A swift volant - approved by HM King George VI in February 1938, and intended to symbolise speed. An earlier unofficial emblem consisting of a quartered shield depicting a foaming tankard, a scroll of 'bumph', a heart pierced by an arrow and five aces, one of them a joker, was not submitted!
Mesopotamia 1918*, Channel and North Sea 1939-1942, Dunkirk*, Battle of Britain 1940*, Fortress Europe 1941-1942*, North Africa 1942-1943*, Mediterranean 1942-1943, Sicily 1943*, Italy 1943-1945, Salerno*, Anzio and Nettuno*.
Number 72 Squadron formed at Netheravon on 2 July 1917 from a nucleus provided by the Central Flying School and embarked for the Middle East on Christmas Day, re-grouping in Basra on 2 March 1918. Here, the unit operated as self-contained Flights allotted to individual Army Corps using Bristol M1c Bullets, Spad VIIs, Martinsyde G100s and SE5s to carry out the various tasks required. Following the Turks' surrender, the Squadron set sail for the UK in February 1919, disbanding in September.
No 72 Squadron was not reformed until 22 February 1937, when 'B' Flight of No 1 Squadron at Tangmere was increased to squadron strength. It flew Gladiators at Church Fenton until April 1939 when Spitfires were delivered. Air defence and convoy protection duties in the North of England followed the outbreak of War until the unit moved south to support the evacuation at Dunkirk in June 1940. During the Battle of Britain, No 72 spent the early days at Acklington as part of No 13 Group, before moving south during September to aid the main defence force. In September 1942, the Squadron moved to North Africa to support the Tunisian campaign before moving on to Malta the following year with the updated Spitfire IX. These aircraft were used to support the Allied Eighth Army as it advanced through Sicily, Italy and Southern France until the German surrender when a move to Austria followed. It was disbanded there in December 1946 and reformed at Odiham with Vampires in the day fighter role.
The following years saw Meteor F8s (1952), NF12s and 14s (1955) and Javelins (1959) all flown until once again the Squadron disbanded at Leconfield in June 1961. In November 1961, No 72 reformed but this time as a helicopter unit with twin-rotor Belvederes until the Wessex replaced these troublesome aircraft in August 1964. Remarkably, this partnership remained for thirty-eight years and in that time the Squadron saw action in Malaya, provided post-disaster assistance following the Torrey Canyon tanker disaster in 1967 and supported the Security Forces in Northern Ireland from 1981, albeit supported by a small number of Pumas from 1991 onwards. The Squadron disbanded at Easter 2002.
In July 2002 No 1 Flying Training School divided its strength between two new reserve Squadrons, one of which was No 72, reformed as 72(Reserve) Squadron operating the Tucano at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.