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Fighter jet with skull and crossbones motif visits Leeds Bradford Airport

The RAF Hawk T1 with 100 Squadron's pirate motif
The RAF Hawk T1 with 100 Squadron's pirate motif

An RAF aircraft with an unusual livery performed training exercises at Leeds Bradford Airport today.

The Hawk T1 is operated by 100 Squadron, who are based at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire and traditionally use 'pirate' as their call sign.

The aircraft performed training exercises over Leeds Bradford Airport

The aircraft performed training exercises over Leeds Bradford Airport

The piratical theme is also reflected in the skull and crossbones design on the Hawks' tailfins.

There is a fascinating history behind 100 Squadron's use of the imagery.

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The squadron flag depicting the skull and crossbones was originally stolen from a French brothel in 1918, and the motto Blood and Bones was later added to it. During World War Two, 100 Squadron were based in Singapore and involved in the aerial defence of British Malaya from Japanese invasion. Most of the personnel eventually became prisoners of war when Singapore fell to Japan, and the original maroon flag disintegrated while its custodian, Flight Lieutenant Trillwood, was in captivity.

Two Hawks from RAF Leeming visited

Two Hawks from RAF Leeming visited

A new black flag was produced after the war, and during the squadron's 90th anniversary celebrations in 2008, a replica of the original was presented to crews by Arthur White, who had served with 100 Squadron as a navigator during the Malaya campaign.

Photos by Andrew Easby.

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The Hawks in formation

The Hawks in formation