No. 3 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War

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No.3 Squadron (S.A.A.F.) was a fighter squadron that took part in the fighting in East Africa and in Italy, after arriving in North Africa just as the fighting there came to an end.

No.3 Squadron took part in the campaign in East Africa. When the campaign began on 14 January 1941 the squadron was equipped with the Hawker Hurricane. It was used to support the invasion of Italian Somaliland, then after the fall of Mogadishu (25 February) took part in the advance into Ethiopa, moving to Jigigga on 24 March. The squadron supported the advance towards Addis Ababa, which was captured on 5 April, and then took part in raids on the remaining Italian bases in Ethiopia.

In late October 1941 No.3 Squadron gained a second flight. This formation had originally been formed as No.41 Squadron Fighter Detachment, and was equipped with the Curtis Mohawk. This detachment was moved from Nairobi to the border town of Aiscia, where on 5 October 1941 it achieved the only Mohawk victory in Africa, shooting down a supply plane attempting to reach the isolated Italian garrison of Djibouti. Only after this did the detachment become 'B' Flight, No.3 Squadron. At the end of 1941 the squadron returned to South Africa.

On 1 January 1943 No.3 Squadron (S.A.A.F.) arrived in Egypt, but within days it moved again, this time to Aden, where its pilots flew Hurricanes allocated to the Fighter Defence Flight at Khormaksar. A somewhat confused period of 'musical aeroplanes' followed. In mid-April eight of the squadron's Hurricanes were flown to Hwlwa, while the pilots followed by sea. When they arrived they took over thirteen Hurricane IICs previously used by No.7 Squadron SAAF, but with a few weeks the squadron's own Hurricane IIBs arrived, and the IICs were returned to their original owners.

In May 1943 No.3 Squadron began to fly shipping patrols off the Libyan coast, just as the war in North Africa came to an end. The Hurricanes were replaced with Spitfire IXs in February 1944, allwoing high-altitude interception to be added to the shipping patrol duties, but these were soon replaced by Spitfire Vs, and it was only in August that the squadron received a full complement of Mk.IXs.

By this time the squadron had moved to Italy (July 1944), serving with No.8 (SAAF) Wing for a short period. Once the Spitfire IXs had arrived the squadron began flying ground-attack missions, and it continued to perform this role until the end of the war. No.3 Squadron (S.A.A.F.) remained in Italy until September 1945, when it was moved back to Egypt, where in the following month it was disbanded.

Aircraft
-January-April 1941-: Hawker Hurricane

1 September-December 1941-: Curtis Mohawk ('B' Flight')

January-April 1943: Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
May 1943-February 1944: Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIB
November 1943-March 1944: Hawker Huirricane Mk.IIC
February-March 1944: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
March-August 1944: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VC
August 1944-October 1945: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX

Location
-January 1941-: Kenya (Nairobi and other bases)
24 March 1941-: Jigigga (Ethiopia) (original squadron)

-September 1941-: Niarobi (No.41 Squadron Fighter Detachment)
       From 1 September 1941: Detachment to Aiscia
Late December 1941: Return to South Africa

January 1943: Suez
January-April 1943: Khormaksar (Aden)
April-May 1943: Helwan
May-June 1943: Bersis
June-August 1943: Zuara
August-November 1943: Mellaha
November 1943: Bersis
November 1943-July 1944: Savoia
July 1944: Amriya
August 1944: Bari (Italy)
August-September 1944: Foiano
September-October 1944: Borghetto
October-November 1944: Fano
November 1944-January 1945: Peretola
January-April 1945: Pontedera
April-May 1945: Villafranca
May-September 1945: Campoformido
September-October 1945: Fayid

Squadron Codes: SA

Duty
January-December 1941: Fighter Squadron, East Africa
1942: South Africa
January 1943-August 1944: Shipping Patrols, North Africa
August 1944-September 1945: Ground attack, Italy

Books

Hurricane Aces 1941-45, Andrew Thomas. This book covers the later career of the Hurricane, starting with its final months as a front line fighter in Britain in 1941 before moving on to look at its career in North Africa, the Mediterranean and over the jungles of Burma [see more]
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 October 2009), No. 3 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/SAAF/3_wwII.html

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