No. 96 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No. 96 Squadron began its Second World War existence as No. 422 Flight, a night fighter unit equipped with the Hurricane. The flight was redesignated as No. 96 Squadron on 18 December 1940, and continued to operate as a night fighter unit until the end of 1944.

For the first two years of its existence the squadron had to make do with the Hurricane and the Boulton Paul Defiant, neither ideal night fighters. However in May 1942 it received the Bristol Beaufighter, and in June 1943 the de Havilland Mosquito, both aircraft well suited to the night fighter role.

From 1940 until April 1943 the squadron was used as a defensive night fighter unit. From April-June 1943 it used its Beaufighters to fly intruder missions over occupied Europe, but when the Mosquitoes arrived the squadron began to prepare for a move overseas.

This move was soon cancelled, and from August 1943 to June 1944 the squadron reverted to its defensive duties. No.96 squadron took part in the D-Day landings, providing night fighter cover over the invasion beaches in the expectation that the Germans would launch heavy night attacks on the beaches. After D-Day the squadron moved back to defensive duties, this time operating against V-1 flying bombs that were hitting London at night.

This first incarnation of No. 96 Squadron was disbanded on 12 December 1944. Two weeks later, on 30 December, a new No.96 Squadron was formed, this time as part of Transport Command. At first it operated the Halifax C.Mk III, but in March it left for the Far East, where it operated the Dakota. Once in India the squadron prepared for glider and parachute operations, providing some detachments for operations during the invasion of Burma.

Aircraft
December 1940-August 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
July 1941-March 1942: Hawker Hurricane IIC
February 1941-June 1942: Boulton Paul Defiant I and IA
February 1941-June 1942: Boulton Paul Defiant II
May 1942-June 1943: Bristol Beaufighter II
September 1942-August 1942: Bristol Beaufighter VI
June 1943-August 1943: De Havilland Mosquito XII
August 1943-December 1944: De Havilland Mosquito XIII

December 1944-April 1945: Handley Page Halifax C.Mk III
March-April 1945 onwards: Douglas Dakota III and Dakota IV

Location
18 December 1940-21 October 1941: Cranage
21 October 1941-20 October 1942: Wrexham
20 October 1942-4 March 1943: Honiley
4-12 March 1943: Tangmere
12 March-4 August 1943: Honiley
4 August-3 September 1943: Church Fenton
3 September-8 November 1943: Drem
8 November 1943-20 June 1943: West Malling
20 June-24 September 1944: Ford
24 September 1944-12 December 1944: Odiham

30 December 1944-25 March 1945: Leconfield
30 March 1945-1 May 1945: Cairo West
1 May-4 September 1945: Bilaspur

Squadron Codes: 6H

Group and Duty
1940-1944: Night Fighter squadron
December 1944 onwards: Transport Command

Books

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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Mosquito Aces of World War 2, Andrew Thomas. This volume concentrates on the fighter variants of the Mosquito, looking at their role as a defensive fighter, both over Britain and overseas and their use during the D-Day invasion to protect the fleet. Thomas also looks at the career of the Mosquito as a night intruder over Germany, where it became the scourge of the German night fighters, often being blamed for losses miles from the nearest Mosquito.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (pending), No. 96 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/96_wwII.html

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