No. 41 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.41 Squadron operated the Supermarine Spitfire for the entire duration of the Second World War, taking part in the fighting over Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, flying sweeps over occupied France before moving to Europe to join the Second Tactical Air Force.

In September 1939 the squadron was based at Catterick, North Yorkshire. After a brief move to Wick in October, the squadron remained at Catterick until May 1940, flying defensive patrols over the north of England.

In May 1940 the squadron moved to Hornchurch, and took part in the fighting over Dunkirk, the first time that the Luftwaffe encountered the Spitfire in large numbers. The squadron remained in the south during the first part of the Battle of Britain, briefly resting at Catterick from 8 August-3 September, before returning to Hornchurch for the final phase of the battle.

In the summer of 1941 the RAF began to "lean over the channel", flying sweeps over France in the hope that the Luftwaffe would respond. No.41 Squadron was involved in these sweeps from July 1941-August 1942, often operating under the same disadvantages as the Germans had during the battle of Britain. A relative rest came between August 1942 and April 1943, when the squadron flew patrols over the Irish Sea, but in April 1943 the squadron returned to the south of England, and would remain in the front line for the rest of the war.

For a year from April 1943 to April 1944 the squadron flew a mixture of missions, flying defensive patrols against low level German fighter bomber attacks, conducting shipping reconnaissance and providing bomber escorts to the limit of the Spitfire's range. From April-June 1944 the squadron moved to the south west, and flew sweeps over Brittany. It was then moved back to the south east in June to take part in the campaign against the V-1. From August-October this was combined with a mix of fighter sweeps and bomber escort duties.

On 5 October 1944 the squadron became part of the Second Tactical Air Force, and in December moved to Belgium at part of No.125 Wing. From then until the end of the war the squadron flew armed reconnaissance missions behind the German front lines, attacking any suitable targets they encountered. The squadron remained in Germany after the war, until on 1 April 1946 the wartime squadron was renumbered as No.26 Squadron, while the old No.122 Squadron became No.41.

Aircraft
January 1939-November 1940: Supermarine Spitfire I
October 1940-August 1941: Supermarine Spitfire IIA
March-April 1941: Supermarine Spitfire I
August 1941-March 1943: Supermarine Spitfire VB
February 1943-September 1944: Supermarine Spitfire XII
September 1944-September 1945: Supermarine Spitfire XIV
September 1945-April 1946: Hawker Tempest V

Location
September 1936-October 1939: Catterick
October 1939: Wick
October 1939-May 1940: Catterick
May-June 1940: Hornchurch
June-July 1940: Catterick
July-August 1940: Hornchurch
August-September 1940: Catterick
September 1940-February 1941: Hornchurch
February-July 1941: Catterick
July-December 1941: Merston
December 1941-April 1942: Westhampnett
April-June 1942: Merston
June 1942: Martlesham Heath
June-July 1942: Hawkinge
July-August 1942: Debden
August 1942: Longtown
August 1942: Llanbedr
August 1942: Tangmere
August-September 1942: Llanbedr
September 1942: Eglinton
September 1942: Andreas
September-October 1942: Llanbedr
October 1942: Tangmere
October 1942-March 1943: Llanbedr
March-April 1943: High Ercall
April-May 1943: Hawkinge
May 1943: Biggin Hill
May-June 1943: Friston
June-October 1943: Westhampnett
October 1943-February 1944: Tangmere
February 1944: Tangmere
February-March 1944: Friston
April-May 1944: Bolt Head
May 1944: Fairwood Common
May-June 1944: Bolt Head
June 1944: West Malling
June-July 1944: Westhampnett
July 1944: Friston
July-December 1944: Lympne
December 1944: B.64 Diest/ Schaffen
December 1944-January 1945: Y.32 As/ Ophoven
January-March 1945: B.80 Volkel
March 1945: Warmwell
March-April 1945: B.78 Eindhoven
April 1945: B.106 Twente
April-May 1945: B.118 Celle
May-July 1945: B.160 Kastrup
July 1945-January 1946: B.158 Lubeck
January-April 1945: B.116 Wunstorf

Squadron Codes: EB

Duty
1939-1944: Fighter Command
1944-1945: Second Tactical Air Force

Books

Spitfire Mark I/II Aces 1939-41, Dr Alfred Price. Slightly different to many books in the Aircraft of the Aces series, Price splits his material, concentrating on the wider picture in the first part of the book before looking at eleven of the top Spitfire aces in the last two chapters of the book [see more]
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Spitfire Mark V Aces, 1941-45, Dr Alfred Price. A well written and nicely balanced look at the combat career of the Spitfire Mk V and of the men who flew it. The Spitfire V fought in more theatres than the more famous Mk I/II, including over France in 1941, on Malta, in North Africa and even in northern Australia. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 October 2008), No. 41 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/41_wwII.html

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