No. 87 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.87 Squadron spent the Second World War as a fighter squadron, first with the BEF in France, then with Fighter Command, until at the end of 1942 moving to the Mediterranean, taking part in the campaigns in North Africa and Italy and over the Balkans.

No.87 Squadron was reformed in March 1937 as a fighter squadron, equipped with the Fury and then the Gladiator, before receiving the Hawker Hurricane in July 1938.

In September 1939 No.87 Squadron became part of the Air Component of the BEF and moved to France. On the day the German invasion of the west began the squadron moved to Lille, but after ten days it was forced back to Merville, and then four days later across the Channel to Debden, and then north to Yorkshire where it received new aircraft.

In July the squadron moved to Exeter, from where it fought on the western flank of the Battle of Britain, eventually specialising in night fighting, although without much success (the same was true for all of the single-engined fighter squadrons involved in the night battle at this stage - lacking radar it was really only luck that could bring them a success). By the spring of 1941 more suitable night fighters were available, and in March the squadron began to fly intruder missions over occupied France ('leaning over the Channel'). This new role lasted until the end of 1942.

In November 1942 the squadron moved to Gibraltar to take part in Operation Torch. In the following month, after the Allied landings, the squadron moved to North Africa, where it remained through the Tunisian campaign (Spitfires replaced the Hurricanes during 1943). In September 1943 the squadron moved to Sicily, from where it operated over Italy, sometimes operating detachments from bases on the mainland.

In January 1944 the squadron began to take part in offensive sweeps across the Balkans from its detached Italian bases, and in June it moved to Foggia. In August the squadron began fighter-bomber operations, supporting the fighting in Italy. It continued in this role until the end of the war. The squadron was based at Treviso for most of the next year, before being disbanded on 30 December 1946.

Aircraft
July 1938-June 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
June 1941-January 1944: Hawker Hurricane IIC
April 1943-August 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VB and VC
June 1943-December 1946: Supermarine Spitfire IX
January-August 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VIII

Location
June 1937-September 1939: Debden
September 1939: Rouen/ Boos
September-November 1939: Merville
November 1939-April 1940: Lille/ Seclin
April 1940: Le Touquet
April-May 1940: Amiens/ Glisy
May 1940: Senon
May 1940: Lille/ Marcq
May 1940: Merville
May 1940: Debden
May-July 1940: Church Fenton
July-November 1940: Exeter
November-December 1940: Colerne
December 1940-August 1941: Charmy Down
August 1941-January 1942: Colerne
January-November 1942: Charmy Down

December 1942: Philippeville
December 1942-February 1943: Djidjelli
February-April 1943: Setif and Taher
April-May 1943: Taher
May-July 1943: Bone/ Tingley
July 1943: Monastir
July-August 1943: Tingley
August-September 1943: La Sebala I
September-October 1943: Palermo
October-December 1943: Borizzo
December 1943-April 1944: Palermo
April-June 1944: Catania
June-July 1944: Foggia
July-August 1944: Perugia
August-September 1944: Loreto
September 1944: Fano
September-October 1944: Borghetto
October-November 1944: Fano
November 1944-January 1945: Perestola
January 1945-April 1945: Pontedera
April-May 1945: Bologna
May 1945: Verona/ Villafranca
May-August 1945: Campoformido
August 1945-September 1946: Treviso
September-December 1946 Zeltweg
December 1946: Tissano

Squadron Codes: LK

Duty
1939-May 1940: BEF, France
1940-1942: Fighter Command
1942-1943: North Africa
1943-1945: Italy

Books

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.
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Hurricane Aces, 1939-40, Tony Holmes. A look at the men who flew the Hawker Hurricane during the first two years of the Second World War, when it was arguably the most important front line fighter in RAF service. This book covers the Phoney War Period, the German invasion of the West, the Battle of Britain and the early use of the Hurricane in North Africa and from Malta. [see more]
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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]
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Spitfire: Flying Legend - 60th Anniversary 1936-96, John M. Dibbs. A beautifully illustrated book focusing on surviving flyable Spitfires, with some very impressive modern colour photos backed up by a good selection of archival pictures and a good selection of relevant quotes from wartime Spitfire pilots [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 July 2009), No. 87 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/87_wwII.html

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