No. 29 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.29 Squadron spent most of the Second World War operating as a night fighter squadron, taking part in some of the earliest experiments with airborne radar before converting to the Beaufighter and then the Mosquito.

The squadron had become a two-seater fighter squadron in 1935, converting to the Bristol Blenheim IF in December 1938.

The squadron retained the Blenheims for the first year of the war, flying shipping patrols during the phoney war period. It was also during this period that the experiments with airborne radar began.

Bristol Blenheim Front View
Bristol Blenheim Night Fighter

In June 1940 the Luftwaffe began to carry out large scale night time raids, and No.29 Squadron became a full time night fighter squadron. During this period the Blenheims were briefly joined by a number of Hawker Hurricanes, but the single seater was not really suited to the night fighting role. Despite the rudimentary nature of their radar No.29 Squadron did achieve some victories during this period, shooting down a He 111 on 17/18 August, a Ju 88 on 20/21 August and another He 111 on 23/24 August.

Towards the end of 1940 the Blenheims were replaced by the far more effective Bristol Beaufighter, which it would operate until the early summer of 1943. The Beaufighters were used on defensive duties, but once the Mosquitoes arrived intruder missions began, and on 1 May 1944 the squadron joined No.148 Wing, No.85 (Base) Group of the 2nd Tactical Air Force. For the next four months the squadron flew in support of the invasion of Europe. On D-Day itself 2nd TAF's night fighters flew defensive patrols over the invasion beaches, but most of the time they were used to attack German airfields, spreading the "mosquito panic". After the war No.29 Squadron was retained as a night fighter squadron, keeping its Mosquitoes until 1951.

Aircraft
December 1938-February 1941: Bristol Blenheim IF
August-December 1940: Hawker Hurricane I
November 1940-June 1943: Bristol Beaufighter I

Bristol Beaufighter Mk.VI of No.29 Squadron
Bristol Beaufighter Mk.VI of No.29 Squadron

March-May 1943: Bristol Beaufighter VI
May 1943-April 1944: de Havilland Mosquito XII
July 1943-August 1943: de Havilland Mosquito VI
October 1943-February 1945: de Havilland Mosquito XIII
February 1945-August 1946: de Havilland Mosquito NF.30

Location
22 November 1937-4 April 1940: Debden
4 April-10 May 1940: Drem
10 May-27 June 1940: Debden
27 June-8 July 1940: Digby
8 July 1940-27 April 1941: Wellingore
27 April 1941-13 May 1943: West Malling
13 May-3 September 1943: Bradwell Bay
3 September 1943-29 February 1944: Ford
29 February-1 May 1944: Drem
1 May-19 June 1944: West Malling
19 June 1944-22 February 1945: Hunsdon
22 February-11 May 1945: Colerne
11 May-29 October 1945: Manston

Squadron Codes: YB (Blenheim), RO (Beaufighter, Mosquito)

Duty
1939-May 1944: Defensive night fighter with Fighter Command then Air Defence of Great Britain.
May-August 1944: 2nd Tactical Air Force
August 1944: Air Defence of Great Britain

Books

Blenheim Squadrons of World War Two, Jon Lake. This book looks at the entire RAF service career of the Bristol Blenheim, from its debut as a promising fast bomber, through the deadly disillusionment of the blitzkrieg, on to its work in the Middle East and Mediterranean, where the aircraft found a new lease of life. Lake also looks at the use of the Blenheim as an interim fighter aircraft and its use by Coastal Command.
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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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 Mosquito Fighter/ Fighter-Bomber Units of World War 2, Martin Bowman. The second of three books looking the RAF career of the Mosquito covers its use as a night fighter, first on the defensive in the skies over Britain, and then as an intruder over Occupied Europe and Germany, and finishing with a look at the "Mosquito Panic" [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (16 September 2008), No. 29 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/35_wwII.html

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