No XV Squadron

Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S2B

Hawker Hunter T7

(Nicht alle diese Flugzeuge waren gleichzeitig bei der XV Squadron.

So hatte die Staffel z.B. im Januar 1981 nach den Daten in den F540 nur 6 Buccaneer, von denen eine noch für eine kurze Zeit nach RAF Honington ausgeliehen wurde.

Dafür gehörten in diesem Monat 3 Hawker Hunter zur Staffel, von denen eine (XL600) wegen einer Inspektion längere Zeit ausfiel.

Flugzeuge wurden häufig zwischen den Staffeln ausgetauscht.)

No XV Squadron at RAF Laarbruch – Buccaneer S2B

11 January 1971 – January 1975 (10.12.1991)

By then the squadron had three aircraft, and Royal Air Force Germany (RAFG) approved the squadron marking that was to appear on the aircraft. This was a white "XV" on the tailplane, above and to the rear of the fin flash: it was also painted on the fin of the Hunter. Once proficient in 2-inch RP, the squadron then began to carry out laydown (level) bombing, as well as continuing with overland radar navigation training. On 3 December Honington held a guest night, to say goodbye to XV Squadron before their departure early the following month.

On January 11th, 1971, the squadron completed its move to Laarbruch, West Germany, and this was marked by a flypast of two Buccaneers and the Hunter, led by the CO. The crews were met on their arrival by the Station Commander, Group Captain J G G Beddoes. By then it had five Buccaneers in addition to the Hunter. Having settled into its new accommodation, the squadron used the remainder of the month for theatre familiarisation sorties and introduction to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) low-level flying system. In February, the squadron continued its attack (conventional) training with dive-bombing at Nordhorn range, and low-level

navigation sorties, and by March It was also carrying out 2-inch RP training.

On March 25th, 1971, the CO and his navigator. Flight Lieutenant PA Kelly, were tragically killed in a flying accident shortly after take-off. A memorial service was held for Wing Commander Collins and Flight Lieutenant Kelly at St Peter's Church. RAF Laarbruch, on March 31st.

Wing Commander R Watson took command of the squadron on April 6th, having previously been OC Operations Wing at Honington. During April, the squadron continued to work up in the attack role, and also started simulated attack profiles (SAPs) carrying out simulated strikes on targets in the FRG using laydown and dive attack profiles. During the last week of May, Buccaneer XW 527 was flown to the Paris Air Show, to appear in the static display that week. June 12th saw the squadron participate In a flypast over RNethAF Deelen as part of the celebrations for

the birthday of Prince Bernhardt of the Netherlands. On July 2nd, the CO led two aircraft on the squadron's first "Southern Rangers", since it started to operate the Buccaneer, flying to Akrotiri via Luqa.

In September 1971, the squadron started to work up to be operational in both the attack and strike roles within NATO. That month also saw it start firing SNFB (68 mm) rockets instead of the 2-inch RP and also carrying out first run attacks (FRAs), and operational attacks in both dive and level weapons modes. The squadron's first crews to be converted by No 237 OCU. based at Honinqton, joined the squadron during September. Before this, all crews had been converted by the Royal Navy at Lossiemouth.

The squadron was detached to Decimomannu, Sardinia, on November 2nd, for three weeks, for an Armament Practice Camp (APC). This was held to enable the squadron to achieve the NATO standards for weaponry before being operationally assigned to NATO in the attack role. Laydown, dive-bombing and SNEB were practised, and five aircraft were taken, using the Italian Air Force range at Cape Frasca. On December 1st, the squadron was assigned operationally to NATO in the attack role. During February 1972, XV dropped its first 1.000 lb bombs from the Buccaneer, using Vliehors range, Holland, where the bombs were dropped in the laydown mode.

On February 7th, Wing Commander and Mrs Kelly, the parents of Flight Lieutenant Paul Kelly, who was killed in the flying accident on March 25th, 1971, visited the squadron, and presented it with a silver model of the Buccaneer.

During May, Laarbruch was visited by two VIPs, and they also visited the squadron. On May 9th the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Denis Spotswood GCB, CBE, DSO, DFC, was the guest, and on May 25th, the guest was His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. By the end of that month, the squadron reached its full complement of aircrew, and was operating 10 Buccaneers.

In June, the squadron started working up for the annual weaponry competition, the "Salmond Trophy", in which all the RAF strike/attack squadrons in the 2ATAF were to take part. On July 3rd, the squadron was detached to Decimomannu for 11 days, with six aircraft and 10 crews, for another APC. Whilst there, 1.000 lb inert bombs were dropped in a newly devised shallow dive (5°) attack. This was a new mode of attack which the squadron had first started to practise four months earlier.

"Southern Rangers" were resumed on August 4th, when two crews flew to Akrotiri via Luqa. These were the first flown by XV Squadron since Malta had been reopened to British military aircraft. On August 12th, the squadron's last aircraft arrived, and it was finally at full strength. On the 21st, the squadron participated in the "Salmond Trophy" against the RAF Phantom squadrons from Brüggen. This competition lasted for three days, and by the end of the second day, XV was leading. Unfortunately, it was just beaten into second place on the final day.

Lord Carrington. the British Defence Minister, visited the squadron on September 25th with the West German Defence Minister, Herr Leber. They were accompanied bv the C-in-C RAF Germany, Air Marshal Sir Harold Martin KCB, CBE, DSO, DFC, AFC. Decimomannu was visited again by the squadron during 1972. This time it

spent three weeks there, departing on October 5th, and took nine aircraft. Once again, 1,000 lb inert bombs were dropped during the APC on Frasca range, and practice weapons were released in dive bombing, shallow dive and SNFB modes of attack. On December 31st, the squadron was fully assigned to NATO in the strike and attack roles.

During the winter of 1972/1973, the low visibility camouflage markings were painted on all the aircraft. This entailed removing the white markings in the roundels and fin flashes, and the white "XV" being painted red. Up until January 1973, the Hunter T7A had belonged to XV Squadron. However, durinq that month, the responsibility for that aircraft was handed over to the Station Flight, and as a result the "XV" was removed from its fin, as this aircraft, along with a second Hunter, was to be used by the two Buccaneer squadrons now operating from Laar-

bruch. January 1973 saw the squadron commence radar navigation training in earnest, to enable it to operate in all weather conditions. One occurrence that month was very significant, the receipt by the squadron of its first aircraft fitted with the bomb-door tank. This modification improved the range considerably, and during the following months it was to be installed in all aircraft during their major servicing by the contractors. On January 30th, the CINCENT, General J Bennecke and C-in-C RAF Germany visited the squadron.

The CO led a formation of four aircraft from the squadrons at Laarbruch, Nos 2 (Phantom), XV and 16 (Buccaneer), in a farewell flypast for the retiring C-in-C RAF Germany, Air Marshal Sir Harold Martin on March 22nd. The next month, on April 9th, he handed over command to Wing Commander M G Simmons. Later that month, on the 27th, the new C-in-C RAF Germany, Air Marshal Sir Nigel Maynard KCB, CBE, DPC, AFC visited the squadron for the first time. Meanwhile, the squadron continued to work up for "blind" flying and weaponry, as well as carrying out its normal strike/attack training.

On June 8th, the squadron took part in a flypast at Headouarters AFCENT in Brunssum, on the occasion of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's birthday. The Queen's Birthday Honours included a well-earned BEM for Flight Sergeant J McClure, the senior armament specialist on the squadron. XV Squadron was detached to Deci-

momannu for its annual APC on August 16th for one month, but owing to commitments at Laarbruch, only half the squadron went initially, with a change of crews at the end of August. The Squadron finally returned to Laarbruch on September 13th. During the APC, an improved method of shallow dive bombing was introduced,

with excellent results. Other training consisted of various dive bombing profiles and rocketry. Later that month, on the 10th, the Air Secretary, Air Chief Marshal Sir John Barraclough KCB, CBE, DFC AFC visited the squadron, and during that visit was given a demonstration flight in Buccaneer, XW 534, piloted by Flight Lieutenant H H Moses.

During a night flying sortie on December 13th, one of the Squadron's aircraft was struck by lightning, which temporarily blinded the pilot. For his subsequent actions the navigator, Flight Lieutenant C C Tavner was awarded, on March 26th, 1974, the Queens Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air. On 1st January 1974 Squadron Leader H B Williamson, a former Flight Commander on the squadron, was awarded the AFC for his work on XV. He had joined the squadron when it reformed with Buccaneers, and left in June 1973 to join the staff of No 237 OCU at Honington.

On May 3rd, the squadron was host to the Weeze Bürgermeister (Mayor), Herr Pannen and members of the Weeze Gemeinde (Parish), and the guests were shown around the squadron, meeting members, and inspected one of XV's Buccaneers. This was followed by lunch in the Officers' Mess, and later that evening, the squadron attended, as guests, a concert of brass band music at the Weeze Rathaus. It was at this function that a short ceremony took place, including an exchange of gifts, to mark the establishment of XV's friendly association with Gemeinde Weeze.

On the last day of May 1974, Meneer Gerrit J Zwanenburg gave a very interesting presentation to the three operational flying squadrons at Laarbruch, on the salvage and recovery of aircraft in Holland. He is head of the Identification and Salvage team, based at RNethAF Soesterberg, with responsibility for removing the remains

of aircraft from land being reclaimed in Holland. At the end of his lecture, he presented Wing Commander Simmons with some pieces of Stirling BI BF 353, LS-E, which was shot down on the night of September 17th, 1942, whilst taking part in a raid on Essen. The aircraft was salvaged in 1967, and parts of it are now in the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon. The pieces presented to the squadron are now mounted in a case in the squadron.

On June 11th, the squadron was detached to Sardinia again for the annual APC at Decimomannu. Once again, half of the squadron went initially, exchanging after two weeks with the crews at Laarbruch, the squadron finally returning to Laarbruch on July 5th. Toss bombing was practised, along with shallow dive bombing. During the first week of July, three crews and aircraft were detached to Akrotiri to take part in the CENTO Fire Power Demonstration, when live weapons were dropped m various modes of attack.

Two ex-members of the squadron featured in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, Squadron Leader M P Bowker and Flight Lieutenant H H Moses were both awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air in recognition of their contribution to the work up of the squadron. Shortly afterwards, it was announced that Squadron Leader Bowker had been awarded the Arthur Barratt Memorial Prize for 1973, for his outstanding enterprise and initiative in developing the techniques of radar navigation within the RAF Germany Buccaneer force. The award recognized as his most outstanding achievement "his adaption of the Buccaneer radar equipment to provide a blind navigation and weapon delivery capability for the Buccaneer overland."

On July 13th, RAF Laarbruch took part in a parade, at which the Freedom of Weeze was bestowed upon the station. This was a unique occasion as it was the first time that a town in Germany had chosen to bestow such a distinct honour on the RAF. During the parade, a flypast by aircraft of the three Laarbruch squadrons took place.

During October approval was given for the more distinctive white "XVs" to be put back on the squadron's aircraft fins, and by the end of November, this was achieved on all the aircraft.

During 1975, many of the RAF squadrons based in Germany celebrate their 60th anniversaries. To mark these celebrations, a flypast over the headquarters of RAF Germany and 2ATAF at Rheindahlen took place on January 24th, 1975. The COs of XV and 16 Squadrons (Buccaneers), 17 and 31 Squadrons (Phantoms), 19 Squadron (Lightning) and 20 Squadron (Harrier), all took part in the formation flypast, and were led by the CO of 14 Squadron (Phantom).

Excerpt from “The History of No 15 / XV Squadron” by Flt Lt N J Roberson, Palka Verlag 1975 [Übersetzung erfolgt]

The Buccaneer Era (taken from:

In January 1971, the Squadron officially became part of Royal Air Force Germany (RAFG), when it relocated to Laarbruch, West Germany. Before its departure to Europe approval was given for each Squadron aircraft to be adorned, as on previous occasions, with the Roman numerals ‘XV’ on top of the tail fin. The one exception to this was the Hawker Hunter, which carried the white numerals on the fuselage.

The Squadron’s 60th Anniversary was marked, amongst other things, with the issue of a special First day Cover. The envelopes, which bore 30Pfg Deutsche Bundespost stamps, were illustrated with a BE2c, the Stirling bomber ‘MacRobert’s Reply’ and a Buccaneer. These covers were flown on a route covering Laarbruch, Wyton, Brest, Wyton, Laarbruch the same course taken from Wyton by the Stirling bombers in 1941 when the Squadron attacked German warships in Brest harbour.

During 1983, after nearly thirteen years service with the Squadron, it was decided that the Buccaneer was to be replaced. Although XV Squadron flew its last Buccaneer sortie in June of that year, the Squadron spent the summer months at Laarbruch preparing for the arrival of its new aircraft.

XV Squadron Log Book 1971 - 1979 by Peter Rolfe (ex RAF navigator)

Fotos von Peter Rolfe (viele aus der Zeit bei XV Squadron)

XV Squadron History (taken from "The Buccaneer Aviation Group")

Formed as a training unit at Farnborough on 1 March 1915, No. 15 Squadron crossed to France in December of that year equipped with BE2Cs for corps-reconnaissance duties. One unusual task the unit undertook was the dropping of ammunition by parachute to troops on the front line during 1918.

After the War, the squadron succumbed to the inevitable disbandment. The Squadron reformed at Martlesham Heath in March 1924, but it was little more than in name, as their aircraft were part of the A&AEE trial fleet. This arrangement continued until 1934 when the squadron was reformed at Abingdon with Hawker Harts.

It was shortly after this, that on the insistence of its Commanding Officer, Squadron Leader TW Elmhirst DFC, that the Squadron became known as XV Squadron.

During 1938, the Squadron was one of the first to receive Battles, and it was with these that XV Squadron flew to France in September 1939. In early 1940, the Squadron returned to the UK and re-equipped with Blenheims flown in the ground attack role. By the turn of the year, these had been traded in for Wellingtons, and shortly after that XV Squadron became one of the first Stirling heavy-bomber units.

One famous aircraft flown by XV Squadron was named 'MacRobert's Reply', an aircraft donated by Lady MacRobert in memory of her three sons killed in RAF service. Lancasters arrived during 1943, and the Squadron remained part of No. 1 Group's main force for the remainder of the war.

Other heavy bombers were flown in the shape of Lincolns and Washingtons, but in 1953, XV Squadron moved into the jet age with Canberras. During the Suez crisis, the Squadron dropped more bombs than any other Canberra unit, but was disbanded in 1957. In September 1958, the Squadron reformed at Cottesmore as the second Victor squadron, but six years later was again disbanded. In 1970, XV Squadron reformed as a Buccaneer strike unit based at Laarbruch.

After 13 years, the Squadron became the first Germany-based Tornado GR1 squadron. With the withdrawal of some Tornado units from Germany under 'Options for Change', the XV Squadron numberplate was assigned to the Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit at Lossiemouth shortly after disbanding at Laarbruch in April 1992.

Current aircraft Aircraft: Tornado GR4

Motto: Aim Sure.

Badge: A hind's head affrontee erased at the neck between wings elevated and conjoined in base - approved by King Edward VIII in May 1936. The badge was a modification of the hart emblem used previously, changed to highlight the fact that the Hind aircraft was in service when the badge was authorised.

Battle Honours: Western Front 1915-1918*, Somme 1916*, Arras, Cambrai 1917*, Some 1918, Hindenburg Line*, France and Low Countries 1939-1940, Meuse Bridges*, Dunkirk, Invasion Ports 1940, Fortress Europe 1941-1944, Ruhr 1941-1945*, Berlin 1941-1945*, Biscay Ports 1941-1945, France and Germany 1944-1945, Normandy 1944*, Gulf 1991*.

Honours marked with an asterisk, may be emblazoned on the Squadron Standard.

© MOD 2011

Commanding Officers whilst on RAF Laarbruch

1970 – 1991:

Oct 1970 Wing Commander D J Collins

Apr 1971 Wing Commander R Watson

Apr 1973 Wing Commander M G Simmons

Jan 1976 Wing Commander P D Oulton

Jul 1978 Wing Commander T Nattrass AFC

Jul 1981 Wing Commander E Cox

Sep 1983 Wing Commander B Dove AFC

Aug 1986 Wing Commander M C Rudd AFC

Jan 1989 Wing Commander J A Broadbent DSO

Aug 1991 Wing Commander A D White

With the grounding of the Buccaneer fleet in 1980, surplus Hunters were issued as temporary replacements to enable Buccaneer pilots to retain their flying currency. Hawker Hunter F6 - XF527 - was one of the aircraft brought out of storage. It was sent to RAF Laarbruch, West Germany, where it was placed on the strength of the Station Flight. By September 1980, the Buccaneer had been returned to flying status and XF527 was returned to Kemble, once again into store.