a day of such for two of the RAF's senior squadrons.At Cottesmore on 28
September IV(AC) Squadron celebrated 90 years of service, while some forty-five
miles to the north in Lincoln 5 Squadron was laying-up its standard at
the Cathedral, having officially disbanded the day before. Gary Parsons
was a glorious Indian summer's day, perfect for two hours celebratory
flying and time to meet with old comrades and friends. The squadron
had attempted to line up many of the types it had flown in the past,
but in the end had to settle for a mix to simply entertain and enjoy.
It was hoped to attract Golden Apple's F-86 Sabre, a type that the
squadron used post-war, but unserviceability saw a substitute in the
form of the OFMC's L-39, more representative of the cold-war enemy
in its red-star colour scheme! Three Spitfires were on hand, a type
with which the squadron saw extensive use during the war - two from
the BBMF, providing their unique duo display, and Rolls-Royce's PS853
which, after displaying nicely made an impromptu formation with two
of the Yakolevs Team's Yak-50s.
Delta Jets' Hunter WV318 (Andy Cubin once more) joining RAF displays
from Rich Hillard in the Hawk and Colin McGregor's Tornado GR4, the
finale to the flying was a four-ship routine of Harrier GR7s, led
by the squadron flag-ship ZD470. A final photo of the standard being
paraded in front of colleagues and families sealed the day - let's
hope that IV(AC) Squadron will be able to do the same on its centenary!
a brief squadron history click here.
Bear made his last appearance at Cottesmore - after a year of badgering
pilots for back-seat rides, he made his last journey back to Lossiemouth
with Colin McGregor and Andi McColl where he will be auctioned off
for charity. His former 'minder', Bob Franklin, had a definite tear
in his eye as he said farewell. Check out XV Squadron's auction site
Squadron's Maple leaf will fly on for a little while longer, as
flagship ZH555/V (formerly CV) has been transferred to 56(R) Squadron
and will not be repainted until major service. She still sports
her '1913 - 2002' logo on the tail, which sadly is more of a statement
than a celebration. There is a chance that 5 Squadron will be the
first fully operational Typhoon fighter squadron, continuing the
strong bond that it has with the county of Lincolnshire. This has
yet to be decided by the committee that decides on squadron allocation,
but it would be a strange air force without one of its most senior
squadrons on the books. One hopes that the standard won't remain
in Lincoln Cathedral for too long.
a brief squadron history click here.
Part of the
draw-down of the Coningsby fleet, in preparation for the introduction
of Typhoon in a couple of years, it was a low-key departure for one of
the longest-serving Lincolnshire squadrons. Lincoln Cathedral was chosen
as the resting place for the standard in recognition of the squadron's
residence in the county over the last forty years or so. In the end it
was a squadron of few aircraft and personnel, as the disbandment wheels
were put into motion some months before 27 September as planes and pilots
were gradually dispersed to the remaining four front-line fighter units
at Leuchars and Leeming, leaving just a handful to perform a small flypast
on the final day.
4 to the
is the fourth (naturally, really) unit to celebrate its ninetieth birthday
this year. The squadron claims that official records classify it as third
in seniority in the air force, a couple of years ahead of co-located 3(F)
Squadron - who, of course, claims otherwise! Whatever the friendly banter,
there is no doubt that each is a fundamental part of the history and tradition
of the RAF.
the atmosphere was one of cautious optimism, as although IV(AC) Squadron
lives to fight another day, the imminent pooling of RAF and Fleet Air
Arm assets will result in at least one RAF and one naval squadron disappearing
once the Sea Harrier is finally retired. Nothing has yet been officially
said on the future components of Joint Force Harrier, but it is likely
to comprise of two RAF and two FAA front-line squadrons with a joint OCU
based at Wittering. One hopes that the traditions and history of all the
current squadrons can be represented in some way within the new structure
- they all have a just claim to be a part of the 21st century strike force.
The author would like to thank the CCOs of Cottesmore and Coningsby, Flt
Lt Tracey Broome and Mrs Caroline Hogg respectively, for their assistance.