No. 421 Squadron (RCAF): Second World War

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No.421 Squadron, RCAF, was a Canadian fighter squadron that began operations on defensive patrols over South Wales and the south-west, then moved to the south-east to escort bomber missions over France. It then joined 2nd Tactical Air Force and spent the rest of the war operating over the Continent.

The squadron was formed on 9 April 1942 at Digby in Lincolnshire and was equipped with the Spitfire V. On 3 May it moved to Fairwood Common on the Gower Peninsula, where it became operation on 16 May 1942 and was mainly used to fly defensive patrols over South Wales and the south-west of England.

The squadron moved location on an unusually regular basis. It was mainly based at Fairwood Common from 3 May to 26 October 1942, but during that period spent short periods at Warmwell (Dorset), Ibsley (Hampshire), Kenley (London) and Zeals (Wiltshire) as well as sending a detachment to Exeter. During the brief moves south it took part in offensive sweeps over France.

From 26 October 1942 to 29 January 1943 the squadron was based at RAF Angle in Pembrokeshire.

At the end of January 1943 the squadron moved to Kenley, staying for a month, before from 1 March 1943-22 April 1943 it then moved around a series of airfields in the area north of London. After the move south the squadron was used to escort bomber raids over France.

From 17 May 1943-2 March 1944 the squadron was based to the south of London, moving between Kenley and airfields in Kent and Surrey.

In June 1943 the squadron joined the newly formed 2nd Tactical Air Force. It spent more of its time on ground attack missions.

The squadron briefly moved north to Hutton Cranswick in the East Riding of Yorkshire from 2-8 March 1944.

It moved back south on 8 March, and spent time at Kenley, then Tangmere.

By the time of the D-Day landings the squadron was a ground attack unit, attacking German communications and providing close support for the 21st Army Group.

On 16 June 1944 the squadron moved to B.2 Bazenville in Normandy. It spent most of the rest of the war based on the Continent, advancing with the Allied armies. After the advance up to the German frontier the squadron was used to fly reconnaissance sweeps over Germany and to escort Bomber Command's renewed daylight bombing raids.

The squadron moved to a base in Germany in April 1945, but disbanded on 23 July.

Aircraft
April-May 1942: Supermarine Spitfire VA
May 1942-May 1943: Supermarine Spitfire VB
May 1943-December 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
December 1944-July 1945: Supermarine Spitfire XVI

Location
9 April-3 May 1942: Digby (Lincolnshire)
3 May-14 June 1942: Fairwood Common (Gower)
14-28 June 1942: Warmwell (Dorset)
28 June-16 August 1942: Fairwood Common
     30 June-8 July 1942: Detachment to Exeter
16-22 August 1942: Ibsley (Hampshire)
22 August-8 October 1942: Fairwood Common
8-10 October 1942: Kenley (south of London)
10-21 October 1942: Fairwood Common
21-24 October 1942: Zeals (Wiltshire)
24-26 October 1942: Fairwood Common
26 October 1942-29 January 1943: Angle (Pembroke)
     1-14 November 1942: Detachment to Zeals
29 January-1 March 1943: Kenley
1-5 March 1943: Croughton (Northamptonshire)
5-10 March 1943: Gransden Lodge (Cambridge)
10-12 March 1943: Fowlmere (Hertfordshire)
12-23 March 1943: Kenley
23 March-10 April 1943: Martlesham (Suffolk)
10-22 April 1943: Martlesham Heath
22 April-17 May 1943: Redhill (Surrey)
17 May-6 August 1943: Kenley
6-20 August 1943: Lashenden (Kent)
20 August-14 October 1943: Headcorn (Kent)
14 October 1943-2 March 1944: Kenley
2-8 March 1944: Hutton Cranswick (East Yorkshire)
8 March-18 April 1944: Kenley
18 April-16 June 1944: Tangmere
16 June-28 August 1944: B.2 Bazenville
28 August-21 September 1944: B.27 Illiers l'Eveque
21 September-1 October 1944: B.68 Le Culot
1-23 October 1944: B.82 Grave
23 October-3 November 1944: B.58 Melsbroek
3 November-5 December 1944: B.56 Evere
5-18 December 1944: Warmwell
18 December-2 March 1945: B.56 Evere
2-31 March 1945: B.90 Petit Brogel
31 March-11 April 1945: B.78 Eindhoven
11-13 April 1945: B.100 Goch
13-28 April 1945: B.154 Diepholz
28 April-2 July 1945: B.154 Reinsehlen
2-8 July 1945: B.152 Fassberg
8-23 July 1945: B.174 Utersen

Squadron Codes: AU

Duty
June 1943 onwards: 2nd Tactical Air Force
-6 June 1944-: No.127 (RCAF) Wing, No.83 Group, Second Tactical Air Force

Books

 

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (11 October 2021), No. 35 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RCAF/421_wwII.html

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