No. 3 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 3 Squadron was one of the founding squadrons of the Royal Flying Corp in 1912. By 1939, it was a fighter squadron equipped with the Hawker Hurricane. Over the winter and spring of 1939-40 it was retained the Great Britain, but when the great German offensive began on 10 May 1940, No. 3 Squadron was one of several extra units rushed to France. Ten days later the squadron was back in the U.K., having lost almost its entire strength during the collapse.

Once back in Britain, the squadron was sent to Scotland to re-equip and regroup. On 21 July 1940 "B" flight of No. 3 Squadron was detached to form the nucleous of No. 232 Squadron. Once back at strength, No. 3 Squadron was used to guard the great Naval base at Scapa Flow, remaining in Scotland until April 1941.

In that month the squadron moved back south, beginning two years of night fighter duties. Single engined fighters were not really suited to the night fighter role, lacking the space for the AI radar or the endurance to carry out lengthy patrols. Even so, No. 3 Squadron remained on this duty until June 1943, when as a Typhoon squadron it went onto the offensive, attacking enemy shipping and flying day and night intruder missions over France and the Low Countries.

June-September 1944 saw the squadron diverted to defensive operations against the V-1 Flying Bomb, having recently recieved the Hawker Tempest. At the end of the V-1 offensive, the squadron moved to the continent, joining the 2nd Tactical Air Force and carrying out fighter-bomber sweeps behind enemy lines for the rest of the war (this duty was known as "armed reconnaissance", with the emphasis on the "armed").

July 1939-April 1941:  Hawker Hurricane Mk I
April 1941-November 1941: Hawker Hurricane Mk IIA, IIB
April 1941-May 1943: Hawker Hurricane Mk IIC
February 1943-April 1944: Hawker Typhoon IB
February 1944-April 1949: Hawker Tempest V


Hurricane Aces, 1939-40, Tony Holmes. A look at the men who flew the Hawker Hurricane during the first two years of the Second World War, when it was arguably the most important front line fighter in RAF service. This book covers the Phoney War Period, the German invasion of the West, the Battle of Britain and the early use of the Hurricane in North Africa and from Malta. [see more]
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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]
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Group and Duty
3 September 1939-10 May 1940: Fighter squadron based in U.K.
10-20 May 1940: Brief deployment in France
23 May 1940-April 1941: Rest and re-equipping in Scotland, then defences of Scapa Flow
April 1941-June 1943: Night fighter and intruder duties
June 1943-June 1944: Fighter-bomber duties over Channel, France and Low Countries
June-September 1944: Anti V-2 duties
September 1944 onwards: Armed reconnaissance duties with 2nd Tactical Air Force

28 August 1936-2 May 1939: Kenley
2 May-2 September 1939: Biggin Hill
2-10 September 1939: Croydon
10-17 September 1939: Manston
17 September-10 May 1940: Croydon
17 December 1939-10 February 1940: Detachment to Hawkinge
10 May-20 May 1940: Merville (France)
20 May-23 May 1940: Kenley
23 May-2 September 1940: Wick
2-14 September 1940: Castleton
14 September-9 October 1940: Turnhouse
9-12 October 1940: Dyce
12 October 1940-7 January 1941: Castletown
2 January-29 March 1941: Detachment to Sumburgh
7-10 January 1941: Skeabrae
10 February-3 April 1941: Castleton
3 April-3 May 1941: Martlesham Heath
3-13 May 1941: Debden
13 May-23 June 1941: Martlesham Heath
23 June-9 August 1941: Stapleford Tawney
9-August 1941-14 August 1942: Hunsdon
14 August-21 August 1492: Shoreham
21 August 1942-14 May 1943: Hunsdon
14 May-11 June 1943: West Malling
11 June-28 December 1943: Manston
28 December 1943-14 February 1944: Swanton Morley
14 February-6 March 1944: Manston
6 March-6 April 1944: Bradwell Bay
6-14 April 1944: Ayr
14-28 April 1944: Bradwell Bay
28 April-21 September 1944: Newchurch
21 September-28 September 1944: Matlask
28 September-1 October 1944: B.60 Grimbergen
1 October 1944-2 April 1945: B.80 Volkel
2-17 April 1944: Warmwell
17-26 April 1945: B.112 Hopsten
26 April-21 June 1945: B.152: Fassberg

Significant Dates
10-20 May 1940: Costly deployment to France
28 September 1944: Return to France with 2nd Tactical Air Force

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 April 2007), No. 3 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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