No. 420 "Snowy Owl" Squadron (RCAF): Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No.420 "Snowy Owl" Squadron was a RCAF squadron forming in Britain on 19 December 1941 as part of No.5 Group of Bomber Command. It operated the Handley Page Hampden from 21 January 1942, and was one of the squadrons originally earmarked to convert to the Avro Manchester, even receiving a number of aircraft in April 1942. The squadron never used the Manchester operationally, and instead converted to the Vickers Wellington on 31 July 1942, flying its first mission with the Wellington on 5 October.

At the end of May 1943 twenty aircraft from No.420 Squadron were flown to North Africa, to support the landings in Sicily and on the mainland of Italy. In October the aircrew returned to Britain, leaving the Wellingtons behind. On returning to the UK the squadron received the Handley Page Halifax, operating that aircraft until 22 April 1945 as part of Bomber Command's main force. The squadron began to convert to the Canadian built Lancaster B.Mk X, but never became operational with that type. The squadron was allocated to Tiger Force, the British Empire's contribution to the air war over Japan, but the war ended while No.420 Squadron was in Canada, preparing to move across the Pacific.

Aircraft
December 1941-August 1941: Handley Page Hampden I
April 1942: Avro Manchester I
August 1942-April 1943: Vickers Wellington III
February 1943-October 1943: Vickers Wellington X
December 1943-May 1945: Handley Page Halifax III
April 1945-September 1945: Avro Lancaster X

Location
19 December-6 August 1942: Waddington
6 August-15 October 1942: Skipton-on-Swale
15 October 1942-16 May 1943: Middleton St. George
19 June-29 September 1943: Kairouan/ Zina
29 September-17 October 1943: Hani East
6 November-12 December 1943: Dalton
12 December 1943-12 June 1945: Tholthorpe

Squadron Codes: PT

Duty
By December 1943: Bomber squadron with No 6 (RCAF) Group

Books

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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6 Group Bomber Command: An Operation Record, Chris Ward. This is a very detailed reference book that looks at the wartime service of the Canadian group in RAF Bomber Command. A detailed narrative history of the group is followed by a series of chapters on each squadron, with a brief history, list of stations, commanding officers and types of aircraft, and most impressively a list of every individual aircraft to serve with each squadron and its fate [read full review]
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Battlefields in the Air: Canadians in the Allied Bomber Command, Dan McCaffery. A look at Bomber Command's controversial campaign against Germany, and the role played in it by the Canadian pilots of No.6 Group. McCaffery's well researched text is supported by eye witness accounts from both the Canadian air crew and the German targets of the bombing campaign.
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Review of Halifax Squadrons by John lake Halifax Squadrons of World War II , Jon Lake. This is a very good book on the combat record of the Handley Page Halifax. It covers much more than just its role as a front line bomber, with chapters on the Halifax with Coastal Command, the Pathfinders and SOE, amongst others. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 March 2007), No. 420 Squadron (RCAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RCAF/420_wwII.html

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