No. 181 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.181 Squadron was one of the first squadrons to receive the Hawker Typhoon, and flew that aircraft to the end of the Second World War, helping to turn it from a flawed fighter into an excellent fighter-bomber.

The squadron was formed at Duxford on 1 September 1942 as a fighter squadron, and received its first Typhoon one week later. The squadron suffered from the Typhoon's many teething problems, but despite this operations began on 28 November 1942, and the squadron was used to fly defensive patrols against low level enemy fighter-bomber squadrons, taking advantage of the Typhoon's impressive low level speed.

The first offensive sweeps were flown in February 1943 and saw the squadron attack enemy coastal shipping. Targets in northern France were added later in the year.

The squadron joined Second Tactical Air Force in the summer of 1943 and became part of a fighter-bomber wing operating from advanced landing grounds in southern England, bringing it closer to its targets in France. The first Typhoon rocket attack was made by aircraft from No. 181 Squadron, against Caen power station on 25 October 1943.

In January 1944 the squadron began to attack V-1 launch sites as part of the wider campaign against the new mystery weapons. In February the squadron introduced its own 'secret' weapon when rocket attacks on German camps and communications began.

On 10 June the squadron took part in a set piece attack on the HQ of Panzer Group West at the Chateau of La Caine, providing part of a force of 40 Typhoons that took part in the attack. Two weeks after D-Day the squadron moved to Normandy, and was used to attack German tanks and communications targets. By early September the squadron had reached the Low Countries, where it remained across the winter of 1944-45. The squadron moved into Germany before the final offensives, ending the war at Lubeck on the Baltic. The squadron was disbanded on 30 September 1945.

September 1942-September 1945: Hawker Typhoon IB

September-December 1942: Duxford
December 1942-March 1943: Snailwell
March 1943: Cranfield
March 1943: Snailwell
March-April 1943: Gravesend
April-June 1943: Lasham
June-July 1943: Appledram
July-October 1943: New Romney
October-December 1943: Merston
December 1943-January 1944: Odiham
January-February 1944: Merston
February 1944: Eastchurch
February-April 1944: Merston
April-June 1944: Hurn
June-August 1944: B.6 Coulombs
August-September 1944: B.30 Creton
September 1944: B.48 Amiens/ Glisy
September 1944: B.58 Melsbroek
September 1944-January 1945: B.78 Eindhoven
January-February 1945: Warmwell
February-April 1945: B.86 Helmond
April 1945: B.106 Enschede
April 1945: B.112 Rheine/ Hopsten
April-May 1945: B.120 Langenhagen
May 1945: B.156 Luneburg
May-July 1945: B.158 Lubeck
July 1945: B.160 Kastrup
July 1945: Manston
July-August 1945: Warmwell
August-September 1945: B.160 Kastrup
September 1945: B.166 Flensburg
September 1945: B.164 Schleswig

Squadron Codes: EL

September 1942-Summer 1943: Fighter Command
Summer 1943 onwards: Fighter Bomber Squadron, Second Tactical Air Force

Part of
June 1943: 2nd Tactical Air Force
6 June 1944: No.124 Wing; No.83 Group; Second Tactical Air Force; Allied Expeditionary Air Force


Typhoon and Tempest Aces of World War War 2, Chris Thomas. This book tells the tale of the troubled Hawker Typhoon, concentrating on its use as a fighter rather than its more successful career as a ground attack aircraft, and its transformation into the excellent Tempest, one of the best fighters of the later years of the Second World War [see more]
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (20 January 2011), No. 181 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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