BALLYKELLY SQUADRONS AND THEIR AIRCRAFT 1952-1971

Shackleton Mk1 and Mk2 Aricraft

The aircraft which served with the squadrons and other units at Ballykelly during the Shackleton era are listed below. It should be remembered that between 1955 and late 1959 the Ballykelly squadrons were unique in Coastal Command in not applying individual code letters to aircraft.

Joint Anti-Submarine School(JASS) Flight

Originally formed at Ballykelly in 1948 to support the activities of JASS based at the Londonderry Naval Base, HMS Sea Eagle. Equipped with Shackletons in March 1952, disbanding in March 1957. In contrast to the operational squadrons at Ballykelly, the unit retained individual code letters throughout its existence. Allocated unit code G, worn between 1952 and 1955. No known unit badge carried, although the Mark 1's, at least, carried twin black bands on the outer wings and a single black band on the rear fuselage.

Code Serial No. Period Comments
W WB849 3/52-4/55  
X WB850 3/52-12/54 To 240 Sqn
Y WB851 3/52-9/54 To 269 Sqn.
  WB856 9/54-1/55 To 240 Sqn.
A WR969 12/54-3/57  
B WR967 1/55-3/57 Under repair 2/56-6/56
C WR966 3/55-3/57  

No 269 Squadron

No 269 Squadron Crest

Formed out of No.224 Sqn. at Gibraltar on 1 January 1952. Moved to Ballykelly on 14 March 1952. Re-numbered 210 Sqn. on 1 December 1958. On arrival at Ballykelly the squadron applied small individual aircraft code letters to the nose and the squadron letter B to the rear fuselage. By 1955 the individual letters had been removed.

Code Serial No. Period Comments
A VP256 2/52-10/54 Crashed on take-off 26/10/54 and eventually struck off charge 14/4/55.
  VP266 12/54-5/58 To 204 Sqn.
B VP287 2/52-6/58 To 240 Sqn.
C VP291 2/52-6/57  
D VP290 1/52-6/53  
  VP255 7/54-7/56 At Langar for mods9/54-9/55.
E VP284 8/54-8/58 Mods from 1/55-2/55 and 5/57-7/57.
F WB820 1/52-8/58  
G WB818 1/52-8/57  
H WB819 1/52-9/53  
J VP289 1/52-8/53 Joined 269 at Ballykelly 7/52 following repair at Gibraltar as a result of landing accident 22/2/52.

In 1953 the squadron received a number of Mark 2's, the intention being that each unit should be equipped with four aircraft of each type. During the time spent on the squadron, the Mark 2's remained uncoded.

Serial No. Period Comments
WL739 12/53-8/54  
WL746 4/53-12/53 Crashed off the coast of Argyll, Scotland12/12/53. No.240 Sqn. crew.
WL747 4/53-8/54 To 204 Sqn.
WL750 4/53-7/54  

Other Mark 1 aircraft which served with the squadron :-

Serial No. Period Comments
WB860 6/58-10/58 To take part in Operation Grapple.
WB852 10/54-1/58 Reportedly coded C - conflicts with VP291.
WB851 9/54-9/55  
VP289 1/58-11/58 To take part in Operation Grapple.
VP263 5/58-5/58 Immediately transferred to 204 Sqn. for Operation Grapple.

Immediately prior to re-numbering, 269 started to relinquish its Mark 1 aircraft in favour of the Mark 2.

Serial No. Mod State Period Comments
WL748 Basic 11/58-12/58 To 210 Sqn.
WL750 Basic 10/58-12/58 To 210 Sqn.
WL790 Basic 11/58-12/58 To 210 Sqn.
WL795 Basic 11/58-12/58 To 210 Sqn.
WR956 Basic 10/58-12/58 To 210 Sqn.

No 240 Squadron

No 240 Squadron Crest

Re-formed with Shackletons on 1 May 1952 at St.Eval, moving to Ballykelly on 6 June 1952.
Re-numbered 203 Sqn. on 1 November 1958.

From 1952-55 the unit's aircraft wore individual letters forward of the fuselage roundel, with the squadron letter L to the rear.

Code Serial No. Period Comments
A WB858 5/52-6/53  
B WB859 5/52-11/58 To 203 Sqn.
C WB860 5/52-6/58 To 269 Sqn. for Grapple detachment, to 203 Sqn., 11/58.
D WB861 5/52-9/57 Crashed on landing at Ballykelly 5/9/57.
E WG507 5/52-11/58 To 203 Sqn.
F WG508 5/52-10/52  
G WG509 6/52-11/58 To storage 23MU.
H WB857 5/52-4/58 Away for fitment of mods 5/52-9/52. To 204 Sqn.

In line with other Coastal Command squadrons, 240 received a number of Mark 2's in 1953 to operate alongside the Mark 1. All remained uncoded.

Serial No. Period Comments
WL738 3/53-8/54 To 204 Sqn.
WL739 3/53-12/53 Under repair 5/53-12/53, then to 269 Sqn.
WL748 4/53-8/54 To 204 Sqn.
WL790 10/53-8/54 To 204 Sqn.

Further Mark 1's were delivered between 1954-1958, all of which carried squadron identification but no individual aircraft letters.

Serial No. Period Comments
WB824 1/54-9/55 Away for mods 4/54-8/54.
WB835 11/56-7/57 To 269 Sqn.
WB823 2/58-10/58  
WB828 8/54-9/55 Under inspection and repair at 38MU 12/54-8/55.
WB848 9/57-1/58  
WB856 1/55-6/58 To 204 Sqn.
WB828 12/57-6/58 To 204 Sqn.
WG529 12/57-8/58  

No 203 Squadron

No 203 Squadron Crest

Re-formed at Ballykelly on 1 November 1958 by re-numbering 240 Sqn.
Left Ballykelly on 30 January 1969 for Malta.
On re-numbering, the unit inherited some Mark 1's from 240 Sqn., which operated alongside the troublesome Mark 3's for a few months :-

Serial No. Period Comments
WB859 11/58-2/59  
WB860 11/58-1/59 To 204 Sqn.
WG507 11/58-2/59  

Coinciding with the squadron re-numbering was the issue of Mark 3's :-

Code Serial No. Mod State Period Comments
C XF705 Basic 12/58-2/60  
  WG558 II 8/62-4/63 Classified as Station Reserve aircraft, used by all squadrons as necessary.
  XF708 III 2/67-1/72  
D WR987 III 12/66-1/72 At Bitteswell for mods/overhaul 5/68-8/68.
E XF706 Basic 12/58-12/59  
  WR973 I 2/60-7/60  
  WR973 II 9/60-1/62  
  WR981 II 9/61-6/62  
  WL800 II 5/62-1/66  
  WR988 III 6/66-1/72  
F WR974 I 12/58-6/60 Under repair in Canada 11/59-6/60
  WR975 I 11/59-8/61  
  WR975 II 9/61-8/62  
  WL750 II 6/62-12/66 To 204 Sqn. retaining code.
  XF709 III 2/67-3/69  
G XF704 Basic 11/58-2/60  
  WR982 I 1/60-11/61  
  XF706 II 10/61-8/62  
  WL753 II 8/62-12/66 To 204 Sqn. coded ?Q.
  WR986 III 2/67-9/71  
H XF702 Basic 11/58-1/60  
  WR984 I 2/60-10/60  
  WR984 II 1/61-8/61  
  WL742 II 5/62-12/66 To 204 Sqn. coded R.
J WR985 I 12/59-8/61  
  WR984 II 9/61-7/62  
  WR957 II 4/62-12/66 To 204 Sqn. retaining code J.
K WR986 I 12/59-10/61  
  WR988 I 8/61-7/62  
  WR965 II 4/62-3/66  
L XF703 Basic 12/58-1/60  
  XF703 I 5/61-11/61  
  XF705 II 11/61-6/62  
M XF709 III 8/66-1/67 On arrival at Ballykelly code F was still allotted to WL750; re-coded F around 2/67.
N WR986 III 9/66-2/67 On arrival at Ballykelly code was still allotted to WL753; re-coded G around 2/67.

No 204 Squadron

No 204 Squadron Crest

Reformed at Ballykelly on 1 January 1954.
Left Ballykelly on 31 March 1971 for Honington, Suffolk.
Allocated squadron code T carried on rear fuselage, removed in 1956 and replaced by the squadron number. No individual code letters carried 1954-1959.
The squadron planned to form with Mark 2's only. However, due to the slow delivery of their own aircraft a number of Mark 1's and 2's were borrowed from 240/269 Sqns. as required.

Aircraft known to have been borrowed from 240/269 Sqns :-

Serial No. Period Comments
WL790 1/54 240 Sqn. aircraft.
WB861 1/54 240 Sqn. aircraft.
WG509 2/54 240 Sqn. aircraft.
WL738 3/54 240 Sqn. aircraft.
WL748 3/54 240 Sqn. aircraft.
VP256 3/54 269 Sqn. aircraft.
VP255 4/54 240 Sqn. aircraft.
VP291 4/54 269 Sqn. aircraft.
WB818 6/54 269 Sqn. aircraft.
WL747 7/54 269 Sqn. aircraft until 8/54.

Aircraft borrowing had ceased by August 1954. Aircraft allocated to 204 Sqn :-

Serial No. Period Comments
WB828 1/54-3/54  
VP284 2/54-8/54 To 269 Sqn.
WL740 1/54-4/58  
WL795 1/54-11/58 To 269 Sqn.
WR951 1/54-7/54  
WL792 1/54-9/55  
WL750 7/54-10/56  
WL747 8/54-6/58  
WL790 8/54-11/58 Under repair 8/57-1/58. To 269 Sqn.
WL739 8/54-12/58 Attached to 38 Sqn. Luqa during 4/58.
WL748 8/54-11/58 To 269 Sqn.
WL759 8/57-8/58  
WL744 9/57-8/58  

Between 4/58 and 11/58 the squadron re-equipped with Mark 1's. to take part in Operation Grapple :-

Serial No. Period
WB857 4/58-11/59
VP266 5/58-10/58
VP263 5/58-6/59
WB828 6/58-2/60
WB850 6/58-12/60
WB856 6/58-2/60
WB826 11/58-6/59
WB851 11/58-11/59
WB860 1/59-3/60

As the squadron relinquished the Mark 1 in favour of Mark 2's, individual code letters started to re-appear on Ballykelly's aircraft. The Ballykelly Wing officially came into existence during 2/67, when 204/210 Sqn. aircraft were pooled and assigned to the Wing.

Code Serial No. Mod State Period Comments
  WL748 Basic 10/59-1/60 Probably no code letter allocated.
  WL795 Basic 11/59-12/59 Probably no code letter allocated.
L WR952 II 12/65-12/66 L not a regular 204 code.
M WL745 I 7/59-5/61  
  WL796 II 5/61-10/66  
N WR955 Basic 10/59-11/59  
  WL751 I 1/60-6/61  
  WG555 II 6/61-11/65  
  WR951 II 10/66-2/67 To Ballykelly Wing.
O WL793 I 7/59-4/61  
  WR966 II 5/61-12/66 To 210 Sqn.
P WL797 I 11/59-1/61 Under repair 9/60-1/61, then to 210 Sqn
  WG558 I 10/60-4/61  
  WL739 II 4/61-11/66  
  WL785 III 1/67-2/67 To Ballykelly Wing.
Q WR951 I 12/59-3/61  
  WR964 II 3/61-2/67  
  WL753 II 12/66-2/67 Probably only coded Q as part of the Ballykelly Wing after WR964's departure.
R WR962 Basic 6/59-7/59  
  WR957 I 1/60-7/61 Under repair 4/61-6/61.
  WR969 II 6/61-5/66  
  WL742 II 12/66-2/67 To Ballykelly Wing.
  WR961 Basic 4/59-2/60 Uncoded.
J WR957 II 12/66-2/67 From 203 Sqn. retained code. To Ballykelly Wing.
F WL750 II 12/66-1/67 From 203 Sqn. retained code.

No 210 Squadron

No 210 Squadron Crest

Formed by re-numbering 269 Sqn. at Ballykelly on 1 December 1958.
Disbanded at Ballykelly on 31 October 1970. Re-formed the next day at Sharjah, finally disbanding on 15 November 1971.
269 Sqn. had begun re-equipping with Mark 2's at the time of the re-numbering. These were :-

Serial No. Mod State Period Comments
WL748 Basic 12/58-10/59 To 204 Sqn.
WL750 Basic 12/58-5/59  
WL790 Basic 12/58-1/59  
WL795 Basic 12/58-11/59 To 204 Sqn.
WR956 Basic 12/58-5/60  

In late 1959 code letters started to be applied to Ballykelly based aircraft :-

Code Serial No. Mod State Period Comments
S WL793 III 1/67-2/67 To Ballykelly Wing.
T WR954 I 6/60-2/61  
  WL787 II 2/61-10/66 To 204 Sqn.
  WB833 III 12/66-2/67 To Ballykelly Wing.
U WG555 I 4/59-11/60  
  WR960 I 12/60-3/62  
  WL751 II 3/62-11/65  
  WR958 II 1/66-2/67 To Ballykelly Wing.
V WL747 I 9/59-4/61  
  WL791 II 2/61-2/67 To Ballykelly Wing.
W WL757 I 10/59-3/61  
X WL790 I 5/59-1/61  
  WL748 I 1/61-10/62 Being modified to Phase II 10/62-5/63.
  WL748 II 5/63-4/66  
  WL747 III 9/66-2/67  
Y WR969 I 9/59-1/61  
  WL797 I 1/61-  
  WL797 II -5/63 Was with 210 as a Phase II.
  WG558 II 4/63-11/66  
  WL738 III 11/66-2/67 To Ballykelly Wing.
Z WR963 I 2/60-3/61  
  WR968 II 3/61-10/61 Crashed on landing at Ballykelly 20/10/61.
  WL793 II 2/62-11/64  
  WL788 II 11/64-10/66 Under repair 3/66-10/66.
  WL737 III 12/66-2/67 To Ballykelly Wing.
- WR955 Basic 2/59-11/59 Uncoded with 210. Then to 204 coded N.
O WR966 II 12/66-1/67 Transferred from 204 Sqn.

Aircraft Assigned To The Ballykelly Wing

From February 1967, although crews continued to be part of 204 and 210 Sqns., the squadrons ceased to have aircraft specifically assigned. This situation persisted until 210 Sqn. disbanded at Ballykelly and re-formed elsewhere, at which time the Shackletons remaining came under 204 Sqn. control until the base closed in 1971. For the purposes of simplicity, this list runs from the official start of the Wing to the closure of the base.

Code Serial No. Mod State Period Comments
B WG556 III 4/70-10/70 Transferred to the Wing from ASWDU.
H WL754 III 10/69-4/71  
J WR957 II 2/67-3/67  
  WL800 III 3/67-4/71 At Bitteswell for mods 6/69-11/69.
K WG555 III 2/67-4/71  
L WL755 III 3/67-4/71 Under repair 5/70-7/70.
M WL751 III 4/67-4/71 Major overhaul 6/70-11/70, after which code removed.
N WR951 II 2/67-4/67  
  WR955 III 4/67-3/71  
O WL745 III 2/67-3/70 Became AEW2 prototype.
P WL785 III 2/67-4/71  
Q WL753 II 2/67-5/67  
  WR956 III 1/68-4/68 Crashed on landing at Ballykelly 1/4/68.
  WR965 III 11/68-4/71  
R WL742 II 2/67-4/67  
  WL748 III 1/69-4/71  
S WL793 III 2/67-4/71 To Bitteswell for mods 2/68-4/68.
T WB833 III 2/67-4/68 Crashed on Mull of Kintyre 19/4/68.
U WR958 II 2/67-3/67  
  WR961 III 9/67-4/71 To HSA for mods 5/68-6/68.
V WL791 II 2/67-5/67  
  WL756 III 10/67-1/71 To HSA for mods 10/69-12/69.
W WL758 III 11/67-4/71  
X WL747 III 2/67-12/70  
Y WL738 III 2/67-4/71 Loaned to Min Tech 3/67-4/67. To HSA for mods 5/69-7/69.
Z WL737 III 2/67-8/70 Under repair 8/67-9/67 and 3/70-4/70.
  WL798 III 8/70-12/70  
- WR967 III 9/68-4/69 Modified to T2 standard. To HSA for mods 11/68-1/69. Uncoded.

Air Sea Warfare Development Unit (ASWDU)

Unit moved to Ballykelly from St. Mawgan 1 September 1958.
Disbanded at Ballykelly 1 April 1970.
Introduced individual code letters in line with other units at Ballykelly in late 1959.

Code Serial No. Mod State Period Comments
  WL789 Basic 9/53-12/58 Earlier coded D at St. Mawgan.
  WG533 Basic 9/58-3/59 Reportedly coded E.
  WG526 - 6/61-7/61 With unit for only three weeks - not coded.
  VP282 - 6/51-8/60  
A WG554 II 3/61-9/66  
  WL801 III 8/66-4/70  
B WB851 - 11/59-3/60  
  WB833 II 11/60-5/64  
  WL759 II 2/64-8/66  
  WG556 III 9/66-4/70 Remained with Ballykelly until 10/70.
- WR974 II/III 6/66-7/66  
- WR974 III 2/68-4/68 Attached for trials of new equipment.

No 819 Naval Air Squadron

No 819 Naval Air Squadron Crest

Moved to Ballykelly from Eglinton on 6 February 1963.
Moved to RNAS Culdrose, Cornwall to re-equip with the Sea King HAS1 on 28 January 1971.
Initially allocated individual codes in the 320-323 range, changing to 530-533 in July 1965.
Equipped with the Wessex HAS1 from October 1961, details given below relate from then. Re-equipped with the HAS3 from April 1968.

Code Serial No. Mod State Period Comments
320 XM872 1 10/61-7/65 Re-coded 530 in 7/65.
321 XM915 1 10/61-11/61 Crashed off the North coast of Co. Londonderry.
  XM931 1 2/62-2/65 Crashed on 28/2/65 while operating off HMS Ark Royal.
  XM833 1 -7/65  
322 XM916 1 10/61-7/65 Re-coded 532 in 7/65.
323 XP145 1 7/63-10/63 Crashed while operating off HMS Hermes.
  XP157 1 10/63-1/64  
324 XM921 1 7/63-1/64  
530 XM872 1 7/65-9/65 For HAS3 conversion.
  XS127 1 9/65-5/66 For HAS3 conversion.
  XS149 1 5/66-7/67 For HAS3 conversion.
  XS152 1 7/67-3/68  
  XP143 3 4/68-1/71  
531 XM833 1 7/65-1/66 For HAS3 conversion.
  XP114 1 1/66-7/66 Crashed on 20/7/66.
  XP113 1 7/66-9/66 Ditched off Ballykelly on 9/9/66.
  XP155 1 9/66-5/67 Crashed.
  XM841 1 5/67-3/68  
  XM327 3 5/68-1/71  
532 XM916 1 7/65-9/65 For HAS3 conversion.
  XM868 1 7/65-5/67  
  XP112 1 5/67-3/68  
  XS122 3 6/68-7/70  
  XP105 3 7/70-12/70  
533 XM329 1 7/65-6/67  
  XP118 3 8/68-9/69  
  XP138 3 3/70-12/70  

This page was produced by John (Mo) Botwood and has been reproduced with the kind permission of the Botwood family.