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Last Squadron Leader OC of an RAF squadron?

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Last Squadron Leader OC of an RAF squadron?

Old 23rd Aug 2013, 21:31
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Last Squadron Leader OC of an RAF squadron?

When was the last time the RAF had a Sqn Ldr in command of a fighter/bomber squadron and was the XO of that unit also a squadron leader?

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Old 23rd Aug 2013, 21:46
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Just a guess, could it be 207 (Reserve) Squadron RAF ? Certainly had a Sqdn Ldr OC in 2012, not too sure of the rank if his 2IC. I'm sure bigger and more knowledgeable brains than mine will come up with a more accurate answer.

Smudge

Ahh, sorry. In 2012 they would not have qualified as they were not fighter/ bomber at that time.

Last edited by smujsmith; 23rd Aug 2013 at 22:00.
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Old 23rd Aug 2013, 21:47
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I don't have exact data to hand, but I think the answer to your question is 'the early 1960s'. Hunter sqns were commanded by a Sqn Ldr and (we don't have the eXecutive Officer structure as such in the RAF) his 2 flight commanders would have been Flt Lts. The first Lightning sqns were commanded by Sqn Ldrs but these posts were soon upgraded to Wg Cdr (by about 1963 I think). V-force bomber sqns were, if I remember correctly, always commanded by Wg Cdrs. Once again, the 2 flights within such sqns were led by Sqn Ldr flight commanders.

Lower down the food chain (then...) helicopter sqns were commanded by Sqn Ldrs until No. 72 Sqn built up its Wessex numbers and was re-established to Wg Cdr in 1966. Whirlwind sqns remained under Sqn Ldr command until the type was replaced by Puma (in the TacSH world) with Wg Cdr bosses.

Hope that helps, and it should at least flush out the many facts I have undoubtedly got wrong.
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Old 23rd Aug 2013, 21:53
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OC 5 Sqn (Lightnings) was a Sqn Ldr when I joined in Apr 66. Stayed as Boss until replaced by a Wg Cdr in Jan 67.
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Old 23rd Aug 2013, 22:01
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OC 45 was a Sqn Ldr and became OC 35 as a wg cdr and topped, I believe at AM Sir John. As OC 45 that would have been late 60s. Possibly not last Sqn Ldr OC as the sqn disbanded in Feb 70 though he might well have been.

XIII and 39 may have had a Sqn Ldr too, late 60s

Last edited by Pontius Navigator; 23rd Aug 2013 at 22:09.
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Old 23rd Aug 2013, 22:04
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In answer to your first question. 84 Sqn still has a Sqn Ldr boss....
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Old 23rd Aug 2013, 22:08
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Whether it has any relevance of course, 617 from inception was commanded by a Wing Commander. It seems that Rank title has long had little relevance to RAF organisation. As an aside, what is the highest ranking OC of a Squadron currently ? I mean a flying Squadron of course.

Smudge

Last edited by smujsmith; 23rd Aug 2013 at 22:10.
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Old 23rd Aug 2013, 22:34
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You may see occasional short periods when a squadron boss gets promoted from wg cdr to gp capt, and receives his substantive rank slightly before his onward posting (the same kind of thing sometimes happens to station commanders, giving periods of 1* command at stations that normally only have a gp capt). These are anomalies and the current highest rank of established squadron command appointments is wg cdr.

You are right about 617 Sqn having a wg cdr boss from its inception. By 1943 that was the established convention in Bomber Command due to the large size of its squadrons. As noted above, some fighter squadrons retained sqn ldr bosses into the 1960s, but as fast jets became increasingly complex, the number of techies grew to the point that standardisation across the board with wg cdr bosses (and sqn ldr EngOs) became desirable.

Today's misalignment of rank titles with structure is all wrapped up in capability. It would be quite possible to separate one of today's fast-jet squadrons into 2 separate squadrons, each with a sqn ldr boss and a single shift of engineers under a flt lt EngO. That single shift would not be able to sustain 24/7 flying operations - but then neither did fighter squadrons between 1914 and 1950ish, since those sqns were either "day" or "night" fighter squadrons, depending on their aircraft type. Today's fighter squadrons can sustain 24-hour operations as a stand-alone entity, which makes them the equivalent of a "wing" of day- and night-fighter squadrons in WW2 terms.

Similarly, ground-attack squadrons deliver so much more capability than their WW2 equivalents that it would be quite possible to split them into 2; each half would still deliver a punch worthy of the title "squadron".

The reason why we have a small number of wg cdr-led squadrons instead of double the number of sqn ldr-led squadrons is partly administrative efficiency, partly uniformity of command (fewer young firebrand bosses to keep in check!) but primarily about force packaging - you can deploy a wg cdr-led squadron somewhere and it will deliver 24/7 operations due to the capability of modern aircraft and the increased number of engineers available to sustain day and night operations in a larger unit.

Last edited by Easy Street; 23rd Aug 2013 at 22:56.
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Old 23rd Aug 2013, 22:47
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Hmmm...

" (we don't have the eXecutive Officer structure as such in the RAF) "

There's a lot of rodneys out there wearing this title that might now be wondering what it is they're supposed to be called?
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Old 23rd Aug 2013, 23:04
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It seems like most RAF squadrons have adopted the term "Executive Officer" to describe one of the flight commanders, usually the most senior one, who is the deputy squadron commander and (often) responsible for all the niff-naff jobs like the squadron budget, overseeing the work of the adjutant and admin staff, making sure the other flt cdrs are doing the jobs the Boss gave them at the last execs meeting, ensuring that KPIs for fitness etc are met...

It's a different beast to "XO" as understood in the US and is probably just an affectation. Flt Cdr (Admin) would be a more accurate description, since "Deputy Squadron Commander" is a pretty pointless designation - the man in charge in the Boss's absence is, after all, the one whose name goes in SROs when he goes on leave!

Last edited by Easy Street; 23rd Aug 2013 at 23:04.
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Old 24th Aug 2013, 00:42
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Just to add to the mix, in the Royal Navy the second in command of a ship of frigate or destroyer size or above (and indeed nuclear submarines) has been known as the Executive Officer for at least the last 50 years. In larger ships such offiicers of Commander's rank will also be known by officers as "the Commander" or, more familiarly "the Bloke", whilst in smaller ship,s if a Lieutenant Commander or Lieutenant, he will be known as the First Lieutenant or, more familiarly, as "Number One" by officers, or as "Jimmy the One", or just plain "the Jimmy".

Hope this helps......

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Old 24th Aug 2013, 08:24
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Angel Hunter Squadrons.

Depends on your definition of "fighter squadron". The three Hunter squadrons resident at Chivenor were commanded by Sqn Ldrs up to the lamented departure for Brawdy in 1974. Also the Hawk Sqadrons at TWUs had the same command structure.

Best job in the RAF at the time (but I'm biased)
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Old 24th Aug 2013, 08:26
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In answer to the question, both 8 and 208 squadrons at Muharraq had Sqn Ldr CO's in 69.
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Old 24th Aug 2013, 09:39
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Basil, I spend as much time at sea as I can afford on my pension and P&O has executives too:

Executive Purser, Executive Chef, Executive etc etc.
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Old 24th Aug 2013, 10:09
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In reply to 'Fixed Cross' the Squadron Commanders of the Hawk TWU squadrons did indeed hold the lowly rank of Sqn Ldr (I was one!).

And they were real fighter squadrons (mine was 151 (F)) and had an air defence war role working with RAF Phantoms.
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Old 24th Aug 2013, 10:42
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And they were real fighter squadrons
Bit of a stretch sharpy
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Old 24th Aug 2013, 12:59
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Tengah 1970
20 (Hunter), 45 and 81 (Canberra) all run by sqn ldrs.
74 (Lightning) had a wg cdr, as did 60 & 64 (Javelin) in 67.
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Old 25th Aug 2013, 21:11
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Coming away from St Mawgan in 2006, I seem to recall OC 203 Sqn being a Sqn Ldr?
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Old 26th Aug 2013, 12:10
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"XIII and 39 may have had a Sqn Ldr too, late 60s"

Both had WgCdr from 1968 to when I left in 1971.
60 Sqdn had a SqdnLdr Navigator as OC from 1973 to 1976, in fact an over abundance of SqdnLdr's I seem to remember!
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Old 26th Aug 2013, 19:41
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XO

The XO post on a FJ sqn does just that, they are NOT flight commanders. It's been like that since 2002 that I know of, likely even longer.
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