No. 15 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War

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No.15 Squadron, S.A.A.F., was a bomber squadron that served in East Africa, North Africa, as an anti-shipping and submarine unit over the Aegean and as a day bomber squadron in Italy.

The squadron formed in East Africa in June 1941, inheriting the Fairey Battles of No.11 Squadron, SAAF. The Battles were used against the Italians in East Africa until August 1941. The squadron then converted to the Martin Maryland, and then to the Bristol Blenheim.

The squadron operated its Blenheims with the Desert Air Force. Most of the squadron took part in the main battles during the spring and early summer of 1942, while a detachment was sent south to Kufra Oasis, to guard the left flank of the Eighth Army.

In July 1942 No.15 Squadron began to fly shipping patrols off the Egyptian coast, protecting Allied convoys against submarine attack. The squadron continued to fly these patrols until 14 July 1944, alongside anti-shipping strikes in the Aegean which began in August 1943 (after the arrival of the Martin Baltimore in May).

By the summer of 1944 German shipping was increasingly rare in the Aegean, and No.15 Squadron, SAAF, was moved to Italy to become a day bomber squadron. Operations began on 20 August 1944, and the squadron was used to attack enemy units moving in daylight. This lasted until February 1945, by which time very few German troops moved during the day, and so the squadron switched to night attacks, which lasted until the end of the war. The squadron dispersed during July 1945, and was officially disbanded on 9 August 1945.

June-August 1941: Fairey Battle
c. August 1941-January 1942: Martin Maryland
February 1942-April 1943: Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV
July 1942-July 1943: Bristol Blenheim Mk.V
May 1943-July 1945: Baltimore Mk.IIIA, Mk.IV and Mk.V

February-March 1942: Amriya
March-July 1942: LG.98
     April-November 1942: Detachment to Kufra
July 1942: El Ballah
July 1942-May 1943: Maryut
May-August 1943: LG.91
August 1943-July 1944: LG.07
August-December 1944: Falconara
December 1944-May 1945: Cesenatico
May-July 1945: Villaorba

Squadron Codes: -

June-August 1941: Bomber Squadron, East Africa
February-July 1942: Tactical Bomber Squadron, Western Desert
July 1942-July 1944: Shipping patrols, anti-shipping strikes
August 1944-February 1945: Day bomber, Italy
February 1945 onwards: Night bomber, Italy


The Decisive Campaigns of the Desert Air Force 1942-1945, Bryn Evans. . Looks at the activities of the RAF's tactical air force in the North Africa and Italian Theatres, where it developed many of the close support techniques used with greater fame by 2nd Tactical Air Force in Normandy. This is a valuable account of the services of a key, but often overlooked, part of the wartime RAF. [read full review]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 November 2009), No. 15 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War,

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