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