No. 518 Squadron RAF


No. 518 Squadron RAF
Active6 July 1943 – 1 October 1946[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
BranchEnsign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Part ofNo. 15 Group RAF, Coastal Command[2]
Motto(s)Gaelic: Tha An Iuchair Againn-Ne
(Translation: "We hold the key")[3]
Squadron Badge heraldryA hand couped at the wrist holding a key, the ward uppermost[3]
Squadron CodesY3 (Jun 1944 – Oct 1946)[4][5]

No. 518 Squadron RAF was a meteorological squadron of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. The weather observations they collected helped inform Group Captain James Martin Stagg's recommendation to General Dwight D. Eisenhower to delay the launching of the D-Day invasion of Normandy from 5 June to 6 June 1944.[6]


No. 518 Squadron formed on 6 July 1943 from at RAF Stornoway, Scotland and was equipped with the Handley Page Halifax. After moving to RAF Tiree on 25 September 1943, and absorbing 1402 Flight,[1][7] it became operational with daily flights out into the North Atlantic to collect meteorological data. It also kept observations for U-boat activity.[8][6]

In the run-up to D-Day in the late spring of 1944, the squadron, operating modified Halifax bombers from Tiree in the inner Hebrides, often under dangerous conditions, collected weather observations from hundreds of miles into the Atlantic; these reports were used by Group Captain James Martin Stagg in his recommendation to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower that the D-Day invasion of Normandy be postponed from 5 to 6 June 1944.[6]

After the end of the Second World War the squadron moved to RAF Aldergrove in Northern Ireland where it absorbed No. 1402 (Meteorological) Flight RAF who had been operating Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes. With these added to the squadron, the main equipment was changed from the Handley Page Halifax Mk.V to the Mk.VI. No. 518 squadron was the last of the wartime meteorological squadrons when it was re-numbered to 202 Squadron on 1 October 1946.[1][3][8]

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by no. 518 Squadron RAF, data from[1][3][8]
From To Aircraft Version
July 1943 June 1945 Handley Page Halifax Mk.V
March 1945 October 1946 Handley Page Halifax Mk.III
September 1945 October 1946 Supermarine Spitfire Mks.VII & IX
September 1945 October 1946 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc
March 1946 October 1946 Handley Page Halifax Mk.VI

Squadron bases

Bases and airfields used by no. 518 Squadron RAF, data from[1][3][8]
From To Base Remark
9 July 1943 25 September 1943 RAF Stornoway, Western Isles, Scotland
25 September 1943 18 September 1945 RAF Tiree, Hebrides, Scotland Spitfire detachment at RAF Tain, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland
18 September 1945 1 October 1946 RAF Aldergrove, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e Jefford 2001, p. 97.
  2. ^ Delve 1994, pp. 72, 79.
  3. ^ a b c d e Halley 1988, p. 397.
  4. ^ Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, pp. 118–119 and 160.
  5. ^ Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 121.
  6. ^ a b c Buttle, Cameron (5 June 2019). "The RAF weathermen who helped save D-Day". BBC Scotland. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  7. ^ Sturtivant & Hamlin 2007, p. 120.
  8. ^ a b c d Rawlings 1982, p. 253.


  • Bowyer, Michael J.F.; Rawlings, John D.R. (1979). Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Delve, Ken (1994). The Source Book of the RAF. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing. ISBN 1-85310-451-5.
  • Flintham, Vic; Thomas, Andrew (2003). Combat Codes: A Full Explanation and Listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied Air Force Unit Codes since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Halley, James J. (1988). The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, C.G. (2001). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912 (2nd ed.). Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. (1982). Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Sturtivant, Ray, ISO; Hamlin, John (2007). RAF Flying Training And Support Units since 1912. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-365-X.

External links

  • Squadron histories for nos. 500–520 sqn
  • 518's role in the D-Day landings