No. 74 Squadron RAF
|No. 74 Squadron RAF|
|Active||1 July 1917 – 3 July 1919
3 September 1935 – 31 August 1971
19 October 1984 – 1 October 1992
5 October 1992 – 22 September 2000
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Motto||I fear no man|
|Battle honours||Western Front 1918*, France and Low Countries 1940*, Dunkirk*, Battle of Britain 1940*, Fortress Europe 1940–1941 and 1944*, Home Defence 1940–1941, Mediterranean 1943*, Walcheren, Normandy 1944*, France and Germany 1944–1945*, Rhine
Honours marked with an asterisk are those emblazoned on the Squadron Standard
|Squadron Badge heraldry||A tiger's face. Developed from an unofficial emblem used during the First World War.|
|Squadron Codes||JH (Feb 1939 – Sep 1939)
ZP (Sep 1939 – Apr 1942)
4D (Apr 1944 – Apr 1951)
First World War
The squadron was first formed at London Colney on 1 July 1917. No. 74 Squadron was a training unit flying Avro 504Ks.
Its first operational fighters were S.E.5as in March 1918. The squadron served in France from April until February 1919, when it returned to Britain where it was disbanded on 3 July 1919.
During its wartime service, it was credited with 140 enemy planes destroyed and 85 driven down out of control, for 225 victories. Seventeen aces had served in the squadron, including Victoria Cross winner Major Edward Mannock, Ira "Taffy" Jones, Benjamin Roxburgh-Smith, future Air Commodore Keith Caldwell, Andrew Kiddie, Frederick Stanley Gordon, Sydney Carlin, Frederick Hunt, Clive Glynn, George Hicks, Wilfred Ernest Young, Henry Dolan, Harris Clements, George Gauld, and Frederick Luff.
During the Abyssian crisis of 1935 the squadron was reformed in September to operate out of Malta with Hawker Demon two-seater fighters. In July the following year, the Squadron, with its Demons, was shipped back to England. It re-equipped with Gloster Gauntlets in April 1937 at RAF Hornchurch, and formed part of the newly created Fighter Command. The Gauntlets were exchanged for the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I in Feb 1939.
World War II
On 6 September 1939, after an early morning air raid alert, a flight of No. 56 Squadron Hawker Hurricanes took off from North Weald. These were followed by two reserve Hurricanes. The two reserves were identified as enemy aircraft and Spitfires from Hornchurch, among them 74 Squadron, were ordered to attack them. Both were shot down. One pilot, P/O Montague Hulton-Harrop was killed; the other pilot, Frank Rose, survived. The pilot who fired the fatal shots was 74 Squadron's John Freeborn. The exact story of what happened in this incident, which came to be known as the "Battle of Barking Creek", may never be known. Even the origin of the name is obscure, as it did not take place above Barking Creek but near Ipswich, in Suffolk. This was the first RAF operational death of the war. At the subsequent courts martial, it was accepted that the entire incident was an unfortunate error.
The Squadron, as part of No 12 Group RAF, first saw combat during the evacuation from Dunkirk, in battles which exacted a heavy toll on both pilots and aircraft. Thereafter No.74 served successfully through the Battle of Britain. Mark I Spitfires were replaced with the Mark IIa in September 1940 at RAF Coltishall. The squadron moved back south to RAF Biggin Hill in October for the end of the Battle. The Squadron went to the north of England in July 1941 to regroup, from there moving around to stations in Wales and Northern Ireland until in April 1942 it was sent, without aircraft, to the Middle East, arriving in Egypt in June. The squadron was then moved to Palestine to operate as a maintenance unit for USAAF B-24 Liberators. It received Hurricane IIBs in December 1942 and served in Iran until May 1943, moving back to Egypt for shipping patrols and conversion to the Spitfire Mk.Vb and Mk.Vc in September 1943. In late October 1943 the squadron got Mk.IX Spitfires, which were swapped for Mk. XVIs in March. No 74 returned home just in time to take part in the D-Day landings in June 1944, using its aircraft as fighter-bombers supporting the Allied liberation of France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Scarcely three days later the Squadron was sent back to England to equip with jets – initially the Gloster Meteor Mk.III, later (from late 1947) the F.4. Based at RAF Horsham St Faith, the squadron kept Meteors until 1957, latterly equipped with the improved Meteor F.8, when they were issued with a more modern fighter type, the Hawker Hunter.
In June 1959 the squadron, under the command of Squadron Leader John "Johnny" Howe, moved to RAF Coltishall for re-equipment with the English Electric Lightning F.1 in mid-1960. In 1964 they moved to RAF Leuchars to get F.Mk.3 then F.Mk.6 Lightnings in 1966. The Squadron moved to RAF Tengah in Singapore, where it operated alongside 20 Squadron which flew Hunters, and 81 Squadron which flew Canberra PR-9s. The Squadron flew its EE Lightning F6s to RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus to hand them over to 56 Squadron and disbandment on 31 August 1971.
The squadron was reformed at RAF Wattisham in October 1984, with ex-US Navy/Marine F-4Js (designated as the F-4J(UK) in RAF service) that were purchased by the RAF as a stop gap measure to replace those of 23 Sqn that had been sent to the Falklands after the war. 74 Sqn gave up their F-4J Phantoms and received surplus Phantom FGR.2s in January 1991, disbanding in October 1992 when RAF Wattisham began its transition to the Army Air Corps. On 5 October 1992, 74 (R) Squadron stood up with the British Aerospace Hawk as part of 4 FTS at RAF Valley in the weapon instruction role. At the 1993 Tiger Meet, 74 Sqn won the coveted 'Silver Tiger' trophy while competing against Mirages and F-16's; as Flt Lt Will Jonas said, "Not bad for a training unit eh?!"
With the rationalisation of 4 FTS to just two squadrons, 74(R) Sqn was disbanded on 22 September 2000.
In 2008, No.74 would have celebrated its 90th anniversary; however, No. 74 (F) Squadron still lives on through the 74 (F) Tiger Squadron Association, which brings together former Tigers from all generations for a yearly reunion dinner. Pending raising the necessary funds, plans are in place to create a museum dedicated to the Squadron's history at their former base of Horsham St Faith, now Norwich Airport.
Famous pilots associated with the squadron:
- Keith Caldwell
- John Freeborn - 12 kills, 1 probable, 5 damaged, was with his squadron longer than any other Battle of Britain pilot and had flown more operational hours.
- A.G. "Sailor" Malan - 32 victories
- Edward Mannock - 61 victories of which 35 were made with 74 Sqn.
- John Mungo-Park 
74 Squadron aircraft
- July 1917 to Mar 1918 – Avro 504K
- Mar 1918 to Feb 1919 – SE5a
- Sept 1935 to Apr 1937 – Hawker Demon
- Mar 1937 – Gloster Gladiator I
- Mar 1937 to Feb 1939 – Gloster Gauntlet II
- 1939 – Hawker Hurricane I
- 1938 to 1940 – Miles Magister 14A
- Feb 1939 – Supermarine Spitfire 1 & Ia
- June 1940 to Dec 1941 – Supermarine Spitfire IIa & IIb
- May 1941 to March 1942 – Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Vb
- Dec 1942 to Sept 1943 – Hawker Hurricane I, IIb, IIc
- Sept 1943 to Apr 1944 – Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Vb
- Sept 1943 to Apr 1944 – Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Vc
- Oct 1943 to Apr 1944 – Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire IX
- Apr 1944 to Mar 1945 – Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire LFIXe
- Mar 1945 to May 1945 – Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire LF16e
- May 1945 to Mar 1948 – Gloster Meteor F.3
- Dec 1947 to Oct 1950 – Gloster Meteor F.4
- 1950 to 1957 – Gloster Meteor T.7
- Oct 1950 to Feb 1957 – Gloster Meteor F.8
- Mar 1957 to Jan 1958 – Hawker Hunter F.4
- Nov 1957 to 1960 – Hawker Hunter F.6
- 1959 to 1960 – Hawker Hunter T.7
- June 1960 to April 1964 – English Electric Lightning F.1 & F.1a
- Apr 1964 to Sept 1967 – English Electric Lightning F.3
- 1961 to 1967 – English Electric Lightning T.4
- Jun 1967 to Aug 1971 – English Electric Lightning T.5
- Jun 1967 to Aug 1971 – English Electric Lightning F.6
- Aug 1984 to Jan 1991 – McDonnell Douglas Phantom F-4J(UK)
- Jan 1991 to Oct 1992 – McDonnell Douglas Phantom FGR.2
- Oct 1992 to Sept 2000 – British Aerospace Hawk T.1/T.1A
- Halley 1988, p. 142.
- http://www.theaerodrome.com/services/gbritain/rfc/74.php Retrieved 18 February 2010.
- The Most Dangerous Enemy: A history of the Battle of Britain, Stephen Bungay, Aurum Press 2001. p. 67
- Halley 1988, p. 143.
- John Colin Mungo Park at www.74squadron.org.uk Retrieved June 2011
- Cossey, Bob. Tigers: The Story of 74 Squadron, RAF. London: Arms & Armour Press, 1992. ISBN 1-85409-143-3.
- 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, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 1998 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
- Jones, Wing Commander Ira "Taffy". Tiger Squadron: The Story of 74 Squadron R.A.F., in Two World Wars. London: W.H. Allen, 1954 (republished by Award books in 1966, White Lion Publishers Ltd. in 1972 and by Time Life Education in 1994).
- Oughton, Frederick and Vernon Smyth. Ace With One Eye. The Life and Combats of Major Edward Mannock VC, DSO (2 bars), MC (1 bar), Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force. London: Frederick Muller Ltd., 1963.
- Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
- Tidy, Douglas. I Fear No Man: The History of No.74 Squadron Royal Air Force. London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1972, & revised edition 1998.
- Tidy, Douglas. I Fear No Man: The History of No.74 Squadron Royal Air Force 1917–1997. J&KHP Publishers., 1998. ISBN 1-900511-03-7
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to No. 74 Squadron RAF.|
- 74 (F) Squadron Association
- No. 74 Squadron Home Page
- Aircraft and markings of No. 74 Squadron
- Bases of No. 74 Squadron
- Official history of No. 74 Squadron
- Article about the Battle of Barking Creek from North Weald Airfield History
- H.M Stephen talks of 74 Squadron air operations (1940 audio recording)