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No. 22 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the Sea King HAR.3 and HAR.3A at four stations in the southern of the United Kingdommarker.


Formed in 1915 as a reconnaissance unit, the squadron operated in Francemarker and Germanymarker during and after the First World War. As part of the post-war reduction of the military, the squadron was disbanded in 1919.

The squadron's second incarnation was as the shadow identity of the Aeroplane Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heathmarker, Suffolk. For ten years following this formation in 1923, the squadron was involved in testing new aircraft before they were accepted for service.

The squadron reformed again in 1934 in the torpedo bomber role, flying Vickers Vildebeests and later Bristol Beauforts. In this role, the unit flew sorties over the North Seamarker from North Coates, Thorney Islandmarker, St Evalmarker and Porthreath. In April 1941, a pilot of the unit, F/O Kenneth Campbell, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for a daring attack on the Gneisenau in Brestmarker harbour.

Moving to the Mediterraneanmarker in 1942, the unit was posted in North Africa before being moved to the Far East and re-equipping with the Bristol Beaufighter. 22 Squadron continued its anti-shipping role, this time using rockets. The squadron disbanded for the third time a month after war's end.

Search and Rescue

Sea King helicopter of 22 Squadron
Reformed again in 1955, the squadron took on the Search and Rescue role it maintains today. Initially equipped with Westland Whirlwinds, these were later replaced by the Westland Wessex. Finally, in the mid-1990s, the squadron received six newly built Sea King HAR.3A to supplement the Sea King HAR.3 aircraft which replaced the Wessex aircraft.

The squadron HQ is co-located with the SAR Force HQ at RAF Valley on Anglesey, Wales. Detachments of two aircraft operate from three stations to provide search and rescue cover in their parts of the country; these are:

A and B Flights operate the Sea King Mk3A. C Flight shares a pool nominally of five Sea King Mk3 aircraft with 203 (R) Sqn, the Operational Conversion Unit.

Famous rescue

  • Boscastle flood of 2004marker - The Boscastle flood of 2004 occurred on Monday, 16 August 2004 in the villages of Boscastlemarker and Crackington Havenmarker in Cornwallmarker, Englandmarker. The villages suffered extensive damage after flash floods caused by an exceptional amount of rain that fell over the course of eight hours that afternoon. Two Sea Kings from A-Flight at RMB Chivenor, Rescue's 169 and 170, were called and help to rescue some of the 100 people that were airlifted out.

Honours and awards

In addition to the Battle Honours listed above (which are emblazoned on the Squadron Standard), the Squadron has been granted the following battle honours: Cambrai 1917, Somme 1918, Lys, Amiens, France and Low Countries 1940, Invasion Ports 1940, Biscay Ports 1940-1941.

Flying Officer Kenneth Campbell was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for executing a torpedo attack on the German ship Gneisenau in Brestmarker harbour. Despite atrocious weather having prevented the other aircraft in the mission from reaching the harbour, and with virtually no chance of pulling out of the harbour, Campbell pressed home his attack and badly damaged the ship, being shot down in the process. He and his crew were buried with full military honours by the Germans in the cemetery at Brest.

RAF Sea King units

See also




  • Barker, Ralph The Ship-Busters: The Story of the R.A.F. Torpedo-Bombers. London, UK: Chatto & Windus Ltd., 1957. ISBN 9781906502294.
  • Halley, James J. Famous Maritime Squadrons of the RAF, Volume 1. Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Hylton Lacy Publishers Ltd., 1973. ISBN 0-85064-101-2.
  • 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.
  • Harvey, William Frederick James. Pi' in the Sky: History of No.22 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps and the War of 1914-18. Colin Huston, 1971. ISBN 0-95018-680-5.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1964 (new 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 and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.

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