History Podcasts

No. 3 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 3 Squadron (RAF): Second World War


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

No. 3 Squadron (RAF) during the Second World War

No. 3 Squadron was one of the founding squadrons of the Royal Flying Corp in 1912. By 1939, it was a fighter squadron equipped with the Hawker Hurricane. Over the winter and spring of 1939-40 it was retained the Great Britain, but when the great German offensive began on 10 May 1940, No. 3 Squadron was one of several extra units rushed to France. Ten days later the squadron was back in the U.K., having lost almost its entire strength during the collapse.

Once back in Britain, the squadron was sent to Scotland to re-equip and regroup. On 21 July 1940 "B" flight of No. 3 Squadron was detached to form the nucleous of No. 232 Squadron. Once back at strength, No. 3 Squadron was used to guard the great Naval base at Scapa Flow, remaining in Scotland until April 1941.

In that month the squadron moved back south, beginning two years of night fighter duties. Single engined fighters were not really suited to the night fighter role, lacking the space for the AI radar or the endurance to carry out lengthy patrols. Even so, No. 3 Squadron remained on this duty until June 1943, when as a Typhoon squadron it went onto the offensive, attacking enemy shipping and flying day and night intruder missions over France and the Low Countries.

June-September 1944 saw the squadron diverted to defensive operations against the V-1 Flying Bomb, having recently recieved the Hawker Tempest. At the end of the V-1 offensive, the squadron moved to the continent, joining the 2nd Tactical Air Force and carrying out fighter-bomber sweeps behind enemy lines for the rest of the war (this duty was known as "armed reconnaissance", with the emphasis on the "armed").

Aircraft
July 1939-April 1941: Hawker Hurricane Mk I
April 1941-November 1941: Hawker Hurricane Mk IIA, IIB
April 1941-May 1943: Hawker Hurricane Mk IIC
February 1943-April 1944: Hawker Typhoon IB
February 1944-April 1949: Hawker Tempest V

Books

Group and Duty
3 September 1939-10 May 1940: Fighter squadron based in U.K.
10-20 May 1940: Brief deployment in France
23 May 1940-April 1941: Rest and re-equipping in Scotland, then defences of Scapa Flow
April 1941-June 1943: Night fighter and intruder duties
June 1943-June 1944: Fighter-bomber duties over Channel, France and Low Countries
June-September 1944: Anti V-2 duties
September 1944 onwards: Armed reconnaissance duties with 2nd Tactical Air Force

Location
28 August 1936-2 May 1939: Kenley
2 May-2 September 1939: Biggin Hill
2-10 September 1939: Croydon
10-17 September 1939: Manston
17 September-10 May 1940: Croydon
17 December 1939-10 February 1940: Detachment to Hawkinge
10 May-20 May 1940: Merville (France)
20 May-23 May 1940: Kenley
23 May-2 September 1940: Wick
2-14 September 1940: Castleton
14 September-9 October 1940: Turnhouse
9-12 October 1940: Dyce
12 October 1940-7 January 1941: Castletown
2 January-29 March 1941: Detachment to Sumburgh
7-10 January 1941: Skeabrae
10 February-3 April 1941: Castleton
3 April-3 May 1941: Martlesham Heath
3-13 May 1941: Debden
13 May-23 June 1941: Martlesham Heath
23 June-9 August 1941: Stapleford Tawney
9-August 1941-14 August 1942: Hunsdon
14 August-21 August 1492: Shoreham
21 August 1942-14 May 1943: Hunsdon
14 May-11 June 1943: West Malling
11 June-28 December 1943: Manston
28 December 1943-14 February 1944: Swanton Morley
14 February-6 March 1944: Manston
6 March-6 April 1944: Bradwell Bay
6-14 April 1944: Ayr
14-28 April 1944: Bradwell Bay
28 April-21 September 1944: Newchurch
21 September-28 September 1944: Matlask
28 September-1 October 1944: B.60 Grimbergen
1 October 1944-2 April 1945: B.80 Volkel
2-17 April 1944: Warmwell
17-26 April 1945: B.112 Hopsten
26 April-21 June 1945: B.152: Fassberg

Significant Dates
10-20 May 1940: Costly deployment to France
28 September 1944: Return to France with 2nd Tactical Air Force


File:Personnel of No.121 (Eagle) Squadron look on as three Spitfire Vbs come in to land at RAF Rochford in Essex, after a fighter sweep over northern France during August 1942. D9509.jpg

HMSO has declared that the expiry of Crown Copyrights applies worldwide (ref: HMSO Email Reply)
More information.

This tag is designed for use where there may be a need to assert that any enhancements (eg brightness, contrast, colour-matching, sharpening) are in themselves insufficiently creative to generate a new copyright. It can be used where it is unknown whether any enhancements have been made, as well as when the enhancements are clear but insufficient. For known raw unenhanced scans you can use an appropriate <> tag instead. For usage, see Commons:When to use the PD-scan tag.


No. 115 Squadron RAF is listed on this site as one of the many RAF Squadrons in which RAAF personnel served, fought and died during WW2.

The Empire Air Training Scheme supplied tens of thousands of aircrew for the Royal Air Force (RAF) air war in Europe during WW II. While a number of so-called Article XV national squadrons were created in Fighter, Bomber and Coastal Commands of the RAF, the majority of Australian aircrew were posted, along with their Commonwealth colleagues, to RAF Squadrons as individual crew members,where they would 'crew up' often with a very multi-national aircrew comprised of men from all over the Commownwealth. Ground staff were similarly assigned.

No. 115 Squadron originated in WW1 but had been disbanded during the interwar years, to be re-raised just prior to the outbreak of WW2. It was equipped with the rugged and reliable twin-engined Vickers Wellington medium bomber, with which it carried out a wide variety of raids including mine-laying. It was attached to Coatsal Command briefly. Later it trialled the Gee navigation aid which dramatically improved navigation accuracy and therefore the effectiveness of bombing raids.

From 1943 the Squadron was equipped with the Lancaster Mk II, readily identifed by the fact that it had Bristol Hercules air cooled radial engines rather than the in-line liquid cooled Rolls Royce Merlins with which the Lancaster is most often associated.

By the end of the war, 115 was operating Lancaster MK I and IIIs and two of these aircraft logged 97 and 105 sorties respectively, way above the average.

No. 115 Squadron had one of the finest operational service records in Bomber Command.

It flew 261 bombing and 27 mine laying raids consisting of 4678 Lancaster sorties. This was the second highest number of sorties in Bomber Command. Arguably dropped the second greatest tonnage of bombs, approximately 23,000 tons.The squadron lost 110 aircraft (2.4 percent) in these raids. Suffered the most loses in the whole of Bomber Command. Ed note thi would be disputed by other squadrons and depends on how 'losses' are calculated. An additional 22 Lancasters were destroyed in crashes.

No. 115 Squadron continued in existence after the war operating Lancasters until 1949 when it re-equipped with the Avro Lincoln. More information on its post-war activity is in the MoD link in the side-bar.

We would particularly like to encourage individual historians researchers or members of unit associations to contribute to the development of a more detailed history and photographs pertaining to this unit and its members.


Obituary: Polish war veteran served in artillery and two RAF squadrons

Wladyslaw (Walter) Swirski gained a reputation as a storyteller and it is no wonder. His life equalled the lifetime of several men.

The Waterdown businessperson — who died Dec. 5, 2020 at 99 — spent time in a Siberian labour camp after the Russians seized half of Poland following the start of the Second World War in 1939.

Freed after the Germans attacked the Soviet Union, he served in the artillery in the Battle of El Alamein that led to the defeat of the Germans in North Africa at the end of 1942.

Then, he trained as a pilot and flew Lancasters and Mosquitoes under the RAF, serving with the 300 Polish Bomber Squadron and the 307 Polish Night Fighter Squadron.

Missions saw the Poles bomb Berlin and Berchtesgaden, drop food for the starving Dutch in Operation Manna, and ferry British PoWs back to Britain.

Later on he earned his aeronautical engineering degree in England and, after he came to Canada, worked on the Avro Arrow, which was cancelled by the Diefenbaker government in 1959. Swirski ran a construction company, built the Waterdown Village Plaza in 1963 — based on his own design — and operated a few other businesses. He also spoke five languages, was active in his church and was a beekeeper.

“I look at the things he did — wow — this man went through it all,” said his daughter Mary Swirski, who is compiling her father’s papers. “He did so many things.”

Swirski’s war story has been retold by The Flamborough Review, The Memory Project and an Oral History Project by Crestwood, a private school in Toronto.

Swirski was born on May 7, 1921, in Bogdanowka, near the Russian border. His parents, Michael and Maria, were prosperous farmers. His father had been a Polish officer in the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1921.

Swirski said his father recommended he learn Russian and said that came in handy when the Russians seized him, his parents and brother Joseph and exiled them to Siberia in 1940.

Swirski said his family spent one month in a cattle car heading to a camp in a Siberian forest. If it wasn’t for food relatives had given them, he said they would have starved to death.

“They didn’t care less if we died or lived,” he said.

That tune changed after the Germans invaded Russia in June, 1941. All the Polish men were brought to a hall by the Russians and were told they were all now friends because they had a common enemy. He and his father started training in artillery with the Polish Army. Swirski made it to Palestine to join Gen. Wladyslaw Anders’ army.

The Battle of El Alamein was launched Oct. 23, 1942. It started with intense artillery fire and Swirski told The Review, “For two days, I couldn’t hear anything.” He was later wounded in the arm when his artillery unit moved into Italy.

In 1943, he went to Scotland to train as a pilot. He first flew Lancasters in the 300 squadron. He was transferred to the 307 Squadron, which had the Mosquito bomber/fighter. He said the squadron was chosen to bomb Berlin because of the agility of the Mosquito.

“We had to let Hitler know he was not untouchable,” said Swirski.

He returned to 300 squadron and had a couple of harrowing experiences. His plane crashed on return from a mission because his landing gear wasn’t working. The Lanc caught fire and he had to be pulled from the plane because he injured his knees.

In a mission over France, he was shot in both legs by a German fighter and again had to be dragged from the plane when it landed back in England.

Loading.

“I couldn’t raise my legs,” he recalled. “My boots were full of blood.”

The Lancasters were later equipped with American guns and his squadron was assigned to bomb Berteschgaden, Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps. His commanding officer was eager to try out the guns against German fighters and told him to slow down after the bombing so the fighters could catch up. He recalled the American guns proved their mettle — he said two fighters that caught up to the Lanc were quickly shot down.

After the war, Swirski rejected an offer to return to Communist-controlled Poland and made his way to Hamilton with his English bride Ethel. They moved to Waterdown in 1951

Swirski is survived by his children, Susan, Andrzej, Ted, Mary, Anna, Paul and Katherine, 13 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren He was predeceased by his wife Ethel in 2007 and his brother Joseph in 1986.


South Africans in the Royal Air Force – 1939 to 1945


There’s a sarcastic saying in the military – “Karma is a bitch!” It’s a flippent manner of saying they had it coming, what goes around comes around – and this is an example of it.
Gestapo member Johannes Post, executioner of Sqn Leader Rodger Bushell (known as ‘Big X’ as he masterminded “The Great Escape”), the moment the death sentence was announced at Post’s trial. He was hanged.
Roger Bushell, a born South African, was a Barrister in London, and Joined the RAF when war was declared.
Roger Bushell was in the RAF as a member of the RAF Auxillary Air Force before the war, he was a member of the 601 (County of London) Squadron also reffered to as the “millionaires” Squadron based at Hendon before the war. Just prior to the war it moved to Biggon Hill.
He led the famous escape from the German prisoner of war camp, Stalag Luft III. He was a victim of the Stalag Luft III execution squads when the escaped POW’s where captured and brought back.
Roger Bushell and a selection of another 49 Allied POW’s involved in this “Great Escape” were executed by the German Gestapo (Secret Police) on the orders of Adolf Hitler, the execution was declared a war crime as it broke with the conventions for dealing with Prisoners of War, Major Johannes Post was held to account along with 13 other Nazi officials and all were put to death.
Story for the South African Legion by Peter Dickens. Image copyright Topham.


Group Captain P H “Dutch” Hugo (left), Commanding Officer of No. 322 Wing RAF, and Wing Commander R “Raz” Berry, who took over leadership of the Wing in January 1943, conversing at Tingley, Algeria. Petrus Hendrik Hugo, a South African, joined the RAF on a short-service commission in February 1939. He flew with No. 615 Squadron RAF during the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain, and became a flight commander in September 1941. He was posted to command No. 41 Squadron RAF in November 1941, and then took over the leadership of the Tangmere Wing in April 1942 but was shot down (for a second time) and wounded shortly after. On recovery Hugo became Wing Leader at Hornchurch, but was soon posted to lead No. 322 Wing in the forthcoming invasion of North Africa (Operation TORCH). He took command of the Wing in November 1942 and added significantly to his victory score over Algeria and Tunisia. From March to June 1943, Hugo served on the staff at HQ North-West African Coastal Air Force, but returned to command 322 Wing in Malta, Sicily, France and Italy until it disbanded in November 1944. Having achieved 17 confirmed and 3 shared victories, he then joined the staff HQ Mediterranean Allied Air Forces and finished the war flying with the Central Fighter Establishment.
Copyright IWM Collection.


King George VI conferring a Bar to Flying Officer A G Lewis’s DFC in an awards ceremony at Duxford, Cambridgeshire. Lewis, a South African, had just returned to service with No. 249 Squadron RAF, after being shot down and badly burnt on 28 September 1940, at which time he had himself shot down 18 enemy aircraft.
Photo copyright IWM collection.

Group Captain A G ‘Sailor’ Malan, a South African who became a World War 2 flying ace during the Battle of Britain and finished the war with 35 aerial victories.
Sailor Malan was one of the most successful pilots of the war and won both the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) with Bar and DSC (Distinguished Service Cross) with Bar. Malan was born in Wellington, Western Cape. He joined the South African Training Ship General Botha in 1924 or 1925 as a cadet (cadet number 168), after which he joined the Union-Castle Line of the International Mercantile Marine Co. which later earned him the nickname of “Sailor” amongst his pilot colleagues.

Here he is photographed in the cockpit of his Supermarine Spitfire at Biggin Hill, Kent.
After the war, Sailor Malan retuned to South Africa to become a fierce opponent of Apartheid, and in 1951 along with the South African ‘Springbok’ Legion, he formed a protest group together with the War Veterans Action Committee, to appeal to a broader base of ex-servicemen, which they called the ‘Torch Commando’, as a tactic to fight the National Party’s policies of Apartheid.
At it’s height the Torch Commando attached 250 000 people, and actively campaigned for 5 years. The largest rally attracting 75 000 ex WW2 servicemen outside City Hall in Johannesburg. Sailor Malan was quoted as saying at this Rally “The strength of this gathering is evidence that the men and women who fought in the war for freedom still cherish what they fought for. We are determined not to be denied the fruits of that victory.”
This alarmed the government of the day somewhat who then embarked on a gradual program of marginalising the WW2 veterans and veteran associations which they saw as a threat.
Adolph ‘Sailor’ Malan died of Parkinson’s Disease in 1963.

Group Captain Adolph Gysbert “Sailor” Malan DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar (24 March 1910 – 17 September 1963), the South African World War 2 flying ace in conversation here with Flight Sergeant Vincent Bunting at Biggin Hill in 1943.
Vincent Bunting was one of a small group of ‘black’ British and Commonwealth pilots in full combat roles during the Second World War – he was born in Panama in June 1918 and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. He joined the RAF at No 1 Recruitment Centre, Uxbridge, on 26 July 1940. Selected for flying training he went on to become a fighter pilot mainly with RAF 611 Squadron.
This image of early racial recognition is testament to Sailor Malan as not only one of the most highly regarded fighter pilots of the war, but the future signs of Sailor Malan as a political fighter and champion for racial equality.
Sailor Malan left the Royal Air Force and returned to South Africa in 1946. In the 1950’s he formed a protest group of ex-servicemen called the ” Torch Commando” to fight the National Party’s plans to remove Cape coloured voters from the common roll. The Cape coloured franchise was protected in the Union Act of 1910 by an entrenched clause stating there could be no change without a two-thirds majority of both houses of Parliament sitting together. The Nationalist government, with unparalleled cynicism, passed the High Court of Parliament Act, effectively removing the autonomy of the judiciary, packing the Senate with NP sympathisers and thus disenfranchising the coloureds.
In a speech at a massive rally outside City Hall of South African veterans in Johannesburg, war hero “Sailor” Malan made reference to the ideals for which the Second World War was fought:
“The strength of this gathering is evidence that the men and women who fought in the war for freedom still cherish what they fought for. We are determined not to be denied the fruits of that victory.”
The Torch Commando fought the anti apartheid legislation battle for more than five years. At its height the commando had 250 000 members, making it one of the largest protest movements in South African history. DF Malan’s government was so alarmed by the number of judges, public servants and military officers joining the organisation that those within the public service or military were prohibited from enlisting – in the long term the this pressure led to the gradual erosion of the organisation.
Sadly, Sailor Malan succumbed on 17th September, 1963, from the rare Parkinson’s Disease about which little was known at the time.
It is to the embarrassment now as to his treatment as a South African military hero that all enlisted South African military personnel who attended his funeral where instructed not to wear their uniforms by the newly formatted SADF (the government did not want a Afrikaaner, as Malan was, idealised in death in the fear that he would become a role model to future Afrikaaner youth).
All requests to give him a full military funeral where turned down and even the South African Air Force were instructed not to give him any tribute. Ironically this action now stands as testimony to just how fearful the government had become of him as a political fighter.
To those who served with the Royal Air Force’s 74 Squadron anytime between 1936 and 1945 he was the greatest leader of them all. As a small token of their esteem, 28 of those remaining presented a ceremonial sword to the Squadron in July, 1966, at Headquarters Fighter Command, in proud memory of Sailor and in honour of his exceptional service to the Squadron.
It is intended that this Sword should serve as an inspiration to those coming after, so that his high standards of courage, determination and leadership shall live on.
John Mungo Park (who succeeded Sailor as Commanding Officer of 74 Squadron) said:
“What I like about Sailor is his quiet, firm manner and his cold courage. He is gifted with uncanny eyesight and is a natural fighter pilot.”
To read Mungo’s words is almost to hear Sailor’s quiet strong tones calling: “Let’s cut some cake. Let ’em have it!” as if the years had not slipped away, and as if his mortal remains did not lie beneath the Kimberley sun, so far from the English skies in which he fought so well. He was a man who, more than any other, could quote the motto of 74 Squadron, and say in all truth:
“I Fear No Man.”
/>
Stunning colourised photo of Sailor Malan – one of South Africa’s greatest flying aces and national hero.
Here is Group Captain A G “Sailor” Malan, Officer Commanding No. 145 Wing based at Merston, climbing in to the cockpit of his Supermarine Spitfire before taking off from Appledram, Sussex. Picture taken circa 1943.
Sailor Malan returned to South Africa and went on to become to fierce anti Apartheid campaigner after the war. A true national hero that history in South Africa has forgotten. He succumbed to Parkinson’s Disease in 1963 (it’s likely early onset now understood to be caused by combat stress) and he now lies under a Kimberly sun.
Image copyright Imperial War Museum collection. The amazing colouring done by Tinus Le Roux – many thanks for bringing new life to this hero.

/>
Another notable South African hero and Victoria Cross winner, Captain Edwin (Ted) Swales VC, DFC (pictured in the center with his crew) was born in Inanda, Natal, South Africa, he went to Durban High School (DHS) and then joined Natal Mounted Rifles, seeing action in Africa before he transferring to the South African Air Force and then went onto serve with the Royal Air Force (RAF).
In 1945, while with the RAF Pathfinders (No. 582 Squadron), Captain Swales was the Master Bomber and captain of Avro Lancaster III PB538. On 23 February 1945, the very same day as his D.F.C. award was gazetted, Swales led the bombing raid on Pforzheim, Germany.
Swales’ Victoria Cross citation reads:
“Captain Swales was ‘Master Bomber’ of a force of aircraft which attacked Pforzheim on the night of February 23, 1945. As Master Bomber he had the task of locating the target area with precision and of giving aiming instructions to the main force of bombers in his wake.
Soon after he reached the target area he was engaged by an enemy aircraft and one of his engines was put out of action. His rear guns failed. His crippled aircraft was an easy prey for further attacks. Unperturbed, he carried on with his allotted task clearly and precisely he issued aiming instructions to the main force. Meanwhile the enemy fighter closed the range and fired again. A second engine of Captain Swales’ aircraft was put out of action. Almost defenceless, he stayed over the target area issuing his aiming instructions until he was satisfied that the attack had achieved its purpose.
It is now known that the attack was one of the most concentrated and successful of the war. Captain Swales did not, however, regard his mission as completed. His aircraft was damaged. Its speed had been so much reduced that it could only with difficulty be kept in the air. The blind-flying instruments were no longer working. Determined at all costs to prevent his aircraft and crew from falling into enemy hands, he set course for home.
After an hour he flew into thin-layered cloud. He kept his course by skilful flying between the layers, but later heavy cloud and turbulent air conditions were met. The aircraft, by now over friendly territory, became more and more difficult to control it was losing height steadily. Realising that the situation was desperate Captain Swales ordered his crew to bail out. Time was very short and it required all his exertions to keep the aircraft steady while each of his crew moved in turn to the escape hatch and parachuted to safety.
Hardly had the last crew-member jumped when the aircraft plunged to earth. Captain Swales was found dead at the controls. Intrepid in the attack, courageous in the face of danger, he did his duty to the last, giving his life that his comrades might live”


A Battle of Britain hero who settled in South Africa after the war and made it his home.
Wing Commander M N Crossley standing in front of a Hawker Typhoon at Gravesend, Kent. In 1940 Crossley shot down 22 enemy aircraft over France and during the Battle of Britain while flying with No. 32 Squadron RAF, latterly as its Commanding Officer. He led a wing of Supermarine Spitfires in 1941, and was then posted to the united States as a test pilot for the British Air Commission.
He returned to England in 1943 to lead the proposed Detling Wing, but his operational flying career was cut short when he contracted tuberculosis and he immigrated to South Africa.
IWM Copyright


Another South African hero, Lieutenant Albert Sachs – South African Air Force seconded to No. 92 Squadron Royal Air Force, sitting on his Supermarine Spitfire Mark VIII at Canne, Italy. On 5 December 1943 Sachs scored the 99th and 100th victories for his Squadron when he shot down two Focke Wulf Fw 190s near Pescara, before colliding with a third Fw 190 and being forced to bale out. After a period as a flying instructor in the United Kingdom, he returned to Italy to command No. 93 Squadron RAF from September 1944 to February 1945.
Photo copyright IWM Collection


Peak of battle in the ‘Battle of Britain’, South African Pilot Officer Albert G Lewis of No. 85 Squadron grabs his flying helmet from the tailplane of his Hurricane, P2923 VQ-R, as a member of the ground crew warms up the engine prior to a sortie, Castle Camps, July 1940.
Photo Copyright IWM Collection.


South Africans and men and woman from all over the commonwealth performed all sorts of roles serving with the Royal Air Force in WW2, many as a secondment from the SAAF based on needed skills, and many in highly hazardous roles – as this photo caption outlines.
The crew of a Consolidated Liberator B Mark VI of No. 178 Squadron RAF which took part in the operations to resupply the Polish Home Army by air during the Warsaw Uprising. In attempting to drop their loads at under 500 feet over drop-zones in the middle of the heavily-defended city during August 1944, the Squadron suffered heavy losses, 9 aircraft being shot down in less than two weeks.
Photographed at their base at Amendola, Italy, the crew consists of (left to right): Sergeant John Rush (pilot) of Newcastle-on-Tyne Sergeant Derek Coates (wireless-operator) of Manchester Sergeant Peter Green (mid-upper gunner) of Morden, Surrey Lieutenant Keith Murray SAAF (navigator) of Johannesburg, South Africa Flight-Sergeant Derek Stuart RAAF (2nd pilot) of Ascot Vale, Australia and Flight-Sergeant Kenneth Pierce (tail gunner) of Pontypridd, South Wales.
Photo copyright IWM Collection

/>
Another famous South African hero and arguably the best fighter pilot we have produced – Squadron Leader Marmaduke Thomas St. John “Pat” Pattle DFC & Bar (3 July 1914—20 April 1941) more in him to come but here is a Messerschmitt Bf 109E of III/JG 77 which crash-landed on the airfield at Larrissa, Greece, possibly one of two claimed shot down by the South African Squadron Leader “Pat” Pattle, the Officer Commanding No. 33 Squadron RAF on 20 April 1941.
Image copyright IWM collection.


Photo from a LIFE Magazine article on one of South Africa’s greatest pilots during The Battle of Britain in WW2. The article followed South African Pilot Officer Albert G Lewis and was titled ‘A Pilot and his Hurricane’, here his Hurricane is been re-armed. The caption reads “Three armorers, called ‘plumbers,’ reload Hurricane’s eight machine guns with ammunition belts. Each gun gets 300 bullets, enough to last through 15 seconds of firing which comes is brief bursts. Each plane takes twelve ground men to keep it up.”
Photo copyright LIFE magazine.

/>
World War 2. Squadron Leader J J Le Roux, Commanding Officer of No 602 Squadron RAF in the cockpit of his Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX, “Betty”, at B11/Longues, Normandy. Le Roux, a South African, joined No. 73 Squadron RAF in France in 1940. He was shot down twelve times, but enjoyed better luck with No. 91 Squadron in 1941 and 1942, shooting down eight enemy aircraft before joining No. 111 Squadron RAF in North Africa. He ended his second tour in command of the Squadron. Following a rest from operations he was given command of No. 602 Squadron in July 1944. Le Roux is generally credited as the pilot who attacked and badly wounded Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel in his staff car on the road between Livarot and Vimoutiers on 17 July 1944, the day on which he also destroyed two Messerschmitt Bf 109s and damaged two more to bring his victory score to 23.5. On 29 August 1944, Le Roux took off in bad weather to collect some beer for his Squadron from England, but was lost en route.
Photo copyright IWM Collection

/>
Supermarine Spitfire Mark VIII, JF294, being flown from Cairo to Cape Town by Flying Officer G E “Tiger” Camplin of RAF Transport Command Mediterranean Group, for presentation to the South African Government. From March to September 1944, Fg Off Camplin gave a number of flying demonstrations in the Union and the aircraft was exhibited during the ‘Liberty Cavalcades’ in a number of towns. JF294 was transferred to the SAAF in October 1944 and was passed to the South African National Museum of Military History at Saxonwold in 1948, where it is presently displayed as �’
Photograph copyright – Imperial War Museum

/>
There are great South Africans, and then there are ones who stand on the shoulders of great men, and this man is one of them. Arguably the best Allied fighter ace of WW2, this South African stands heads and shoulders above other fighter aces and this rather unsung hero is indeed one of South Africa’s greatest sons.
Squadron Leader Marmaduke Thomas St. John “Pat” Pattle DFC & Bar (3 July 1914—20 April 1941) was a South African-born Second World War fighter pilot and flying ace— believed to be the most successful Western Allied fighter pilot of the war.
Pat Pattle was born in Butterworth, Cape Province, South Africa, on 3 July 1914, the son of South African-born parents of English descent, Sergeant-Major Cecil William John “Jack” Pattle (b. 5 September 1884) and Edith Brailsford (1881–1962). Marmaduke was named after his maternal grandfather, Captain Thomas Marmaduke Pattle, who resigned his commission in the Royal Horse Artillery and emigrated to South Africa from England in 1875.
Pattle was academically intelligent. He considered a degree and career in Mining engineering before developing an interest in aviation. He travelled to the United Kingdom and joined the RAF in 1936 on a Short Service Commission (SSC). Pattle negotiated the training programs with ease and qualified as a pilot in the spring, 1937.
Assigned to No. 80 Squadron RAF, he was sent to Egypt before the war in 1938. He remained there upon the outbreak of war in September 1939. In June 1940 Italy entered the war on the side of the Axis Powers and he began combat operations against the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Air Force) gaining his first successes during the Italian invasion of Egypt. By November 1940 had gained four aerial victories but had been shot down once himself.
In November 1940 his Squadron was redeployed to Greece after the Italian invasion. Pattle achieved most of his success in the campaign. In subsequent operations he claimed around 20 Italian aircraft shot down. In April 1941 he faced German opposition after their intervention.
During the 14 days of operations against the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Pattle claimed his 24—50th aerial victories all but three were German. Pattle claimed five or more aircraft destroyed in one day on three occasions, which qualified him for “Ace in a day” status. Pattle achieved his greatest success on 19 April 1941, claiming six air victories.
The very next day, having claimed more aerial victories than any other Western Allied pilot, he took off against orders, and suffering from a high temperature to engage German aircraft near the Greek capital Athens. He was last seen battling Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighters. His fighter crashed into the sea during this dogfight, killing Pattle.
Pattle’s death was equally heroic as he had dived down to rescue a fellow pilot who had a Bf-110 on his tail, Pattle managed to save him but at the loss of his own life, as he was also been attacked by Bf-110’s during the rescue – and he chose to ignore them to save his buddy.
Pattle was a fighter ace with a very high score, and is sometimes noted as being the highest-scoring British and Commonwealth pilot of the war. If all claims made for him were in fact correct, his total could be in excess of 51. It can be stated with confidence that his final total was at least 40 and could exceed this value. Log-books and semi-official records suggest this figure while personnel attached to his Squadron suspect the figure to be closer to 60. A total of 26 of Pattle’s victims were Italian 15 were downed with Gloster Gladiators, the rest with Hawker Hurricanes. He is considered to be the highest-scoring ace on both Gladiator (15 victories) and Hurricane (35 victories) fighters.
Pattle is however regarded as the ‘unofficial’ Highest scoring Western Allied Fighter pilot for WWII. Unfortunately the squadron war dairy and his log books were lost in the retreat from Greece.
Pattle’s medals are on display at the Ditsong National Museum of Military History in Saxonworld Johannesburg.
Thank you to Tinus Le Roux for the use of this rather rare photo of Pat Pattle, copyright and use to Tinus Le Roux.
Content thanks to Wikipedia and Sandy Evan Hanes.

This is the Official Website for South African Military Veterans Organisation of the USA - SAMVOUSA Their ideal is our legacy - Their sacrifice our inspiration At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.


Welcome to North Weald Airfield History The famous Battle of Britain fighter base

North Weald Airfield was the famous Battle of Britain fighter base - RAF North Weald - near to the Essex town of Epping and easily accessible from London. The airfield is still very active, and on most summer week-ends visitors may see some of the veteran and classic aircraft based on the airfield, such as the Spitfire, Mustang, Invader, Vampire, Hunter, Dakotas, Yaks and Jet Provosts, land and take-off.

The airfield also has a museum, and North Weald Airfield Museum is all about people. It's about the service personnel and civilians, who have lived, worked, flown, fought and died here since the airfield opened in 1916.

The museum sets out to tell their story of a famous airfield that has protected London during two world wars. The story is told in displays, with photographs, artefacts and personal memories.

The NWAMA Collection is housed in the former RAF North Weald Station Office. The extensive collection of photographs and artefacts is displayed in theme rooms that tell the story of the airfield and its people from 1916 to the present day. It is without doubt one of the best documented former RAF stations. There is access to an extensively researched history of the airfield. The area is enhanced by the new Memorial. Combine a visit to the Museum and the RAF North Weald Memorial, dedicated to all who served at North Weald.


Days of destiny: 5 key dates in the Battle of Britain

What are the key dates in the Battle of Britain? Kate Moore picks out five moments from that fateful summer, when a group of Allied pilots were engaged in desperate battles with their German foes, hoping to secure control of the skies and prevent a Nazi invasion of Britain

This competition is now closed

Published: September 15, 2020 at 11:45 am

Following the collapse of France, the Luftwaffe had spent most of the latter half of June and early July 1940 preparing for the coming battle with the British. As Wintson Churchill electrified the nation with his soaring oratory, strengthened the resolve of the embattled British people and gave them hope, a small band of fighter pilots – just over 700 in total – would indeed act as that thin blue line of defence.

Tentative plans had been made for an invasion of England, codenamed Operation Seelöwe (Sea Lion), but Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, commander of the Luftwaffe, believed that his air force alone could bring Britain to her knees. Göring, however, failed to recognise that the campaigns in the Low Countries and France had taken their brutal toll, and the Luftwaffe could now only muster 1,380 bombers and 428 dive-bombers, nowhere near the 5,000 he liked to boast of in his propaganda.

Supplemented by 1,100 fighters, the Luftwaffe still enjoyed a numerical superiority of almost five to one over the British defenders. But Göring’s bomber pilots should have taken little comfort in this. They were simply ‘potential kills’ for Spitfires and Hurricanes, incapable of attacking the British fighters effectively themselves. If the British pilots were deployed correctly, then the dice would not be as heavily stacked against Fighter Command as is commonly believed. It all came down to how the imminent battle would be fought.

10 July 1940: the official start of the Battle of Britain

The battle began with the Kanalkampf, or Channel Battles phase, when the Germans launched sustained attacks against British shipping to prevent much-needed supplies from reaching the beleaguered British Isles. Such attacks had been taking place since late June, but early July saw a marked increase in the frequency and ferocity.

The tenth of the month was the date later chosen by the RAF as the official start date for the battle proper and this day certainly saw the largest dogfight fought over the Channel up to that point. By sundown the RAF had lost seven planes against the Luftwaffe’s 13. This was an astonishing rate of success for the outnumbered British fighter pilots. German losses should have sent alarm bells ringing within the Luftwaffe high command but instead they chose to believe their own inaccurate intelligence reports that claimed 35 British ‘kills’. It was a portent of things to come.

Explore the Battle of Britain and its wider context in the Second World War

13 August 1940: Eagle Day

With the outcome of the Kanalkampf phase of the battle inconclusive, Göring made plans for an all-out assault against Fighter Command on the British mainland. Codenamed Adlerangriff (Eagle Attack), it was due to commence on 13 August. Yet the weather was to throw German plans into disarray. Grey skies and mist forced the Luftwaffe high command to order a postponement, and when several bombers – unaware of the change in plans – arrived over England unprotected by their fighter escort, they were badly mauled. The Luftwaffe regrouped in the afternoon and, flying in better weather conditions, launched a determined assault.

Throughout August the airfields would come under virtually unremitting attack, causing devastating losses to fighters caught on the ground as well as support crew. But the Luftwaffe continued to rely on faulty intelligence, frequently attacking bases that were not operational fighter stations. A total of 87 RAF aircraft were destroyed on the ground on 13 August, but only one of these was from Fighter Command. Three British pilots were killed, while the Luftwaffe lost almost 90.

Fighter Command could take heart from its performance. The tactic of deploying in small numbers to prevent all available fighters being caught refuelling on the ground was paying dividends. However this policy required nerves of steel from the heavily outnumbered British pilots.

18 August 1940: The Hardest Day

Believing their attacks were decimating the much smaller force of Fighter Command, the Luftwaffe planned a series of ambitious assaults on key British airfields including Kenley, Biggin Hill, Hornchurch and North Weald. With the British pilots putting up a desperate defence, the attacks were soon reaping a grim harvest. In fact, 18 August saw both sides suffering their greatest number of losses so far: 69 German aircraft versus Fighter Command’s 29. It had been a terrible day but just one in an ongoing battle of attrition.

It is little wonder then that many pilots on the frontline of Britain’s defence were beginning to show the strain, as Spitfire pilot Alan Deere recalled: “You were either at readiness or you were in the air. It was pretty tiring. I was bloody tired, I can tell you very tired. My squadron, 54, I think we were down to five of the original pilots so were operating on a bit of a shoestring.”

Listen to historian James Holland describing how the Luftwaffe and RAF fought to control the skies over Britain in 1940, in a talk from our 2015 History Weekend at Malmesbury. He explains how Britain came out on top in one of the pivotal clashes of the Second World War:

7 September 1940: The Blitz begins

Dismayed by the failure to destroy Fighter Command and incensed by a British bombing raid on Berlin, Göring turned his attention to London. Now the citizens of the British capital would feel the full wrath of the Luftwaffe, and in the process either the RAF would be destroyed or the British government would be forced to the negotiating table.

British radar screens lit up as wave after wave of German bombers streamed towards London. It was an astonishing and terrifying sight, 350 Luftwaffe bombers accompanied by 617 German fighter aircraft.

Within an hour, every squadron in a 70-mile radius of the capital was either airborne or waiting to be scrambled. Fighter Command realised too late that the raid’s intended target was not its own airfields – and soon, bomb after bomb began to rain down on the docks, factories and houses below. The British were caught unprepared and lost 28 aircraft and 448 lives in the attacks. But once again there was no definitive result. Another test was required.

15 September 1940: Battle of Britain Day

A spell of bad weather had meant a delay in hostilities on Eagle Day. But 15 September dawned clear and bright. As the first German bombers began to appear one after the other, the British scrambled their fighter squadrons.

Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park, commander of No 11 Group, responsible for the defence of London, famously ordered all his aircraft into the air to defend the capital, abandoning his own policy of deliberate, smaller attacks by individual squadrons.

Drawing on reserves from No 12 Group to the north, the British fighters swarmed around the massed German formations, peeling the fighter escorts off into individual dogfights. It was a tactic that left the bombers unprotected – and they were soon falling in devastating numbers.

Park’s decision was absolutely critical. If the Germans had launched a second mass raid immediately after the first, British fighters would have been caught on the ground refuelling. But Park had banked on the Luftwaffe having no reserves, as was the case with Fighter Command. He took a huge gamble, but battles are not won by the timid. For months the Luftwaffe had believed that Fighter Command was on its last legs and all that was required was a final knock-out blow. As the Germans tallied up their devastating losses, it was clear that they had failed.

Kate Moore is the author of The Battle of Britain (2010), which was published by Osprey in association with the Imperial War Museum


No. 3 Squadron (RAF): Second World War - History

41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946

This website provides a nominal role of every pilot known to have served on 41 (F) Squadron RAF during its first 30 years, from April 1916 to March 1946, plus key data pertaining to the Squadron during this period.

41(R) Squadron is one of the oldest Royal Air Force squadrons in existence it will celebrate its Centenary in 2016. The unit has seen service from World War I, through Policing Duties in Aden in the 1930s, throughout World War II, and more recently in the First Gulf War and Yugoslavia.

At least 187 pilots served with the Squadron during World War I. Of these, 39 were killed in action or died on active service, 48 were wounded or injured, and 21 became Prisoners of War. They were credited with destroying 111 aircraft and 14 balloons, sending down 112 aircraft out of control, and driving down a further 25 aircraft and five balloons. The men were awarded four DSOs, six MCs, nine DFCs, four Mentions in Dispatches, and two French and two Belgian Croix de Guerre two of the ground crew also received Military Medals.

41 Squadron was formally disbanded on 31 December 1919, but re-formed again at RAF Northolt on 1 April 1923. At least 202 pilots served with the unit between 1 April 1923 and 2 September 1939. During this period, eleven men were killed and three injured in flying accidents, three injured in airscrew accidents on the ground, and one pilot killed and a second injured in automobile accidents. Although no Battle Honours were granted nor any decorations awarded during this time, the era produced ten Air Commodores, nine Air Vice-Marshals, two Air Marshals and two Air Chief Marshals.

A further 325 pilots served with 41 Squadron during World War II, of whom 64 were killed in action or flying accidents, or died of injuries, wounds or other causes on active service. Fifty-eight were wounded in action, or injured in flying or non-flying accidents. Three pilots were shot down over enemy territory and evaded capture, and four were shot down or ditched in the Channel and were rescued. Another 21 pilots became Prisoners of War. The men were awarded three DSOs, 21 DFCs, one DFM, and one Mention in Dispatches.

It is believed that at least another 29 pilots also served with the unit between 1 June 1945 and its disbanding on 31 March 1946. This suggests that almost 700 pilots served on 41 Squadron during its first thirty years. Biographical details and information on the service of every one of these men are included in this website.

This website was created on 31 January 2003 and was last updated on 3 July 2020


As with all aspects of the history of Bomber Command, Canadians played a major role in the Dams Raid. Of the 133 airmen that set out on the raid, 30&hellip

In 1939 the only aircraft available to Bomber Command were twin engined and includedthe Whitworth Whitley, Bristol Blenheim, Handley Page Hampden, and Vickers Wellington. As the war progressed the swift, twin-engined de avilland Mosquito&hellip


Imaging the Empire: the 3rd Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron in World War II.

The strategic bombardment of Japan by the Twentieth Air Force, combined with the Allied naval and land offensives, paved the way for victory over the Japanese Empire m 1945. To accomplish this feat. the XXth's bomber commands dropped more than 147,000 tons of bombs and supported the 509th Composite Group's two atomic strikes. The success of this aerial onslaught belonged in no small part to the efforts of one overworked and under-appreciated unit--the 3d Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (3d PRS).

The 3d PRS was activated on June 10, 1941, as the Army Air Corps expanded in the run up to World War II. Initially, the 3d PRS was used to chart the Western Hemisphere, but moved on to map the China-Burma-India Theater in December 1943. The unit was disestablished overseas and re-established at Smoky Hill Army Airfield, Kansas, in April 1944, for conversion to the Boeing F-13. (1)

On April 7, 1944, requirements were established for a B-29 modified to perform photo reconnaissance missions, with the first production F-13 to be delivered on September 19. Production B-29s were sent to the Denver Modification Center. where the bomb bay was sealed and extra fuel tanks added. A camera section was built in the aft pressurized section of the fuselage behind the central fire control station. A single vertical camera, a split-vertical two camera assembly, and a tri- metrogon camera assembly made up the mission payload of the F-13. In addition, a camera was added to image the scope of the AN/APQ-13 radar to provide radar images for blind bombing and navigation. (2)

Due to the delay in F-13 development, the 3d PRS's initial flight training in Kansas involved photographic missions flown in reconnaissance versions of the B-17 and type conversion flown on hand-me-down B-29s. (3) The squadron, commanded by ex-test pilot, Lt. Col. Patrick McCarthy since July 1943, worked through these delays and put the ground echelon aboard a troop train on August 3 for the trip to California and embarkation to Saipan. The air echelon stayed and trained with whatever was available. While a "training" F-13 arrived on August 24, the first operational F-13 for overseas use did not arrive in Kansas until October 4. As more operational aircraft arrived, crews were put through their paces and sent off to the fight, with the first F-13 departing on October 19. (4)

Just as the 3d PRS was reformed specifically to operate the F-13, the Twentieth Air Force was created for the sole purpose of using the B-29 to bomb Japan. Originally composed of the XXth Bomber Command, based in India, it started a desultory bombing campaign against Japan in mid-1944. But it was not until early 1945, after the creation of the XXIst Bomber Command, on Saipan and Guam, hat the campaign accelerated. Possessing scant data on Japan's war industry and home defenses, a long-range photographic squadron was critical to the success of this plan. (5)

The ground echelon of the 3d PRS, contained in the holds of six ships, pulled into Saipan's harbor on September 18. Twenty-five Quonset huts were erected within the squadron operations area, as a ground echelon, under Major Yost, rushed to get ready for flight operations that would commence as soon as their aircraft arrived. The first two F-13As winged into Saipan via Oahu and Kwajalein on October 30, and were immediately prepared for a mission. Two days later, Capt. Ralph Steakley, rested from the ferry flight, flew the first combat sortie with F-13A S/N 42-93852, "Tokyo Rose," imaging industrial installations and aircraft plants around Tokyo. Nineteen Japanese fighters rose to try and intercept the lone B-29 type aircraft--as well as to engage the F-13 with flak--to no avail. Steakley earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for this mission and would be awarded the Bronze Star four weeks later for saving aircraft during a Japanese raid on the base.

Images from this mission provided the Twentieth's planners their first good look at targets around Tokyo the images were quickly utilized on XXIst Bomb Command missions later that month. While the first mission was a stunning success, five of the next seven sorties ran into bad weather, causing the subsequent eight missions to be devoted to weather observation to help the meteorologists better understand Japan's weather. By the end of the month, nine F-13s were on strength and twenty-seven sorties were flown twelve more F-13s would arrive over the next three months, making up for three combat losses and an unlucky aircraft destroyed during a Japanese air raid on December 7, 1944. (6)

By the turn of the year, the squadron still under the steady hand of Lieutenant Colonel McCarthy, averaged thirty sorties per month and flew myriad imagery-related missions. Many missions expanded the knowledge of the Twentieth's staff by mapping large swaths of Japan and surveying air defenses to obtain accurate airfield and anti-aircraft artillery orders of battle. In addition, the squadron's F-13s would range across Japan, imaging industrial sections of Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, and other large cities to plot future targets or winging over a target area following a raid to provide battle damage assessment. The 3d PRS was also tasked to support the upcoming invasion of Okinawa, fighting bad weather on seventeen missions over a three-month period, before finding a clear day and mapping the entire island on February 28. The squadron also experimented with flying bomber support missions to aid in the survivability of their B-29 brethren. Between November 24 and December 13, five missions tasked F-13s with dropping "rope" (300-foot foil strips held vertical by a small parachute) out of flare chutes. Dispensing of this "chaff" would commence with the aircraft's climb to altitude and would continue for approximately 100 miles, stopping before the aircraft crossed the Japanese coast and flew on to its tasked targets. Their intent was to confuse Japanese defenders into believing the single F-13 was an inbound Twentieth Air Force bomber raid and drawing some Japanese interceptors away from the main bomber effort of the day. It appears the mission was not performed after December 1944, but by March the 3d PRS was preparing to fly additional bomber support missions with modified B-24 aircraft. (7)

A flight of the 3d PRS was assigned four modified B-24J/M aircraft for the purpose of electronically mapping the Japanese air defense system. The flight was essentially a self-contained unit within the 3d PRS and operated unique B-24 aircraft that were hand-built at the Fairfield Air Depot in Ohio. The bomb bay was sealed over, with the forward bomb bay housing additional fuel tanks and the aft bay housing a compartment for two electronic warfare officers and their equipment. At mid-fuselage, the radar operator worked with the navigator to accurately plot the aircraft location, while in the nose two Japanese linguists operated communications intercept gear. The aircraft carried sensitive electronic receivers that allowed the crew to intercept and plot Japanese radars, noting their electronic characteristics to aid in setting radar jammers used by the B--29 force. (8)

The Japanese linguists listened in on Japanese fighter controllers and enabled the Twentieth's intelligence staff to better understand Japanese fighter tactics. (9) The flight started flying operationally on May 18, 1945 and logged forty-two combat missions by the end of the war. These missions --many ranging up to twenty hours and including en route refueling stops--were flown in conjunction with bomber strikes and over time helped increase the survivability of not only the B-29s, but also the F-13s operated by their squadron mates. (10)

By late 1944, the 3d PRS crews settled into a routine that would last for the remainder of the war. A typical mission would start with mission planning the evening prior to the sortie. Crews were awakened two and one half hours prior to takeoff, allowing time for breakfast, a briefing and a truck ride to their assigned F-13. The aircraft was usually in the air before 4:00 AM, with a long over-water flight to Japan accomplished below 2,000 feet to decrease radar detection. LORAN assisted in getting the F-13 to its climb point 250 miles from the coast, a distance that allowed the aircraft to be over 30,000 feet by the time it crossed the target. This altitude helped decrease the effects of anti-aircraft fire and the chance of interception by Japanese fighters. Most missions met little opposition, Kawasaki Ki-61 and Ki-45 fighters along with Nakajima Ki-44 and J1N aircraft were all noted in 3d PRS combat debriefs as making single runs at the well-armed F-13s. A few missions reported simultaneous attacks by four to five fighters but the results were normally in favor of the 3d PRS crews due to the poor high altitude performance of the Japanese fighter aircraft. Flak was usually light as well, though some major cities would throw 50 to 100 rounds of ammunition at the single reconnaissance aircraft passing overhead. (11)

Though the 30,000 foot altitude protected the F-13s from the Japanese defenses, it could also hinder the crews from completing their primary mission. Many times in the winter and spring, the crews would find their targets cloud covered, leaving the pilots the option of searching for clear skies to shoot targets of opportunity or taking radar scope images of their tasked targets. Often the pilots would push their aircraft into a dive to seek out the base of the clouds, popping into the clear at 10,000 feet or lower and commencing their photo run at this riskier altitude. (12)

An hour or so would be spent making photo graphic runs before the aircraft turned for home, recovering up to fourteen hours after takeoff. The film was rushed to the squadron photo labs for processing immediately after landing, with high priority targets printed out and distributed to Twentieth Air Force leaders by 8:00 AM the next day. All useful photographs were interpreted and the results summarized in Damage Assessment Reports, Survey Reports, Photo Interpretation Reports and others were distributed throughout the Pacific. The Twentieth Air Force staff was an avid consumer of the Damage Assessment Reports, using the imagery assessments to judge the effectiveness of raids and call for re-attacks on targets if necessary. (13)

Like their bomber squadron brethren, the 3d PRS crews also had to contend with the mechanical challenges of operating the B-29-type airframe. Many missions were aborted due to mechanical problems, while others worked through engine problems to accomplish their assignments. Mission 272, flown by Lt. Robert Hickethier on June 8, 1945, was typical. F-13 [SN 42-93865] departed North field, on Guam, at 1501 Zulu on June 7, with the intent of imaging Kobe and Osaka. The flight to Japan was uneventful, though it was noted that engine No. 1 tended to backfire occasionally. Once landfall was made, engine No. 1 backfire d repeatedly and in an intense manner. After directing the flight engineer to reduce power on that engine, Lieutenant Hickethier, a 3d PRS veteran who had been at Guam since November, decided to press on with the mission. He encountered light, but accurate flak and bad weather. Nonetheless, flying through gaps in the clouds over Osaka, the crew succeeded in taking some photographs. After checking the rest of the targets and finding them socked in, Hickethier turned home toward Guam, landing on North Field almost exactly fourteen hours after departing. (14)

The squadron continued to base out of Saipan, though the balance of the squadron personnel transferred to Guam on January 11, 1945. Starting in mid-January, longer duration missions would launch from the more northern base of Saipan and recover at Guam, a trend that continued until April, when all missions were originating and ending out of Guam. Saipan continued to be a divert field for weather or low fuel, though it was replaced by Iwo Jima in late March after this island was secure. In April, the squadron stood up a maintenance detachment at Iwo for this purpose, servicing sixteen returning aircraft in July alone. (15)

The squadron charged hard through the spring of 1945, building upon the experience gained from the past five months of combat operations. Squadron F-13s ranged across Japan, splitting their time between bomb damage assessment, search and survey work, and target development imaging. Many target areas were re-tasked as Japan dispersed critical war industries throughout the countryside. For the rest of the war the 3d averaged fifty-five sorties per month, many accomplished in surges of four to five missions in a single day, followed by two or three down days, likely driven by maintenance, weather, and Twentieth Air Force operational tempo. These missions were flown by the twenty-five 3d PRS crews in the fifteen to eighteen aircraft carried on the unit roster. (16)

In April 1945, the 3d PRS dispatched a detachment of three aircraft and requisite personnel to Morotai Island to map the Netherlands East Indies for the Thirteenth Air Force. The F-13As ranged across Java, mapping the island and towns of Batavia and Soerabaja for a month before returning to Guam. The 3d PRS also expanded their repertoire over Japan, trying out different missions besides the standard daylight imagery profile they flew daily in and out. Six missions were flown in May and June to take films of Twentieth Air Force B-29 strikes over Japan, detailing bomber formations and damage from the attacks. Four night missions were also flown in April and May, shooting photos under the glare of photo flash bombs. Neither mission type appears to have caught on with the unit. (17) At the end of June, the squadron bid farewell to its commander of two years, Colonel McCarthy, who was succeeded by Maj. Robert Hutton, an experienced reconnaissance pilot.

Hutton "did not miss a beat," expanding squadron operations in July, the squadron winged further north and started to image the Korean peninsula. At the end of the month, three aircraft deployed to Iwo Jima and performed a ten-day, in-depth survey of Japanese merchant and naval vessels. By late July, aircraft started to use Okinawa as an alternate landing field, three F-13s landing at the newly-liberated island for maintenance or refueling. As the war entered its final month, the squadron gave two missions to the shadowy 509th Composite Group. The atomic bombers planned the routes for the post-strike survey flights flown by the F-13s and processed all the film, keeping all information on the atomic attacks in-house. (18)

It was fitting that the 3d PRS helped the 509th Composite Group knock Japan out of the war. In the ten months the squadron was part of the Twentieth Air Force, it flew 450 imagery and forty-two signals intelligence missions. Reconnaissance photos turned out to be a critical factor in the strategic bombing campaign against Japan, not only for locating Japan's industry for the first time, but also in providing timely damage assessment that allowed planners to adjust future bomber strikes. Indeed, the 3d was crucial in providing Maj. Gen. Curtis E. LeMay feedback in bomber effectiveness as he adjusted B-29 tactics in the spring of 1945. After hostilities ceased, the squadron continued its survey missions throughout the western Pacific, updating maps for postwar use until the call came to case its colors in March 1947. With little fanfare, the squadron that had helped direct the strategic bombing of Japan faded into oblivion. (19)

The 3d PRS helped set the stage for postwar Strategic Air Command's reconnaissance efforts. As opposed to Eighth Air Force operations in Europe, that utilized Royal Air Force imagery and electronic reconnaissance efforts, the Twentieth Air Force was a completely American show. Airmen were able to see the criticality of strategic reconnaissance for a bombing campaign, and for the need to have this information available at the start of the campaign, not mid-way through it. Strategic Air Command's whole-hearted embrace of the reconnaissance mission for the next forty years was due in no small part to a solitary squadron and its odd collection of modified B-24 and B-29 aircraft. The ripple effects of these missions are felt even today, as daily 55th and 9th Reconnaissance Wings' sensitive reconnaissance operations probe the fringes of future hot spots, and preparing the battle space for possible follow on operations. Never again should we go into a bombing campaign unprepared.

(1.) Mauer Mauer, World War H Combat Squadrons of the United States Air Force, (Smithmark Publishers, Woodbury, N.Y., 1992), pp. 21-22 3 PRS, Historical Data, Narrative History, Documents of 3d Photo Reconnaissance Squadron [3d PRS], Period: 13 Apr 1944 to 1 Nov 1944, Air Force Historical Research Agency, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Apr 1944-May 1945, Maxwell AFB, Ala. [hereafter, AFHRA]

(2.) David Morse, "Eye in the Sky: The Boeing F-13," Journal American Aviation Historical Society, Summer 1981, pp. 150-53.

(3.) HQ, Second Air Force, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Memo for Commanding General, Army Air Forces, Attn: AC of Air Staff, Training, Reconnaissance Training Branch, dated June 3, 1944, subj "Periodic Report Third Photo, Reconnaissance Squadron (VLR)," HQs 499th Bombardment Group (VH), SHAAF, Salina, Kansas, unaddressed memo, July 31, 1944, subj "Report on the Status of 3rd Photo Recon Squadron as of 31 July 1944," AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-Su-Co, 1942-1944.

(4.) 3 PRS, Historical Data, Narrative History, Documents of 3d Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, [PRS] Period: 13 April 1944 to 1 Nov 1944, AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3HI, Apr-1944-May 1945.

(5.) Alvin Coox, "Strategic Bombing in the Pacific, 1942-1945," in R. Cargill Hall, Case Studies in Strategic Bombardment, (Wash., D.C.: Center for Air Force History, 1998), pp. 275-99.

(6.) 3 PRS, History of the Advance and Air Echelon of the 3rd Photo Reconnaissance Squadron from 18 September 1944 to 3 December 1944. AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Sep 44 -Dec 44 Public Relations Office, Twentieth Air Force, Release No. 329, Aug 26, 1945. AFHRA. Sq-Photo-3-SuCo, Aug 44-Oct 45.

(7.) 3 PRS, History of the Advance and Air Echelon of the 3rd Photo Reconnaissance Squadron from 18 September 1944 to 3 December 1944. AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Sep 44-Dec 44 3 PRS, History for Month of January 1945. AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Jan-45, 3 PRS, History for Month of February 1945. AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Feb 45.

(8.) "The Search for Jap Radar," Radar, Issue 10, 30 June 1945, Radiation Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology reprinted March 1985, Product Support Department, Ferranti Defense Systems, Ltd.

(9.) Office of the Communications Officer, Headquarters, XXI BC. Memo to DCS/Operations, subj: RCM Ferret Aircraft, dated 25 February 1945. Filed in Monograph II-RCM Reconnaissance and Countermeasures, 24 November 1944-June 1945. August 1945. AFHRA, 762.041-2 Larry Tart and Robert Keefe, The Price of Vigilance: Attacks on American Surveillance Flights (N.Y.: Ballantine Books, 2001), pp. 170-71.

(10.) For additional information on "R Flight", please see the author's article in March 2011, issue of FlyPast magazine.

(11.) Public Relations Office, Twentieth Air Force, Release No. 329, August 26, 1945. AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-Su-Co, Aug 44-Oct 45,.

(12.) Public Relations Office, Twentieth Air Force, Release No. 329, August 26, 1945. AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-Su-Co, Aug 44-Oct 45.

(14.) 3 PRS, Combat Mission No. 272, Sq-Photo-3-Su-Ops, 8 Jun 45, AFHRA.

(15.) 3 PRS, History for Month of January 1945. AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Jan 45 3 PRS, History for Month of February 1945. AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Feb 45 3 PRS, History for Month of April 1945. AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Apr-45, Headquarters 3rd Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, APO 234, Memo for Commanding Officer, 3d PRS, dated Jan 22, 1945, subj "Operations of 3rd Photo Recon Squadron from Guam, Staging at Forward Bases.", SqPhoto-3-Su-Co, Aug 44-Oct 45 3 PRS, History for Month of July 1945, AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Jul 45.

(16.) 3 PRS, History for Month of February 1945. AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Feb 45, Maxwell AFB, Ala., 3 PRS, History for Month of March 1945, AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Mar 45, Maxwell AFB, Ala. 3 PRS, History for Month of April 1945, AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Apr 45. 3 PRS, Mission Reports 31-112, AFHRA Sq-Photo-3-Su-Ops, Feb-Mar 45.

(17.) 3 PRS, History, May 1945, AFHRA Sq-Photo-3-HI, May 4. 3 PRS, History for Month of April 1945, Sq-Photo3-HI, Apr 45 3 PRS, History, June 1945, AFHRA SqPhoto-3-HI, Jun 4 3 PRS, Mission Reports 113-310. AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-Su-Ops, Apr-Jun 45.

(18.) David Morse, "Eye in the Sky: The Boeing F-13," Journal American Aviation Historical Society, Summer 1981, p. 159-60 3 PRS, History for Month of July 1945. AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Jul 45 3 PRS, History for Month of August 1945, AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Aug 45.

(19.) 3 PRS, History for Month of August 1945, AFHRA, Sq-Photo-3-HI, Aug 45.


Watch the video: Α Παγκόσμιος Πόλεμος Ντοκιμαντέρ - Έγχρωμο - Επεισόδιο-3: Αίμα στον αέρα (May 2022).