(Reserve) Squadron Royal Air Force
Quid si coelum ruat
> Units and Formations
Updated: 9 Sep 06
Squadron based at:
Tornado F3 ::
Formed at Gosport on 8 Jun 1916 from a nucleus of 28 Sqn, 56(Reserve) Sqn was equipped with the BE2c. It re-equpipped with the SE5 in preparation for service over the Western Front, to St Omer on 9 Apr 1917.
56 Squadron’s operational performance during World War I was second to none. Between April 1917 and November 1918, it recorded 427 confirmed aerial victories. 24 pilots achieved more than 5 kills and thus became ‘aces’
Between the wars, the Squadron was disbanded and reformed many times, operating aircraft such as the Sopwith 7FI Snipe, Gloster Grebe, Hawker Woodcock, Hawker Hedgehog, Armstrong Whitworth Siskin, Bristol Bulldog, Gloster Gauntlet and Gloster Gladiator. The Gloster Grebe II was the first aircraft to be adorned with the red and white chequered fighter bars which serve to this day.
In 1928 the motto ’Quid Si Coelum Ruat’ was adopted, meaning ‘what if heaven falls’. However, it was not until 1938 that the Squadron was presented with its unit badge; the Phoenix rising out of the ashes was chosen to represent the series of disbandments and reformations after World War 2.
At the outbreak of World War II 56 Squadron was stationed at North Weald equipped with the Hawker Hurricane. It took part in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain, and as the war progressed the Hurricane was superseded by the new and untested Hawker Typhoon. In turn, the Typhoon was replaced by the Spitfire IX, and the Hawker Tempest V in the battle against the V-1 bomb. at the end of the war the Sqn had achieved 130 kills and destroyed 63 V-1.
After the war the Sqn went onto the Gloster Meteor, the Supermarine Swift, Hawker Hunter and the English Electric Lightning. The Squadron flew the ‘Firebirds’ aerobatic team in 1963, before returning overseas in May 1967 to RAF Akrotiri. Here it pioneered air to air refuelling techniques with Victor Tankers.
56 Squadron returned to RAF Wattisham in Jan 1975 trading Lightning for the FGR2 Phantom. However, under Options for Change, the Phantom was retired from Royal Air Force Service and 56(F) Squadron disbanded at Royal Air Force Wattisham on 31 July 1992 to be immediately reformed as 56(Reserve) Squadron, with the F3 at RAF Coningsby.
56(R) Squadron is the F3 OCU. The role was undertaken by 229 OCU/65(R) Sqn until 31 July 92, but the number-plate was changed to 56 Squadron.
5 Sqn history on RAF website
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