No. 52 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No. 52 Squadron went through three incarnations during the Second World War, only one of which saw any combat.

At the start of the war the squadron was a training unit, allocated to No. 6 Group, equipped with a mix of Fairey Battles and Hawker Audaxes. On 8 April 1940 this version of the squadron became part of No12. OTU

The second incarnation of the squadron was formed on 1 July 1941 at Habbaniya in Iraq, to act as a maintenance unit for the other squadrons based there. During this period the squadron was given 21 Hawker Audaxes, which were used for local reconnaissance by pilots from No. 31 Squadron, No. 52 having no aircrews at this point. The Audaxes went at the end of 1942, and for most of 1942 the squadron had no aircraft at all, before being issued with the Bristol Blenheim IV in October 1942.

Finally, in 1943, the squadron gained a combat role. In February it moved to Egypt and was reequipped again, this time with the Baltimore. From June 1942 until February 1944 the squadron used its Baltimores to carry out maritime reconnaissance and convoy escort duties from base in Tunisia and then Italy. In February 1944 this period of active service came to an end when the squadron was moved to Gibraltar, where at the end of March it was disbanded.

The third incarnation of No. 52 Squadron began on 1 July 1944 when C and D Flights of No. 353 Squadron, based ad Dum Dum, Calcutta, were redesignated as No. 52 Squadron. At first the new squadron was equipped with Dakotas, later joined by a number of Liberators and Expediter light transports. It also received a number of Tiger Moths, which were used as ambulance aircraft. After the war the squadron remained in the Far East, operating scheduled transport services.

November 1937-April 1940: Fairey Battle
February 1939-April 1940: Avro Anson I
July 1941-January 1942: Hawker Audax
October 1942-February 1943: Bristol Blenheim IV
January-February 1943: Baltimore IIIA
March 1943-March 1944: Baltimore IV and V
July 1944-June 1951: Douglas Dakota I, Dakota III and Dakota IV
December 1944-December 1945: Consolidated Liberator VI
April 1945-June 1945: Expediter I
March 1945-July 1945: Tiger Moth

1-7 September 1939: Alconbury
7-9 September 1939: Upwood
9-18 September 1939: Kidlington
18 September 1939-8 April 1940: Benson
1 July 1941-17 August 1942: Habbaniya (Iraq)
17 August 1942-11 February 1943: Mosul
11-22 February 1943: Kasfareet (Egypt)
22 February-14 June 1943: LG 91
14 June-1 November 1943: Protville (Tunisia)
1 November 1943-20 February 1944: Borizzo (Sicily)
20 February 1944-31 March 1944: Gibraltar
1 July 1944-7 October 1944: Dum Dum (India)

Squadron Codes:

Group and Duty
February 1939-8 April 1940: Pool bomber squadron with No. 6 Group
1 July 1941-February 1943: Maintenance unit, Iraq
February 1943-31 March 1944: Shipping reconnaissance and convoy escort, North Africa and Gibraltar
July 1944 onwards: General Transport duties, India


Blenheim Squadrons of World War Two, Jon Lake. This book looks at the entire RAF service career of the Bristol Blenheim, from its debut as a promising fast bomber, through the deadly disillusionment of the blitzkrieg, on to its work in the Middle East and Mediterranean, where the aircraft found a new lease of life. Lake also looks at the use of the Blenheim as an interim fighter aircraft and its use by Coastal Command.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 March 2007), No. 52 Squadron (RAF): Second World War,

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