No. 186 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.186 Squadron had two incarnations during the Second World War, first as a fighter-bomber squadron, and second as a Lancaster squadron in Bomber Command.

The squadron was reformed on 27 April 1943 at Drem as a Hurricane-equipped fighter-bomber squadron. The first Hurricanes arrived in August, by which time the squadron had moved to Ayr. In November the squadron converted to the Typhoon, which became the standard British ground attack aircraft in the European theatre, but before the squadron flew its first operation it switched aircraft again, this time to the Spitfire VB. The squadron flew its first operation, a cross-channel sweep, on 15 March 1944, but during the same month it was renumbered as No.130 Squadron.

The squadron reformed again from 'C' Flight, No.90 Squadron at Tuddenham. The new No.186 Squadron was a Lancaster bomber squadron in No.3 Group, Bomber Command.

The squadron's first raid was an attack on Bonn on 18 October, and it remained part of the main bomber force to the end of the war. The squadron's late arrival in Bomber Command meant it suffered comparatively limited losses, with operational losses of four aircraft in 1944 and nine in 1945, for a total of thirteen.

Not all operational losses were caused by the Germans. One No.186 Squadron Lancaster was lost on 27 February when its bombs failed to release in their pre-planned order, instead all dropping at the same time. The single 4,000lb smashed into the larger number of 1,000lbs causing an explosion that destroyed the aircraft.

At the end of the war the squadron helped transport liberated POWs back to the UK, before being disbanded on 17 July 1945.

Aircraft
August-November 1943: Hawker Hurricane IV
November 1943-February 1944: Hawker Typhoon IB
February-April 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VB

October 1944-July 1945: Avro Lancaster I and Lancaster III

Location
April-August 1943: Drem
August 1943-January 1944: Ayr
January-March 1944: Tain
March-April 1944: Lympne

October-December 1944: Tuddenham
December 1944-July 1945: Stradishall

Squadron Codes: AP

Duty
April 1943-March 1944: Fighter Bomber Squadron
October 1944 onwards: Heavy Bomber Squadron, Bomber Command

Part of
19 October 1944: No.3 Group, Bomber Command
25 January 1945: No.3 Group, Bomber Command
April 1945: No.3 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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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (25 January 2011), No. 186 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/186_wwII.html

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