Rex in front of the Squadron flag

Hornet Squadron is the main focus of the Derek Robinson novels War Story (1987 - set in 1916), Hornet's Sting (1999 - set in 1917), Piece of Cake (1983 - set during the first 12 months of WW2) - which was adapted into the LWT miniseries of the same name - and A Good Clean Fight (1993 - set in 1942) The Squadron motto is 'Beware our Sting'.



  • Autumn - Hector G. Ramsey takes command of Hornet Squadron, operating under the codename Jester, and is quickly dubbed The 'Ram' after informing his pilots that, because their Hawker Fury aircraft are too slow to catch the enemy to shoot them down, the squadron would have to use ramming attacks.[1]


  • July - Hornet Squadron re-equips with Hawker Hurricanes. Five days into the intensive training programme that follows, Squadron Leader Ramsey contracts shingles and is hospitalised, not recovering enough to return to duty until the third week of August.[2]
  • August 31st - Due to cancellation of flying because of dense fog, The Ram sends all the pilots on a cross country run, consisting of two circuits of RAF Kingsmere.[3][N 1] After the run, some of the pilots look through aircraft recognition cards, while The Ram and 'Uncle' Kellaway go to London to attend a meeting at the Air Ministry.[4]
  • September 3rd - Squadron Leader Ramsey taxis into a slit trench which had been dug while he was airborne, and breaks his neck when he slips while climbing out of the cockpit. Flight Lieutenant Barton takes over as temporary CO.[N 2]
  • September 4th - Hornet Squadron go into action for the first time. Unfortunately, a fault in the tracking systems results in Hornet squadron firing on a formation of British aircraft.
  • September 5th - Squadron Leader Rex assumes command of Hornet Squadron. His first action is to send Barton to deliver a personal apology to the CO to the Blenheim squadron Hornet attacked in error. He then leads a raid on a nearby stores depot, which had inadvertently received supplies intended for Hornet Squadron.[N 3]
  • September 6th - Hornet Squadron departs for France.[N 4]
  • Late October - Pilot Officer Starr is killed when his aircraft crashes into the river, while attempting to emulate Cattermole by flying under a local bridge.
  • Early November - American-born RAF pilot Christopher Hart III is assigned to Hornet Squadron as a replacement for Starr, whose funeral has to be repeated when the local priest demands the remains of Starr - a Methodist - are removed from a Catholic burial ground.


  • In early 1940, the squadron codename is changed to Hilltop, which it uses until it is virtually wiped out during the withdrawal from France.
  • Following the withdrawal from France, the squadron is reformed with Fanny Barton in command. The new Hornet squadron is allocated the codename Mango
  • Late August - Squadron codename is changed to Popcorn
  • Early September - Squadron codename is changed to Bearskin


  • Hornet Squadron, now equipped with P-40s, are operating in North Africa. A Good Clean Fight


  • Jester - 1938 to early 1940
  • Hilltop - early 1940 to Withdrawal from France
  • Mango - Reformation to Late August 1940
  • Popcorn - Late August/Early September 1940
  • Bearskin - Early September 1940 onwards

Flying PersonnelEdit

Commanding OfficersEdit

Other pilotsEdit

Ground StaffEdit



Other Ground StaffEdit


Aircraft Used by Hornet SquadronEdit


Inter WarEdit


Real SquadronEdit

The real RAF squadron that come closest to matching Hornet Squadron - in terms of World War 2 equipment and operating locations - is 73 Squadron: both had Hawker Fury aircraft pre-war, both used Hurricanes in the early months of the war, and both switched to Tomahawks for service in Africa. However, 73 used Gloster Gladiators between the Fury and the Hurricane, and only operated Tomahawks for a couple of months in late 1941 before reverting to Hurricanes.


  1. In the TV version, the cross country run takes place on September 3rd.
  2. The Ram's accident took place shortly before Neville Chamberlain's broadcast announcing the declaration of war.
  3. Rex assumed command on Barton's third day as temporary CO.
  4. The flight to France occured the day after Rex's arrival.


  1. Piece of Cake (novel) Page 23
  2. Piece of Cake (novel) Pages 23-24
  3. Piece of Cake (novel) Page 30
  4. Piece of Cake (novel) Pages 39-40
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Piece of Cake (novel)
  6. Piece of Cake Miniseries
  7. "A Good Clean Fight