543 Squadron History

XM716 - 50 years

The sad loss of this aircraft and it's crew is poignantly documented at The Victor Association




The Valiant

A great resource here, history of all the airframes including the 543 aircaft



Credit image MillionMonkeyTheatre

Another good history page for the Valiant at http://www.spyflight.co.uk/val.htm for whom thank you for the front page image














A Wikiedia Squadron page exists at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._543_Squadron_RAF

The article is within the scope of the Military history WikiProject.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:No._543_Squadron_RAF

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Wikipedia page for the Valiant  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vickers_Valiant

Wikipedia page for the Victor at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handley_Page_Victor

Wikipedia page for the Spitfire  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermarine_Spitfire

An informative web site about RAF History  http://www.rafweb.org/Sqn541-598.htm

The Victor Association  - A museum and restoration web site for XL160  http://www.thevictorassociation.org.uk/







World War II

The Cold War

World War II

No. 543 Squadron was formed at RAF Benson on 19 October 1942 as one of 5 Squadrons (Nos. 540-544) using aircraft from the then PRU.  It was initially equipped with Spitfires PR Mk IV; the Squadron received some Mk PR XI aircraft in April 1943.

  IV BP888
  at Benson Copyright V Flintham                        Spitfire PR MK IV BP888 at Benson                                                         Copyright V Flintham



"A" Flight was based at St.Eval and used for shipping recce over the Cherbourg Peninsula and SW approaches.  "B" Flight was based at Mount Farm, a satellite of Benson and undertook some high profile specialist recce sorties in Europe, including the assessment of the attacks on the Ruhr dams and of the midget submarine attacks on the  Tirpitz in Altenfjord in North Norway. In the latter operation, the Spitfires were detached to Russian bases  near Murmansk. The Squadron was disbanded on 18 October 1943.

                                    Spitfire PR MK XI                                                Copyright © 1996, DeltaWeb International Ltd

The Cold War


The Squadron reformed at Gaydon in April 1955 and moved to Wyton on 1 November 1955, after equipping with Valiants.  It provided the strategic reconnaissance element to the RAF's "V" Force and undertook intelligence and survey photography, and radar reconnaissance around the globe including the Arctic, the South Atlantic (Tristan da Cunha) , East Africa, and the Pacific and Far East.

Follow this link to an Air Clues article written by Arthur Creighton and Ray Norman on Operation Pontiflex, the survey of the Rhodesias and Bechuanaland in 1964

                                    Valiant BK(PR)1 at Butterworth                              Operation Segment1961

                                    photo© 2003 Derek Hickman


With the phasing out of the Valiants at the end of 1964, some Victor B.1s were used to bridge the gap until the arrival of the Victor SR.2s.  

Follow this link to an Air Clues article written by Arthur Creighton in 1966 on the Victor SR2

The Squadron was disbanded on 24 May 1974.

                                Victor SR.2  on disbandment flypast

                                        photo© 1974 Graham Thomas

For a fuller history of 543 Squadron follow this link to the booklet written by Flight Sergeant R. W Elliott to commemorate the 25th Anniversary.  The booklet is in .pdf format  and may be downloaded and opened with  Acrobat reader.  

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