No. 73 Squadron

Aircraft: Hurricane Mk.I
Motto: Tutor et ultor – ‘Protector and avenger’
Badge: A demi-talbot rampant, charged on the shoulder with a maple leaf. During World War Two the squadron was commanded by Major Hubbard and his aircraft carried a representation of Old Mother Hubbard’s dog looking into an empty cupboard. In order to retain its association with this unofficial badge the squadron adopted a heraldic dog and put a maple leaf on it to associate with its Canadian personnel.


  • Church Fenton – 18 June 1940
  • Castle Camps – 5 September 1940


No. 73 Squadron was formed on 1 July 1917 at Upavon as a fighter unit. Equipped with Camels, it moved to France in January 1918 to fly fighter patrols and bomber escort missions over the Western Front. In March, the German offensive resulted in the squadron undertaking large numbers of ground attack sorties and during the final Allied attack it was engaged in low-level co-operation with armoured until the end of the war. In February 1919, No. 73 returned to the UK and disbanded on 2 July 1919.

On 15 March 1937, No. 73 reformed at Mildenhall as a fighter squadron with Furies. In June, these were replaced by Gladiators which were flown until conversion to Hurricanes took place in July 1938 and the Gladiators transferred to No. 3 Squadron. On the outbreak of World War Two, it was one of the two Hurricane squadrons attached to the Advanced Air Striking Force and moved to France. After the German attack in May 1940, No. 73 helped to cover Allied airfields and bases, falling back as its airfields were overrun by enemy columns. On 18 June, the squadron retired to England where it concentrated on night fighting during the Battle of Britain. Operations ceased on 20 October to allow No. 73 to prepare for transfer to the Middle East.

A Hawker Hurricane Mk I in 73 Squadron markings

No. 74 Squadron

Aircraft: Spitfire Mk.I; Spitfire Mk.IIA
Motto: I fear no man
Badge: A tiger’s face – it was the original badge used by the squadron in World War One.


  • Hornchurch – 25 June 1940
  • Wittering – 14 August 1940
  • Kirton-in-Lindsey – 21 August 1940
  • Coltishall – 9 September 1940
  • Biggin Hill – 15 October 1940


No. 74 Squadron was formed on 1 July 1917 at Northolt and in March 1918 received SE5As before moving to France. Operations began on 12 April and fighter patrols continued until the Armistice, low-level attacks on enemy troops being carried out in the closing months as the German army retreated towards Germany. In February 1919, the squadron returned to the UK where it disbanded on 3 July 1919.

On 3 September 1935, No. 74 reformed aboard the transport ‘Neuralia’ at Southampton and sailed for Malta where, on being disembarked, it was known only as ‘Demon Flights’, the number 74 not being advised until 14 November. This was for security purposes during the Abyssinian crisis which resulted in the movement of numerous RAF squadrons to the Middle East. In July 1936, the Squadron’s Demon two-seat fighters were dismantled for shipment and No. 74 re-assembled at Hornchurch on 21 September. In April 1937 it re-equipped with Gauntlets and in February 1939, conversion to Spitfires began. During the opening months of World War Two the squadron flew defensive patrols before covering the evacuation fleet at Dunkirk in May 1940. After taking part in the first phase of the Battle of Britain, No. 74 was withdrawn in mid-August for rest, returning south in mid-October.

A Supermarine Spitfire Mk I in 74 Squadron markings

No. 79 Squadron

Aircraft: Hurricane Mk.I
Motto: Nil nobis obstare potest – ‘Nothing can stand without us’
Badge: A salamander salient. The salamander is always ready to face any danger.


  • Biggin Hill – 5 June 1940
  • Hawkinge – 2 July 1940
  • Sealand – 11 July 1940
  • Acklington – 13 July 1940
  • Biggin Hill – 27 August 1940
  • Pembrey – 8 September 1940


No. 79 Squadron was formed at Gosport on 1 august 1917 and moved to France as a fighter unit in December. Until the end of the war it carries out fighter patrols and ground attack missions with Dolphins and after the Armistice moved to Germany as part of the occupation forces, disbanding there on 15 July 1919.

On 22 March 1937, B Flight of No. 32 Squadron at Biggin Hill became No. 79 Squadron and flew Gauntlets until the arrival of Hurricanes at the end of 1938. After the outbreak of war, it flew defensive patrols and in May 1940 was sent to France for ten days when the German offensive opened. After taking part in the Battle of Britain the squadron moved to South Wales.

A Hawker Hurricane Mk I in 79 Squadron markings

No. 85 Squadron

Aircraft: Hurricane Mk.I
Motto: Noctu diuque vanamur – ‘We hunt by day and night’
Badge: On an ogress, a hexagon voided. The hexagon was No. 85’s World War One identity insignia and the ogress signifies the night.


  • Debden – 22 May 1940
  • Croydon – 19 August 1940
  • Castle Camps – 3 September 1940
  • Church Fenton – 5 September 1940
  • Kirton-in-Lindsey – 23 October 1940


No. 85 Squadron was formed at Upavon on 1 August 1917 and after a period of training moved to France in May 1918. Equipped with SE5As, it flew fighter patrols and ground attack sorties over the Western Front until the Armistice. Returning to the UK in February 1919, the squadron disbanded on 3 July 1919.

On 1 June 1938, A Flight of No. 87 Squadron was renumbered at Debden and flew Gladiators until re-equipped with Hurricanes in September 1938. On the outbreak of war, the squadron moved to France as part of the Air Component of the BEF. When the German invasion came in May 1940, it gave fighter cover to the Allied armies until its bases were overrun and four remaining aircraft retired to the UK. It re-equipped and resumed operations early in June. After taking part in the first half of the Battle of Britain over southern England, the squadron moved to Yorkshire in September and in October began night fighter patrols.

A Hawker Hurricane Mk I in 85 Squadron markings

No. 87 Squadron

Aircraft: Hurricane Mk.I
Motto: Maximus me metuit – ‘The most powerful fear me’
Badge: A serpent reversed, head reguardant and tail embowed. The letter ‘S’ was the squadron’s World War One identity marking, this became a serpent in the badge.


  • Church Fenton – 26 May 1940
  • Exeter – 5 July 1940


No. 87 Squadron was formed on 1 September 1917, from a nucleus supplied by D Squadron of the Central Flying school at Upavon. In April 1918, it moved to France with Dolphins to fly fighter and ground attack missions until the end of the war. In February 1919, it returned to the UK and disbanded on 24 June 1919.

On 15 March 1937, No 87 reformed at Tangmere with Furies and received Gladiators in June on moving to Debden. Conversion to Hurricanes began in July 1938 and these were taken to France on the outbreak of war as part of the Air Component of the BEF. When the German invasion came in May 1940, the squadron gave air cover on the Northern Front until its airfields were captured and after two weeks was evacuated to re-equip in Yorkshire. It moved to south-west England in July for day and night defensive patrols during the Battle of Britain and night fighting became its major task.

A Hawker Hurricane Mk I in 87 Squadron markings