No. 54 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.54 Squadron spent the entire Second World War flying the Supermarine Spitfire. During 1940 it helped to protect the Dunkirk evacuations and took part in the Battle of Britain, before in the summer of 1942 it moved to Australia, arriving after the worst of the Japanese raids were over.

No.54 Squadron was reformed as a fighter squadron in 1930, flying a series of biplanes until in March 1939 it received its first Spitfires. The Spitfire squadrons were considered too precious to send to France, and so No.54 spent the first few months of the war flying defensive patrols.

It's serious combat debut came during the evacuation from Dunkirk, when a significant proportion of the RAF's Spitfire squadrons were used to prevent German bombers from reaching the beaches. The squadron then played a major part in the first half of the Battle of Britain, eventually having to be moved north to Yorkshire in September to recover. The squadron returned to the south coast in February 1941, and until November took part in the costly fighter sweeps over northern France.

In June 1942, after a six month break in Scotland, No.54 Squadron departed for Australia, as part of a Spitfire wing sent to protect the north coast against Japanese raids. Although the squadron was in place by August, its aircraft were constantly diverted to the Middle East, and No.54 didn't return to combat until January 1943. By this time the threat of Japanese attack was receding, and the raids stopped in July, but the squadron remained in Australia to the end of the war.

Aircraft
March 1939-February 1941: Supermarine Spitfire I
February-May 1941: Supermarine Spitfire IIA
May-August 1941: Supermarine Spitfire VA
August 1941: Supermarine Spitfire IIA
June-November 1941: Supermarine Spitfire VB
November 1941-March 1942: Supermarine Spitfire IIB
March-May 1942: Supermarine Spitfire VB
September 1942-May 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VC
March 1944-September 1945: Supermarine Spitfire VIII

Location
June 1931-May 1940: Hornchurch
    October 1939-March 1940: Detachments to Rochford
May-June 1940: Catterick
June 1940: Hornchurch
June-July 1940: Rochford
July 1940: Hornchurch
July-August 1940: Catterick
August-September 1940: Hornchurch
September 1940-February 1941: Catterick
February-March 1941: Hornchurch
March-May 1941: Southend
May-June 1941: Hornchurch
June 1941: Debden
June-August 1941: Hornchurch
August 1941: Martlesham Heath
August-November 1941: Hornchurch
November 1941-June 1942: Castletown
June 1942: Wellingore

August 1942-January 1943: Richmond (Australia)
January 1943-June 1944: Darwin
June-October 1944: Livingstone
October 1944-September 1945: Darwin
September-October 1945: Melbourne

Squadron Codes: KL, DL

Duty
1939-1942: Fighter Command
1942-1945: Fighter Wing, Australia

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 (8 June 2009), No. 54 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/54_wwII.html

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