No. 5 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

The story of No.5 Squadron illustrates the problems faced by the RAF in the Far East when Japan entered the war. For most of the 1930s, the squadron was equipped with the Westland Wapiti IIA, a biplane that had entered service in 1931. That was then replaced by the Hawker Hart. When Japan entered the war, the squadron was using the Hawker Audax, yet another biplane. This was a two seat army cooperation aircraft, but in the desperate circumstances of 1941 No. 5 Squadron was forced to use them as single seat fighters!

Between December 1941 and May 1942 No. 5 Squadron was engaged in the defence of Calcutta. During this time, it began to receive its first monoplane fighter, the Curtiss Mohawk (P-36 in American service). From February 1942 the Mohawk was the squadron's main aircraft, although the last Audax did not disappear until September 1942.

With the Mohawk No.5 Squadron was able to go onto the offensive. From May 1942 to May 1943 it was based in Assam, performing both defensive and escort duties. In May 1943 the squadron was withdrawn from the front line to convert to the Hawker Hurricane II, resuming operations in December 1943. In June 1944 the Hurricane was replaced by the Thunderbolt, which the squadron retained until March 1946. Both aircraft were used for bomber escort and ground attack missions.

In May 1945 the squadron was once again withdrawn from the front line, this time to prepare for the invasion of Malaya. However, the Japanese surrender meant that that operation was not needed. No. 5 Squadron remained in India until it disbanded on 1 August 1947.

Aircraft
May 1931-June 1940 :  Westland Wapiti IIA
June 1940-February 1941: Hawker Hart
February 1941-September 1942: Hawker Audax
December 1941-June 1943: Curtiss Mohawk IV
June 1943-September 1944: Hurricane IIC, IID
September 1944-February 1946: Thunderbolt I, II

Squadron Codes:

Group and Duty
10 June 1940-February 1941: Light bomber squadron
February 1941-September 1942: Fighter squadron
September 1942-May 1945: Fighter Bomber duties
May 1945-August 1945: Preparing for invasion of Malaya

Location
10 June 1938-4 October 1939: Risalpur (India)
4 October 1939-10 June 1940: Fort Sandeman
10 June 1940-18 February 1941: Lahore
18 February-11 December 1941: Risalpur
11 December 1941-5 May 1942: Dum Dum
5 May-29 September 1942: Dinjan
29 September-1 October 1942: Feni
1-6 October 1942: Alipore
6 October 1942-1 June 1943: Agartala
1 June-7 December 1943: Khargpur
7 December 1943-24 March 1944: Sapam
24-31 March 1944: Wangjing
31 March-6 June 1944: Lanka
6-22 June 1944: Dergaon
22 June-24 October 1944: Vizagapatam
24-29 October 1944: Cholavarum
29 October-2 December 1944: Kajamalai (Trichinopoly)
2-12 December 1944: St. Thomas Mount
12 December 1944-19 April 1945: Nazir
19 April-28 April 1945: Cox's Bazaar
28 April-10 June 1945: Kyaukpyu
10 June-24 June 1945: Vizagapatam
24 June-30 August 1945: Bobbili

Books
Hurricane Aces 1941-45, Andrew Thomas. This book covers the later career of the Hurricane, starting with its final months as a front line fighter in Britain in 1941 before moving on to look at its career in North Africa, the Mediterranean and over the jungles of Burma [see more]
cover cover cover
How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 April 2007), No. 5 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/5_wwII.html

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