No. 51 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.51 Squadron was formed from B. Flight of No.58 Squadron in 1937. By the start of the Second World War it was equipped with the Armstrong Whitley bomber, which it retained until late in 1942.

As with most Bomber Command squadrons, No. 51 squadron didn't really enter the battle until May 1940, when the German attack in the west saw the restrictions on bomber squadrons lifted. For most of the rest of the war No. 51 Squadron acted as a standard night bomber squadron, first with the Whitley and later with the Halifax.

No.100 Squadron
No.51 Squadron Gallery

There were two exceptions to this pattern. In February 1942 the squadron was used to carry British paratroops on their first raid on occupied France. This was soon followed by a longer break - from May to October 1942 the squadron was loaned to Coastal Command, flying patrols over the Bay of Biscay.

Aircraft
February 1938-December 1939: Armstrong Whitworth Whitley II
August 1938-December 1939: Armstrong Whitworth Whitley III
November 1939-May 1940: Armstrong Whitworth Whitley IV
May 1940-November 1942: Armstrong Whitworth Whitley V
November 1942-January 1944: Handley Page Halifax B. II
January 1944-June 1945: Handley Page Halifax B. III

Location
20 April 1938-9 December 1939: Linton-on-Ouse
9 December 1939-6 May 1942: Dishforth
6 May-27 October 1942: Chivenor
27 October 1942-20 April 1945: Snaith
20 April-21 August 1945: Leconfield

Squadron Codes: MH, LK and C6 (Last two for C Flight)

Group and Duty
1939-May 1942: Bomber squadron with No. 4 Group
May-October 1942: Coastal Command
October 1942-May 1945: Bomber squadron with No. 4 Group
On 7 May 1945: To Transport Command

Books

Bomber Offensive, Sir Arthur Harris. The autobiography of Bomber Harris, giving his view of the strategic bombing campaign in its immediate aftermath. Invaluable for the insights it provides into Harris’s approach to the war, what he was trying to achieve and the problems he faced. Harris perhaps overstates his case, not entirely surprisingly given how soon after the end of the war this book was written (Read Full Review)
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Review of Halifax Squadrons by John lake Halifax Squadrons of World War II , Jon Lake. This is a very good book on the combat record of the Handley Page Halifax. It covers much more than just its role as a front line bomber, with chapters on the Halifax with Coastal Command, the Pathfinders and SOE, amongst others. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 March 2007), No. 51 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/51_wwII.html

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