No. 38 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No. 38 Squadron was one of the few RAF squadrons to use the Vickers Wellington from the beginning to the end of the Second World War.

The squadron had a quiet start to the war, flying a few sweeps over the North Sea but not getting involved in the costly daylight raids over the German coast. That changed in May 1940 with the German invasion of the Low Countries. The squadron began operations on 11 May, remaining active with Bomber Command until November 1940.

In November 1940 the squadron was transferred to Egypt, spending 1941 engaged in attacks on German and Italian bases in Libya, Italy and the Balkans (see Vickers Wellington in the Mediterranean).

In January 1942 the squadron became part of No. 201 Group. In January-February 1942 the squadron was trained to carry out night torpedo attacks on enemy shipping in the Mediterranean, a duty it carried out from March to October 1942. The end of Axis resistance in North Africa meant that the unit had to fly further afield to find its targets, attacking enemy ships along the coasts of Italy and the Balkans.

From January 1943-December 1944 the squadron carried out mine laying, reconnaissance duties and anti-submarine patrols, moving to Greece in 1944. In December the squadron transferred to southern Italy to form part of No. 334 Wing. At first it was used to drop supplies to the Yugoslav partisans, but in January 1945 the squadron converted to the Wellington XIV and returned to anti-shipping duties, attacking Axis shipping off the coast of northern Italy from then until the end of the war.

Aircraft
November 1938-December 1939:  Vickers Wellington I
September 1939-January 1942: Vickers Welling IA and IC
January 1942-October 1943: Vickers Wellington III
March 1942-October 1943: Vickers Wellington VIII
May 1942-October 1943: Vickers Wellington X
July 1943-May 1944: Vickers Wellington XI
October 1943-January 1945: Vickers Wellington XIII
January 1945-June 1946: Vickers Wellington XIV

Location
5 May 1937-November 1940: Marham
24 November-7 December 1940: Ismailia (air contingent)
7-18 December 1940: Fayid (air and ground)
18 December 1940-1 April 1941: Shallufa
1-12 April 1941: Gambut
12 April-1 March 1943: Shallufa
  9 August-26 October 1941: Detachment to Luqa
  1 August-18 November 1942: Detachment to Gianaclis
  18 November 1943-1 March 1943: Detachment to Gambut
1 March 1943-11 November 1944: Berka III
11 November-10 December 1944: Kalamaki/ Hassani (Greece)
10 December 1944-2 February 1945: Grottaglie (Italy)
2 February-21 April 1945: Foggia Main
21 April-11 July 1945: Luqa

Squadron Codes:

Group and Duty
26 September 1939: Bomber squadron with No. 3 Group
November 1940-January 1942: Bomber unit, North Africa
January 1942: No.201 Group, anti shipping duties
December 1945: No.334 Wing, southern Italy

Books

Wellington in Action, Ron Mackay. A well illustrated guide to the development and service career of this classic British bomber. Mackay looks at the early development of the Wellington and the unusual geodetic frame that gave it great strength, the period when the Wellington was the mainstay of Bomber Command and the many uses found for the aircraft after it was replaced in the main bomber stream. cover cover cover
How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 March 2007), No. 38 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/38_wwII.html

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