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No. 141 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 141 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 141 Squadron (RAF) during the Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.141 Squadron began the war as a day-fighter squadron equipped with the two-seat Defiant turret fighter, but after a costly first contact with the Germans became a night fighter squadron, ending the war with Bomber Command's No.100 Group.

The squadron reformed at Turnhouse on 4 October 1939. It had to wait for its Defiants, receiving some Gladiators in October and Blenheims soon afterwards. These were used for training until the Defiants finally arrived in April 1940.

The squadron became operational at Grangemouth on 3 June, and began operations on 1 July. By the middle of the month the aircraft were based at West Malling, and the squadron H.Q. at Biggin Hill. All that was missing was contact with the enemy, and that came disastrously in 19 July. The squadron was scrambled to patrol over Folkstone and nine aircraft took off in three rows of three. Soon after taking off the Defiants were attacked by Bf 109Es that attacked out of the sun. Six of the nine Defiants were shot down and only one managed to make it back to its home base. Two days later the squadron was withdrawn to Prestwick.

The squadron received new Defiants, and in September sent a detachment back to southern England to operate at night. The squadron's first night flight had actually come much earlier, on 1 July, but large scale night operations really began when the entire squadron moved back to England in October 1941. No.141 continued to operate as a night fighter squadron over the winter of 1940-41, scoring its first confirmed victory on 22 December.

In April 1941 the squadron moved back to Scotland and converted to the Beaufighter. For the next year it performed defensive duties over Scotland and the north east of England. Defensive duties continued after the squadron moved south to Tangmere in June 1942.

In February 1943 the squadron moved to the south west and began to fly intruder missions over north-west France. At the end of April it moved to Wittering and in June began to fly intruder missions over German night fighter airfields in support of Bomber Command. The squadron continued to operate in support of Bomber Command until the end of the war. The Beaufighters wre replaced with Mosquitoes in October 1943, and in December the squadron joined No.100 Group, Bomber Command's dedicated support group. The squadron's aircraft now joined the main bomber stream, attacking enemy night fighters and airfields and helping to cause the 'mosquito panic'. The squadron was disbanded on 7 September 1945.

Aircraft
October 1939-April 1940: Gloster Gladiator I and II
November 1939-May 1940: Bristol Blenheim IF
April 1940-August 1941: Boulton Paul Defiant I
June 1941-June 1943: Bristol Beaufighter I
May 1943-February 1944: Bristol Beaufighter VI
October 1943-August 1944: de Havilland Mosquito II
July 1944-March 1945: de Havilland Mosquito VI
March-September 1945: de Havilland Mosquito 30

Location
October 1939: Turnhouse
October 1939-June 1940: Grangemouth
June-July 1940: Turnhouse
July 1940: West Malling
July-August 1940: Prestwick
August 1940: Detachments to Dyce and Montrose
August-October 1940: Turnhouse
September 1940: Detachment to Biggin Hull
September-October 1940: Detachment to Gatwick
October 1940: Drem
October-November 1940: Gatwick
November 1940-April 1941: Gravesend
April 1941-January 1942: Ayr
May-August 1941: Detachment to Acklington
October 1941-January 1942: Detachment to Drem
January-June 1942: Acklington
June-August 1942: Tangmere
August 1942-February 1943: Ford
February-April 1943: Predannack
April-December 1943: Wittering
May-June 1943: Detachment to Drem
December 1943-July 1945: West Raynham
July-September 1945: Little Snoring

Squadron Codes: TW

Duty
8 August 1940: No.13 Group, Fighter Command
19 May 1941: No.13 Group, Fighter Command
December 1943 onwards: No.100 Group, Bomber Command

Books

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No. 4 Squadron RAF

No. 4 Squadron formed at Farnborough in 1912 as part of the Royal Flying Corps. Operating a miscellaneous mixture of aircraft including early Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2s and Breguet biplanes, it quickly moved to Netheravon where it remained until the outbreak of the First World War. The more useful aircraft in its inventory were sent to France under the command of Major G. H. Rayleigh on 16 August 1914, to carry out reconnaissance in support of the British Expeditionary Force. On 19 August Lieutenant G. W. Mapplebeck flew the squadron's first mission over France, a reconnaissance flight searching for German cavalry in the vicinity of Gembloux, Belgium. Other aircraft remained in England to carry out anti-Zeppelin patrols. [3] [4] [5]

The contingent in France was reinforced on 20 September by the personnel who had remained behind in England, forming C Flight, equipped with Maurice Farman "Shorthorns". It concentrated on the reconnaissance role, standardising on the B.E.2 in 1916. In the Battle of the Somme, 4 Squadron flew contact patrols keeping track of the position of advancing troops at low level, in addition to more regular reconnaissance and artillery spotting missions. It re-equipped with the Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 in June 1917, in time to take part in the Battle of Messines and the Battle of Passchendaele. During this period William Robinson Clarke, the first black pilot to serve for Britain, flew for the squadron. It remained equipped with the R.E.8 until the Armistice with Germany on 11 November 1918 ended the fighting. [6] The squadron returned to the United Kingdom in February 1919, disbanding in September that year. [3]

Between the wars Edit

No 4 Squadron reformed on 30 April 1920 at Farnborough, equipped with Bristol F.2 Fighters. Part of the squadron moved to Aldergrove near Belfast in November 1920 as a result of the Irish War of Independence, moving to Baldonnel Aerodrome near Dublin in May 1921, before rejoining the rest of the squadron at Farnborough in January 1922. [3] [5] [7] The Squadron deployed on Royal Navy aircraft carriers when they sailed to Turkey on HMS Ark Royal and Argus during the Chanak crisis in August 1922, returning to Farnborough in September 1923. When the 1926 General Strike broke out, No. 4 Squadron's aircraft were used to patrol railway lines to deter feared sabotage. [5] [8]

In October 1929, the elderly Bristol Fighters were replaced with new Armstrong Whitworth Atlas aircraft, purpose-designed for the squadron's Army co-operation role, while these in turn were replaced by Hawker Audaxes in December 1931. [5] [9] [10] In February 1937 it moved from Farnborough to RAF Odiham, soon re-equipping with the Hawker Hector, a more powerful derivative of the Audax. In January 1939, it discarded its Hector biplanes in favour of the new monoplane Westland Lysander. [11]

Second World War Edit

Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the squadron moved to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. Following Germany's invasion of France and the Low Countries on 10 May 1940, 4 Squadron was frequently forced to change bases by the approach of the advancing German armies, being withdrawn to the UK on 24 May. [7] Losses had been heavy, with 18 aircrew killed, while 60% of the groundcrew were lost. [5] It continued in the coastal patrol and air-sea rescue role while training for its main Army co-operation role after returning to the UK. [9]

In 1942 the Squadron changed its mission from the Army co-operation role, where it would operate fairly low-performance aircraft from airstrips close to the front-line, to that of fighter-reconnaissance, receiving the more modern Curtiss Tomahawk and North American Mustang, soon settling on the Mustang, flying low-level attack and reconnaissance flights against targets on the continent. In August 1943, it joined 2 Tactical Air Force in support of the planned invasion of Europe, changing to the pure reconnaissance mission in January, and replacing its Mustangs with Mosquito PR.XVI and Spitfire PR.XIs. It discarded its Mosquitoes in June, moved to France in August, and briefly supplemented its Spitfires with a few Hawker Typhoons for low-level reconnaissance. It retained its Spitfires at VE Day, moving to Celle in Germany to carry out survey operations in support of the British Army of Occupation until it was disbanded on 31 August 1945. [3] [5] [12]

Post War operations Edit

The squadron reformed the next day by renumbering 605 Squadron, a light bomber squadron equipped with Mosquitoes based at Volkel in the Netherlands. It re-equipped with de Havilland Vampire fighter-bombers in July 1950, replacing them with North American Sabres in October 1953. The Sabres were discarded in favour of the Hawker Hunter in July 1955, retaining these until the squadron disbanded at RAF Jever on 31 December 1960. [5] [11]

Again, the squadron did not remain dormant for long, as it reformed on 1 January 1961 by renumbering No. 79 Squadron RAF, flying Hunter FR.10s in the low-level reconnaissance role. It re-equipped with the Hawker-Siddeley Harrier in 1970, first flying them from RAF Wildenrath in West Germany. It moved on to RAF G├╝tersloh in 1977. [5] [11]

The squadron operated the Harrier until the final withdrawal of the type, receiving numerous upgrades and new versions over the years. In April 1999, the squadron left Germany to move to RAF Cottesmore. [5]

On 31 March 2010, No. 4 Squadron disbanded and reformed as No. 4 (Reserve) Squadron at RAF Wittering, taking over from No. 20 (R) Squadron as the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit. [13] As a result of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the squadron disbanded in January 2011, [14] only to reform on 24 November 2011, when No. 19 (R) Squadron, operating the BAE Hawk T2 from RAF Valley in the tactical weapons training role, was renumbered. [2]

In March 2020, the squadron was awarded the right to emblazon a battle honour on its squadron standard, recognising its role in Bosnia during 1995. [15]


No. 141 Squadron RAF -->

No. 141 Squadron of the Royal Air Force was formed on 1 January 1918 at Rochford, for home defence in the London Area. The Squadron moved to RAF Biggin Hill in February and giving up its mixed collection of types in favour of Bristol F.2 Fighters during March. In March 1919, it moved to Tallaght Aerodrome [2] Ireland, and was disbanded the following year, on 1 February 1920.

141 Sqn was reformed on 4 October 1939 at RAF Turnhouse and was first equipped with Gloster Gladiators then Bristol Blenheims. These were replaced with the Boulton Paul Defiants in April 1940. The first operational patrol was flown on 29 June.

The squadron moved to RAF West Malling, Kent in July. Following an unsuccessful encounter with the enemy a few days later, the squadron was re-designated a night fighter unit, a role more suited to the Defiant. The Squadron motto derives from this period.

Later, 141 Squadron converted to Bristol Beaufighters.

From 1943, it changed roles again to long range intruder operations with Beaufighters over occupied Europe, using the Serrate radar detector, while based at RAF West Raynham in Norfolk.

On 16 January 1958, No. 141 Squadron, based at RAF Coltishall, near Norwich in Norfolk, dropped the &apos1&apos at the beginning of its number and was thus reborn as 41 Squadron. In doing so, the reborn 41 Squadron automatically absorbed 141&aposs all-weather Gloster Javelin FAW.4 fighters and personnel. [3]

Its final incarnation was as a Bloodhound surface to air missile unit at RAF Dunholme Lodge from 1 April 1959 until 31 March 1964.


Watch the video: RAF at War 1939 41a (December 2021).