No. 451 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War

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No.451 Squadron, RAAF, was a fighter squadron that provided air cover over Syria, Cyprus and the Nile Delta in 1942-43, and took part in the invasion of Southern France before moving to the UK where it spent 1945 flying a mix of bomber-escort and fighter-bomber missions.

The squadron was formed in New South Wales in February 1941 as an army co-operation squadron. It arrived in the Middle East in May 1941, and was equipped with Hurricanes in July. It used its new aircraft on tactical reconnaissance missions from then until January 1942. The squadron played a major part in Operation Crusader (November 1941), and a detachment operated from within the besieged fortress of Tobruk.

In January 1942 the squadron was withdrawn from the front line and in February it was moved to Syria, where it provided air cover. The squadron also had a detachment on Cyprus for most of the year.

In January 1943 the squadron returned to Egypt, where it operated a mix of Hurricanes and Spitfires. For most of 1943 it provided air cover over the Nile Delta and fighter escorts for Allied shipping moving along the Libyan coast. During this period the Germans were retreating back into Tunisia, so the squadron saw little combat.

In March 1944 the squadron began to move to Corsica, in preparation for the planned invasion of the south of France. The squadron supported the early days of the invasion from Corsica, before briefly moving to France. The fighting in the south of France was soon over, and the squadron moved to Italy before traveling to the United Kingdom.

No.451 Squadron, RAAF, arrived in Britain on 30 November 1944. It then moved south to Hawkinge, where it was equipped with new Spitfires, concentrating on the fighter-bomber Spitfire XVI.

The squadron flew a mix of fighter-bomber sweeps over German-occupied territory and bomber escort missions, supporting the daylight bombing campaign of 1945.

After the end of the war the squadron spent several months in England, before in September 1945 moving to Germany to join the occupation forces. Four months later, in January 1946, the squadron was disbanded.

Aircraft
July 1941-February 1943: Hawker Hurricane I
January-October 1943: Hawker Hurricane IIC
February 1943-January 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VC
June-October 1943: Hawker Typhoon IB
December 1943-October 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX

December 1944-January 1945: Supermarine Spitfire IX
December 1944-June 1945: Supermarine Spitfire XVI
September 1945-January 1946: Supermarine Spitfire XIV

Location
May-June 1941: Kasfareet
June-October 1941: Qasaba
October-November 1941: LG.75
November 1941: LG.132
November-December 1941: Sidi Azeiz
December 1941: Maddalena
December 1941-January 1942: Sidi Azeiz
January-February 1942: Heliopolis
February-November 1942: Rayak
    March-June 1942: Detachment to Nicosia
    June-November 1942: Detachments to El Bassa and Lakatamia
November 1942-January 1943: St. Jean
January-February 1943: Mersa Matruh
February-August 1943: Edku
August 1943-January 1944: El Daba
January-February 1944: El Gamil
February-April 1944: Almaza
April-May 1944: Poretta
May-July 1944: Serragia
July-August 1944: St. Catherine
August-October 1944: Cuers/ Pierrefeu
October 1944: Foggia
October-November 1944: Gragnano
November-December 1944: Liverpool
December 1944-February 1945: Hawkinge
February 1945: Manston
February-April 1945: Matlask
April-May 1945: Lympne
May 1945: Hawkinge
May-June 1945: Skeabrae
June-September 1945: Lasha
September 1945: Fassberg
September-November 1945: Wunstorf
November-December 1945: Gatow
December 1945-January 1946: Wunstorf

Squadron Codes: BQ, NI

Duty
May 1941-January 1942: Tactical Reconnaissance, Western Desert
1942: Air defence of Syria and Cyprus
January 1943-March 1944: Air defence, Nile Delta and fighter escort for coastal shipping, Libya
March 1944-October 1944: Fighter squadron, invasion of southern France
October-November 1944: Italy
November 1944-May 1945: Fighter/ fighter-bomber squadron, UK
September 1945-January 1946: Occupation Forces, Germany

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 August 2012), No. 451 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAAF/451_wwII.html

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