No. 22 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.22 Squadron was one of the few squadrons to use the Vickers Vildebeest on operations during the Second World War. This biplane torpedo bomber was verging on the obsolete by 1939, with a top speed some 100mph slower than the new Bristol Beaufort, but despite this No.22 Squadron used it for anti-submarine patrols from October 1939 until February 1940.

For most of the war No.22 Squadron operated the Bristol Beaufort. The first of these aircraft arrived in November 1939, and the squadron flew its first Beaufort operation on 15 April 1940. For the first few months problems with the torpedoes meant that the squadron concentrated on mine laying or bombing missions against the German invasion barges. Anti-shipping strikes with the torpedoes finally began in September 1941.

The RAF responded to the outbreak of the war with Japan in December 1941 by moving a number of squadrons to the Far East, and No.22 was one of those squadrons. While the squadron was in transit the Japanese fleet carried out its only raids into the Indian Ocean, and when No.22 Squadron reached Ceylon on 28 April they were expected to return. The squadron spent some time waiting for the next raid, but the Japanese never returned to the area. This left No.22 Squadron free to carry out anti-submarine patrols and escort Allied shipping.

In June 1944 the Beaufort was replaced by rocket-armed Beaufighters, and in December the squadron moved from Ceylon to the Burma front. For the rest of the war it flew ground attack missions over Burma. During this period it also carried out air-sea rescue duties. No.22 Squadron was disbanded on 30 September 1945 in the immediate aftermath of the Japanese surrender.

May 1935-February 1940: Vickers Vildebeest III
November 1939-June 1944: Bristol Beaufort I and Beaufort II
June 1944-September 1945: Bristol Beaufighter X

10 March 1938-8 April 1940: Thorney Island
8 April 1940-25 June 1941: North Coates
25 June-28 October 1941: Thorney Island
28 October-16 February 1942: St. Eval
16 February-28 April 1942: Moving to Far Eat
28 April-30 September 1942: Ratmalana
30 September 1942-15 February 1943: Minneriya
15 February 1943-21 April 1944: Vavuniya
21 April-7 July 1944: Ratmalana
7 July-23 December 1944: Vavuniya
23 December 1944-26 January 1945: Kumbhirgram
26 January-18 April 1945: Joari
18 April-21 June 1945: Chiringa (Chakeri, SE Bangladesh)
21 June-30 September 1945: Gannavaram

Squadron Codes: OA

1939-March 1942: Coastal Command
April 1942-December 1944: Anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort, India
December 1944-September 1945: Ground attack, Burma and air-sea rescue.


RAF Coastal Command in Action, 1939-45, Roy C. Nesbit. This is an excellent photographic history of Coastal Command during the Second World War. The book is split into six chapters, one for each year of the war. Each chapter begins with a brief introduction to the events of the year, and the aircraft that equipped the command before moving on to the photos. Each chapter contains a mix of pictures of the aircraft used by the command and pictures taken by the command. [see more]
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Bristol Beaufighter, Jerry Scutts (Crowood Aviation). A detailed look at the development and service career of the Bristol Beaufighter, the first dedicated night fighter to enter RAF Service. Superceded by the Mosquito in that role, the Beaufighter went on to serve as a deadly anti-shipping weapon, and to earn the nickname "whispering death" over the jungles of Burma.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 May 2008), No. 22 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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