No. 94 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.94 Squadron spent the Second World War serving as a fighter squadron based in and around the eastern Mediterranean.

The squadron reformed on 26 March 1939 in Aden, where it was equipped with the biplane Gloster Gladiator. The Gladiators were still in use when the Italian entry into the war brought the squadron into the front line, facing the Italians in East Africa. In June 1940 the squadron had eight Gladiator IIs in the front line and eight Gladiator Is in reserve.

The squadron soon found itself engaged in defensive battles against Italian raiders, shooting down or damaging a number of Savoia Marchetti S.79s and S.81s, and Fiat CR.42 Falcos. On 18 June the squadron was involved in a most unusual venture, helping capture the Italian submarine Galileo Galilei. By the the end of the month the squadron had gone onto the offensive, and was flying fighter sweeps across the Red Sea.

The one Italian success in East Africa was the invasion of British Somaliland. No.94 Squadron sent a detachment of aircraft to Berbera, in Somaliland, where it suffered heavy losses in air raids before being evacuated as the Italians advanced.

The squadron's final victory while based in Aden came on 20 November, when an S.81 was shot down. In April 1941 the squadron moved to Ismailia, where it began to convert to the Hawker Hurricane in preparation for a move to Egypt. This process was disrupted by the Iraqi revolt, which began in the same month. No.94 Squadron was ordered to send a detachment of Gladiators to Habbaniya. This brought them up against the Luftwaffe for the first time, losing one aircraft during an attack on a Heinkel He 111, but claiming two Messerschmitt Bf 110s on 17 May.

In May 1941 the squadron finally began to receive its Hurricanes, and in the next month it passed its Gladiators on to the South African Air Force. The Hurricanes were used to fly defensive patrols over Egypt, before in November the squadron moved to the Western Desert, where it became a ground attack unit. In February 1942 the Hurricanes were replaced with Curtiss Kittyhawks.

The squadron reached the front with its new aircraft on 14 February, and on the following day flew its first sortie, an attack on enemy positions at Martuba. This was a costly mission, and the squadron lost four of the eight aircraft involving. Squadron Leader E M Mason was amongst the dead. The squadron was immediately withdrawn for a short period of training under its new commanding officer, Squadron Leader Gordon Steege.

Operations resumed on 20 March, this time with more success. One of its new pilots, J F 'Eddie' Edwards, who would become the third most successful Commonwealth Kittyhawk ace, scored his first victory in February, before the squadron was officially involved in the fighting, and eventually he would achieve over a dozen victories in the type.

Despite Edwards' successes, the squadron was still not happy with the Kittyhawk, and so in May 1942 it passed its aircraft over to No.2 Squadron, SAAF, along with several of the pilots (including Edwards), and converted back to the Hurricane. Once again the Hurricanes were used to fly defensive patrols, at least until the period after the battle of El Alamein. At this point, with the Allies advancing west, the squadron was used to provide fighter cover for the essential coastal convoys.

In February 1944 the squadron converted to the Supermarine Spitfire, which were used for fighter sweeps over Crete. In September the squadron moved to Greece to harass the Germans as they retreated north through Macedonia and Bulgaria. The squadron then found itself caught up in the fight against the Communists in Greece, and remaining in the country until it was disbanded on 20 April 1945.

Aircraft
March 1939-June 1941: Gloster Gladiator I and II
May 1941-December 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
December 1941-January 1942: Hawker Hurricane IIB
May-August 1942: Hawker Hurricane I
February 1942: Curtiss Tomahawk IIB
February-May 1942: Curtiss Kittyhawk I
May 1942-April 1944: Hawker Hurricane IIC
February 1944-August 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
March 1944-February 1945: Supermarine Spitfire VB and VC
February 1945-April 1945: Supermarine Spitfire IX and Spitfire VIII

Location
March-May 1939: Khormaksar
May 1939-April 1941: Sheikh Othman

April-August 1941: Ismailia
August-October 1941: El Ballah
October-November 1941: LG.103
November 1941: LG.109
November-December 19411: LG.124
December 1941: Sidi Rezegh
December 1941: Gazala No.2
December 1941: Mechili
December 1941-January 1942: Msus
January 1942: Antelat
January 1942: Msus
January-February 1942: Mechili
February 1942: LG.110
February 1942: Gambut
February 1942: El Adem
February 1942: Gasr el Arid
February-March 1942: LG.115
March-May 1942: Gasr el Arid
May 1942: Ikingi Maryut
May 1942-January 1943: El Gamil
January-April 1943: Martuba
April-May 1943: Savoia
May-June 1943: Appolonia
June-November 1943: Savoia
November-December 1943: El Adem
December 1493-April 1944: LG.809 - El Adem South
April-July 1944: Bu Amud
July-August 1944: Savoia
August-September 1944: Amriya
September 1944-February 1945: Kalamaki/ Hassani
February-April 1945: Sedes

Squadron Codes: FZ (c.April 1942), GO (prior to 1941 and from April 1942)

Duty
1939-1941: Fighter Squadron, Aden
1941-1944: Fighter Squadron, North Africa
1944-1945: Fighter Squadron, Greece

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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Hitler's Gulf War - The Fight for Iraq 1941, Barrie G James. A compelling account of one of the more obscure but important campaigns of the Second World War, presented from the point of view of the British, Iraqi and German participants in the Iraqi revolt that threatened to hand the Germans a commanding position in the Middle East. [read full review]

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 December 2009), No. 94 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/94_wwII.html

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