No. 12 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War

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No.12 Squadron, S.A.A.F., spent most of the Second World War operating as a bomber squadron, first in Italian East Africa, and then in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.

The squadron was formed in December 1939 in South Africa, as a coastal reconnaissance squadron equipped with the Avro Ansons.

Martin Maryland of the SAAF, December 1941
Martin Maryland
of the SAAF,
December 1941

In May 1940 the Ansons were replaced with ten Junkers Ju 86s taken over from South African Airways. These aircraft were used as heavy bombers during the campaign against the Italians in Somaliland and Ethiopia. One was lost on 3 September 1940, but the rest survived to go to No.16 Squadron on 1 May 1941. In the summer of 1940 the squadron also operated two Fairey Battles, using them with No.11 Squadron in East Africa.

In May 1941 the squadron converted to the Martin Maryland, and moved to Egypt. From then until the end of 1941 the squadron formed part of No.3 (S.A.A.F.) Wing, and used its Marylands to attack Axis troop concentrations and bases.

In January 1942 the squadron received the Douglas Boston, using these aircraft on the same roles from 15 March 1942 until the final German surrender in Tunisia. The squadron then moved to Malta, from where it supported the fighting in Sicily and on the Italian mainland, before moving to Italy in OCtober 1942.

The Bostons were retained until January 1944, when they were replaced with the new Martin Marauder. Both aircraft were used in a similar role, to attack enemy communications behind the front line, although the Marauder saw more service at day, and against strategic targets.

After the war the squadron flew its aircraft back to Egypt, where in November 1945 it disbanded.

December 1939-May 1940: Avro Anson
May 1940-May 1941: Junkers Ju 86
Summer 1940: Two Fairey Battles

May 1941-March 1942: Martin Maryland II
March 1942-December 1943: Douglas Boston III
January-December 1944: Martin Marauder II
August 1944-November 1945: Martin Marauder III

December 1939-May 1940: Waterkloof
May 1940-May 1941: Kenya then Italian East Africa

May-November 1941: Shandur
November-December 1941: LG.24
December 1941-January 1942: LG.110
January 1942: LG.24
January-March 1942: LG.99
March-June 1942: LG.21
June 1942: LG.07
June 1942: LG.97
June-July 1942: LG.99
July-August 1942: Bilbeis
August-December 1942: LG.Z
December 1942-January 1943: Soluch
January-February 1943: Gzina
February-March 1943: Sertain
March 1943: El Assa
March-April 1943: Zuara
April 1943: Senem
April-June 1943: El Djem
June-July 1943: Ben Hagan
July-August 1943: Hal Far
August-October 1943: Cuticchi
October 1943: Manduria
October 1943-February 1944: Tortorella
February-June 1944: Biferno
June-October 1944: Pescara
October 1944-June 1945: Iesi
June-November 1945: Rivolto

Squadron Codes: P (Boston), A & V (Marauder)

December 1939-May 1940: Coastal patrols, South Africa
May 1940-May 1941: Heavy Bomber, East Africa

November 1941: No.3 (S.A.A.F.) Wing, Air Headquarters Western Desert

October 1942: No.3 (S.A.A.F.) Wing, Air HQ Western Desert, now three SA squadrons

July 1943 - No.3 (S.A.A.F.) Wing, Tactical Bomber Force, Northwest African Air Forces



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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 November 2009), No. 12 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War,

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