No. 138 Squadron RAF


No. 138 Squadron RAF
Tempsford 138 Squadron badge.jpg
Active30 Sep 1918 – 1 Feb 1919
25 Aug 1941 – 1 Sep 1950
1 Jan 1955 – 1 Apr 1962[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
BranchEnsign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Special Operations
Motto(s)For Freedom[2]
Squadron Badge heraldryA sword in bend, the point uppermost, severing a reef knot[2]
Squadron CodesNF (Aug 1941 – Mar 1945,
Apr 1947 – Sep 1950)[3][4]
AC (Mar 1945 – Apr 1947)[5]

No. 138 Squadron RAF was a squadron of the Royal Air Force that served in a variety of roles during its career, last disbanded in 1962. It was the first 'V-bomber' squadron of the RAF, flying the Vickers Valiant between 1955 and 1962.


Formation in World War I as fighter squadron

No. 138 Squadron RAF was originally to be formed as a fighter unit on 1 May 1918, but formation was suspended[6] until officially formed on 30 September 1918 as a fighter-reconnaissance squadron at Chingford, and was disbanded there on 1 February 1919.[2][7][8]

Special Duties in World War II

During World War II, it was reformed in 1941, from the expansion of No. 1419 Flight, and was the first squadron of the Royal Air Force Special Duty Service.[2] In February 1942 the squadron's Lysander flight and a number of its Whitleys were hived off to make the nucleus of 161 (Special Duty) Squadron. Based initially at RAF Stradishall, in March 1942 it moved to its permanent home at the clandestine airfield at RAF Tempsford. The squadron dropped supplies and agents for the SIS and the SOE to Axis occupied territory.[9] From October 1941 there served several all-Polish volunteer crews.[10] Between 1 April 1943 and November 1943 the squadron included Polish Special Duties Flight, as C Flight.[9] It carried out this role until March 1945 when it was reassigned to Bomber Command, operating under No. 3 Group.[11] It was disbanded on 1 September 1950.[2]

V-Bomber squadron post-war

Vickers Valiant B.1 XD818 – photo taken at RAF Museum Cosford, just prior to going on display with two other 'V bombers', the Handley Page Victor and Avro Vulcan in the Cold War Jets Collection

On 1 January 1955 the squadron was reformed as the first squadron to be equipped with the Vickers Valiant strategic nuclear bomber, based at RAF Gaydon and later moving to RAF Wittering. It flew them from Malta during the Suez Crisis of October 1956, and was finally disbanded on 1 April 1962.[2]

Aircraft operated

From To Aircraft Variant
Sep 1918 Feb 1919 Bristol F.2 Fighter F.2b
Aug 1941 Mar 1942 Westland Lysander Mk.IIIa
Aug 1941 Nov 1942 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.V
Aug 1941 Aug 1944 Handley Page Halifax Mk.II
Jan 1943 Aug 1944 Handley Page Halifax Mk.V
Jun 1944 Mar 1945 Short Stirling Mk.V
Mar 1945 Sep 1947 Avro Lancaster Mks.I and III
Sep 1947 Sep 1950 Avro Lincoln B.2
Feb 1955 Mar 1962 Vickers Valiant B.1
Mar 1956 May 1961 Vickers Valiant B(PR).1
Mar 1956 Aug 1961 Vickers Valiant B(PR)K.1
Jun 1956 Apr 1962 Vickers Valiant B(K).1


See also



  1. ^ a b Jefford 2001, p. 63.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Halley 1988, p. 211.
  3. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 76.
  4. ^ Flintham and Thomas 2003, pp. 91 and 154.
  5. ^ Bowyer and Rawlings 1979, p. 15.
  6. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 107.
  7. ^ a b Rawlings 1982, pp. 104–105.
  8. ^ Rawlings 1978, p. 279.
  9. ^ a b Wacław Król: Polskie dywizjony lotnicze w Wielkiej Brytanii 1940–1945 (Polish air squadrons in Great Britain 1940–1945). Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, 1982. ISBN 83-11-06745-7. P. 110
  10. ^ Hodyra, Piotr (2016). 301 Dywizjon Bombowy 1940-1943 (in Polish). Warsaw: Oficyna Wydawnicza Alma-Press. ISBN 978-83-7020-664-2. P.44-45
  11. ^ a b Moyes 1976, pp. 164–165.


  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A full explanation and listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied air force unit codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 2nd edition 1976. ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald & Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (2nd edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.

External links

  • No.138 Sqn History
  • RAF Bomber Command section – 138 Squadron
  • History at RafWeb's Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation