No. 13 Squadron RAF

No. 13 Squadron RAF
No. XIII Squadron RAF
13 Squadron badge
Active 10 January 1915-13 May 2011
Role Air Interdiction, Ground Attack, Close Air Support, Reconnaissance, Suppression of enemy Air Defenses
Garrison/HQ RAF Marham
Nickname The Stabbed Cats
Motto "Adjuvamus tuendo"
(We assist by watching)
Equipment Tornado GR4A
A lynx's head in front of a dagger

No. 13 or XIII Squadron was a squadron of the Royal Air Force formed on 10 January 1915 and most recently disbanded on 13 May 2011. It is expected to be reformed in 2012 flying the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle from RAF Waddington.[1]

Aircraft operated by the squadron included the Martinsyde G.100, the Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2, the SPAD VII and SPAD XIII, the Sopwith Dolphin, Lysanders, Mosquitos, Meteors and Canberras. From 1990 it operated the Panavia Tornado, initially the GR1A at RAF Honington and later the GR4/4A at RAF Marham.



No. XIII Squadron formed at Gosport on 10 January 1915 and operated in France, initially on Army Co-operation duties and subsequently on bombing raids, pioneering formation bombing. Aircraft types operated during the war included the Martinsyde G.100, the Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2, both the SPAD VII and SPAD XIII, and the Sopwith Dolphin.

The inter-war years saw the squadron operating a variety of aircraft types in England. By the autumn of 1939 the Sqn was equipped with Lysanders and operated in France until May 1940 when No. XIII Squadron changed role and theatre, flying a variety of bomber aircraft in the Mediterranean until the end of the War. Peace heralded the return to reconnaissance duties, originally with Mosquitos then Meteors and Canberras, operating from, Egypt, Cyprus and Malta. In 1978 the Sqn returned to the UK, flying PR9 Canberras, built by Short Brothers, until the unit disbanded in 1982, creating an 8-year hiatus in its 91-year history.

Gulf War 1

The squadron reformed at RAF Honington on 1 January 1990 equipped with reconnaissance Tornado GR.1A aircraft. These aircraft were equipped with the new and somewhat embryonic reconnaissance equipment designed to exploit the night, all-weather capability of the Tornado by using a unique system of infra-red sensors and video recorders. The complete system is carried and allows the Navigator to either view the imagery in real time or later in the mission.

As the Allied Coalition began to deploy forces to the Gulf in the latter part of 1990, it quickly became apparent that the unique night reconnaissance capability of the Tornado GR.1A could provide vital intelligence to the Allied commanders. As a result, on 15/16 January 1991, immediately before hostilities commenced, 6 aircraft were deployed to Saudi Arabia. During the first nights of the War, the Reconnaissance Wing successfully discovered several of the elusive Scud sites, giving rise to the now famous 'Scudhunters' nickname.

The majority of sorties were however, tasked into Central and Eastern Iraq to identify the disposition of the various Iraqi ground forces in preparation for the ground offensive. Although the rest of the Coalition Air Forces moved to medium level operations after the first few nights of the air war, the GR.1As operated at night and at low-level for the duration of the conflict.

By the end of the War, some 128 reconnaissance sorties had been flown by the detachment. However, this was not XIII Sqn's only contribution to the coalition victory, for the Sqn was also fundamental to the success of the Tornado/TIALD (Thermal Imaging And Laser Designation) combination. In December 1990, the GEC-Ferranti TIALD pod existed in prototype form when it was decided to accelerate the development for possible use in the Gulf. 4 XIII Sqn crews began the work-up from mid-January and, after encouraging results, four aircraft flew to Tabuk. By the end of the War, 72 successful TIALD missions had been flown. After the war, the Sqn continued its peacetime training role at RAF Honington as well as taking part in Operation Jural, the monitoring of a No-Fly Zone in the South of Iraq below the 32nd parallel north.


On 1 February 1994, No XIII Sqn moved to RAF Marham. Since that time, the Sqn has taken part in a number of successful exercises around the world from Yuma in America to Penang, Malaysia. Deployments to operational theatres have continued to be a major feature of the squadron's life having deployed on Operation Warden and Operation Bolton to monitor both the Northern and Southern No-Fly Zones in Iraq. The squadron also flew the last sortie by a Tornado in support of Operation Telic in 2009.[2]

In the summer of 2010 the squadron flew Close Air Support in Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick,[2] and in 2011 they fired Storm Shadow missiles against Libya in the early days of Operation Ellamy.[2] A few weeks later, on 13 May 2011, the squadron was disbanded as part of the reductions announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010.[2]


At the disbandment parade of XIII (Tornado) Squadron in May 2011, the Chief of the Air Staff announced the formation of a second unit operating the MQ-9 Reaper UAV, which will receive the XIII Squadron numberplate. XIII (Reaper) Squadron is due to form in 2012 at RAF Waddington.[3]

See also

  • List of RAF squadrons



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External links

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