652 Sqn 80th Anniversary Formation

By Paul McNulty, flying XR244

Congratulations to the Officer Commanding and all ranks of 652 Sqn AAC on their commemoration of 80th Anniversary of their squadron on 10th June 2022, which the Historic Army Aircraft Flight was delighted to support.

The Historic Flight’s Auster XR244 had the honour of leading the commemorative formation, which also comprised Lynx Mk7 XZ179 and a Wildcat Mk1, representing some of the aircraft types flown by 652 Sqn since its formation in 1942.  

XR244 departed Middle Wallop at 08:10 and landed at RNAS Yeovilton as the airfield opened at 08:45.  Following a comprehensive briefing from OC 652 Sqn that included met, airfield, route, comms plan, timings and ‘actions-on’, the crews walked to their aircraft for engine start at 10:05. 

At 10:15 I taxied for Runway 22 and held short as a Merlin Mk4 manoeuvred at ‘Piccadilly’.  Take-Off clearance received, I climbed out to the west, pursued by the photo-chase aircraft, another Wildcat Mk1.  I was soon joined by XZ179 and the Wildcat in echelon-left above the Somerset Levels as the photo-chase manoeuvred around us.  Photographs completed, we returned to Yeovilton for a ‘run and break to land’. 

On the ground, 652 Sqn personnel paraded to commemorate the squadron’s distinguished history, now the senior flying squadron in the Army Air Corps.

I think I can lay claim to be being the only pilot present on the day who had flown two of the three aircraft in the formation: from the Auster cockpit I was able to look left and see XZ179, which I had last flown at Wattisham Airfield in 1996.  How time flies!