No. 602 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.602 'City of Glasgow' Squadron was a fighter squadron that took part in the Battle of Britain before going on the offensive with 2nd Tactical Air Force. It was later withdrawn to the UK to counter the V-2 rocket.

The squadron was formed in 1925 as a day bomber squadron in the Auxiliary Air Force. It became an army co-operation squadron in November 1938, before in January 1939 becoming a fighter squadron. Gauntlet biplanes were received at first, but in May the squadrons converted to the Spitfire.

At the start of the Second World War the squadron was based in Scotland, and along with No.603 Squadron was given the task of defending the naval base at Rosyth.

On 16 October 1939 the Germans made their first raid on the naval base at Rosyth. Nos.602 and 603 Squadrons were scrambled to intercept, but a radar failure (caused by a faulty generator) meant that the Germans were able to reach their targets. The British fighters did shoot down two He 111s, the first German aircraft to be shot down over the UK during the Second World War.

The squadron was retained in Scotland until mid-August 1940. On 13 August the squadron moved to Westhampnett, a satellite field for the No.11 Group sector station at Tangmere. The squadron remained at Westhampnett until 17 December, and was thus present for most of the Battle of Britain, starting in the period of German attacks on coastal targets and including the hardest phase of the battle, the assault on Fighter Command.

The squadron returned to Scotland in December 1940, remaining there until July 1941. It then moved to the south-east of England, where it went onto the offensive for the first time, taking part in offensive sweeps over France. This lasted for a year, before the squadron returned to Scotland for a second time.

Supermarine Spitfire F.Mk IX of No.602 Squadron
Supermarine Spitfire F.Mk IX of No.602 Squadron

The squadron moved to the south-west of England early in 1943 and spent January-April performing a mix of convoy protection duties and escort missions over France. In April the squadron joined the newly formed 2nd Tactical Air Force, and spent the rest of the year taking part in offensive sweeps.

In January 1944 the squadron returned to Scotland for the third time, before moving back to southern England in March in the build-up to D-Day. The squadron operated as a fighter-bomber squadron in support of the invading armies, moving into the Normandy beach head in mid-June. The squadron is one candidate for the attack on Rommel's car on 17 July that badly injured him and ended his military career.

The squadron accompanied the advancing Allied armies, reaching Belgium, but in September 1944 it was recalled to the UK to take part in the campaign against the V-2 rockets. The rockets themselves were impossible to intercept, so the only alternative was to attack their launching areas in Holland. This involved some impressive pin-point operations, including an attack on a block of flats near Haagsche Bosche believed to be the headquarters of the V-2 rocket firing troops in the area (24 December 1944) and an attack on a V-2 storage area in a race course near Haagsche Bosche in January 1945.

The squadron was disbanded on 15 July 1945.

Aircraft
May 1939-June 1941: Supermarine Spitfire I
May-July 1941: Supermarine Spitfire IIA
July 1941-October 1943: Supermarine Spitfire VB and VC
September-November 1942: Supermarine Spitfire VI
October 1943-November 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
November 1944-May 1945: Supermarine Spitfire XVI

Location
September 1925-January 1933: Renfrew
January 1933-October 1939: Abbotsinch
October 1939: Grangemouth
October 1939-April 1940: Drem
April-May 1940: Dyce
May-August 1940: Drem
August-December 1940: Westhampnett
December 1940-April 1941: Prestwick
April-July 1941: Ayr
July 1941-January 1942: Kenley
January-March 1942: Redhill
March-May 1942: Kenley
May-July 1942: Redhill
July-August 1942: Peterhead
August 1942: Biggin Hill
August-September 1942: Peterhead
September 1942-January 1943: Skeabrae
January-April 1943: Perranporth
April 1943: Lasham
April-June 1943: Fairlop
June-July 1943: Bognor
July-August 1943: Kingsnorth
August-October 1943: Newchurch
October 1943-January 1944: Detling
January-March 1944: Skeabrae
March 1944: Detling
March 1944: Llanbedr
March-April 1944: Detling
April-June 1944: Ford
June-August 1944: B.11 Longues
August-September 1944: B.19 Lingevres
September 1944: B.40 Nivillers
September 1944: B.52 Douai
September 1944: B.70 Deurne
September-October 1944: Coltishall
October-November 1944: Matlask
November 1944-February 1945: Swannington
February 1945: Coltishall
February-April 1945: Ludham
April-May 1945: Coltishall

Squadron Codes: ZT, LO

Duty
September 1939-July 1941: Defensive fighter squadron
July 1941-July 1941: Fighter Sweeps
July 1942-January 1943: Defensive fighter squadron, Scotland
January-April 1943: Convoy protection and bomber escort
April 1943-January 1944: Fighter Sweeps, 2nd TAF
January-March 1944: Defensive fighter squadron, Scotland
March-September 1944: Offensive duties, 2nd TAF
September 1944-July 1945: Offensive sweeps from East Anglia

Part of
September 1939: No.13 Group, Fighter Command
6 June 1944: No.125 Wing; No.83 Group; Second Tactical Air Force; Allied Expeditionary Air Force

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 March 2012), No. 602 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/602_wwII.html

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