No. 2 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War

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No.2 Squadron (S.A.A.F.) was a fighter squadron that served in East Africa, North Africa and Italy, sometimes providing fighter support for the Allied armies, but more often operating as a fighter-bomber squadron.

No.2 Squadron's first combat experience came in East Africa, where it flew the Hawker Fury, Gloster Gladiator and Hawker Hurricane, gaining combat experience against the Italians.

In the summer of 1941 the squadron moved to Egypt, and converted to the Curtis Tomahawk. Operations began in late July, and the squadron used its new aircraft on fighter sweeps over the desert. The first combat came on 29 July when the squadron claimed four Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers at the cost of two losses. During this period Lt. Dennis Lacey became the first Allied pilot to shoot down a Bf 109F in North Africa, when one flew in front of his guns while he was coming in to land at Sidi Barrani, while in November Major Doug Loftus became the first of the squadron's pilots to be awarded the DFC.

During Operation Crusader the squadron supplemented its fighter sweeps with attacks on German soft-skinned vehicles, but it did not become a fighter-bomber squadron until April 1942, when after a two month working-up period it returned to the front with new Kittyhawk Mk.Is. Extra aircraft arrived in May when No.94 Squadron converted to the Hawker Hurricane IIC, after experiencing problems with their Kittyhawks.

No.2 Squadron (S.A.A.F.) used its Kittyhawks as a ground attack aircraft throughout the final stages of the war in North Africa, but then converted to the Supermarine Spitfire before moving to Italy. The squadron moved to Sicily in August, becoming operational on 23 August. At first the squadron provided fighter cover, but as German and Italian resistance in the air faded away fighter-bomber missions became more common.

No.2 Squadron remained in Italy until the end of the war. In June 1945 it began to convert to the North American Mustang, but in the following month its personnel returned to South Africa, leaving their aircraft behind.

Aircraft
to July 1941: Hawker Fury, Gloster Gladiator, Hawker Hurricane

July 1941-May 1942: Curtiss Tomahawk Mk.IIB
April 1942-June 1943: Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk.I
June-July 1943: Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk.III
July 1943-March 1944: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VC
February 1944-July 1945: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
June-July 1945: North American Mustang IV

Location
-July 1941: East Africa (Kenya)

July-September 1941: Sidi Haneish
September 1941: Sidi Barrani
September-November 1941: Sidi Haneish
November 1941: LG.110
November-December 1941: El Adem
December 1941: Mechili
December 1941-January 1942: Msus
January 1942: Martuba
January-February 1942: El Adem
February 1942: LG.110
February-March 1942: LG.115
March-May 1942: Gasr el Arid
May-June 1942: Gambut
June 1942: Bir el Baheira
June 1942: LG.76
June 1942: LG.115
June 1942: LG.09
June 1942: LG.85
June-July 1942: LG.97
July-November 1942: LG.75
November 1942: Sidi Azeiz
November 1942: Gambut Main
November 1942: Gazala III
November 1942: Martuba
November-December 1942: Msus
December 1942: Antelat
December 1942: Belandah
December 1942-January 1943: Martuba
January 1943: Belandah
January 1943: Hamraiet
January-February 1943: Darragh East
February 1943: Zuara
February-March 1943: Nefatia Main
March-April 1943: Hazbub Main
April 1943: Sfax/ El Maoui
April-May 1943: Alem el Chel
May-June 1943: Sorman
June-July 1943: Ben Gardane North
July-August 1943: Houaouria
August 1943: Pachino
August-September 1943: Faro
September 1943: Isolo
September 1943: Cassano
September-October 1943: Scanzano
October 1943: Gioia del Colle
October-December 1943: Palata
December 1943-May 1944: Trigno
May-June 1944: Sinello
June 1944: Marigliana
June-July 1944: Cisterna
July-October 1944: Foiano
October-November 1944: Rimini
November-December 1944: Bellaria
December 1944-March 1945: Forli
March-May 1945: Ravenna
May-July 1945: Tissano

Squadron Codes: DB & SD

Duty
From October 1941, still in November 1941: No.258 Wing, Air Headquarters, Western Desert
From 1 March 1942, still in October 1942: No.233 Wing, No.211 Group, Air Headquarters Western Desert
By July 1943: No.7 (S.A.A.F.) Wing, Desert Air Force,North African Tactical Air Force, Northwest African Air Forces

Books

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 (30 October 2009), No. 2 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/SAAF/2_wwII.html


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