No. 212 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.212 Squadron went through two incarnations during the Second World War, the first a short-lived period as a reconnaissance unit in 1940, the second as a Catalina squadron operating in the seas around India.

The squadron was reformed on 10 February 1940 to carry out strategic reconnaissance missions, operating alongside the Photographic Development Unit. The squadron was originally going to operate three detachments of Spitfires, including one based in France, but a shortage of aircraft meant that it was equipped with the Bristol Blenheim. The French detachment flew a few operational sorties, but on 14 June 1940 the advancing Germans forced it to evacuate France. On 18 June the squadron was absorbed into the Photographic Development Unit, and on 8 July that unit was renamed as the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit.

The squadron was reformed on 22 October 1942 at Korangi Creek, Karachi, as a Catalina equipped maritime patrol squadron, although the new squadron didn't move into its base until 30 November. The first aircraft arrived in December, and patrols began on 20 December. The squadron operated over the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, with a detachment based at Masirah (an island off the east coast of Oman).

In October 1944 a second detachment was posted to Calcutta to provide air-sea rescue cover along the India and Burmese coasts, remaining there until the squadron was disbanded. The main part of the squadron moved to Madras in May 1945, and the squadron was renumbered as No.240 Squadron on 1 July 1945.

February-June 1940: Bristol Blenheim IV
February-June 1940: Supermarine Spitfire I

December 1942-October 1944: Consolidated Catalina Ib
September 1944-July 1945: Consolidated Catalina IV
February-July 1945: Consolidated Catalina Ib

February-June 1940: Heston/ Meaux
June 1940: Orleans/ Bricy
June 1940: Heston

November 1942-May 1945: Korangi Creek
May-July 1945: Redhills Lake

Squadron Codes: H, F

1940: Photographic Reconnaissance
1942-1945: Maritime Patrols and Air-Sea Rescue, Indian Ocean.

Part of
1 July 1944: No.225 Group; Air Command South East Asia


Spitfire Photo-Recce Units of World War 2, Andrew Fletcher. Covers both the technical development of the PR Spitfire and its cameras and the operation history of the type, from the early days of one experimental aircraft to its use in many squadrons around the world and to provide coverage of topics from the German Navy to Hitler’s secret weapons as well as making vital contributions to the D-Day landings (Read Full Review)
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (15 February 2011), No. 212 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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