No. 663 Squadron RAF

No. 663 (AOP) Squadron was an Air Observation Post (AOP) unit of the Royal Air Force (RAF) which was officially formed at San Basilio Italy on 14 August 1944. It primary role was to observe enemy ground targets and to help direct artillery fire on them. All personnel were initially drawn from Polish Artillery units. Auster AOP IV and V 'spotter' aircraft were used in close support operations.

Wartime History and Operations

Volunteer Polish Army officers were sent by ship to South Africa in June 1944 for initial training as pilots and then for operational training in the very low-level AOP role. The fifteen successful officers reached Italy on 28 October and after further advanced training, the squadron was declared operational on 30 January 1945 with its HQ at Villa Carpena with three flights, two detached elsewhere as needed to support 2 Polish Corps artillery units on the progressing 'front line'. After meritorious service with some pilots being killed, the unit left for the UK on 10 October 1946 and was formally disbanded on 29 October.

Post-war History

No. 663 Squadron was reformed on 1 July 1949 as an AOP unit of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force equipped with Auster AOP.5s and Auster AOP.6s. The squadron HQ was at RAF Hooton Park Wirral Cheshire with dispersed flights at RAF Ringway, RAF Llandow and Wolverhampton (Pendeford) - the latter flight moving on to Castle Bromwich. For the next eight years, No. 663 flew very low-level 'spotting' sorties in co-operation with Territorial Army artillery units, often based for the weekend in a friendly farmers field - for example near Tarporley Cheshire.

The squadron disbanded on 10 March 1957, together with all Royal Auxiliary Air Force flying units.

Aircraft operated

Dates Aircraft Variant Notes
Auster IV
Single-engined Army liaison monoplane
Auster AOP AOP5
Single-engined Army liaison monoplane
1955-1957 DHC-1 Chipmunk T10 Single-engined training monoplane

See also

No. 663 Squadron Army Air Corps: 3 Regiment - 663 Squadron Army Air Corps


  • The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force 1918-1988, J.J.Halley, Air-Britain, 1988, Tonbridge ISBN 0-85130-164-9
  • Manchester Airport, R.A.Scholefield, Sutton Publishing, 1998, ISBN 0-7509-1954-X
  • Jefford, C.G. (1988). RAF Squadrons. Airlife Publishing Ltd.
  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985). Orbis Publishing.

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