No. 403 Squadron (RCAF): Second World War

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No.403 Squadron, RCAF, was a fighter squadron that was the first Canadian squadron to be formed overseas during the Second World War, and that took part in the air offensive over France, joined Second Air Force and supported the D-Day landings then moved to Europe to support the campaign in North-western Europe.

No.403 Squadron was formed at Baginton on 1 March 1941, making it the first of an eventual total of 35 RCAF squadrons to be formed overseas during the Second World War.

At first it was equipped with the Tomahawk, and it became operational with that aircraft on 11 May. The Tomahawks were used for low level reconnaissance. However by this point it has already begun to convert to the Spitfire, getting its first Spitfire Is in the same month.

In July 1941 the squadron converted completely to the Spitfire IIA, and it was this aircraft that it took south in August 1941. It flew its first offensive operation on 7 September 1941, and from then until October took part in offensive sweeps over France.

From October to the start of 1942 the squadron was used to fly shipping patrols along the East Coast. Offensive sweeps resumed early in 1942. On 2 June the squadron was one of the early victims of the Fw 190, losing seven Spitfires in a single day. Later in the month the squadron moved to Yorkshire. The squadron remained there for six months, part from a brief return south in August to support the Dieppe raid.

The squadron returned to the south in January 1943 and returned to the offensive. It was one of the original squadrons in Second Tactical Air Force, and was used to carry out ground attack missions over France before D-Day.

During the D-Day landings the squadron provided fighter cover for the invasion fleet. It then did the same over the Normandy beachhead. The squadron moved to France only ten days after D-Day.

After the breakout the squadron supported the advancing armies. It moved to Belgium in September, and was used to carry out sweeps over Germany, focusing on communication targets and the Luftwaffe.

On 30 June 1945 the squadron was disbanded.

Aircraft
March-July 1941: Tomahawk I, IIA
May-July 1941: Supermarine Spitfire I
July-September 1941: Supermarine Spitfire IIA
September 1941-January 1943: Supermarine Spitfire VB
January 1943-December 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
December 1944-June 1945: Supermarine Spitfire XVI

Location
1 March-30 May 1941: Baginton
30 May-4 August 1941: Ternhill
4-25 August 1941: Hornchurch
25 August-3 October 1941: Debden
3 October-24 December 1941: Martlesham Heath
24 December 1941-2 May 1942: North Weald
2 May-3 June 1942: Southend
3-19 June 1942: Martlesham Heath
19 June-1 July 1942: Catterick
1-8 July 1942: Manston
8 July-16 August 1942: Catterick
16-20 August 1942: Manston
20 August 1942-23 January 1943: Catterick
23 January-7 August 1943: Kenley
7-20 August 1943: Lashenden
20 August-14 October 1943: Headcorn
14 October 1943-24 February 1944: Kenley
24-29 February 1944: Hutton Cranswick
29 February-18 April 1944: Kenley
18 April-16 June 1944: Tangmere
16 June-28 August 1944: B.2 Bazenville
28 August-21 September 1944: B.26 Illiers l'Eveque
21 September-3 October 1944: Fairwood Common (air)
  22 September-1 October 1944: B.68 Le Culot (ground)
  1-21 October 1944: B.82 Grave (ground)
3-21 October 1944: B.82 Grave (air)
21 October-3 November 1944: B.58 Melsbroek
3 November 1944-4 January 1945: B.56 Evere
4-14 January 1945: Warmwell
14 January- 1 March 1945: B.56 Evere
1-31 March 1945: B.90 Petit Brogel
31 March-11 April 1945: B.78 Eindhoven
11-13 April 1945: B.100 Goch
13-28 April 1945: B.114 Diepholz
28 April-30 June 1945: B.154 Reinsehlen

Squadron Codes: KH

Duty
-6 June 1944-: No.127 (RCAF) Wing, No.83 Group, Second Tactical Air Force

Books

 

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 June 2021), No. 35 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RCAF/403_wwII.html

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