We have selected to show English Electric Lightning F3 'A' of No 111 Squadron on the apron at RAF Wattisham, to reflect the RAF's crackdown on the bright colour schemes we have chosen the polished paintwork scheme with some typically drab British weather. The painting was especially commission from Ross Wardle, who was one of the Matchbox Kits artists before the company dropped out of kit market.
This cover has been handsigned by Air Commodre M J Bettell OBE, who served with No 111 Squadron 1965-67 and No 29 Squadron 1967-69 on Lightning F3s.
The cover bears 1s Royal Air Force 1918-1968 stamp showing SE5 and three Lightnings in formation the background cancelled with 50th Anniversary of the English Electric Lightning cachet.
(48 Signed, Numbered and Certified)
No 111 Squadron Royal Air Force
Formed at Dier-el-Belah, Palestine on 1 August 1917 as the first dedicated fighter squadron in the region, its two main tasks were to restrict enemy reconnaissance flights and counter the increasing German fighter threat over the Suez. The Squadron flew a variety of types available including Bristol Scouts, Monoplanes and Fighters, DH2s and SE5s until standardising on the latter type in 1918. As the tide of the War turned, the unit started ground-attack patrols and such was the pilot's skill, that the Squadron was able to turn the Turkish retreat into a rout. 'Treble One' withdrew to Egypt after the end of the War and was renumbered No 14 Squadron in February 1920. 1 October 1923, saw 111 Squadron reform, this time at Duxford, but again with a variety of types namely Grebes, Snipes and Siskins, the latter eventually equipping the whole Squadron until the arrival of Bulldogs in 1931.
Five years later, No 111 received Gladiators, and in January 1938 the unit had the distinction of becoming the first Hurricane squadron. The Squadron flew as part of both Nos 11 and 12 Groups during the Battle of Britain and replaced its Hurricanes with Spitfires in April 1942. In November the unit moved to Gibraltar in preparation for Operation Torch - the invasion of North Africa - where it supported the 1st Army through Algeria and Tunisia before moving to Malta in June 1943 to cover the invasion of Sicily. With the Allies advancing through Italy, No 111 moved with them, remaining there until after the cessation of hostilities when it moved to Austria. It was disbanded May 1947 and did not rejoin the RAF's order of battle until December 1953 when it was reformed with Meteors at North Weald.
In 1955 the first Hunters had arrived, and two years later No 111 Squadron was nominated as the official RAF aerobatic team. At first the team, known as the 'Black Arrows', flew five and then nine aircraft until, at the 1958 Farnborough airshow, the Squadron, aided by No 56 Squadron, entered the record books when it successfully looped twenty-two aircraft. In 1961, the unit converted to Lightnings, successive marks staying until 1974 when Phantoms arrived. Following a move from Coningsby to Leuchars, the Squadron re-equipped with ex-Royal Navy Phantoms and these survived until the early 1990s when Tornado F3s became the Squadron mount.
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