No. 4 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War

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No.4 Squadron (S.A.A.F.) operated as a fighter-bomber squadron, taking part in the desert battles between Operation Crusader and El Alamein, the advance into Tunisia, and the invasions of Sicily and Italy.

No.4 Squadron SAAF was formed at Waterkloof towards the end of March 1941, and in the following month moved up to Kenya, to protect against possible Italian attacks from Somaliland. While in Kenya the squadron received a number of Curtiss Mohawks, aircraft taken over from French orders.

On 1 September 1941 the squadron began a move to Egypt, where it converted to the Curtiss Tomahawk, before becoming operational as part of No.262 Wing, Air Headquarters Western Desert, in November 1941. Its first combat patrol came on 12 November, early in Operation Crusader, and its first loss was suffered on the following day.

The squadron took part in all of the battles in the desert between then and June 1942, performing a mix of fighter sweeps and bomber escort duties. In June 1942 it received the newer Curtiss Kittyhawk, which it used as a fighter-bomber as part of No.233 Wing, operating alongside Nos.2 and 5 Squadrons SAAF. In this role the squadron took part in the battle of El Alamein, and in the Allied advance into Tunisia.

The Kittyhawks were replaced by Spitfires in July 1943, and in the following month the squadron moved onto Sicily, just in time to take part in the last two weeks of the campaign on the island. In September the squadron moved onto the Italian mainland, where for the rest of the war it concentrated on ground attack missions, sometimes in direct support of the Allied armies and sometimes attacking German lines of communications behind the front line.

No.4 Squadron remained in Italy for two months after the end of the war, before on 12 July its personnel began their journey back to South Africa.

March-September 1941: Curtiss Mohawk and Hawker Fury

October 1941-June 1942: Curtiss Tomahawk Mk.IIB
June 1942-July 1943: Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk.I
July 1943-May 1944: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VB
May 1944-July 1945: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX

March-April 1941: Waterkloof
April-September 1941: Kenya

September 1941: Amriya
September-October 1941: Aboukir
October 1941: Amriya
October-November 1941: LG.101
November 1941: LG.110
November-December 1941: LG.121
December 1941: El Adem
December 1941: Gazala III
December 1941: Mechili
December 1941-January 1942: Msus
January 1942: Antelat
January 1942: Benina
January-February 1942: Martuba
February 1942: Tmimi
February 1942: LG.110
February-March 1942: LG.115
March-May 1942: Gasr el Arid
May-June 1942: Gambut II
June 1942: LG.167
June 1942: LG.176
June 1942: LG.76
June 1942: LG.115
June 1942: LG.09
June 1942: LG.105
June-July 1942: LG.85
July-November 1942: LG.97
November 1942: LG.75
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 4
January 1943: Belandah
January 1943: El Hameit
January-February 1943: Darragh
February 1943: Zuara
February-March 1943: Nefatia Main
March 1943: Nefatia West
March-April 1943: Hazbub Main
April 1943: Sfax/ El Maoui
April-May 1943: Alem North
May-June 1943: Sorman
June-July 1943: Ben Gardane
July-August 1943: El Haouaria
August 1943: Pachino
August-September 1943: Cassibile
September 1943: Faro
September-October 1943: Scanzano
October 1943: Gioia del Colle
October 1943: Palata
October 1943-May 1944: Trigno
May-June 1944: Sinello
June 1944: Marcigliano
June-July 1944: Cisterna
July-October 1944: Foiana
October-November 1944: Rimini
November-December: Bellaria
December 1944-March 1945: Forli
March-May 1945: Ravenna
May-July 1945: Tissano

Squadron Codes: DX (Tomahawk), KJ (Kittyhawk and Spitfire)

November 1941: No.262 Wing, Air Headquarters Western Desert
October 1942: No.233 Wing, No.211 Group, Air Headquarters Western Desert
July 1943: No.7 (S.A.A.F.) Wing, Desert Air Force, North African Tactical Air Force, Northwest African Air Forces


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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ow to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 October 2009), No. 4 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War,

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