No. 90 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No. 90 Squadron went through three incarnations during the Second World War. At the start of the war the squadron served as a training squadron for No. 6 Group, flying the Bristol Blenheim. This first incarnation of the squadron ended in April 1940 when it merged with No. 35 Squadron to form No. 17 Operational Training Unit

The second incarnation of No. 90 Squadron was formed to fly the Fortress I. The reformed squadron began daylight raids with the Fortress on 8 July 1941, but this early version of the B-17 Flying Fortress was not well suited to operations over Europe. The aircraft were sent to the Middle East in October 1941, where they joined No. 220 Squadron, while No. 90 Squadron received the Blenheim IV, operating with that aircraft until it was disbanded on 14 February 1942.

The third and final wartime incarnation of No. 90 Squadron saw it return to Bomber Command, flying the first of the four engined heavy bombers, the Short Stirling. This was the least effective of the three British heavy bombers, but No. 90 Squadron had to soldier on with the type until June 1944. As well as the normal bombing operations the squadron also undertook a large number of mine laying mission, often given to the Stirling squadrons as the more effective Halifax and Lancaster bombers entered service. No. 90 Squadron itself converted to the Lancaster in May-June 1944, flying that type until the end of the war.

March 1937-April 1940:  Bristol Blenheim I
March 1939-April 1940: Bristol Blenheim IV
May 1941-February 1942: Boeing Fortress I
October 1941-February 1942: Bristol Blenheim IV
December 1942-May 1943: Short Stirling I
February 1943-June 1944: Short Stirling III
May 1944-December 1947: Avro Lancaster I and III

10 May-7 September 1939: West Raynham
7-19 September 1939: Weston-on-the-Green
19 September 1939-4 April 1940: Upwood

7-15 May 1941: Watton
15 May-28 June 1941: West Raynham
28 June 1941-14 February 1942: Polebrook

7 November-29 December 1942: Bottesford
29 December 1942-31 May 1943: Ridgewell
31 May-13 October 1943: Wratting Common
13 October 1943-11 November 1946: Tuddenham

Squadron Codes:

Group and Duty
1939-1940: Pool bomber squadron with No. 6 Group
1941: Bomber Command as the first Fortress squadron
1942-1945: Bomber Command with the Stirling and then Lancaster


Report on the discovery of a wreck one of the Squadron's Stirlings in 1943

Blog on the discovery of Stirling EF129


Bomber Offensive, Sir Arthur Harris. The autobiography of Bomber Harris, giving his view of the strategic bombing campaign in its immediate aftermath. Invaluable for the insights it provides into Harris’s approach to the war, what he was trying to achieve and the problems he faced. Harris perhaps overstates his case, not entirely surprisingly given how soon after the end of the war this book was written (Read Full Review)
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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.
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Lancaster Squadrons 1944-45, Jon Lake. A well balanced look at the career of the Avro Lancaster in 1944-45, the period most famous for the systematic night bombardment of German cities. This was also the period that saw the Lancaster used to support the invasion of France, and the period that saw 617 Squadron drop Barnes Wallis's huge streamlined bombs with great precision. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 January 2008), No. 90 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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