XLI Test and Evaluation Squadron is based at RAF Coningsby, and is part of the Air & Space Warfare Centre, which is headquartered at RAF Waddington.

The Squadron’s Flight Lieutenant Eric Lock was the highest-scoring RAF fighter pilot of the Battle of Britain.

The squadron flew the Supermarine Spitfire throughout World War Two, while other types flown include the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a, de Havilland Hornet, Hawker Hunter, Gloster Javelin, McDonnell Douglas Phantom FGR2, SEPECAT Jaguar and Panavia Tornado F3.

As the RAF’s Fast Jet Test & Evaluation Squadron, XLI Squadron’s primary focus is Typhoon capability and tactics development.

Seek and destroy



1916   41 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, stood up in July, before deploying to France in October as a Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8 operator.

1917   Began re-equipping with the Airco DH.5 in June, but was fully equipped with the superior S.E.5a by mid-November. Disbanded on 31 December 1919.

1923   Re-formed at Northolt on 1 April, flying the Sopwith Snipe. Re-equipped with the Armstrong Whitworth Siskin in 1924 and converted onto the Bristol Bulldog in 1931.

1934   Re-equipped with the Hawker Demon, before deploying to Aden for the Abyssinian Crisis in 1935. Returned to the UK in August 1936 and re-equipped with the Hawker Fury biplane fighter.

1939   Began converting onto the Spitfire Mk I in January. On 17 October, 41 Squadron claimed the first aircraft shot down (a Heinkel He 111) by Spitfires based in England.

1940   Operating out of Hornchurch, 41 Squadron flew top cover for the Dunkirk evacuation for 12 days from 28 May. The unit flew throughout the Battle of Britain and in November converted onto the Spitfire Mk IIA.

1941   Began flying the Spitfire Mk VB.

1942   Supported the Dieppe raid in August.

1943   Converted onto the Spitfire Mk XII in February, one of only two squadrons to use the variant.

1944   After D-Day, 41 Squadron’s focus switched from bomber escort to anti-flying bomb patrols. It destroyed 53 V-1 flying bombs in a nine-week period. By September it had transferred its attention to attacking V-2 launch sites, while re-equipping with the Spitfire Mk XIV. In December it moved to a forward base in Belgium, ending its war stationed in Germany.

1946   Disbanded on 31 March. Re-formed on 1 April, back in the UK, as a Spitfire F.Mk 21 operator. Re-equipped with the Hornet during August 1947 and became a Gloster Meteor unit in 1951.

1958   Disbanded on 15 January, but stood up again on the 16th by renumbering 141 Squadron, operating the Gloster Javelin. Disbanded on 31 December 1963.

1965   Re-formed on 1 September as a missile defence unit, equipped with the Bloodhound Mk 2 surface-to-air missile. Disbanded on 18 September 1970, but re-formed on 1 April 1972 as a Phantom FGR2 unit.

1977   Disbanded on 31 March, but re-formed next day on the Jaguar.

1991   Took part in Operation Granby in Iraq. Subsequent deployments in support of Operations Warden and Resinate North continued until 1993.

1993   Deployed to Italy in August for Operation Deny Flight over Bosnia. The commitment continued until August 1995, during which time a 41 Squadron Jaguar became the first RAF aircraft to drop a bomb in anger over Europe since World War Two.

2003   Took part in Operation Telic in Iraq, now flying the Jaguar GR3.

2006   Scheduled to disband in April, 41 Squadron instead became 41 (Reserve) Squadron as the new numberplate of the Fast Jet and Weapons Operational Evaluation Unit, operating the Harrier GR9 and Tornado GR4 and F3.

2013   By now designated 41(R) Test & Evaluation Squadron, the unit took its first Typhoon on strength.


1916 - 1918*   Western Front

1916*   Somme 

1917*   Arras, Cambrai 

1918*   Somme 

1918   Lys

1918*   Amiens

1918   Dunkirk

1940*   Battle of Britain 

1940 - 1944*   Home Defence 

1940 - 1944*   Fortress Europe 

1940 - 1944*   Dieppe

1944 - 1945*   France and Germany

1944 - 1945   Arnhem

1944 - 1945   Walcheren

1991   Gulf

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

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