No 18 (B) Squadron
Westland Puma HC1
Boeing CH47D Chinook HC1 / 2
No. 18 Squadron at RAF Laarbruch
No. 18 Squadron Royal Flying Corps formed at Northolt on 11 May 1915 and operated with distinction during WW1 in the fighter, reconnaissance, Army co-operation and night-bombing roles. Initially equipped with Vickers FB 5ss, it later received FE 2Bs and DH 4s.
It disbanded with the Wessex in 1980, but re-equipped with the Boeing-Vertol Chinook HC1 in 1981, the Squadron seeing service in the Falklands and Gulf campaigns using the versatile Chinook to its limits.
In 1992 the Squadron added Puma HC1s to its strength.
On 18th March 1993, with the closure of RAF Gütersloh, the Squadron moved to RAF Laarbruch, where No. 18 Squadron operated both the Chinook and the Puma in support of the British Army and the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps. In February 1994, the Squadron was re-equipped with the Chinook HC Mk2.
Squadron Commanding Officers (whilst at RAF Laarbruch)
- WgCdr C R Williamson - 1 May 1992
- WgCdr K Smith - 7 Feb 1994
- WgCdr A D Pulford - 19 Sep 1996 (later became Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford)
Whilst the Squadron continued to support the British Army in the UK and in Germany, it became more involved in out of area operations. This included arctic training in Norway and desert training in Egypt and Jordan, and more latterly large scale multi-national exercises such as Purple Star in the USA and Ulan Eagle in Poland. In addition, the aircraft have been deployed to the Former Republic of Yugoslavia as part of 1310 Flight, based at Divulje Barracks, near Split, in support of IFOR and SFOR.
With the further reduction of tasks in Germany, the Puma element of the Squadron moved in January 1997 to Northern Ireland to form a Flight on No. 72 Squadron. The Chinook element moved back to Odiham in early June 1997, to become a purely Chinook Squadron. This involved the creation of a second Flight, thus doubling the size of the Squadron, and making it the largest squadron at RAF Odiham. The Squadron moved into the new East Hangar in June 1997, and the hangar was officially opened on 1st August 1997.
In February 1999 the squadron was presented with a Fahnenband from the German Government in recognition of the work done and friendships made at RAF Laarbruch and throughout its time in Germany. In December 1999 the Chinook Operational Conversion Flight joined 18 Squadron from 27 Squadron, as part of the reorganisation of RAF Odiham. Gaining this Flight as well as its two operational Flights has made No. 18 Squadron one of the largest squadrons in the Royal Air Force.
Wessex HU5 XT467 BF (for Battle Damage Repair)