The first 80 years 1917 to 1987
One of the most famous fighter squadrons, No.74 (Fighter) Squadron - the original Tigers - flew the SE5a ( Scouting Experimentals, SEs, were what would be called fighters later). 'Mick' Mannock (later awarded a posthumous VC ) was one of the Flight Commanders when it arrived in France, the first full day being April 1st 1918, the day that the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service amalgamated to form one united service, the Royal Air force. Disbanded at war's end it was re-formed for the defence of Malta in 1935 That war did not come till later) and then defended London from Hornchurch, being one of the first squadrons to get Spitfires, with 'Sailor' Malan as Commanding Officer during the Battle of Britain. The Squadron also fought overseas in the Western Desert and Eastern Mediterranean with both Hurricanes and Spitfires. It returned to Europe for the invasion in 1944, still with Spitfires. As WW2 ended it became part of the RAF's first jet-fighter wing with Meteors. In 1960 it became the RAF's first truly supersonic squadron with the BAC Lightning I, finally operating the Mk 6 in the Far East as the only Lightning squadron stationed there. Disbanded in 1971, it was re-formed in 1984 with refurbished F4J(UK) Phantoms until 1991 when it got FGR 2s. On 1st October 1992 at its re-formation once again, with the BAe Hawk T1/T1a it became No.74 (Reserve) Squadron as part of No.4 FTS at RAF Valley on the Isle of Anglesey off north Wales. The students are instructed in how to operate an aircraft as a weapons platform once they have learned to fly it. All fast-jet pilots have to pass through the Squadron and rightly consider themselves true Tigers in the tradition of Mannock and Malan.
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