No. 45 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.45 Squadron spent the entire Second World War operating in the east, at first as a Blenheim bomber squadron operating from Egypt, from where it took part in the campaigns in the Western Desert, Italian East Africa and Syria, before moving to Burma early in 1942, where it eventually operated as a ground attack squadron, first with the Vultee Vengeance dive bomber and later with fighter-bomber Mosquitoes.

No.45 Squadron had been reformed in Egypt in 1921, and other than a short two month gap in 1927 spent the next two decades operating in the Middle East. The squadron received its Bristol Blenheims in June 1939, only a few weeks before the outbreak of the Second World War, but the war didn't come to the Mediterranean until the Italian declaration of war on 10 June 1940, giving them a year to get used to the new aircraft. On the following day No.45 Squadron began bombing operations, initially against Italian positions in Libya.

The area of operations expanded in July when a detachment was sent south to the Sudan to take part in attacks against Italian East Africa, and the entire squadron moved south in September 1940, remaining in the Sudan for three months. After returning from the Sudan the squadron returned to operations over the Western Desert (with one break in June 1941 when it took part in the invasion of Vichy controlled Syria).

In February 1942 No.45 Squadron was sent to Burma, in part of a desperate attempt to slow or stop the Japanese advance. The squadron arrived just in time to take part in the retreat from Burma, and was forced to reform in India, where it remained inactive for some time.

In December 1942 the squadron received its first Vultee Vengeance dive bombers. Six months of training followed, before the squadron finally returned to action on 27 June 1943, attacking Japanese bases and lines of communication in Burma.

The Vengeance remained in use for six month, before in February 1944 the squadron began to convert to the de Havilland Mosquito VI. The Mosquito was not a great success when it was first introduced in the Far East.The aircraft suffered a series of fatal crashes, including one on 13 May 1944 that killed Wing Commander Harley C. Stumm, the squadron's commanding officer, and was almost withdrawn from Burma.

No.45 Squadron didn't fly its first missions until 28 September 1944. Seven months of operations followed, ending on 12 May 1945. During this period the Mosquito gained a rather more positive reputation, especially as a bridge-buster. After that the squadron returned to India, where it remained to the end of the war. The squadron remained in the Far East until it was disbanded in 1970.

Aircraft
June 1939-March 1941: Bristol Blenheim I
March 1941-August 1942: Bristol Blenheim IV
December 1942-February 1944: Vultee Vengeance IA, II
February 1944-May 1946: de Havilland Mosquito VI

Location
August 1939-June 1940: Fuka
June-September 1940: Helwan
     July-August 1940: Detachment to Erkoweit
September-December 1940: Wadi Gazouza
December 1940: Helwan
December 1940: Qotafiya
December 1940 L.G.81
December 1940-February 1941: Menastir
February-April 1941: Helwan
April 1941: Gambut
April-June 1941: Fuka
June 1941: Wadi Natrun
June-August 1941: Aqir
August-September 1941: Habbaniya
September-November 1941: LG.16
November-December 1941: LG.75
December 1941-January 1942: Gambut
January-Febuary 1942: Helwan

February-March 1942: Magwe
March-August 1942: Lashio
     May-August 1942: Asansol
August-November 1942: Asansol
November 1942-March 1943: Cholavarum
March-May 1943: Asansol
May-October 1943: Digri
October 1943-February 1944: Kumbhirgram
February-May 1944: Yelahanka
May-August 1944: Dalbumgarh
August-September 1944: Ranchi
September 1944-April 1945: Kumbhirgram
April-June 1945: Joari
June-October 1945L Cholavarum

Squadron Codes: OB

Duty
1939-1941: Bomber Squadron, North Africa
1942-1945: Dive bomber/ Fighter Bomber Squadron, Burma

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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 Mosquito Bomber/ Fighter-Bomber Units of World War 2, Martin Bowman. The first of three books looking at the RAF career of this most versatile of British aircraft of the Second World War, this volume looks at the squadrons that used the Mosquito as a daylight bomber, over occupied Europe and Germany, against shipping and over Burma. [see more]  
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 June 2009), No. 45 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/45_wwII.html

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