No. 141 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.141 Squadron began the war as a day-fighter squadron equipped with the two-seat Defiant turret fighter, but after a costly first contact with the Germans became a night fighter squadron, ending the war with Bomber Command's No.100 Group.

The squadron reformed at Turnhouse on 4 October 1939. It had to wait for its Defiants, receiving some Gladiators in October and Blenheims soon afterwards. These were used for training until the Defiants finally arrived in April 1940.

The squadron became operational at Grangemouth on 3 June, and began operations on 1 July. By the middle of the month the aircraft were based at West Malling, and the squadron H.Q. at Biggin Hill. All that was missing was contact with the enemy, and that came disastrously in 19 July. The squadron was scrambled to patrol over Folkstone and nine aircraft took off in three rows of three. Soon after taking off the Defiants were attacked by Bf 109Es that attacked out of the sun. Six of the nine Defiants were shot down and only one managed to make it back to its home base. Two days later the squadron was withdrawn to Prestwick.

The squadron received new Defiants, and in September sent a detachment back to southern England to operate at night. The squadron's first night flight had actually come much earlier, on 1 July, but large scale night operations really began when the entire squadron moved back to England in October 1941. No.141 continued to operate as a night fighter squadron over the winter of 1940-41, scoring its first confirmed victory on 22 December.

In April 1941 the squadron moved back to Scotland and converted to the Beaufighter. For the next year it performed defensive duties over Scotland and the north east of England. Defensive duties continued after the squadron moved south to Tangmere in June 1942.

In February 1943 the squadron moved to the south west and began to fly intruder missions over north-west France. At the end of April it moved to Wittering and in June began to fly intruder missions over German night fighter airfields in support of Bomber Command. The squadron continued to operate in support of Bomber Command until the end of the war. The Beaufighters wre replaced with Mosquitoes in October 1943, and in December the squadron joined No.100 Group, Bomber Command's dedicated support group. The squadron's aircraft now joined the main bomber stream, attacking enemy night fighters and airfields and helping to cause the 'mosquito panic'. The squadron was disbanded on 7 September 1945.

Aircraft
October 1939-April 1940: Gloster Gladiator I and II
November 1939-May 1940: Bristol Blenheim IF
April 1940-August 1941: Boulton Paul Defiant I
June 1941-June 1943: Bristol Beaufighter I
May 1943-February 1944: Bristol Beaufighter VI
October 1943-August 1944: de Havilland Mosquito II
July 1944-March 1945: de Havilland Mosquito VI
March-September 1945: de Havilland Mosquito 30

Location
October 1939: Turnhouse
October 1939-June 1940: Grangemouth
June-July 1940: Turnhouse
July 1940: West Malling
July-August 1940: Prestwick
    August 1940: Detachments to Dyce and Montrose
August-October 1940: Turnhouse
    September 1940: Detachment to Biggin Hull
    September-October 1940: Detachment to Gatwick
October 1940: Drem
October-November 1940: Gatwick
November 1940-April 1941: Gravesend
April 1941-January 1942: Ayr
    May-August 1941: Detachment to Acklington
    October 1941-January 1942: Detachment to Drem
January-June 1942: Acklington
June-August 1942: Tangmere
August 1942-February 1943: Ford
February-April 1943: Predannack
April-December 1943: Wittering
    May-June 1943: Detachment to Drem
December 1943-July 1945: West Raynham
July-September 1945: Little Snoring

Squadron Codes: TW

Duty
8 August 1940: No.13 Group, Fighter Command
19 May 1941: No.13 Group, Fighter Command
December 1943 onwards: No.100 Group, Bomber Command

Books

Bomber Offensive, Sir Arthur Harris. The autobiography of Bomber Harris, giving his view of the strategic bombing campaign in its immediate aftermath. Invaluable for the insights it provides into Harris’s approach to the war, what he was trying to achieve and the problems he faced. Harris perhaps overstates his case, not entirely surprisingly given how soon after the end of the war this book was written (Read Full Review)
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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.
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 Mosquito Fighter/ Fighter-Bomber Units of World War 2, Martin Bowman. The second of three books looking the RAF career of the Mosquito covers its use as a night fighter, first on the defensive in the skies over Britain, and then as an intruder over Occupied Europe and Germany, and finishing with a look at the "Mosquito Panic" [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 December 2010), No. 141 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/141_wwII.html

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