72 Squadron provides basic fast jet training (BFT) to RAF and Royal Navy student pilots.

It's 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. 72 Squadron 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.


1918*   Mesopotamia

1939 - 1942   Channel and North Sea

1939 - 1942* Dunkirk

1940*   Battle of Britain

1941 - 1942*   Fortress Europe 

1942 - 1943*   North Africa 

1942 - 1943   Mediterranean 

1943*   Sicily 

1943 - 1945*   Salerno

1943 - 1945*   Anzio and Nettuno

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