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Royal Air Force bids farewell to C-130 Hercules with nation-wide flypast

Photo: Royal Air Force

A flypast to mark the retirement of the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft fleet from Royal Air Force service took place across the United Kingdom on June 14.

While the aircraft will officially retire on June 30, a three-airframe formation performed the ceremonial flight on Wednesday, covering locations of significance to the Hercules’ service and the 47 Squadron that operated it.

On June 9, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, attended the stand down parade of Number 47 Squadron. As Hercules is retiring, the No.47 Squadron is concurrently being stood down and its Standard laid up for a period at College Hall Officers’ Mess, RAFC Cranwell, until formed up again.

Photo: Royal Air Force

No. 47 Sqn, Royal Flying Corps was formed in Beverley, Yorkshire on March 1, 1916. The Squadron was initially designated for home defense, but was not issued with any aircraft until April 13, when four Royal Aircraft Factory BE2Cs were transferred from 15 Reserve Squadron. During its 107-year history the Squadron has operated across the globe and has been equipped with a number of different aircraft; in 1968 it became a C-130 Hercules Squadron based at RAF Fairford moving shortly after to RAF Lyneham.

The first Hercules arrived at Marshall’s of Cambridge in December 1966. Since entering RAF service, originally with 242 Operational Conversion Unit at RAF Thorney Island, it has operated across the globe in support of UK military and humanitarian relief operations.

The C-130 fleet has been an integral part of air power for the RAF for nearly six decades, contributing to nearly every British conflict since it was brought into service, providing airlift/airdrop capabilities and having the flexibility to operate in austere areas around the world.

The transition to the 22-strong Atlas (A400) fleet and other air mobility aircraft has been ongoing for some time. 47 Squadron and the Hercules will continue to deliver on operations supporting UK defense objectives until June, 30, 2023.