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No. 22 Squadron RAF

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


Initially formed in 1915 as a reconnaissance unit, the squadron operated in France and Germany during and after the First World War. As part of the post-war draw-down, the squadron was disbanded in 1919.

The squadron's second incarnation was as the shadow identity of the Aeroplane Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath, 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 Sea from North Coates, Thorney Island, St Eval and Porthreath. In April 1941 a pilot of the unit, F/O Kenneth Campbell, was to be posthumously awarded the VC for a daring attack on the Gneisenau in Brest Harbour.

Moving to the Mediterranean in 1942, the unit was temporarily 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

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 as of 2007 located as RMB Chivenor in Devon. Detachments of two aircraft operate from three other stations to provide search and rescue cover in their respective parts of the country; these are:

Honours and Awards

In addition to the Battle Honours listed above (which are emblazoned on the Squadron Standard), the Sqn 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 Brest 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

External links

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