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V Squadron - disbanded!IV(AC) Squadron - 90 years youngContrasting fortunes...

...It was a day of such for two of the RAF's senior squadrons.At Cottesmore on 28 September IV(AC) Squadron celebrated 90 years of service, while some forty-five miles to the north in Lincoln 5 Squadron was laying-up its standard at the Cathedral, having officially disbanded the day before. Gary Parsons reports.

IV(AC) Squadron's day
GR7 formation
IV(AC) Squadron's anniversary jet
Delta Jets Hunter T7
It was a glorious Indian summer's day, perfect for two hours celebratory flying and time to meet with old comrades and friends. The squadron had attempted to line up many of the types it had flown in the past, but in the end had to settle for a mix to simply entertain and enjoy. It was hoped to attract Golden Apple's F-86 Sabre, a type that the squadron used post-war, but unserviceability saw a substitute in the form of the OFMC's L-39, more representative of the cold-war enemy in its red-star colour scheme! Three Spitfires were on hand, a type with which the squadron saw extensive use during the war - two from the BBMF, providing their unique duo display, and Rolls-Royce's PS853 which, after displaying nicely made an impromptu formation with two of the Yakolevs Team's Yak-50s.
Tornado GR4
Maurice Hammond's P-51D 'Janie'
With Delta Jets' Hunter WV318 (Andy Cubin once more) joining RAF displays from Rich Hillard in the Hawk and Colin McGregor's Tornado GR4, the finale to the flying was a four-ship routine of Harrier GR7s, led by the squadron flag-ship ZD470. A final photo of the standard being paraded in front of colleagues and families sealed the day - let's hope that IV(AC) Squadron will be able to do the same on its centenary!

For a brief squadron history click here.

Spifire & Yak formation
Final photo
Brucie's last fling
Brucie with Colin and Andi
Brucie Bear made his last appearance at Cottesmore - after a year of badgering pilots for back-seat rides, he made his last journey back to Lossiemouth with Colin McGregor and Andi McColl where he will be auctioned off for charity. His former 'minder', Bob Franklin, had a definite tear in his eye as he said farewell. Check out XV Squadron's auction site here.


5 fizzles out

Charlie-Victor lives on
Charlie-Victor's new home - the 56(R) Squadron flightline

5 Squadron's Maple leaf will fly on for a little while longer, as flagship ZH555/V (formerly CV) has been transferred to 56(R) Squadron and will not be repainted until major service. She still sports her '1913 - 2002' logo on the tail, which sadly is more of a statement than a celebration. There is a chance that 5 Squadron will be the first fully operational Typhoon fighter squadron, continuing the strong bond that it has with the county of Lincolnshire. This has yet to be decided by the committee that decides on squadron allocation, but it would be a strange air force without one of its most senior squadrons on the books. One hopes that the standard won't remain in Lincoln Cathedral for too long.

For a brief squadron history click here.

Charlie Victor

Part of the draw-down of the Coningsby fleet, in preparation for the introduction of Typhoon in a couple of years, it was a low-key departure for one of the longest-serving Lincolnshire squadrons. Lincoln Cathedral was chosen as the resting place for the standard in recognition of the squadron's residence in the county over the last forty years or so. In the end it was a squadron of few aircraft and personnel, as the disbandment wheels were put into motion some months before 27 September as planes and pilots were gradually dispersed to the remaining four front-line fighter units at Leuchars and Leeming, leaving just a handful to perform a small flypast on the final day.

4 to the fore

IV(AC) Squadron is the fourth (naturally, really) unit to celebrate its ninetieth birthday this year. The squadron claims that official records classify it as third in seniority in the air force, a couple of years ahead of co-located 3(F) Squadron - who, of course, claims otherwise! Whatever the friendly banter, there is no doubt that each is a fundamental part of the history and tradition of the RAF.

At Cottesmore the atmosphere was one of cautious optimism, as although IV(AC) Squadron lives to fight another day, the imminent pooling of RAF and Fleet Air Arm assets will result in at least one RAF and one naval squadron disappearing once the Sea Harrier is finally retired. Nothing has yet been officially said on the future components of Joint Force Harrier, but it is likely to comprise of two RAF and two FAA front-line squadrons with a joint OCU based at Wittering. One hopes that the traditions and history of all the current squadrons can be represented in some way within the new structure - they all have a just claim to be a part of the 21st century strike force.

Acknowledgements: The author would like to thank the CCOs of Cottesmore and Coningsby, Flt Lt Tracey Broome and Mrs Caroline Hogg respectively, for their assistance.


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