No. 7 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War

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No.7 Squadron (S.A.A.F.) was a fighter squadron that took part in the fighting in North Africa from the summer of 1942 until the German surrender in Tunisia, then served in the eastern Mediterranean before moving to Italy in the spring 1944.

No.7 Squadron was formed at Zwartkip on 12 January 1942, and was equipped with the Curtiss Mohawk. It moved to Egypt in April-May 1942, where it converted to the Hawker Hurricane, operating as a standard fighter squadron from 4 July until September. Its standard Hurricanes were then replaced with the Mk.IID cannon-buster, armed with 40mm cannon, which were used during the battle of El Alamein.

In November the squadron began to train in night fighting, and the Mk.IIDs were replaced with Mk.IICs. These were used during the advance into Tunisia when the squadron provided fighter cover for coastal convoys carrying vital supplies to the advancing armies. In April the tank-busters returned, but the campaign in North Africa ended before they could be used.

In August 1943 No.7 Squadron moved to Palestine, where it converted to the Supermarine Spitfire. The new aircraft made their combat debut during the ill-fated Allied attempt to gain a foothold in the eastern Aegean. No.7 Squadron sent a detachment to Cos in September 1943, but German resistance was much more determined than had been expected. They soon won air superiority over the islands, and by 26 September only four of the detachments aircraft were still fliable. The entire detachment was captured when the Germans retook Cos.

The squadron was next in action during the Cairo Conference of November 1943, when a detachment was sent to Cyprus, from where it flew fighter sweeps over Rhodes to prevent the Germans from interfering.

In April 1944 the squadron moved to Italy, where it flew a mix of ground-attack and bomber escort missions for the rest of the war. After the end of the war in Europe the squadron's personnel returned to South Africa, in preparation for a move to Ceylon, where they were to form part of the Commonwealth's contribution to the war against Japan, but the Japanese surrender meant that they were not needed, and the squadron disbanded on 10 September 1945.

Aircraft
January-May 1942: Curtiss Mohawk
May-December 1942: Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
July-September 1942: Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIB
September 1942-January 1943: Hawker Hurricane Mk.IID
December 1942-August 1943: Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIC
April-May 1943: Hawker Hurricane Mk.IID
July 1943-March 1944: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VC
November 1943-December 1943: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
March 1944-July 1945: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX

Location
12 January 1942-April 1942: Zwartkop
April-May 1942: On way to Egypt
May 1942: Amriya
May 1942: LG.98
May-June 1942: El Bassa
June 1942: LG.98
June-July 1942: El Bassa
July 1942: LG.154
July-September 1942: LG.89
September 1942: Kilo 8
September-October 1942: Shandur
October-November 1942: LG.89
November 1942: LG.172
November 1942-January 1943: Shandur
January-February 1943: Benina
February-May 1943: Bersis
May-August 1943: Derna
August-September 1943: St. Jean
September-November 1943: El Gamil
     September-October 1943: Detachment to Cos
November 1943: Savoia
November 1943-February 1944: El Gamil
     November 1943: Detachment to Nicosia
     November-December 1943: Detachment to Cairo West
February-April 1944: Savoia
April-May 1944: Trigno
May-June 1944: Sinello
June 1944: Marcigliano
June-July 1944: Orvieto
July-September 1944: Foiana
     September 1944: Detachment to Rimini
October-November 1944: Rimini
November-December 1944: Bellaria
December 1944-March 1945: Forli
March-May 1945: Ravenna
May-July 1945: Lavariano

Squadron Codes: TJ and (possibly) ND (Spitfire)

Duty
October 1942: No.211 Group, Air Headquarters Western Desert
July 1943: No.212 Group, Headquarters Air Defences Eastern Mediterranean, RAF Middle East

Books

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 October 2009), No. 7 Squadron (SAAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/SAAF/7_wwII.html

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