No. 452 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War

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No.452 Squadron, RAAF, was formed in the United Kingdom where it served as a fighter squadron during 1941 and the first part of 1942. It then moved to Australia to face the Japanese, before taking part in the re-conquest of the Dutch East Indies and Borneo.

The squadron was formed at Kirton-in-Lindsey in April 1941, with a mix of RAAF airmen and RAF ground crew. Over time Australians took over both roles, and the squadron went operational on 2 June. It began with six weeks of defensive patrols in the north. The first mission over France came on 11 July, while the squadron was still based at Kirton, and using West Malling as an advanced base. On 21 July the squadron moved south to Kenley and began a period of operations over France.

The squadron flew a mix of convoy patrols, bomber-escort missions and fighter sweeps over northern France. The squadron was one of the most successful in Fighter Command in this period, claiming 21 Bf 109s in a single month. In March 1942 the squadron was withdrawn to the Isle of Man for a break, having claimed nearly seventy successes at the cost of twenty-two pilots.

In the spring of 1942 the Japanese were approaching Australia from the north. Nos.452 and 457 Squadrons, RAAF and No.54 Squadron, RAF were transferred to Australia to help with the air defences of Darwin. No.452 was based at Strauss Airfield, Noonamah, twenty miles to the south-east of Darwin. The squadron played a part in repelling Japanese air raids on Darwin, but its Spitfire Vs weren't entirely suited to the difficult conditions and accidental damage was common.

By the end of 1943 the squadron had moved slightly north to Sattler. By this point Japanese raids had almost ended, and the squadron had little to do. A small number of long range reconnaissance aircraft were detected and aircraft sent to try and catch them, but even that tailed off.

In June 1944 the squadron received its first Spitfire VIIIs, and in July the last Spitfive Vcs were flow to training units. At the end of July the squadron had twenty three Spitfire VIIIs on its strength.

This was a very quiet period for the squadron - no operations at all were recorded in July or August 1944, and the squadron records suggest that boredom was settling in.

In December 1944 the squadron moved to Morotai, in the Halmahera Islands (to the west of New Guinea, east of Celebes). This saw it return to combat on a more regular basis. The squadron flew a mix of standing fighter patrols, intruder missions and attacks on surface targets (in particular shipping).   

In June 1945 the squadron moved west to Tarakan Island, towards the northern end of the east coast of Borneo. In July the squadron was split when a detachment moved south to Balikpapan, on the east coast of the mainland of Borneo. The same sort of duties were carried out on Borneo as on Morotai. The detachment at Balikpapan returned to Tarakan in late August 1945.

The squadron remained on Tarakan until October 1945 when it returned to Australia and was disbanded.

Aircraft
April-May 1941: Supermarine Spitfire I
May-Aigust 1941: Supermarine Spitfire IIA
August 1941-June 1942: Supermarine Spitfire VB

January 1943-: Supermarine Spitfire
-July 1944: Supermarine Spitfire Vc
June 1944-October 1945-: Supermarine Spitfire VIII

Location
April-July 1941: Kirton-in-Lindsey
July-October 1941: Kenley
October 1941-January 1942: Redhill
January-March 1942: Kenley
March-June 1942: Andreas
June 1942: Atcham

January 1943-: Northern Australia
-February-November 1943: Strauss, Northern Territory (nr Darwin)
December 1943-12 December 1944: Sattler
 -May 1944-: Detachment at Drysdale
13 December 1944-June 1945: Morotai
29 June-October 1945: Tarakan Island
  15 July-August 1945: Detachment Balikpapan/ Sepinggang

Squadron Codes: UD

Duty
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Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 August 2012), No. 452 Squadron (RAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAAF/452_wwII.html

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