No. 202 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.202 Squadron was a flying boat squadron that served in the Mediterranean from 1929 until September 1944 when it moved to Northern Ireland to fly coastal patrols.

The squadron was reformed on Malta in 1929, and operated seaplanes from then until 1935, when it was equipped with the Supermarine Scapa flying boat (a version of the Supermarine Southampton but with Rolls Royce Kestrel engines instead of the Napier Lions used on the Southampton). The Scapas were used operationally from September 1937 when the squadron formed part of the international force that attempted to protect neutral shipping against Italian submarines during the Spanish Civil War. They were replaced by the Saro London at the end of 1937, and it was these aircraft that moved to Alexandria during the Munich crisis.

Consolidated Catalina of No.202 Squadron
Consolidated Catalina
of No.202 Squadron

At the start of the Second World War the squadron moved to Gibraltar, partly to patrol the approaches to the Mediterranean and partly to watch German ships trapped in southern Spain and Spanish Morocco at the outbreak of hostilities. In September 1940 the squadron took over the Swordfish floatplanes of No.3 AACU, and used them for local patrols over the entrance to the Mediterranean. The Londons were finally replaced by more modern aircraft from April 1941 when the squadron began to receive Catalinas. It also operated a number of Short Sunderlands from December 1941 until September 1942.

Consolidated Catalina of the RAF, 1941
Consolidated Catalina
of the RAF, 1941

The squadron played a part in the sinking of one U-boat during 1942, helping the Royal Navy sink U-74 in the Western Mediterranean on 2 May. The squadron's second and final U-boat sinking came on 13 February 1943 when U-620 was sunk to the north west of Lisbon by an aircraft providing a convoy escort. 

The squadron was heavily involved in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942. After a long period of operating almost alone it began part of a strong force based at Gibraltar. It also played a part in the clandestine operations before the invasion, picking up General Mark Clark on 24 October on his way back from a secret visit to North Africa. 

In September 1944 the squadron moved to Northern Ireland, where it remained for the rest of the war. Its new duty was to fly coastal patrols in an attempt to catch U-boats operating close to the west coast in the last few months of the war. The squadron was disbanded on 12 June 1945.

Aircraft
September 1937-June 1941: Saro London I
September 1940-June 1941: Fairey Swordfish I
April 1941-January 1945: Consolidated Catalina Ib
December 1941-September 1942: Short Sunderland I and II
March-September 1942: Short Sunderland III
October 1944-June 1945: Consolidated Catalina IV

Location
September-October 1938: Alexandria
October 1938-September 1939: Kalafrana
September 1939-September 1944: Gibraltar
September 1944-June 1945: Castle Archdale

Squadron Codes: P (Catalina IV), TQ (All other)

Duty
September 1939: RAF Mediterranean
15 February 1943: HQ RAF Gibraltar; Coastal Command
10 July 1943: AHQ Gibraltar; Mediterranean Air Command

Role
1939-September 1944: Anti-submarine patrols and maritime reconnaissance, western Mediterranean
September 1944 onwards; Anti-submarine patrols, Northern Ireland

Links

Website of the 202 Squadron Association

Books

Short Sunderland Squadrons of World War 2, Jon Lake. A look at the service carrier of the most successful British flying boat of the Second World War, and a key component in Coastal Command's battle against the U-boat. Covers the introduction of the aircraft, its role in the Battle of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, West Africa and other theatres.
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 February 2011), No. 202 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/202_wwII.html

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