16 Squadron

Providing initial pilot training.

Hidden things are revealed

Two keys in saltire - approved by King Edward VIII in November 1936. The badge symbolises the time spent on army co-operation duties, the keys indicating the unlocking of the enemy's secrets, the gold key by day, the black key by night.


  • Stationed at RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire.
  • In 1915 it was the first air unit to use wireless technology to report troop movements
  • Aircraft flown have included, the Canberra, Buccaneer and Tornado GR1
  • Was a Jaguar Operational Conversion Unit until 2005
  • One of the two RAF Elementary Flying Training squadrons, No 16 Squadron is based at RAF
    Wittering and trains students on the Grob 115E Tutor.
  • Students fly courses of up to 70 hours, learning basic aircraft handling, instrument flying,
    navigation, and formation skills before progressing to the fast-jet, multi-engine and rotary
    streams for advanced flying training.


  • No 16 Squadron was formed on 10 Feb 1915 at St Omer and immediately began fighting in the First World War in Northern France, flying offensive patrol and tactical reconnaissance missions.
  • Early Squadron Commanders included Majors Hugh Dowding, Charles Portal, and Paul Maltby, all of whom went on to become senior leaders of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. 
  • Photos, anecdotes, and links to archive material from No 16 Squadron in  the First World War can be found at http://www.design-phoenix.com/saint-omer-2018
  • No 16 Squadron flew the Armistice Patrol on 11 November 1918.  The Squadron disbanded in Dec 1919.
  • Between 1924 to 1942 No 16 Squadron flew aircraft ranging from the Bristol Fighter, Hawker Audax, and Westland Lysander in Army Co-operation roles.
  • From 1942 to 1945 the Squadron was equipped with the Mustang and Spitfire XI, mainly flying photographic reconnaissance sorties.
  • After the Second World War No 16 Squadron remained in Germany and from 1958 contributed to the Tactical Nuclear Strike role flying Canberra, Buccaneer, and Tornado GR1 aircraft.
  • No 16 Squadron took part in the 1991 Gulf War, flying the Tornado GR1 from Tabuk in Saudi Arabia.
  • At the end of 1991 the Squadron was disbanded as a front-line unit and subsequently operated as the Jaguar operational conversion unit until 2002.  On disbandment, the No 16 Squadron Standard was laid up in St Omer Cathedral where it is visible today.
  • No 16 Squadron was reformed in 2008 as one of the Elementary Flying Training squadrons at RAF Cranwell, before moving to RAF Wittering in 2015 where it flies today.

Battle honours

Western Front 1915-1918

Neuve Chappelle


Somme 1916*


Ypres 1917*

France and Low Countries 1940


Fortress Europe 1943-1944

France and Germany 1944

Normandy 1944*

Arnhem*, Ruhr 1944-1945

Gulf 1991

Honours marked with an asterisk, are emblazoned on the Squadron Standard.