No. 521 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.521 Squadron went through two incarnations during the Second World War, in both cases as meteorological squadrons. The squadron was formed for the first time on 1 August 1942 from No.1401 Flight, and was based at Bircham Newton (Norfolk). This incarnation of the squadron used several different types of aircraft. Gladiator biplanes were used for local weather reporting. Twin engined Hudsons and Blenheims were used over the North Sea. Finally faster Spitfires and Mosquitoes were used for flights over German occupied Europe.

This first version of the squadron was split into Nos.1401 and 1409 (Met) Flights on 31 March 1943, but the squadron was reformed at Bircham Newton on 1 September of the same year. This second version of the squadron inherited the Gladiators and Hudsons, and also used Hampden bombers no longer needed by Bomber Command. The Hudsons and Hampdens were replaced by Venturas by the end of 1944, and the Gladiators were joined by Hurricanes from August 1944. A shortage of Venturas in front line units meant that they were withdrawn in the autumn of 1944. They were replaced by Hudsons for a short period, but were replaced by Fortresses in December 1944. At the end of the war the squadron was operating a mix of Fortresses, Gladiators and Hurricanes, and had spent the entire war based in Norfolk.

In November 1945 the squadron moved to Devon, where on 1 April 1946 it was disbanded.

August 1942-March 1943:
Lockheed Hudson III
Bristol Blenheim IV
Supermarine Spitfire V
de Havilland Mosquito IV
Gloster Gladiator I and II

September 1943-April 1945: Gloster Gladiator II
September-December 1943: Handley Page Hampden I
September 1943-January 1944: Lockheed Hudson III and V
December 1943-October 1944: Lockheed Ventura V
September 1944-March 1945: Lockheed Hudson III and V
August 1944-February 1946: Hawker Hurricane IIC
December 1944-February 1946: Boeing Fortress II
May 1945-February 1946: Boeing Fortress III
December 1945-April 1946: Handley Page Halifax VI

August 1942-March 1943: Bircham Newton

September 1943-October 1944: Docking
October 1944-November 1945: Langham
November 1945-April 1946: Chivenor

Squadron Codes: E, W

1942-1946: Meteorological Squadron

Part of
15 February 1943: No.16 Group; Coastal Command


Gloster Gladiator Aces, Andrew Thomas. A look at the wartime career of the only biplane fighter still in RAF service during the Second World War. Covers the Gladiator's service in Finland, Malta, North Africa, Greece, Aden, East Africa and Iraq, where despite being outdated it performed surprisingly well.
cover cover cover


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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 February 2012), No. 521 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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