No. 90 Squadron RAF

No. 90 Squadron RAF
No. XC Squadron RAF
Active October 8, 1917 - August, 1918
March 15, 1937 - April 16, 1965
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Motto Celer
Latin: "Swift"

No. 90 Squadron RAF (sometimes written as No. XC Squadron) is a squadron of the Royal Air Force.

It was formed as a fighter squadron of the Royal Flying Corps on 17 October 1917 but never reached operational duties and disbanded in August 1918.

Reformed on 15 March 1937, it flew Bristol Blenheim aircraft as trainers until the unit, along with No. 35 Squadron became part of No. 17 OTU early in April 1940.

Reformed once more in early May 1941 it became part of No. 2 Group RAF and was chosen to initiate the introduction of the American Flying Fortress Mk.1 into the RAF. This experiment proved unsuccessful due to acute tactical and mechanical problems and after a brief period flying Blenheims the Squadron was again disbanded in February 1942.

In November 1942 the Squadron again reformed as part of No. 3 (Bomber) Group this time equipped with Short Stirling Mk.I aeroplanes, the first operational venture being mining sorties in early January 1943.

The months following saw the Stirling Mk.III (an improved version) introduced to the Squadron, which, as a three-flight unit was theoretically capable of providing 24 aircraft to the Group's Operational Battle Order. The unit's resources were thrown into the Battle of the Ruhr and sent to many of the German targets that were most heavily defended, including Berlin. The Squadron suffered considerable losses over an eight month period and found it difficult to maintain reserves of men and machines.

The Stirlings, gallantly flown by brave crews, suffered from deficiencies in design, due to restrictions laid down in the original Air Ministry specifications. After suffering heavy proportionate losses by type, their operations were restricted to Special Duties i.e.: Dropping sea mines, low level supply dropping to the Maquis, shorter bombing raids on invasion objectives. The Squadron was active on all these fronts.

Washington B.1 WF502 of 90 Squadron in September 1952

By June 1944 the Squadron had been declared operational on Lancasters.

In May 1947 the squadron re-equipped with Lincolns, which it operated until disbanding on 1 September 1950.

The squadron reformed postwar at RAF Marham on 4 October 1950 and was equipped with the B-29 Superfortress known in Great Britain as the Boeing Washington.

Vickers Valiant B(PR)K.1 of 90 Squadron in 1957 wearing the Squadron's XC symbol in a triangle on its fin

On 8 January 1953 a Washington from the squadron WF502 mysteriously crashed near Llanarmon-yn-Ial in Denbighshire with the loss of all 10 crewmen. It had flown into the ground at night.

In November 1953 the squadron began re-equipping with Canberras. The squadron was disbanded on 1 May 1956.

On 1 January 1957, the squadron was reformed at RAF Honington as a V-Bomber squadron equipped with Vickers Valiants. The squadron converted to an in-flight refueling role in April 1962 before finally disbanding on 16 April 1965. This was in part due to structural problems with the Valiant fleet caused by metal fatigue.


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