No. 80 Squadron RAF

No. 80 Squadron RAF
No. 80 Squadron RAF
Active 1 September 1917 – 1 February 1920
8 March 1937 – 1 May 1955
1 August 1955 - 28 September 1969
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Royal Flying Corps (1917–1918)
Royal Air Force (1918–1920, 1937–1969)
Role Fighter aircraft (1917–1920, 1937–1955)
Reconnaissance (1955–1969)
Motto "Strike True"[1]
Battle honours Lys; Western Front, 1918*; Marne, 1918; Somme, 1918*; Egypt & Libya, 1940-43*; Greece, 1940-41*; Syria 1941; El Alamein*: Mediterranean, 1940-43; Italy, 1944*; South-East Europe, 1944; Normandy, 1944*; Home Defence 1944; Fortress Europe, 1944; France & Germany, 1944-45*; Arnhem; Rhine
Honours marked with an asterisk* are emblazoned on the Squadron Standard[2]
Squadron Badge heraldry A Bell[1]
The badge is in commemoration of one of No. 80 Squadrons early commanders, Maj. V.D. Bell[3]
Squadron Codes GK (Oct 1938 - May 1939,
1940 - Jun 1940)
OD (May 1939 - 1940)
YK (Jun 1940 - Jan 1941)
EY (Apr 1943 - Apr 1944)
W2 (Apr 1944 - 1952)

No. 80 Squadron RAF was a Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force squadron active from 1917 until 1969. It was operative during both World War I and World War II.


Establishment and early service

Founded in summer 1917 at RAF Montrose, equipped with the Sopwith Camel and intended as a fighter squadron, 80 Sqn was sent to France to serve on the Western Front at the start of 1918, acting initially in a fighter role. However, German offensives in March of the same year resulted in 80 Sqn being reallocated in a ground-attack role, still with Camels. It continued this duty until the end of the war. As a result, the squadron had only one ace, Harold Whistler, although it claimed approximately 60 aerial victories.[4]

The Camels were replaced with Sopwith Snipes in December, also in that year, and the squadron moved to Egypt in May 1919, where it served for a short period of time before being amalgamated into No. 56 Squadron RAF.

Reinstatement and World War II

Hurricanes of 80 Squadron in Palestine, June 1941.

The squadron was reformed in March 1937 again as No. 80 Sqn, now equipped with Gloster Gauntlet aircraft. However, by now the Gauntlet was considered by many to be outdated, and as a result they were replaced by the Gloster Gladiator merely two months later. In 1938, the squadron again returned to Egypt as an 'air defence unit'. After Italy's declaration of war on Libya, No. 80 was moved to the Egyptian-Libyan border but was one of the units sent to aid the Greeks during the Greco-Italian War, by this time equipped with the Hawker Hurricane[5]. After returning to the UK it was sent to Syria, also operating in Palestine and Cyprus through 1941. It moved totally to Cyprus in July 1941, before returning to Syria the next month, and joining the fighting in North Africa two months later. During the Battle of El Alamein it was responsible for defending communications lines. It remained in that area until early 1944, when it returned to Britain to prepare for Operation Overlord (the Allied invasion of Europe). After the operation, the squadron was equipped with Hawker Tempest aircraft and took up anti-V-1 flying bomb duties. After this was no longer a threat, 80 Sqn moved onto the Continent and resumed fighter duties until the end of the war.

Post-World War II and disbandment

Personnel of 80 Squadron RAF amongst parts of a Mitsubishi F1M, bearing Indonesian markings, at an airfield and seaplane base in Surabaya, Java, January 1946. In the background are Kawanishi N1K floatplanes

As part of the European occupation forces, 8th Tactical Air Force, the squadron continued its patrol and reconnaissance duties from Wunstorf in Germany, until it relocated to Hong Kong in July 1949 (the Tempests having been replaced by Supermarine Spitfire F.24s in 1948). During the Chinese Civil War, 80 Sqn's main duty was to defend Hong Kong from perceived Communist threats. The Spitfires departed in 1951, replaced by the de Havilland Hornet, and the squadron remained in Hong Kong until being disbanded on 1 May 1955. However, two months later it was reformed as a reconnaissance unit at RAF Laarbruch. Equipped with Canberra PR.7s, it moved to Brüggen in June 1957 from then until 28 September 1969, when it was disbanded.[6]

Notable members

Aircraft operated

From To Aircraft Version
Aug 1917 Dec 1918 Sopwith Camel
Dec 1918 Feb 1920 Sopwith Snipe
Mar 1937 Mar 1937 Gloster Gauntlet Mk.II
Mar 1937 Nov 1940 Gloster Gladiator Mk.I
Jun 1940 Aug 1940 Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
Nov 1940 Mar 1941 Gloster Gladiator Mk.II
Feb 1941 Jan 1942 Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
Jan 1942 Apr 1943 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc
Apr 1943 Apr 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc
Sep 1943 Jan 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
Jan 1944 Apr 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
May 1944 Aug 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
Aug 1944 Jan 1948 Hawker Tempest Mk.V
Jan 1948 Jan 1952 Supermarine Spitfire F.24
Dec 1951 May 1955 de Havilland Hornet F.3 & F.4
Aug 1955 Sep 1969 English Electric Canberra PR.7


See also

  • Cathay Pacific VR-HEU



  1. ^ a b c Halley 1988, pp. 149-150.
  2. ^ squadron history on RAFweb
  3. ^ a b Rawlings 1978, pp. 196-200.
  4. ^ Retrieved 19 February 2010.
  5. ^ Roald Dahl, 'Going Solo'.
  6. ^ Rawlings 1982, p. 92.
  7. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 52.


  • 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.
  • Jefford, Wing CommanderC.G. 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.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Rawlings, John. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1969 (second edition 1976). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Shores, Christopher. Strike True: The Story of No. 80 Squadron Royal Air Force. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1986. ISBN 0-85130-126-6.

External links

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