6 Squadron - 90 years young
Gary Parsons looks back at 6 Squadron's recent celebrations
6 Squadron has the longest history of any air force squadron in the world - a not insubstantial boast. Formed on 30 January 1914 from elements of 3 Squadron, it is unique in that it has never been formally disbanded. As well as the longest period of continuous service, it also had the first ever Victoria Cross for aerial combat, awarded to Captain Lanoe George Hawker on 25 July 1915 after he single-handedly attacked three German aircraft in his FE2.
Its complete history can be read elsewhere, but as it has never been disbanded it is regarded as the most senior squadron in the RAF, above that of older units such as No. 1 and 3(F) Squadrons. Such seniority should see it as one of the first Typhoon units in late 2006, although this may mean a change in task with the first squadrons being very much focussed on Air Defence, before 'swing-role' can later be adopted as fully capable. Whether the transition to Typhoon will enable its unbroken service to continue is something only the beancounters in the Treasury can decide, as with so much else in modern-day life.
To celebrate its 90th anniversary, 6 Squadron had the task of arranging the station's 2004 Families' Day, so opted for a May date to provide good weather and not be too long after the actual birthday date of 30 January. The weekend of 15/16 May was chosen, and invites sent to other units for both static and flying participation. Highlight was to be Typhoon on static, but at the eleventh hour 17(R) Squadron decided it was needed back at Warton so attendance was restricted to three flypasts with 6 Squadron Jaguars on Friday 14th. The following day was a pleasant day weatherwise, the flying including displays from the Tornado GR4, Tornado F3, Hawk, Tutor, and of course, 16(R) Squadron Jaguar solo. 6 Squadron performed a diamond-nine flypast followed by an airfield 'attack' in pairs.