No. 223 Squadron RAF


No. 223 Squadron RAF
No. 223 Squadron RAF
No. 223 Squadron RAF.gif
Official badge of No. 223 Squadron RAF
Active 1917 - 1919
1936 - 1944
1944 - 1945
1959 - 1963
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role bomber squadron, operation training unit
Motto Latin: Alæ defendunt Africam ("Wings defend Africa")

No. 223 Squadron RAF was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. Originally formed as part of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), the Squadron flew in both World Wars.

History

What later became 223 Squadron was formed as B Flight of the RNAS operating as a general purpose squadron with a mixture of aircraft types from bases in the Aegean Sea in 1917, later becoming B Squadron RNAS. On 1 April 1918, the RNAS was merged with the Royal Flying Corps to produce the RAF, with B Squadron becoming No. 223 Squadron. It continued operations over the Aegean, flying both reconnaissance and bombing missions from various bases until the end of World War I, disbanding at Mudros on 16 May 1919.

It reformed at Nairobi in Kenya on 15 December 1936 as a day bomber squadron equipped with the Fairey Gordon, re-equipping with the Vickers Vincent in February 1937. Vickers Wellesley monoplanes followed in June 1938, and these still remained in service when Italy entered World War II, being flown on bombing missions against Italian forces in the East African Campaign which defeated the Italians in Italian East Africa.

In April 1941, it moved to Egypt, becoming an Operational Training Unit (OTU, coverting aircrews onto the Martin Maryland and later Martin Baltimore twin-engined bombers. After a few months, it returned to the role of an operational light bomber squadron equipped with Baltimores, supporting the British Eighth Army over North Africa. It moved to Malta in July 1943, participating in the Allied invasion of Sicily and the Italian Campaign, being based in Italy from September 1943. It was disbanded on 12 August 1944, being renumbered No. 30 Squadron, South African Air Force.

It was quickly reformed back in England on 23 August as a Bomber Support squadron as part of 100 Group of RAF Bomber Command, flying Liberator and Fortress four-engined bombers on radio counter measures, helping to disrupt German night defences by jamming its radar and communications. It was disbanded again on 29 July 1945.

The squadron was again reformed - as 223(SM) Sqn. - on 1 December 1959 as one of 20 Strategic Missile (SM) squadrons associated with Project Emily. The squadron was equipped with three Thor Intermediate range ballistic missiles. and based at RAF Folkingham in Lincolnshire.

In October 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, the squadron was kept at full readiness, with the missiles aimed at strategic targets in the USSR. The squadron was disbanded on 23 August 1963, with the termination of the Thor Program in Britain.

References


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