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No.279 Squadron was an air-sea rescue squadron that provided cover over the Bay of Biscay and Western Approaches, before moving to the north of Scotland, while also providing a detachment for service in Burma.
The squadron was formed at Bircham Newton on 16 November 1941, and was equipped with Lockheed Hudsons. It was part of a second batch of air-sea rescue squadrons, and was allocated to Coastal Command, with the intention that it would be operating at greater distances from the coast than the squadrons in the first batch, which went to Fighter Command. Unlike many air-sea rescue squadrons of the period, No.279 didn’t use the Walrus, and instead became the first squadron to use air dropped lifeboats. For most of the war the squadron was entirely equipped with larger aircraft, using the Hudsons until November 1944, then the Vickers Warwick until September 1945 and the Avro Lancaster from then until the squadron was disbanded. A number of Hurricanes were used between April and June 1945 to spot downed airmen, and the Sea Otter II was used for a short period in 1945.
The squadron provided air-sea rescue coverage for the Bay of Biscay and Western Approaches from April 1942 until December 1943. It then moved to Thornaby, while its aircraft operated from the north of Scotland, where they were used to rescue crewmen serving in the long range strike squadrons operating against shipping off the Norwegian coast.
The squadron provided a detachment of Lancasters for service in Burma in December 1945. The main squadron was disbanded on 10 March 1946, but this detachment continued to exist, now with the new designation of No.1348 Flight.
November 1941-November 1944: Lockheed Hudson III, V and VI
November 1944-September 1945: Vickers Warwick I and II
April-June 1945: Hawker Hurricane IIC and IV
July-September 1945: Supermarine Sea Otter II
September 1945-March 1946: Avro Lancaster III
November 1941-October 1944: Bircham Newton
October 1944-September 1945: Thornaby
September 1945-March 1946
Squadron Codes: OS (Hudson), RL (Warwick, Hurricane, Sea Otter, Lancaster)
1941-1945: Air-sea rescue
15 February 1943: No.16 Group; Coastal Command