In the earliest days of World War One, when IX Squadron was formed, we went to the fight in little 50mph machines that were barely capable of taking pilot and observer, a gun and a few small, hand-held bombs into the sky, especially on a windy day. When we took a wireless set, to spot for the artillery and report on troop movements, the extra load forced the defenceless pilot to leave his observer behind. A century later, IX (B) Squadron flies jets that can exceed the speed of sound, place laser-guided missiles within a few centimetres of the target, and transmit the most complex data in real time across the globe. In between, the tale is of ponderous beasts of biplanes, of Wellingtons and Lancasters in the bloody battles of World War Two, of Canberras and Vulcans in the nuclear age of the Cold War. Above all, it’s the story of the men and women of the RAF’s senior bomber squadron across a hundred years of war and peace, and their words fill this book. We go from those beginnings in wood, wire and fabric kites over France and a pilot armed with a service revolver, to the world’s first Tornado squadron in the Gulf wars, over Kosovo and Afghanistan, and so to the present, a century on. It really is one hell of a story.
A CENTURY OF AIR WARFARE WITH NINE (IX) SQUADRON RAF Still Going Strong
Number 9 Squadron is the oldest dedicated Bomber Squadron of the Royal Air Force. Formed in December 1914, saw service throughout the First World War, including at the Somme and Passchendaele. During the Second World War it was one of two Avro Lancaster units specialising in heavy precision bombing, aircraft from this squadron sank the battleship Tirpitz on 12 November 1944.