No. 16 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War

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No.16 Squadron, S.A.A.F., went through three incarnations during the Second First World, first as a coastal reconnaissance unit, then as a bomber unit in East Africa and finally as a maritime patrol squadron in the Mediterranean.

The squadron was formed for the first time on 14 September 1939 as a coastal reconnaissance squadron, equipped with three Junkers Ju 86s taken over from South African Airways. The squadron served in Walvis Bay, and paid a part in flushing out the German blockade runner Watussi, before being absorbed into No.32 Squadron in December.

On 1 May 1941 No.16 Squadron, SAAF, was formed for the second time, this time at Addis Ababa, where it inherited the Junkers Ju 86s of No.12 Squadron, along with a number of Martin Marylands. These bombers were used against the remaining Italian positions in East Africa, until on 22 August 1941 the squadron was disbanded.

On 4 September 1942 No.16 Squadron was reformed for the third time by the renumbering of No.20 Squadron in Madagascar. The squadron used its Marylands and Beauforts in the campaign against the Vichy French garrison of the island, before in November 1942 moving to Kenya, where it began to convert to the Bristol Blenheim.

The Blenheims were used to mount coastal patrols from Kenya over the winter of 1942-1943, before in April 1943 the squadron began to move to Egypt. Coastal Patrols resumed for a short period, before in June 1943 the squadron converted to the Bristol Beaufort I torpedo bomber. These aircraft were used without torpedoes, to conduct more coastal patrols. Offensive operations only began after the arrival of rocket-armed Bristol Beaufighters in December 1943. Anti-shipping sweeps over the Aegean were flown from February until August 1944.

Eventually a shortage of targets meant that the squadron was free to move to Italy, where it found more targets in the Adriatic. Anti-shipping strikes were flown alongside attacks on German bases in Yugoslavia.

The squadron disbanded on 15 June 1945.

Aircraft
September-December 1939: Junkers Ju 86

1 May-August 1941: Junkers Ju 86 and Martin Maryland

September-November 1942: Bristol Beaufort and Martin Maryland
November 1942-June 1943: Bristol Blenheim Mk.V
June-November 1943: Bristol Beaufort Mk.I
December 1943-June 1945: Bristol Beaufighter Mk.X

Location
14 September-December 1939: Germiston

1 May-22 August 1941: Addis Ababa

4 September-November 1942: Madagascar

November 1942-April 1943: Kilifi
April-May 1943: LG.91
May-October 1943: Misurata West
October 1943-August 1944: Berka III
August 1944-June 1945: Biferno

Squadron Codes: K (Beaufighter)

Duty
September-December 1939: Coastal Reconnaissance, South Africa

May-August 1941: Bomber squadron, East Africa

September 1942-June 1945: Shipping patrols and anti-shipping strikes, East Africa and Mediterranean

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 November 2009), No. 16 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/SAAF/16_wwII.html

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