Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons and Units

Flying Squadrons

When Sir Hugh Trenchard proposed in 1919 that the fledgling Royal Air Force should be retained as an independent force of 52 squadrons, he met with strong opposition from both the Royal Navy and the Army as well as from the Treasury who argued that a regular force of this size was unaffordable. Trenchard then suggested that 20 of the 52 squadrons should be part-time squadrons based on the Territorial Army and, to save on training costs, that all officer applicants should have their own Private Pilot’s Licence. Parliament agreed to this revised proposal, and thus was the Auxiliary Air Force formed in October 1924.

The initial intention was for this new force to have just light-bomber squadrons, but, with the formation of Fighter Command in 1936,  it was decided that 14 of the squadrons should assume a fighter role – a decision that was to have far-reaching implications on the outcome of the Battle of Britain in 1940!  Significantly, at the outbreak of war in September 1939, Fighter Command had only about 30 squadrons available for home defence, including the 14 Auxiliary fighter squadrons.

At the cessation of hostilities in 1945  the Auxiliary Air Force was disbanded, but within months it was decided to re-form all of the squadrons, perhaps with an eye on the coming Cold War and the likelihood of financial aid from the USA in the form of military assistance programmes.

A further 5 squadrons were formed to support army operations and a transport squadron was also formed. However, in the years following, a diminishing number of experienced wartime pilots joining the Squadrons, coupled with the problems of part-timers flying the more complex jet aircraft coming into service, lead to the decision to disband all of the auxiliary flying squadrons in 1957.  In 2012, 622 Squadron reformed and continues to operate as an auxiliary flying squadron.

LIST OF FLYING SQUADRONS

SQUADRON FORMED LOCATION DISBANDED REFORMED LOCATION DISBANDED
500 (County of Kent) 16/03/31 Manston 23/10/45 10/05/46 West Malling 10/03/57
501 ((County of Gloucester) 14/06/29 Filton 20/04/45 10/05/46 Filton 10/03/57
502 (Ulster) 15/05/25 Aldergrove 25/05/45 10/05/46 Aldergrove 10/03/57
503 (County of Lincoln) 05/10/26 Waddington 01/11/38 Reformed as 616 (South Yorkshire)
504 (County of Nottingham) 26/03/28 Hucknall 10/08/45 10/05/46 Syerston 10/03/57
600 (City of London) 14/10/25 Northolt 21/08/45 10/05/46 Biggin Hill 10/03/57
601 (County of London) 14/10/25 Northolt 14/08/45 10/05/46 Hendon 10/03/57
602 (City of Glasgow) 12/09/25 Renfrew 15/05/45 10/05/46 Abbotsinch 10/03/57
603 (City of Edinburgh) 14/10/25 Turnhouse 15/08/45 10/05/46 Turnhouse 10/03/57
604 (County of Middlesex) 17/03/30 Hendon 18/04/45 10/05/46 Hendon 10/03/57
605 (County of Warwick) 05/10/26 Castle Bromwich 31/08/45 10/05/46 Honiley 10/03/57
607 (County of Durham) 17/03/30 Usworth 19/08/45 10/05/46 Ouston 10/03/57
608 (North Riding) 17/03/30 Thornaby 24/08/45 10/05/46 Thornaby 10/03/57
609 (West Riding) 10/02/36 Yeadon 15/09/45 10/05/46 Church Fenton 10/03/57
610 (County of Chester) 10/02/36 Hendon 03/03/45 10/05/46 Hooton Park 10/03/57
611 (West Lancashire) 10/02/36 Hendon 15/08/45 10/05/46 Speke 10/03/57
612 (County of Aberdeen) 01/06/37 Dyce 09/07/45 10/05/46 Dyce 10/03/57
613 (City of Manchester) 01/03/39 Ringway 07/08/45 10/05/46 Ringway 10/03/57
614 (County of Glamorgan) 01/06/37 Pendam 27/07/45 10/05/46 LLandow 10/03/57
615 (County of Surrey) 01/06/37 Kenley 25/09/45 10/05/46 Biggin Hill 10/03/57
616 (South Yorkshire) 01/11/38 Doncaster 30/08/45 10/05/46 Finningley 10/03/57
622 01/11/50 Blackbushe 30/09/53 01/10/12 Brize Norton
661 01/05/49 Kenley 10/03/57
662 01/02/49 Colerne 10/03/57
663 01/07/49 Hooton Park 10/03/57
664 01/09/49 Hucknall 10/03/57
666 01/05/49 Perth / Scone 10/03/57

Notes:.

1. Nos 504 to 616 Squadrons had either fighter or light bomber roles. Of these, Nos 501, 504, 600, 601, 602, 603, 604, 605, 607, 609, 610, 611, 615 and 616 Squadrons flew in the Battle of Britain.

2. No 622 Sqn had – and still has – a transport role. The present day reformed 622 Squadron began life at Lyneham in 1994 as 1359 Flight which provided reservist aircrew for the Hercules Force. It moved to Brize Norton in 2012 where it took on the former 622 Squadron identity.

3. Nos 661 to 666 Squadrons had air observation post roles where the aircraft were flown by the army but were maintained by the RAuxAF.