No. 185 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.185 Squadron went through three very different incarnations during the Second World War. From March 1938 to April 1940 it was a training squadron in Bomber Command, before becoming part of No.14 OTU. During this period it was one of the few squadrons to operate the Handley Page Hereford, an unsuccessful version of the Hampden, powered by Napier Dagger engines. The second incarnation lasted lasted from April-May 1940 and never entered service.

Handley Page Hereford I of No.185 Squadron
Handley Page Hereford I
of No.185 Squadron

The squadron formed for a third time on 27 April 1941 on Malta, from "C" Flight of No.251 Squadron. The new unit operated the Hawker Hurricane for nearly a year, before the first Spitfires arrived early in 1942. The squadron took part in the fierce air battles that raged over Malta, suffering increasingly heavy loses late in 1942 when the Bf 109F arrived on Sicily, outclassing the Hurricane.

The arrival of the Spitfires restored the balance, and by the end of 1942 No.185 Squadron had gone onto the offensive, flying sweeps over Sicily, and then in July 1943 helping to support the Allied invasion of Sicily.

In February 1944 the first part of the squadron moved to Italy, operating from Grottaglie (in the Taranto area), and in August 1944 the entire squadron came back together at Perugia. For the rest of the war it operated as a fighter-bomber unit, supporting the Allied advance up the length of Italy.

Aircraft
June 1939-April 1940: Handley Page Hampden I
August 1939-April 1940: Handley Page Hereford I

April 1941-March 1942: Hawker Hurricane I, IIA and IIB
February 1942-September 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VB, VC
December 1943-August 1945: Supermarine Spitfire VIII and IX (details unclear)

Location
25 August 1939-17 May 1940: Cottesmore
27 April 1941-5 June 1943: Takali and Hal Far (Malta)
5 June-23 September 1943: Qrendi
23 September 1943-3 August 1944: Hal Far
  21 February-2 August 1944: Detachment to Grottaglie (Italy)
3-23 August 1944: Perugia
23 August-4 September 1944: Loreto
4-17 September 1944: Fano
17 September-7 October 1944: Borghetto
7 October-17 November 1944: Fano
17 November 1944-1 January 1945: Peretola
1 January-30 April 1945: Pontedera
30 April-16 May 1945: Villafranca
16 May-19 August 1945: Campoformido

Squadron Codes: GL, T

Duty
26 September 1939: Reserve bomber squadron with No. 5 Group

Books

Hurricane Aces 1941-45, Andrew Thomas. This book covers the later career of the Hurricane, starting with its final months as a front line fighter in Britain in 1941 before moving on to look at its career in North Africa, the Mediterranean and over the jungles of Burma [see more]
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Spitfire Mark V Aces, 1941-45, Dr Alfred Price. A well written and nicely balanced look at the combat career of the Spitfire Mk V and of the men who flew it. The Spitfire V fought in more theatres than the more famous Mk I/II, including over France in 1941, on Malta, in North Africa and even in northern Australia. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 March 2007), No. 185 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/185_wwII.html

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