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29 Squadron

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29 squadron

Badge: An eagle in flight preying on a buzzard - symbolising air combat

Motto: 'Impiger et acer - 'Energetic and keen'

No 29 Squadron was formed at Gosport on 7 November 1915 from a nucleus supplied by No 23 Squadron, and after training moved to France in March 1916 as the third squadron to be fully equipped with fighters. Its DH2s were engaged in escort duties to protect the slow and vulnerable reconnaissance aircraft over the Western Front, achieving their first combat victory on 1 May 1916. IIn March 1917 it re-equipped with Nieuport Scouts Scouts in March 1917, and in April 1918 these were replaced by SE5As, which were used for the rest of the war on fighter and ground -attack missions. After a short period in Germany, the squadron Squadron was reduced to a cadre and in August 1919 returned to Spittlegate in the UK, in August 1919 where it was disbanded on 31 December 1919.

On 1 April 1923, No 29 reformed as a fighter squadron at Duxford with Snipes, re-equipping with Grebes in January 1925. In turn, these were replaced by Siskins in March 1928 and Bulldogs in June 1932. In March 1935, No 29 became a two-seat fighter squadron with the arrival of Demons, which it took in October to Egypt during the Abyssinian crisis, a few Gordons being used for night patrols at this time. Returning to the UK a year later, it converted to Blenheims in December 1938. On At the outbreak of World War Two these were used for patrols over shipping and for early trials with airborne radar. When German night bombers began operating in strength in June 1940, No 29 became fully involved in night fighting, beginning to receive Beaufighters in November, though it was February 1941 before the squadron Squadron was fully equipped. Its defensive role remained after conversion to Mosquitoes in May 1943, but in May 1944 intruder missions began to be flown which and continued until February 1945. Conversion to Mosquito 30s began followed, but few operations with these were flown before the end of the war. In October 1945 the squadron Squadron moved to West Malling to become part of the peace-time night night-fighter force in the UK.

The Mosquitoes continued to serve until replaced by Meteors in August 1951 at Tangmere. In January 1957 the squadron Squadron moved north, first to Northumberland and then in July 1958 to Scotland, conversion to Javelins taking having taken place in November 1957. In February 1963, No 29 was moved to Cyprus and in December 1965 went detached to Zambia for nine months on detachment during the Rhodesian crisis. In May 1967 the squadron Squadron returned to the UK to become are-equip with Lightnings squadron, disbanding on 31 December 1974. No 29 reformed at Coningsby as a Phantom squadron on 1 January 1975. A detachment was provided for the defence of the Falklands as soon as the airfield at Stanley was capable of operating Phantoms at the end in August of 1982. This became No 23 Squadron in March 1983

The Squadron swapped its Phantoms for Tornado F3 fighters in 1987 remaining at Coningsby until disbanded in October 1998. Five years later, the squadron was reformed, this time as the Typhoon operational conversion unit (OCU) based at BAE Systems' Warton airfield. In April 1987, No 29 Squadron became the first operational squadron to be equipped with the Tornado F3, deploying to Saudi Arabia after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and flying throughout Operation DESERT STORM in the air-defence role. The Squadron was again disbanded in October 1998.

29(R) Squadron began reforming in September 2003 as the Typhoon Operational Conversion Unit, responsible for the technical and tactical training of all engineers and pilots for the Typhoon aircraft. The return to service for the Squadron began at BAE Systems’ aerodrome at Warton, where the Typhoon aircraft is being manufactured. For a period of eleven months Squadron personnel worked closely with 17(R) Squadron, the Operational Test and Evaluation Unit, to familiarise with the aircraft and to evaluate its capabilities.

In June 2005 the Squadron officially moved to its home base at RAF Coningsby and by July it was teaching new pilots for 17(R) Squadron on a formal course. Bucking the trend of recent squadron disbandments, 29(R) Squadron officially ‘stood up’ for operational service on 4 November 2005. This signified a major milestone in the introduction of the Typhoon to RAF service, as it indicated that the Squadron was now ready to begin training front-line pilots to fully equip current and future Typhoon squadrons. For 29(R) Squadron it heralded a long and healthy future, one that seems certain to last until the centenary and beyond.

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