# 1266 Tristar K1, 216 Sqn
Purchased products will not feature the Squadron Prints watermark.
Squadron Prints Lithograph No. 1266 - Tristar K1, ZD951, 216 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton.
Number 216 Squadron had its origins in 16 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service, which was equipped with Handley Page O/400 night bombers and based at Ochey and Villesneux in France during World War I. On 1 April 1918, the Squadron became part of the newly formed Royal Air Force and was renumbered 216; however, to commemorate its lineage the Squadron has been referred to ever since as Two-Sixteen. In its RAF guise it became part of the Independent Force under Major General Trenchard. After World War I the Squadron moved to Egypt and during the next two decades flew DH10s, Vimys, Valentias, Victorias and Bombays. During World War II the Squadron saw active service in Greece, the Middle East and Africa where it flew Wellingtons, then Hudsons before equipping with the ubiquitous Dakota. The Squadrons tasks included the resupply of besieged Tobruk, Habbaniya and the 14th Army in the Aegean as well as keeping the reinforcement resupply route open across Africa, supplying Chindit operations in Burma and Titos partisans in Yugoslavia. In 1949 the Squadron re-equipped with Valettas which it operated until 1955 when, after 38 years service overseas, the Squadron returned to the United Kingdom to re-equip with the de Havilland Comet C2 at Lyneham, becoming the worlds first jet-transport squadron. With the introduction of the larger Comet C4 in 1962 the Squadron assumed a Royal and VIP flight commitment. Number 216 Squadron disbanded on 30 June 1975, but reformed at Honington on 1 July 1979 in a new role as a strike/attack squadron, equipped with the Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S2. This was short-lived however, and with a rationalisation of the Buccaneers role the Squadron was once again disbanded in 1980. As a result of the Falklands conflict the Ministry of Defence identified a requirement for a strategic tanker squadron and accordingly the Squadron reformed on 15 August 1983 equipped with the Lockheed L1011 TriStar Series 500 aircraft which were purchased second-hand from Pan Am and British Airways. A number of these aircraft were converted by Marshalls of Cambridge to give them a tanker capability and served with Two-Sixteen in the dual roles of air-to-air refuelling and air transport. In the air transport role the Squadron assumed the airbridge link between the United Kingdom and the Falkland Islands in 1984. In the air-to-air refuelling role, 216 Squadron was heavily involved in Gulf War 1, the enforcement of the Bosnian no-fly zone and in the Kosovo campaign where it flew the highest number of combat support sorties and dispensed the greatest amount of fuel to NATO aircraft of any RAF tanker squadron. The second Gulf War, Operation TELIC, saw 216 Squadron heavily involved in ensuring coalition victory, providing air-to-air refuelling coverage over, and air transport support into, Iraq. Since 2001, 216 Squadron has also played a vital support role to operations in Afghanistan, transporting essential personnel and material into the region. The pace of these operations saw the Squadron relinquish the Falklands airbridge in 2003 from when it operated the Afghanistan airbridge continuously from February 2006 until December 2013, flying first into Kabul, then Kandahar and finally Camp Bastion. Along with air-to-air refuelling deployments to Oman, the Squadron has continued to support emergent operations such as providing air-to-air refuelling support for operations in Libya. In its final year, the Squadron also retained two aircraft on permanent air-to-air refuelling standby, one in the Falkland Islands and one in the United Kingdom. Number 216 Squadron will disband in March 2014 when the TriStar aircraft retires from the Service. Depicted above are the various liveries that the TriStars of Two-Sixteen have operated in, with the main picture depicting the tail art commissioned to celebrate the end of 30 years of TriStars in RAF service.