No. 48 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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From 1936 until 1938 No.48 Squadron had been a training squadron, specialising in air navigation, but in September 1938 the squadron moved to Eastchurch to join Coastal Command as a general reconnaissance squadron (the catch-all phrase used for maritime patrol and bomber squadrons).

Just before the outbreak of war the squadron began to fly anti-submarine patrols off the Channel coast, operating from a number of different stations. It took part in the air operations over Dunkirk, helping to keep the German E-boats away from the potentially vulnerable flotilla of ships off the beaches.

Although the squadron received a number of Bristol Beauforts engine problems prevented that aircraft from entering service with No.48 Squadron, and the Ansons had to soldier on until the summer of 1941, when they began to be replaced by the Lockheed Hudson. The conversion process was complete by October 1941, when the squadron began to fly anti-shipping strikes off the Norwegian coast.

In August 1942 the squadron switched back to the anti-submarine role, flying patrols over the waters between Scotland and Iceland. By now the Hudson was beginning to be phased out by Coastal Command in Britain, and in December 1942 No.48 Squadron took its aircraft to Gibraltar, to fly patrols over the entrance to the Mediterranean during Operation Torch. The squadron remained in Gibraltar for just over a year.

It returned to the UK in February 1944 to convert to the Douglas Dakota and join Transport Command. No.48 Squadron took part in the D-Day invasions, providing thirty aircraft for the pre-dawn paratroop drops and twenty-two for glider towing duties. It also took part in the attempts to re-supply the troops trapped at Arnhem, losing one third of its total strength during the battle, and in the crossing of the Rhine in the spring of 1945.

In August 1945 the squadron was dispatched to India in preparation for the invasion of Malaya, but the Japanese surrender meant that this operation never happened, and on 16 January 1946 the squadron was disbanded.

March 1936-October 1941: Avro Anson I
May-November 1940: Bristol Beaufort I
June 1941-October 1941: Lockheed Hudson III
June 1941-November 1942: Lockheed Hudson V
February 1942-February 1944: Lockheed Hudson VI
February 1944-January 1946: Douglas Dakota III and Dakota IV

25 August 1939-16 July 1940: Thorney Island
16 July 1940-24 July 1941: Hooton Park
24 July-20 October 1941: Stornoway
20 October 1941-6 January 1942: Skitten
6 January-23 September 1942: Wick
23 September-19 November 1942: Sumburgh
19 November-23 December 1942: Gosport
23 December 1942-21 February 1944: Gibraltar
21-24 February 1944: Bircham Newton
24 Februaru 1944-August 1945: Down Ampney
August 1945-16 January 1946: Patenga

Squadron Codes: OY, A, I2

August 1939-December 1942: Coastal Command
December 1942-February 1944: Maritime Patrols, Gibraltar
February 1944-August 1945: Transport Command: Paratroop and glider towing
August 1945-January 1946: Far East


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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Lockheed Hudson Aircraft in WWII, Andrew Hendrie, Crowood Press. A look at the development of the Hudson, and its career with the RAF, USAAF, RNZAF and RAAF. Covers the anti-submarine and anti-shipping uses of the Hudson, as well at its role in Air-Sea Rescue and special operations. The text is supported by a good collection of first hand accounts.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 May 2008), No. 35 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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