No. 112 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.112 Squadron served as a fighter squadron during the Second World War, first as a Gladiator equipped squadron in North Africa and Greece, then as a Tomahawk and Kittyhawk squadron in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, and finally as a Mustang squadron.

No.112 squadron reformed on 16 May 1939 on the aircraft carrier HMS Argus, and immediately departed for Egypt. In June the squadron received its aircraft, Gloster Gladiator biplanes. Almost exactly one year later the Italian entry into the Second World War brought No.112 Squadron into the front line.

While most of the squadron remained in the Western Desert, in early June 'B' Flight moved to Summit, in the Sudan, to face the Italians in East Africa. The flight was soon engaged against Italian bombing raids, shooting down an S.81 on 29 June and a Ca.133 on 1 August (by this point the detachment had become part of No.14 Squadron)

In July the main part of the squadron moved forward to Gerawla, where it too came up against the Italians. A quiet period followed, punctuated by a number of major raids - on 15 September the squadron intercepted a large formation of S.79s attacking Sidi Barrani, on 31 October it was involved in an action against a mixed formation of 15 S.79s and eighteen CR.42s, and on 20 November it claimed eight CR.42s, the squadron's last victories in the desert.

On 1 December the squadron began to ferry Gladiators to the Royal Hellenic Air Force, before early in January moving to Greece itself, once again coming up against the Italians. At first No.112 operated alongside the Gladiators of No.80 Squadron, but from March it was the only RAF Gladiator squadron in Greece.

The period of air superiority ended suddenly in April 1941 when the Germans invaded Yugoslavia and Greece. No.112 Squadron covered the retreat from northern Greece, and the evacuation. On 13 April it scored its last victory of the campaign, and that evening escorted a Yugoslav S.79 carrying King Peter in exile. On 22 April the squadron was forced to evacuate to Crete, where it was soon swept away by the German attack on the island. Once again the squadron took part in an evacuation, this time to Egypt.

Once back in Egypt the squadron converted to the Curtiss Tomahawk. The new aircraft were used for fighter sweeps during the second half of 1941 before being replaced by the Kittyhawk. The fighter sweeps continued until May 1942, and the squadron then began to operate as a fighter-bomber unit. The squadron continued to operate in this role during the fighting after El Alamein, in Tunisia, on Sicily and during the campaign in Italy, where the Kittyhawks were replaced with Mustangs. At the end of the war the squadron formed part of the garrison of northern Italy, before disbanding on 30 December 1946.

Aircraft
June 1939-July 1941: Gloster Gladiator I and II
March-June 1940: Gloster Gauntlet II
July-December 1941: Curtiss Tomahawk IIB
December 1941-October 1942: Curtiss Kittyhawk I and IA
October 1942-April 1944: Curtiss Kittyhawk III
April-June 1944: Curtiss Kittyhawk IV
June 1944-May 1945: North American Mustang III
February 1945-December 1946: North American Mustang IV

Location
May 1939-July 1940: Helwan
July-September 1940: Maaten Gerawla
September 1940: Sidi Barrani
September-December 1940: Sidi Haneish
December 1940-January 1941: LG.79
January 1941: Amriya
January- April 1941: Iannina
    March 1941: Detachment to Paramythia
April 1941: Agrinion
April 1941: Hassani
April-May 1941: Heraklion
May-September 1941: Fayid
September-November 1941: Sidi Haneish
November 1941: Sidi Barrani
November-December 1941: Maddalena
December 1941: El Adem
December 1941-January 1942: Msus
January 1942: Antelat
January 1942: Msus
January 1942: Mechili
January-February 1942: Gazala
February 1942: El Adem
February-March 1942: Gambut Main
March-April 1942: Sidi Haneish
April-June 1942: Gambut No.1
June 1942: Sidi Azeiz
June 1942: Sidi Barrani
June 1942: El Daba
June-August 1942: LG.91 Amriya
August-November 1942: LG.175 Amriya
November 1942: Sidi Haneish
November 1942: Gazala
November-December 1942: Martuba
December 1942-January 1943: Belandah
January 1943: Hamraiet
January 1943: Bir Dufan
January-February 1943: Castel Benito
February-March 1943: El Assa
March 1943: Nefatia
March-April 1943: Medenine
April 1943: El Hammam
April 1943: El Djem
April-May 1943: Kairouan
May-July 1943: Zuara
July 1943: Safi
July-August 1943: Pachino
August-September 1943: Agnone
September 1943: Grottaglie
September 1943: Brindisi
September-October 1943: Bari
October 1943: Foggia
October 1943-January 1944: Mileni
January-May 1944: Vasto
May-June 1944: San Angelo
June 1944: Guidonia
June-July 1944: Falerium
July-August 1944: Crete
August-November 1944: Iesi
November 1944-February 1945: Fano
February-May 1945: Cervia
May 1945-March 1946: Lavariano

Squadron Codes: XO (Gladiator), GA (Tomahawk, Kittyhawk, Mustang)

Duty
1939-1941: Fighter squadron, Western Desert
1941: Fighter squadron, Greece
1941-42: Fighter squadron, North Africa
1943-45: Fighter squadron, Sicily and Italy.

Books
Gloster Gladiator Aces, Andrew Thomas. A look at the wartime career of the only biplane fighter still in RAF service during the Second World War. Covers the Gladiator's service in Finland, Malta, North Africa, Greece, Aden, East Africa and Iraq, where despite being outdated it performed surprisingly well. cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 December 2009), No. 112 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/112_wwII.html

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