No. 197 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.197 Squadron was a Typhoon-equipped ground attack squadron that fought with 2nd Tactical Air Force during the campaign in north-western Europe.

The squadron was formed at Turnhouse on 21 November 1942, and the first Typhoons arrived in December. The squadron became operational on 27 January 1943, and in March moved to southern to begin fighter-bomber and bomber escort missions.

The squadron began part of Second Tactical Air Force, joining No.146 Wing in March 1944. Apart from one very short spell in No.123 Wing and a period of rest late in 1944 the squadron spent the rest of the war with No.146 Wing.

The wing was used to attack enemy transport and troop concentrations in the period before D-Day, with No.197 Squadron using 500lb bombs. After the D-Day landings the wing was used to provide close support for the army, using the 'cab rank' system, with aircraft circling over the battlefield waiting for instructions from controllers travelling with the troops.

On 27 June the wing attacked the HQ of Leutnant General Dohlman's infantry division around St Lo, killing the general and destroying much of his HQ.

The wing moved to Normandy in mid-July, initially to airfield B.3. During the German retreat from Normandy Typhoons of No.146 Wing destroyed the last permanent bridge remaining over the Seine, trapping many of the survivors.

Over the winter of 1944-45 the wing was used to attack the remaining isolated German garrisons on the Scheldt estuary and Walcheren Island, left behind by the retreat of the main German armies. At the start of October the squadron moved to Deurne airfield at Antwerp, where it found itself under fire from V2 rockets - five airmen were killed by one rocket on 25 October.

As the advance came to a halt in the winter of 1944-45 the Typhoon squadrons flew fewer sorties in direct support of the armies and instead began to operate further behind German lines. Attacks on Geman headquarters continued, with No.146 Wing making an attack on the believed location of the German 15th Army in a park in the centre of Dordrecht on 24 October. This attack killed two German generals, seventeen staff officers and 236 others, a massive blow to the efficiency of the 15th Army.

The wing's next targets were isolated garrisons around Arnhem and Nijmegen. The squadron also took part in an attack on a 'human torpedo' factory at Utrecht, and an attempted attack on the Gestapo HQ at Amsterdam on 19 November, but this second attack was stopped by the weather.

The wing was largely unaffected by Operation Bodenplatte, the Luftwaffe's attempt to destroy the Allied air forces on the ground on 1 January 1945. One three of the wing's aircraft were damaged, and none from No.197 Squadron.

Another headquarters target was attacked on 18 March in the build-up to the crossing of the Rhine. This time General Blaskowitz's Army Group H was the target and 62 members of his staff were killed. In April the wing used Mk 1 supply containers to drop supplies to SAS troops operating behind German lines.

The squadron was disbanded on 31 August 1945.

Aircraft
December 1942-August 1945: Hawker Typhoon IB

Location
November 1942: Turnhouse
November 1942-March 1943: Drem
March 1943-March 1944: Tangmere
March-April 1944: Manston
April 1944: Tangmere
April-July 1944: Need's Oar Point
July 1944: Hurn
July-September 1944: B.3 St. Croix
September 1944: Manston
September-October 1944: B.51 Lille-Vendeville
October-November 1944: B.70 Deurne
November-December 1944: Fairwood Common
December 1944-February 1945: B.70 Deurne
February-April 1945: B.89 Mill
April 1945: B.105 Drope
April-June 1945: B.111 Ahlhorn
June-August 1945: B.16 Hildesheim

Squadron Codes: OV

Duty
1942-1945:Fighter Bomber Squadrob

Part of:

March 1944: No.146 Wing
March 1944: No.123 Wing
1 April-24 November 1944: No.146 Wing; No.84 Group; 2nd Tactical Air Force
24 November-12 December 1944: APC Fairwood Common
12 December 1944-May 1945: No.146 Wing; No.84 Group; 2nd Tactical Air Force

Books

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 (1 February 2011), No. 197 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/35_wwII.html

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