No. 83 Squadron RAF
No. 83 Squadron RAF was a Royal Flying Corps
Royal Flying Corps
The Royal Flying Corps was the over-land air arm of the British military during most of the First World War. During the early part of the war, the RFC's responsibilities were centred on support of the British Army, via artillery co-operation and photographic reconnaissance...

 and Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 squadron active from 1917 until 1969. It was operative during both World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...


Establishment and early service

Founded on 7 January 1917 at Montrose
RAF Montrose
RAF Montrose was a Royal Air Force station in Forfarshire in Scotland.In 1912, the British government planned twelve "Air Stations" operated by the Royal Flying Corps...

, the squadron trained at Spittlegate and Wyton
RAF Wyton
RAF Wyton is a Royal Air Force station near St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, England.In terms of organisation RAF Wyton is now part of the combined station RAF Brampton Wyton Henlow, a merger of Wyton with two previously separate bases, RAF Brampton and RAF Henlow. Wyton is the largest of the three. It...

, where it equipped with FE2bs and FE2ds
Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2
The Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 was a two-seat pusher biplane that was operated as a day and night bomber and as a fighter aircraft by the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War...

 for its role as a night bomber squadron. The squadron moved to France in March 1918, being initially used to carry out attacks on German troop concentrations to try and disrupt the German Spring Offensive
Spring Offensive
The 1918 Spring Offensive or Kaiserschlacht , also known as the Ludendorff Offensive, was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during World War I, beginning on 21 March 1918, which marked the deepest advances by either side since 1914...

,before operating for the remainder of the war in the night bombing (mainly against railway targets) and reconnaissance role. It disbanded on 31 December 1919.

Reinstatement and World War II

The squadron re-formed at Turnhouse in Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 on 4 August 1936, equipped with Hawker Hind
Hawker Hind
-See also:-Bibliography:* Crawford, Alex. Hawker Hart Family. Redbourn, Hertfordshire, UK: Mushroom Model Publications Ltd., 2008. ISBN 83-89450-62-3....

s in preparation for a day bomber role as part of 2 Group
No. 2 Group RAF
Number 2 Group is a Group of the Royal Air Force which was first activated in 1918, served from 1918–20, from 1936 through the Second World War to 1947, from 1948 to 1958, from 1993 to 1996, was reactivated in 2000, and is today part of Air Command....

. On 14 March 1938 the squadron joined No 5 Group
No. 5 Group RAF
No. 5 Group was a Royal Air Force bomber group of the Second World War, led during the latter part by AVM Sir Ralph Cochrane.-History:The Group was formed on 1 September 1937 with headquarters at RAF Mildenhall....

 at Scampton
RAF Scampton
Royal Air Force Station Scampton is a Royal Air Force station situated north of Lincoln in England, near the village of Scampton, on the site of an old First World War landing field.-First World War:...

 and re-equipped with Handley Page Hampden
Handley Page Hampden
The Handley Page HP.52 Hampden was a British twin-engine medium bomber of the Royal Air Force serving in the Second World War. With the Whitley and Wellington, the Hampden bore the brunt of the early bombing war over Europe, taking part in the first night raid on Berlin and the first 1,000-plane...

s in October 1938.

Unlike many Bomber Command squadrons, No. 83 Squadron went into action on the first day of the Second World War, carrying out a sweep over the North Sea looking for German warships. The squadron continued with ‘precision’ raids against German naval and coastal targets but, as the daylight operations became more costly, No 83, along with the majority of Bomber Command, switched to night operations. No. 83 flew against concentrations of Invasion shipping in the Channel Ports in the late summer/autumn of 1940, with a raid on Antwerp on the night of 15 September resulting in the award of a Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 to Flight Sergeant John Hannah
John Hannah (VC)
John Hannah VC was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Details:...

, a Wireless Operator/Gunner for extinguishing a serious fire while receiving severe burns. In December 1941, the squadron was re-equipped with Avro Manchester
Avro Manchester
|-See also:-References:NotesCitationsBibliography* Buttler, Tony. British Secret Projects: Fighters and Bombers 1935–1950. Hickley, UK: Midland Publishing, 2004. ISBN 978-1857801798....

s but, due to their underpowered and unreliable engines, these were quickly replaced with Avro Lancaster
Avro Lancaster
The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber made initially by Avro for the Royal Air Force . It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF, and squadrons from other...


In August 1942, the squadron was transferred to the No 8 Group
No. 8 Group RAF
No. 8 Group RAF was a Royal Air Force group which existed during the final year of World War I and during World War II.-Formation in World War II:...

Pathfinder (RAF)
The Pathfinders were elite squadrons in RAF Bomber Command during World War II. They located and marked targets with flares, which a main bomber force could aim at, increasing the accuracy of their bombing...

 Force at RAF Wyton
RAF Wyton
RAF Wyton is a Royal Air Force station near St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, England.In terms of organisation RAF Wyton is now part of the combined station RAF Brampton Wyton Henlow, a merger of Wyton with two previously separate bases, RAF Brampton and RAF Henlow. Wyton is the largest of the three. It...

, operating as a marker unit for the main force of Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. During World War II the command destroyed a significant proportion of Nazi Germany's industries and many German cities, and in the 1960s stood at the peak of its postwar military power with the V bombers and a supplemental...

. However, in April 1944, No 83 was returned to No 5 Group at Coningsby
RAF Coningsby
RAF Coningsby , is a Royal Air Force station in Lincolnshire, England. It has been commanded by Group Captain Martin Sampson since 10 December 2010.-Operational units:...

, where it became the ‘Pathfinder’ unit for independent operations by the Group.

In May 1946, the squadron re-equipped with Avro Lincoln
Avro Lincoln
The Avro Type 694, better known as the Avro Lincoln, was a British four-engined heavy bomber, which first flew on 9 June 1944. Developed from the Avro Lancaster, the first Lincoln variants were known initially as the Lancaster IV and V, but were renamed Lincoln I and II...

s, relocating in October to Hemswell
RAF Hemswell
RAF Hemswell was an airfield used by RAF Bomber Command for 20 years between 1937 and 1957 and saw most of its operational life during World War II. Later used by RAF Fighter Command as a nuclear ballistic missile base during the Cold War it closed to military use in 1967...

. It deployed to Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 in September 1953, flying bombing missions against the supposed hiding places of Communist Terrorists during the Malayan Emergency
Malayan Emergency
The Malayan Emergency was a guerrilla war fought between Commonwealth armed forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army , the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party, from 1948 to 1960....

, returning to Hemswell in January, where it remained until disbanding again in December 1955.

Post-World War II and disbandment

In May 1957, the squadron re-formed at Waddington
RAF Waddington
RAF Waddington is a Royal Air Force station in Lincolnshire, England.-Formation:Waddington opened as a Royal Flying Corps flying training station in 1916 until 1920, when the station went into care and maintenance....

 as the RAF’s first Vulcan
Avro Vulcan
The Avro Vulcan, sometimes referred to as the Hawker Siddeley Vulcan, was a jet-powered delta wing strategic bomber, operated by the Royal Air Force from 1956 until 1984. Aircraft manufacturer A V Roe & Co designed the Vulcan in response to Specification B.35/46. Of the three V bombers produced,...

 squadron. In August 1960, it handed over its Mk1 aircraft to No 44 Squadron
No. 44 Squadron RAF
No. 44 Squadron of the Royal Air Force is no longer operational. For most of its history it served as a heavy bomber squadron.-History:...

 and moved to Scampton
RAF Scampton
Royal Air Force Station Scampton is a Royal Air Force station situated north of Lincoln in England, near the village of Scampton, on the site of an old First World War landing field.-First World War:...

 where it became the first squadron to receive the Mk2 Vulcan. Initially these were armed with Yellow Sun
Yellow Sun
Yellow Sun was the first British operational high-yield strategic nuclear weapon. The name actually refers only to the outer casing; the warhead was known as "Green Grass" and "Red Snow"...

 megaton weapons, later to be replaced by Blue Steel
Blue Steel missile
The Avro Blue Steel was a British air-launched, rocket-propelled nuclear stand-off missile, built to arm the V bomber force. It was the primary British nuclear deterrent weapon until the Royal Navy started operating Polaris missile armed nuclear submarines....

stand-off bombs. The squadron remained at Scampton in this role until finally disbanded in August 1969.
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