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Old 28th Jul 2006, 09:40   #1 (permalink)
 
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Why do some Squadrons have letter after their number?

I'm curious why only a few squadrons have these letters such as 28 (AC) etc. I understand that they stand for Army Co-operation and Fighter etc but why do only some squadrons have them?

O learned gentry of PPRuNe please help me!
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 10:10   #2 (permalink)
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Because its a WW1 legacy and the closest thing light blue has to a tradition.
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 10:28   #3 (permalink)
 
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Apologies if this is teaching you to suck eggs
Also to do with the role of the Squadron. e.g. 41 Sqn Whilst flying Jaguars as a frontline unit 41(F) (even though the Jag isn't a 'fighter') Now that the FJWOEU (SAOEU in old money) has become 41 Sqn it is 41(R) Sqn. All OCUs (training squadrons) are (R) for reserve.

Nothing wrong with trying to get a bit of tradition, keeping Sqn numbers alive is a good idea in my book.
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 10:31   #4 (permalink)
 
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Thanks for the answers guys. Quite disappointed that they both came from the senior service (come on RAF lads!) but thanks anyway.
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 11:01   #5 (permalink)
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I did come across this:

"By the time the first expansion schemes were being implemented fighter and bomber squadrons had (F) or (B) after their numerical identity and Coastal Command had the suffix (C)...... However, in about 1942 squadrons dropped their descriptive title but continued to use both "official" and unofficial" names within the squadron nameplate"....

I presume dropping them was to do with security.
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 11:04   #6 (permalink)
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Surely 28 (AC) Sqn should be 28 (F) Sqn

F for ........... FREAKS!!!!!

Fly Friendly
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 11:15   #7 (permalink)
 
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Squadron 'Letters'

While agreeing with what has been said before I think the letters arose originally in WW1. Whether squadrons, formed for WW2, used the letters I do not know. As a red herring I will add that there were also squadrons with geographical associations although I do not know how these arose. ie No ??? (Gold Coast) Sqn and No ??? (Jamaica) Sqn, to name 2 that I recall.
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 11:26   #8 (permalink)
 
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A bit like 18 being a (B) squadron then.

I don't think they had B's when 18 was formed?

Obviously, I do stand to be corrected by some Squadron Historian, or other.

rigga
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 11:41   #9 (permalink)

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The geographical connection to colonies (as was) was often (always?) because they had "sponsored" an aircraft in the days when you could buy a Spitfire for about 25K. Certainly that was the case for No 72 (Basutoland) Sqn.......
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 11:42   #10 (permalink)
 
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18 Squadron did some bombing in WW1

No. 18 Squadron formed initially as a training unit at Northolt on 11 May 1915. During the Great War, it concentrated on bombing, and after the Armistice moved to Germany as part of the Army of Occupation before returning the UK in September 1919 and disbanding. The Squadron remained dormant until reformed in October 1931at Upper Heyford with Harts and then Hinds.
NOT a sqn historian, just a Googler
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 11:48   #11 (permalink)
 
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It can also show where the squadron is from - 609 (wr) is 609 West Riding from when it was set up and would only recruit from this area. This seems like it only applies to RAuxAF though....
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 12:16   #12 (permalink)
 
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WSOP

That's true, in AuxAF (then RAuxAF) parlance, the squadrons were 'county' squadrons e.g 609 (County of West Riding), 611 (County of West Lancashire), although the system produced some oddities such as 610 (County of Chester).

Possibly even more interesting, and something that is not well known, is that some regular personnel in the 1950s/1960s were recruited from a specific local area that allowed them to serve at the unit and live at home. Not sure why this was done, recruitment difficulties, perhaps?
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 12:18   #13 (permalink)
 
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'Local' Recruiting

I suggest that it might have had a lot to do with seriously grotty accommodation - from what I remember of the RAF in the 50s!
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 12:35   #14 (permalink)

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Quote:
some regular personnel in the 1950s/1960s were recruited from a specific local area t
IIRC, that was called "Local Entry" or something similar, low-tech trade groups and lower rates of pay, leave etc. There were lots at Malta.

Some squadron badges also used to have "Fighter Squadron " or "Bomber Squadron" in the top arc rather than just "Squadron" as today.

Another suffix was TB for "Torpedo-Bomber" though I can't think of a particular sqn off hand, maybe I'm getting mixed up with the US Maureens.

How many actual, full-size front line squadrons do we have now anyway?
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 12:41   #15 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rigga
A bit like 18 being a (B) squadron then.

I don't think they had B's when 18 was formed?

Obviously, I do stand to be corrected by some Squadron Historian, or other.

rigga
In addition to what A2QFI wrote, I know a few guys working there and they happen to be dead proud to be a 'Bomber' squadron.
Not quite sure about the last time a chinny dropped any bombs though.
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 13:50   #16 (permalink)
 
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[anorak] Strictly speaking, the letters shouldn't appear after the numbers. The Air Ministry terminated the practice of placing the role letter after the Sqn Number in May 1939.

The practice began in 1924, but by 1939, it became clear that placing the role letter after the number had security implications (this is at about the time that the Air Ministry realised that naming every officer serving with a particular squadron in the Air Force List wasn't very good OPSEC), and squadrons that changed their roles would then (in theory) have to change their role letter.

This was fine in theory, but squadrons continued the practice. The Air Ministry repeated the 'stop doing this, will you?' instruction in 1941, with a bit more effect - but it materialised again.

The letter is now a 'heritage' thing. While 18(B) hasn't seen a bomber type since it disbanded on Valiants, 5(AC) (or V(A)C if you want to break another Air Ministry edict on the correct presentation of squadron numbering - no Roman numerals allowed, even if employed in the squadron crest...) will have the correct identifier for the first time in some years, having had little to do with Army co-operation when equipped with interceptors.

The main culprits for upsetting the Air Ministry have been II(AC), who took note of the edict not to use role identifiers, said, 'Mmm. Interesting idea,' and ignored it, before doing exactly the same thing when the edict against using Roman numerals was introduced.

Associations in the unit title, such as 257 (Burma) and 139 (Jamaica) were also kicked into touch by the Air Ministry. There were several reasons for named squadrons, such as Gift Squadrons (the place named providing the cash for aircraft) and a concentration of personnel from a particular nation within a unit, e.g. 44 (Rhodesia). The Air Ministry noted that this could all get terribly confusing, and that there was a danger of the named squadron's associated town/country trying to interfere in the allocation of squadron numbers.

They banned the use of names in 1952, and again in 1962, when the realised that some units had ignored them in '52. 139 still used the 'Jamaica' title up to disbandment, and the Air Ministry were proved right about interference. When the Victor B2 force was disbanded, the Jamaican government wrote to Harold Wilson (IIRC) and made representations that 'their' squadron should be reformed as swiftly as possible. The Jamaican government was politely informed that the RAF wasn't going to alter its policy on numberpalte allocation, but that there was a chance that 139 would be reformed in the 1970s when the Buccaneer force came up to full strength. Although the number was considered, more senior numberplates were reformed/re-equipped with the Bucc. [/anorak]
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 14:33   #17 (permalink)
 
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Maybe its just the Harrier force but 4(AC) Sqn don't like people writing it this way and even their incident signals use IV.
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 14:40   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
609 (wr) is 609 West Riding from when it was set up and would only recruit from this area.
I thought this practice stopped in or after the First World War, though in fairness I'm talking about the Army. The reason being that if a locally formed unit took severe casualties, it had a dramatic affect on a town or geographical area.
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 14:47   #19 (permalink)
 
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At risk of thread drift, apparently the Navy has now moved away from naming ships after cities due to the same reason, i.e. effect on the morale of the local population should the ship get sunk. (e.g. HMS Coventry/Sheffield)
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Old 28th Jul 2006, 14:49   #20 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteOvies
Maybe its just the Harrier force but 4(AC) Sqn don't like people writing it this way and even their incident signals use IV.
Many years ago at a secret harrier base in Germany (the last harrier one) the Stn Cdr was asked by a visiting senior civil servant why some sqns used Arabic numerals (eg 1(F) and 3 (F)) whereas others (IV(AC)) used Roman numerals. Said Stn Cdr, promptly turned to the young Climebear and tasked me to find out asap (great task - VIP visit and I'm standing in the middle of an airfield in Germany).

Several calls to the RAF Museum and the Air Historical branch revealed that the use of roman numerals was largely based on the whim of the respective sqn cdrs when the Sqns were formed/designed their crest. Out of such things, great traditions grow!

Where will this individuality end? if we don't watch out Sqns will be using the designs off bottles of beer for their crests
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