72 Squadron

Delivers basic fast jet training


A swift volant - approved by HM King George VI in February 1938, and intended to symbolise speed. An earlier unofficial emblem consisting of a quartered shield depicting a foaming tankard, a scroll of 'bumph', a heart pierced by an arrow and five aces, one of them a joker, was not submitted


  • Provides basic fast jet training (BFT) to RAF and Royal Navy student pilots
  • The only RAF squadron to have spent time as a helicopter unit before returning to fixed-wing flying
  • Aircraft flown include the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a, Gloster Gladiator, Supermarine Spitfire, de Havilland Vampire, Gloster Javelin, Bristol Belvedere, Westland Wessex, Shorts Tucano and Beechcraft Texan
  • Operates alongside the Hawks of IV and 25 Squadrons at RAF Valley


1917 - Formed at Upavon from a flight of the Central Flying School. Moved to Basra, Iraq in January 1918, operating a variety of aircraft in three flights distributed around the region. Disbanded on 22 September 1919 after successful combat operations in Mesopotamia

1937 - Reformed in February as the first operational Gladiator unit. Converted onto the Spitfire from April 1939, shooting down two Heinkel He 115 floatplanes in October. Briefly returned to the Gladiator in March 1940 after moving to Acklington and finding the airfield unsuitable for Spitfires. Back on the latter, 72 Squadron covered the Dunkirk evacuation before joining the Battle of Britain

1941 - Offensive operations began with the Spitfire Mk II. The unit moved to Gibraltar, then Algiers, with the Spitfire Mk V, in November. Claimed its first North African victory, a Bf 109E, on 19 November

1943 - Re-equipped with the Spitfire Mk IX for operations over Sicily, subsequently supporting Allied operations against and through Italy, before turning towards southern France in summer 1944

1945 - Number 72 Squadron was part of the occupation force in Austria and flew patrols along the Yugoslav border. Disbanded at Zeltweg on 30 December 1946

1947 - Number 130 Squadron renumbered as 72 Squadron on 1 January, operating the Vampire at RAF Odiham. In 1952, the unit re-equipped with the Meteor F8 at RAF North Weald, becoming a night-fighter unit from December 1955 with the Meteor NF12 and 14. The all-weather Javelin FAW4 came on strength in 1959

1961 - Disbanded at RAF Leconfield, on 15 June. Re-formed at RAF Odiham on 15 November as a Transport Command helicopter unit flying the Belvedere. On 28 April 1962, a 72 Squadron aircraft lifted the spire onto the top of the new Coventry cathedral. Wessex replaced the Belvedere in 1964

1981 - Transferred to Aldergrove, Northern Ireland, receiving a number of Westland Puma helicopters to supplement the Wessex from 1997

2002 - Disbanded at Aldergrove. Re-formed in July by allocating 72 (Reserve) Squadron to a 1 Flying Training School unit at RAF Linton-on-Ouse

2019 - 72 Squadron’s identity was transferred to the Texan Integration Squadron at RAF Valley on 31 October

Battle honours

Mesopotamia 1918*

Channel and North Sea 1939-1942


Battle of Britain 1940*

Fortress Europe 1941-1942*

North Africa 1942-1943*

Mediterranean 1942-1943

Sicily 1943*

Italy 1943-1945 Salerno*

Anzio and Nettuno*

(Honours marked with an asterisk, may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard)


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