No. 442 Squadron (RCAF): Second World War

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No.442 Squadron (RCAF) was a Canadian fighter squadron that served with 2nd Tactical Air Force during the campaign in north-western Europe, before ending the war on escort duty for Bomber Command's renewed daylight raids.

The squadron was originally No.14 Squadron, RCAF, which had been a Curtiss Kittyhawk unit based in western Canada. Its personnel traveled to the UK early in 1944, arriving on 1 February. On 8 February the squadron was renumbered as No.442 Squadron and on 13 February it was activated at Digby. Along with Nos.441 and 443 Squadrons it formed No.144 Wing of 83 Group, part of 2nd Tactical Air Force. It was briefly equipped with the Spitfire VB, but in March they were replaced with more modern Spitfire IXs.

The squadron moved south in March 1944 (along with the rest of the wing) and became operations on 28 March, flying fighter sweeps over France. It carried out this duty until D-Day, apart from a spell in April when it moved north to Hutton Cranswick in Yorkshire. All three squadrons in the wing made this move one at a time, first No.443, then No.441 and finally No.442. They were almost certainly visiting Hutton Cranswick to train at No.16 Armament Practice Camp, which was based there at the time.

On 4 June Nos.441, 442 and 443 Squadrons attacked the German radar base at Cap d'Antifer, achieving nine direct hits with 500lb bombs and destroying the Wurzburg radar.

On D-Day Nos.441, 442 and 443 Squadrons formed No.144 Wing of 83 Group. They became the first RAF units to operate from a base in France after D-Day, when they used the first completed airfield to refuel after a sweep on 10 June. They then repeated the sweep before returning to Britain.

The squadron moved to Normandy on 15 June 1944 and supported the Allied armies, carrying out ground attack sweeps and attacking German transports and troop movements. It followed the armies as they advanced east, moving to Belgium on 5 September and the Netherlands on 3 October. The squadron returned to Warmwell (Dorset) for ten days in November, then returned to the continent, remaining there until March 1945.

In March 1945 the squadron returned to the UK. In April 1945 the squadron became one of the few RAF units to receive the Mustang IV (P-51D), joining No.611 Squadron at Hunsdon to form a new wing. Its new role was to escort Bomber Command's heavy bombers after their return to daylight raids, a change made possible by the near total collapse of the Luftwaffe towards the end of the war. The squadron scored its first victories with the Mustang on 16 April, during a raid on Swinemunde. The squadron also recorded the RAF's last Mustang victories of the war, claiming two Ju 88s in early May.

The squadron was disbanded on 7 August 1945.

Aircraft
February-March 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VB
March 1944-March 1945: Supermarine Spitfire IX
March-August 1945: North American Mustang IV

Location
13 February-18 March 1944: Digby (Lincolnshire)
18 March-1 April 1944: Holmsley South (Dorset)
1-22 April 1944: Westhampnett (West Sussex)
22-24 April 1944: Funtington (West Sussex)
24-30 April 1944: Hutton Cranswick (Yorkshire)
30 April-14 May 1944: Funtington (West Sussex)
14 May-15 June 1944: Ford (West Sussex)
15 June-14 July 1944: B.3 St. Croix
14 July-8 August 1944: B.4 Beny-sur-Mer
8 August-1 September 1944: B.18 Cristot
1-2 September 1944: B.24 St. Andre de l'Eure
2-3 September 1944: B.25 Illiers l'Eveque
3-5 September 1944: B.44 Poix (France)
5-20 September 1944: B.56 Evere (Belgium)
20 September-3 October B.58 Le Culot (Belgium)
3-14 October 1944: B.84 Rips (Netherlands)
14 October-14 November 1944: B.80 Volkel (Netherlands)
14-25 November 1944: Warmwell (Dorset)
25 November-6 December 1944: B.80 Volkel
6 December 1944-21 March 1945: B.88 Heesch (Netherlands)
21 March-17 May 1945: Hunsdon
17 May-16 July 1945: Digby
16 July-7 August 1945: Molesworth

Squadron Codes: sss

Duty
-6 June 1944-: No.144 (RCAF) Wing, No.83 Group, Second Tactical Air Force

Books

 

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 December 2021), No. 442 Squadron (RCAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RCAF/442_wwII.html

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