No. 86 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.86 Squadron served with Coastal Command during the Second World War, first flying anti-shipping strikes with the Blenheim and Beaufort before converting to the very long range Liberator to fly anti-submarine patrols.

The squadron formed at Gosport on 6 December 1940. Operations began on 28 March 1941, and the squadron used its Blenheims on convoy escort duty until June. In June the Beauforts arrived, and in mid-July minelaying operations began. These were followed by reconnaissance and air-sea rescue duties, before in November 1941 the squadron began to train to use its Beauforts as torpedo-bombers.

The first torpedo-bomber sorties were flow on 12 December 1941. Early in 1942 the squadron moved south-west to St. Eval, and spent three months flying anti-shipping missions off France, before moving to Scotland to perform the same duties off Norway.

In July 1942 the squadron's Beauforts were sent to the Middle East and the squadron was reduced to a cadre, in preparation for the arrival of the Liberator. The first aircraft arrived in October, and were used to train crews from No.160 Squadron, before the squadron's own aircraft arrived.

Long range anti-submarine patrols began on 16 February 1943, once again from St. Eval. The Squadron moved to Northern Ireland in March and to Iceland in March 1944. After three months on Iceland the squadron returned to Scotland, from where it continued to fly anti-submarine patrols until the end of the war. On 10 June 1945 the squadron transferred to Transport Command and was used to fly troops out to India until it was disbanded on 25 April 1946.

Aircraft
December 1940-July 1941: Bristol Blenheim IV
June 1941-February 1942: Bristol Beaufort I
January 1942-August 1942: Bristol Beaufort II
October 1942-August 1944: Consolidated Liberator IIIa
March 1943-February 1945: Consolidated Liberator V
February 1945-April 1946: Consolidated Liberator VIII
August 1945-April 1946: Consolidated Liberator VI

Location
December 1940-February 1941: Gosport
February-March 1941: Leuchars
March-May 1941: Wattisham
May 1941-January 1942: North Coates
January-March 1942: St. Eval
March-July 1942: Wick
July 1942-March 1943: Thorney Island
March-September 1943: Aldergrove
September 1943-March 1944: Ballykelly
March-July 1944: Reykjavik
July 1944-August 1945: Tain
August 1945-April 1946: Oakington

Squadron Codes: BX, XQ

Duty
Coastal Command: Convoy Escort, 1941; Minelaying 1941; Anti-shipping strikes 1942, Anti-submarine patrols 1943-45.

Books
Blenheim Squadrons of World War Two, Jon Lake. This book looks at the entire RAF service career of the Bristol Blenheim, from its debut as a promising fast bomber, through the deadly disillusionment of the blitzkrieg, on to its work in the Middle East and Mediterranean, where the aircraft found a new lease of life. Lake also looks at the use of the Blenheim as an interim fighter aircraft and its use by Coastal Command. cover cover cover
RAF Coastal Command in Action, 1939-45, Roy C. Nesbit. This is an excellent photographic history of Coastal Command during the Second World War. The book is split into six chapters, one for each year of the war. Each chapter begins with a brief introduction to the events of the year, and the aircraft that equipped the command before moving on to the photos. Each chapter contains a mix of pictures of the aircraft used by the command and pictures taken by the command. [see more] cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 July 2009), No. 86 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/86_wwII.html

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