting Lightnings and later Phantoms of air defence squadrons when they intercepted Russian aircraft off the east coast. 232 Operational Conversion unit was re-formed at Marham in May 1970, taking over from the Victors of the Training Flight.

232 OCU ceased Victor Mk1 training during July 1974 after converting more than 1400 aircrew and had accumulated 57 500 hour on the Flight Simulator. The first Victor B1 (XL233) was delivered to 232 Sqn in May 1974. 55, 57 Sqns and the OCU were fully equipped with Victor K2 tankers by June 1976.

100 Sqn moved to Marham from West Raynham on 5th January 1976 with Canberra B2, T4 and T17 aircraft, using these in the target facilities role, followed by 231 OCU also flying Canberras in the training role. When 98 Sqn disbanded at Cottesmore in February 1976, it’s Canberra E15’s were transferred to 100 Sqn. On 28th September 1976, Victor K2 XL513 of 55 Sqn overshot the runway after a possible bird strike and was written off. This aircraft was later scrapped at Marham. 214 Sqn disbanded at Marham on 28th January 1977. Victor K1 was alloted the maintenance serial 8517M and was kept at Marham for the RAF Museum. The remainder of the ex-214 Sqn Victors were flown to St Athan where they were eventually scrapped. In 1977, work started on the construction of 24 Hardened Aircraft Shelters to house the Tornado strike aircraft which were to be based there from 1982. 100 Sqn moved to Wyton in January 1982. Valiant XD818 was towed into one of the hangars at Marham on 25th March 1982, where it was dismantled and taken by road to the RAF Museum at Hendon.

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