Squadron & Personal Biographies
Sydney Camm's immortal fighter and mainstay of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, the eight-gun Hawker Hurricane single seat, Rolls-Royce Merlin engined monoplane outnumbered the Spitfire, and Hurricane pilots shot down more enemy aircraft than all other defences, air and ground, combined. Hurricanes destroyed more enemy aircraft than any other allied fighter in the Second World War.
Mitchell's best-known design ;an elegant single-seat fighter, also powered by the Rolls-Royce Merlin still an instantly recognisable aircraft, even today.
Formed 1936 from original Home Defence Force. HQ at RAF Bentley Priory, Stanmore, Middlesex. First Air Officer Commanding in Chief was Sir, later Lord, Hugh Dowding. Divided into four Area Groups.
Air Vice Marshal Sir Keith Park
A.O.C 11 Group in South-East England which bore the brunt of the Battle. Based at RAF Uxbridge until relieved of his command in December 1940; he and Dowding championed the policy of only one or two squadrons attacking the enemy at a time, in opposition to Leigh-Mallory's 'Big Wing' ideas.
Air Vice Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory
Commanded 12 Group (Eastern England) based at Watnall. Opposed Park's fighter tactics, championing the idea of at least five squadrons flying together as a 'big wing'. He replaced Park as head of 11 Group in December 1940, but was killed in an air crash in Italy whilst en route to India later in the war.
Royal Observer Corps
30,000 men and women, many part-time civilians under Air Ministry control, became 'Royal' 1941.HQ at Stanmore; responsible for spotting and reporting hostile aircraft movements to permit rapid response by aircraft and guns.
11 Group airfield in the Kenley sector; heavily attacked in August 1940. Home to several squadrons including 72 (Spitfires) and 111 (Hurricanes).
No 46 Squadron
Flew Hurricanes in Norway and in the Battle of Britain, in which it was heavily involved, intercepting a rare formation of Italian aircraft on the 11th November 1940 over the east coast.
No 141 Squadron
Flew the Defiant in the Battle of Britain; flying from RAF Hawkinge, on 19th July it made a Channel patrol; on this first day, six out of nine aircraft were lost in a combat with Bf 109s near Folkestone and the squadron was moved to Scotland for convoy escort and night-fighting duties, with which it achieved some success.
No 219 Squadron
Flew the Blenheim 1f night-fighter on day and night patrols and convoy escort duties from RAF Catterick later in the Battle of Britain, alongside Beaufighters from September 1940.
No 222 Squadron
Flew the Spitfire in the Battle of Britain from RAF Hornchurch, suffering heavy casualties; by the end of August it was down to three serviceable aircraft, but recovered the following month with combats over the Thames Estuary.
No 229 Squadron
Flew Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain, initially from Wittering, moving to RAF Northolt, north London, in September 1940. Its first action came on September 11th 1940 when it destroyed four aircraft with a loss of three. It was in action throughout September 1940 on routine patrols and combats with smaller formations later in the month, moving overseas in May 1941.
No 249 Squadron
Flew Hurricanes in the Battle; the only fighter squadron to have a pilot awarded the Victoria Cross in WW2, to Flt. Lt James Nicholson for combat on August 16th 1940, when he stayed in his burning Hurricane to shot down a Bf 110.Later in September it moved to North Weald for intensive combat over London, soon being reduced to seven serviceable aircraft; on 27th September however, Pilot Officer A.G Lewis D.F.C claimed six aircraft destroyed. Battles continued into October, the Squadron moving over to convoy patrols in November 1940.
No 253 Squadron
Flew the Hurricane from RAF Kenley in the Battle of Britain after suffering heavy losses in the Battle of France. It returned to action on the 29th August 1940, defending Croydon and Kenley airfields the following day; it faced two or three heavy attacks a day throughout September 1940, the pressure easing through October and November to patrols over Kent and occasional combats.
No 264 Squadron
Flew the two-seat turret fighter, the Boulton Paul Defiant, in the Battle of Britain - it was the first squadron to receive this aircraft. After covering the French coast in May and defending Hull in mid August 1940, moved to RAF Manston on 24th August and lost 11 aircraft and 14 aircrew in four days so was withdrawn from day fighting and began night patrols, initially with few interceptions until several successes in March 1941.
No 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force
As the first Auxiliary squadron to receive Hurricanes, flew the aircraft from RAF Biggin Hill and Kenley in the Battle of Britain, defending the skies over Kent. It made three or four scrambles daily against Luftwaffe formations throughout August and September 1940 until pressure eased off and it returned to Filton, Bristol in December 1940, having claimed some 119 aircraft destroyed during the Battle of Britain period.
No 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Was the first auxiliary unit to receive the Spitfire, and from August 1940 flew the aircraft from RAF Tangmere in the Battle of Britain. It flew mainly over the Channel, attempting to catch the German formations before they reached the coast. On 16th August it opened its score during the Battle, claiming eight aircraft that day. Attacks on RAF airfields brought its operations inland, and by the end of September 1940 it was claiming 75 Luftwaffe victims. It returned to Scotland in December 1940.
No 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron
Jointly with No.602 Squadron, brought down the first German aircraft over Britain (Heinkel 111s), on 16th October 1939, clocked up the highest score in the Battle of Britain whilst flying Spitfires and later played a vital part in breaking the siege of Malta. It had moved south from Scotland to Hornchurch at the end of August 1940, and was, as with other squadrons, scrambled three or four times a day, destroying seven Fiat CR42s during the Italian Air Forces' ill-starred raid in November 1940. It returned to Scotland in December 1940.
No 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Flew the Hurricane from RAF Kenley in the Battle of Britain, losing six on 18th August 1940 when Kenley was bombed and another five written off in air fighting, but fought on. It rested at Prestwick at the end of August 1940, returning to London - Northolt - in October 1940 to intercept fighter-bomber raids as well as the first tentative offensive fighter sweeps over the Channel and northern France.