Mainland Operations

RAF Search and Rescue

This article is an attempt to chronicle the shore-based SAR flights of the RAF since the end of World War II. Any additions or contributions would be appreciated, please mail me at James Paul

22 Squadron

Motto: Preux et audicieux (Valiant and Brave)
Reforming in February 1955, the squadron was initially equipped with Sycamore HC12's until January 1956, reequipped with Whirlwinds from June 1955 for Search and Rescue Duties, these flew from Thorney Island (A flt), Martlesham Heath and Felixstowe (B flight) and Valley (C Flight).
The squadron moved from Thorney Island to St mawgan in June 1956, the E Flight of 275 squadron reinforcing a Flight joining the squadron at this time. A Flight were based out of St Mawgan and Chivenor, B flight flying from Felixtowe, Tangmere, Thorney Island and Coltishall, C flight flying from Valley and D Flight flying from Thorney Island, Manston and Brawdy.
The HAR2s were retired in August 1962 and replaced by Whirlwind HAR10s and in April 1974 the squadron moved back to Thorny Island. A flight taking up reesidence at Chivenor, B flight at Coltishall, C flight remained at Valley and D flightmoved to Brawdy.
Moving again in January 1976, this time to Finningley. A flight to Chivenor, B Flight to Coltishall(and transferrng to 202 sqn) and Leuchars (ex 202 squadrons C flight), C flight remained at Valley, D flight at Brawdy (Becoming B flight 202 sqn) and Leconfield (ex BVflt 202 squadron, beocming E flt 202 squadron later). E flight was based at Manston (becoming C flt 202 squadron) and Coltishall (from C flt 202), F flight was based at Coltishall.
Wessex HC/HAR2's arrived in June 1976, the squadron was on the move again in December 1992 moving back to St Mawgan. A flight was based at Chivenor, B flight at Leuchars and Wattisham, F flight at Valley and E flight at Coltishall.
Upgraded to Sea King HAR3's in July 1994, and then to HAR3A's in May 1997. The squadron moved again in September to Chivenor, A flight being based there, with B flight at Wattisham and C flight at Valley.


Reformed on 17th January 1972 from 1563 Flight and a detachment of 230 Squadron at RAF Akrotiti, equipping with Whirlwind HAR10's. The Whirlwinds were replaced by Wessex HC2's in 1982, HU5C's joining then in June 1984, while the HC2s left the squadron in April 1985, returning in November 1994 as the HU5C's left service. In January 2003, the venerable Wessex finally left service and was replaced by Bell Griffin HAR2's leased from and maintained by a civilian company.


Reformed in August 1959, equipped with Sycamore HR15's from 284 Squadron at RAF Nicosia, the squadron provided air mobility and air-sea rescue to the security forces with a detachment at El Adem until it was disbanded on 31st July 1963. Splitting into 1563 and 1564 flights, 1563 flight remained at Nicosia and 1564 moved to El Adem and disbanded in March 1970.


Reformed on 1st September 1964 from 228 squadron, 202 was based at Leconfield and equipped with Whirlwind HAR10's. A flight was based at Acklington and Boumer, with B flight at Leconfield. C fligth was initially based at Leuchars and was transferred to B flight 22 squadron, B fight 22 squadron becoming C flight 202 at Coltishall. D flight was based at Coltishall and Lossiemouth, (previously E flight). E flight was initially based at Lossiemouth before becoming part of D flight.
The squadron moved to Finningley in September 1976, with A flight based at Boulmer, B flight at Leconfield (becoming D flight 22 Sqn) and Brawdy (ex D flt 22 Sqn), C flight was despatched from Coltishall to the falklands islands in 1982 after the falklands war to provide SAR cover there, later renumbered as No.1564 fight and became an independent unit. Another detachment at Coltishall became E flt 22 sqn and the squadron inherited inheriting E flight of 22 sqn at Manton as the new C flight. D flight was based at Lossiemouth and E flight at Leconfield.
Sea King HAR3's began replaced the Whirlwind's in July 1978, reinforced by Wessex's in November 1982. The Wessex's were withdrawn in August 1983.
In December 1992, the squadron moved to Boulmer, A flight being stationed at Boulmer, with B flight at Brawdy, C flight at Manston, D flight at Lossiemouth and E flight based at Leconfield.
B flights moved to Chivenor in July 1994 and C flight moved to Wattisham where it became A and B flights of 22 Squadron.
This left 202 with HQ and A fight at Boulmer, D flight at Lossiemouuth and E flight at Leconfield.


205 Squadron kept an Avro Shackleton air-sea rescue aircraft at Gan on standby, while based at Changi until the squadorn disbanded at the end of October 1971. Note: If anyone can clarify the period the ASR aircarft was based at RAF Gan I would be grateful.


Motto: Auxilium a caelo (Help from the sky) 228 squadron was formed on 1st September 1959 at Leconfield when 275 squadron was renumbered and flew Sycamores on air-sea rescue duties, until they passed the aircraft to 118 squadron and were re-equipped with Whirlwinds. 228 was renumbered 202 Squadron on 1st September 1964.


Reformed in October 1956 at RAF Nicosia with Sycamore HR14s, it was disbanded on 1st Augsut 1959 when it renumbered as 103 Squadron.

1563 (Helicopter) Flight

Reformed on 17th January 1971 from part of 103 Squadron, the flight was later amalgamated with a detachment from 230 squadron to form 84 squadron on 17th January 1972.

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