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No. 207 Squadron RAF

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Title: No. 207 Squadron RAF  
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Subject: RAF Kenley, Vickers Valiant, English Electric Canberra, Handley Page Type O, Fairey Battle, Vickers Wellesley, 1940 in aviation, Handley Page Hampden, RAF Northolt, John Dering Nettleton
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No. 207 Squadron RAF

No. 207 Squadron RAF
Active 31 December 1916 (RNAS) – 20 January 1920
1 February 1920 – 19 April 1940
1 November 1940 – 1 March 1950
4 June 1951 – 27 March 1956
1 April 1956 – 1 May 1965
3 February 1969 – 30 June 1984
12 July 2002 – 13 January 2012[1][2][3]
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Role Bomber
Nickname "Black Cat Squadron" (WW1)
"City of Leicester" (After 1939)
Motto Latin:Semper paratus
("Always prepared")[4]
Battle honours Western Front, 1916–1918
Ypres, 1917*
Somme, 1918*
Hindenburg Line*
Biscay Ports, 1941–1945
German Ports, 1941–1945*
Berlin, 1941–1945*
Ruhr, 1941–1945*
Baltic 1941–1945
Fortress Europe 1941–1944
France & Germany, 1944–1945*
Normandy, 1944*
Honours marked with an asterisk* are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
S/Ldr. A.W. Tedder
Wg Cdr V.J. Wheeler
Squadron Badge heraldry A winged lion statant[4]
Squadron Codes 207 (Apr 1938 – Apr 1939)
NJ (Apr 1939 – Sep 1939)[5][6]
EM (Nov 1939 – Mar 1950)[7][8]
D (1983–1984)[9]

No. 207 Squadron Royal Air Force was a former bomber, communications and training squadron of the Royal Air Force, most recently based at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in Yorkshire, operating Short Tucano T.1 trainer aircraft. Before the RAF was formed it was part of the Royal Naval Air Service as No. 7 Squadron.


Formation and World War I

No. 7 Squadron RNAS was formed from "B" Squadron of No. 4 Wing RNAS on 31 December 1916 at Petite-Synthe, France. Note that another No. 7 Squadron RNAS had been sent to East Africa in May 1916, flying Voisins and BE.2cs for seven months on reconnaissance and bombing duties until disbanding there in January 1917, when the other 7 Squadron RNAS had already been formed in France.[10][11] Thus, formed as a specialist night bomber squadron in France in December 1916, No. 7 RNAS flew its first mission there on 3 February 1917, with four Short Bombers setting out against the Brugge (Bruges) docks.[12] In April that year it re-equipped with Handley Page O/100s, using them for night raids, including attacks against rail targets and ammunition dumps during the Second Battle of Ypres.[12] The squadron split into two in July 1917, with eight O/100s forming the initial equipment of 7A Squadron, which later became 14 Squadron RNAS, while 7 Squadron continued with 10 O/100s.[13][14]

On the formation of the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918 it became No. 207 Squadron, RAF, moving back to Netheravon in England for re-equipping with the more advanced version of the O/100, the Handley Page O/400, returning to France in July as part of 54 Wing, continuing to fly night raids against railway targets.[12] It moved to Germany as part of the Army of Occupation in January 1919, serving there until August, when it handed its aircraft to No. 100 Squadron RAF and returned to England where it disbanded on 20 January 1920 at RAF Uxbridge.[15]

Inter-war period

The squadron reformed on 1 February 1920 at RAF Bircham Newton.[3] Its Airco DH.9As saw service in Turkey in 1922, when it was deployed to Constantinople under the command of Arthur Tedder as part of the British intervention in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922), the Squadron returning to England in September 1923.[12][15] It re-equipped with Fairey IIIFs in December 1927, and with the radial engined development of the IIIF, the Fairey Gordon in August 1932. In 1935, as a response to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, it was sent to Sudan. The Gordon's Armstrong Siddeley Panther engine proved unreliable in desert conditions of Sudan, however, and they were replaced with Vickers Vincents. The following year, the squadron, again re-equipped with Gordons, returned home to RAF Worthy Down, joining RAF Bomber Command. It re-equipped with Vickers Wellesleys in 1937, only for them to be replaced with Fairey Battles early the following year. Based at RAF Cottesmore, the squadron took the role of an Operational Training Unit.[16] In April 1939 the squadron was "adopted" by the City of Leicester.

Second World War

On 19 April 1940 the squadron's training role was assumed by No. 12 Operational Training Unit (OTU), allowing 207 Squadron to reform on 1 November of the same year as part of Bomber Command's No. 5 Group. At RAF Waddington, the squadrons's crews were assigned the task of introducing the ill-fated Avro Manchester into service. Later moving to RAF Bottesford, the Manchesters were replaced by the much improved Avro Lancaster in March 1942. The squadron relocated to RAF Langar on 21 September, because of problems with the Bottesford runway surface breaking up and needing urgent repairs. In October 1943, 207 Squadron became the first occupant of the newly opened RAF Spilsby bomber station. The squadron was scheduled to form part of the Tiger Force against Imperial Japan. With the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Tiger Force plans were dropped and in November 1945, No. 207 Squadron relocated to RAF Methwold in Norfolk.


Bombing role

After moving to RAF Mildenhall in 1949 and briefly replacing the Lancaster with the Avro Lincoln, the Squadron was disbanded on 1 March 1950. Re-formed on 4 June 1951 at RAF Marham, 207 flew the Boeing Washington until March 1954, when it was replaced by the English Electric Canberra, which remained in service with the squadron until disbanded shortly on 27 March 1956. On 1 April 1956 the squadron reformed again at RAF Marham and was now equipped with the Vickers Valiant. Later that year no. 207 took part in the Suez Campaign. On 1 May 1965 the squadron disbanded with the grounding of the Valiant fleet.

Communications role

207 Squadron was reformed on 3 February 1969 at RAF Northolt by redesignating the Strike Command Communications Squadron, which had been till 1 January 1969 the Southern Communications Squadron based at RAF Bovingdon.[17] It was equipped with Devon C.2s, Basset CC.1s and Pembroke C.1s, with the squadron first retiring the Bassets in 1974, and its last Pembroke being transferred to No. 60 Squadron in Germany in November 1975, leaving 207 with 14 Devons.[18] Detachments of the squadron were located at RAF Wyton and RAF Turnhouse. 207 Squadron was once more disbanded on retirement of the remaining Devons on 30 June 1984,[18] VP952 ending up at the RAF Museum St Athan.[19]

Training role

On 12 July 2002 one of the Flying Training Squadrons operating Shorts Tucanos at No. 1 Flying Training School, RAF Linton-on-Ouse was renumbered as No. 207 (Reserve) Squadron.[20] The squadron was later disbanded as a result of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review on 13 January 2012.[2]

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by No. 7 Squadron RNAS and No. 207 Squadron RAF, data from[1][21]
From To Aircraft Version
June 1916 January 1917 Voisin III 'New Type' pusher engines
June 1916 January 1917 Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2
December 1916 December 1916 Caudron G.4
December 1916 April 1917 Sopwith 1½ Strutter Type 9700 Bomber
December 1916 June 1917 Short Bomber
April 1917 April 1918 Handley O/100
April 1918 August 1919 Handley O/400
February 1920 December 1927 de Havilland DH.9A
December 1927 September 1932 Fairey III F
September 1932 April 1936 Fairey Gordon Mk.I
April 1936 August 1936 Vickers Vincent Mk.I
August 1936 August 1937 Fairey Gordon Mk.I
August 1937 April 1938 Vickers Wellesley
April 1938 April 1940 Fairey Battle
July 1939 April 1940 Avro Anson Mk.I
November 1940 March 1942 Avro Manchester Mk.I
July 1941 August 1941 Handley Page Hampden Mk.I
March 1942 August 1949 Avro Lancaster Mk.I
May 1943 December 1947 Avro Lancaster Mk.III
August 1949 March 1950 Avro Lincoln B.2
July 1951 March 1954 Boeing Washington B.1
March 1954 March 1956 English Electric Canberra B.2
July 1956 February 1965 Vickers Valiant B.1
February 1969 July 1974 Beagle Basset CC.1
February 1969 March 1977 Percival Pembroke C.1
February 1969 February 1984 de Havilland Devon C.2
July 2002 January 2012 Short Tucano T.1

Squadron bases

Bases and airfields used by No. 7 Squadron RNAS and no. 207 Squadron RAF, data from[1][22]
From To Base Remark
June 1961 12 January 1917 Kondoa Irangi, Tanganyika 1st no. 7 RNAS
31 December 1916 4 April 1917 Petite-Synthe, France 2nd no 7 RNAS
4 April 1918 22 April 1918 Coudekerque, France 1 April 1918 as No. 207 Squadron RAF
22 April 1918 13 May 1918 RAF Netheravon, Wiltshire
13 May 1918 7 June 1918 RAF Andover, Hampshire
7 June 1918 26 October 1918 Ligescourt, France
26 October 1918 1 December 1918 Estrées-en-Chaussée, France
1 December 1918 1 January 1919 Carvin, France
1 January 1919 10 May 1919 Merheim, Germany
10 May 1919 23 August 1919 Hangelar, Germany Present Bonn-Hangelar airfield
23 August 1919 8 October 1919 RAF Tangmere, West Sussex
8 October 1919 16 January 1920 RAF Croydon, Surrey
16 January 1920 20 January 1920 RAF Uxbridge, Middlesex
1 February 1920 29 September 1922 RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk
29 September 1922 11 October 1922 en route to Turkey
11 October 1922 22 September 1923 San Stephano, Turkey
22 September 1923 3 October 1923 en route to UK
3 October 1923 7 November 1929 RAF Eastchurch, Kent
7 November 1929 4 October 1935 RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk
4 October 1935 20 October 1935 en route to Sudan
20 October 1935 28 October 1935 Port Sudan, Sudan
28 October 1935 6 April 1936 Ed Damer, Sudan
6 April 1936 14 August 1936 Gebeit, Sudan
14 August 1936 29 August 1936 en route to UK
29 August 1936 20 April 1938 RAF Worthy Down, Hampshire
20 April 1938 24 August 1939 RAF Cottesmore, Rutland
24 August 1939 9 December 1939 RAF Cranfield, Bedfordshire
9 December 1939 5 April 1940 RAF Cottesmore, Rutland
5 April 1940 19 April 1940 RAF Cranfield, Bedfordshire Merged here into no. 12 OTU
1 November 1940 17 November 1941 RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
17 November 1941 20 September 1942 RAF Bottesford, Leicestershire Det. at RAF Syerston,
Nottinghamshire 24 August 1942
20 September 1942 12 October 1943 RAF Langar, Nottinghamshire
12 October 1943 30 October 1945 RAF Spilsby, Lincolnshire
30 October 1945 29 April 1946 RAF Methwold, Norfolk
29 April 1946 8 November 1946 RAF Tuddenham, Suffolk
8 November 1946 28 Februiary 1949 RAF Stradishall, Suffolk
28 February 1949 1 March 1950 RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk
4 June 1951 27 March 1956 RAF Marham, Norfolk Washington-Canberra period
1 April 1956 1 May 1965 RAF Marham, Norfolk Vickers Vailant period
3 February 1969 30 June 1984 RAF Northolt, Middlesex Dets. at RAF Wyton, Cambridgeshire
and RAF Turnhouse, Edinburgh
12 July 2002 13 January 2012[2] RAF Linton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire

See also


  • Aitken, Flt.Lt. W.M. (ed.) A History of No.207 Squadron – the First 68 Years. 207 Squadron RAF, 1984.
  • Bewsher, Paul. Green Balls: the Adventures of a Night Bomber. Greenhill Books, 1986. ISBN 0-947898-50-6. (reprint of William Blackwood 1919 edition).
  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Burney, Allan. "Devon Demob". Aircraft Illustrated, September 1984, Vol 17 No 9. pp. 407–411. ISSN 0002-2675.
  • Dick, David. 207 Squadron Memorial Book. 207 Sqn RAF Association, 1993.
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Goodwin, Barry and Raymond Glynne-Owen. 207 Squadron: RAF Langar, 1942–1943. Langar Airfield, York, UK: Quacks Books/207 Squadron Memorial Committee, 1994. ISBN 0-948333-41-3.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1980. ISBN 0-85130-083-9.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Hamlin, John F. Always Prepared – The History of 207 Squadron RAF. Tunbridge Wells, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1999. ISBN 0-85130-285-8.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE, BA, RAF(Retd.). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Laing, John A. The Washington Era: Marham June 1951 to March 1954. Perth, Scotland: Self-published, 1998.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 2nd edition 1976. ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. "Squadron Histories: No.207". Air Pictorial, January 1961. Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 19–20.
  • Robertson, F. A. de V. Flight, 12 October 1933, pp. 1022–1024.
  • Wynn, Humphrey. Darkness Shall Cover Me: Night Bombing over the Western Front, 1918. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1989. ISBN 1-85310-065-X.
    • (also published as The Black Cat Squadron: Night Bombing in World War I. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990

External links

  • RAF Spilsby history
  • 207 Squadron RAF Association website
  • Squadron history on RAF website
  • Histories -and more- of nos. 206–210 sqn on RAFweb
  • Lancaster ED627, EM-N of 207 Squadron RAF
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