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No. 23 Squadron was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. Until October 2009, it operated the Boeing Sentry AEW1 Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) aircraft from RAF Waddingtonmarker, Lincolnshiremarker.


No. 23 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps was formed at Fort Grange, Gosportmarker on 1 September 1915. The squadron moved to France in 1916 flying FE2b. The squadron used the FE2b on escort duties but later in 1917 converted to Spad S.VII and Spad S.XIII single-seaters. The squadron converted to Sopwith Dolphins in 1918 until it disbanded just after the war on 31 December 1919.

The squadron was re-formed on 1 July 1925 at RAF Henlowmarker with the Sopwith Snipe, then used other biplane fighters. In 1938 it became a night-fighter squadron using the Bristol Blenheim. These were replaced by the Douglas Havoc and then the de Havilland Mosquito. Between 1942 and 1944 the squadron moved to Maltamarker. It returned to England and was disbanded in September 1945.

The squadron was reformed on 1 September 1946 as a night fighter squadron operating the de Havilland Mosquito. It received jet aircraft in the form of de Havilland Vampire NF 10s in 1953, replacing them with Venoms in June 1954.

In 1957 the squadron converted to the Gloster Javelin all-weather fighter, beginning a long period operating in the air defence role. The squadron has a strong heritage in the air defence role, operating Gloster Javelins, Lightning, Phantom and Tornado F3. The squadron first acquired Phantoms on 1 November 1975 at RAF Coningsbymarker before moving to RAF Wattishammarker for just under 10 years. Then in October 1983 the squadron deployed to Stanleymarker airfield, Falkland Islandsmarker after their recapture from Argentinamarker, arriving there on 1 November. They remained here until 31 October 1988 when its duty was assumed by 1435 Flt. The squadron then reformed on 1 November 1988 at RAF Leemingmarker with the Panavia Tornado which it operated until 26 February 1994, when the unit was disbanded.

The squadron assumed the AEW role upon reformation in April 1996, sharing the RAF's Sentry AEW1 with No. 8 Squadron.The squadron disbanded on 2 October 2009, amalgamating with No 8 Squadron.

Notable squadron members

Douglas Bader was a member of 23 Squadron when he crashed carrying out low level aerobatics, losing his legs in the process. He went on to become one of the highest scoring aces of the RAF in World War II.

Aircraft Operated

See also



  • Halley, James J. Famous Fighter Squadrons of the RAF: Volume 1. Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Hylton Lacey Publishers Ltd., 1971. ISBN 0-85064- 100-4.
  • 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. Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Lewis, Peter. Squadron Histories: R.F.C, R.N.A.S and R.A.F., 1912-59. London: Putnam, 1959.
  • Rawlings, John. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1969 (second edition 1976). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.

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