No. 220 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.220 Squadron was a Coastal Command squadron that concentrated on anti-shipping duties until 1942 before becoming one of the few RAF squadrons to operate the Boeing Fortress.

The squadron was reformed at Bircham Newton on 17 August 1936 as a general reconnaissance unit, equipped with the Avro Anson. At the start of the Second World War the squadron used its Ansons to fly patrols from Thornaby, but by November they had been replaced by the Lockheed Hudson. In February 1940 one of the squadron's Hudsons located the Altmark, the German ship attempting to move seamen captured by the Graf Spee through neutral Norwegian waters to Germany, and was able to direct the Royal Navy to the scene. In May 1940 the squadron began to fly anti-shipping missions of the newly hostile coasts of Norway and Holland.

In April 1941 the squadron moved to the north of Scotland to focus on attacks on coastal shipping and harbours in Norway, a role it carried out for the rest of the year. In November 1941 the squadron supplied a detachment that operated No.90 Squadron's remaining Boeing Fortresses in the Middle East for two months. In January 1942, just as this detachment came to an end, the home-based part of the squadron began to convert to the Fortress, and on 29 April it became operational with the new aircraft, using bases in Northern Ireland. The squadron achieved one or two successes from Northern Ireland, sinking U-624 on 7 February 1943 in the North Atlantic, and possibly sinking U-265 south of Iceland on 3 February, although this victory is also allocated to No.206 Squadron.

In March 1943 the squadron moved to Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, remaining there for seven months before making the rather dramatic move south to the Azores! The squadron achieved its last two U-boat victories from its new base, sinking U-707 on 9 November 1943 and U-871 on 26 September 1944. In December 1944 the squadron began to convert to the Liberator, and used its new aircraft to fly anti-submarine patrols over the South Atlantic for the rest of the war.

In June 1945 the squadron returned to the UK. Between October 1945 and April 1946 it was used for trooping flights to and from India, before disbanding on 25 May 1946.

Aircraft
August 1936-November 1939: Avro Anson I
September 1939-April 1942: Lockheed Hudson I, III and VI
December 1941-August 1942: Boeing Fortress I
July 1942-April 1945: Boeing Fortress II and IIA
July 1944-April 1945: Boeing Fortress III
December 1944-May 1946: Consolidated Liberator V and VI
July 1945-May 1946: Consolidated Liberator VIII

Location
August 1936-August 1939: Bircham Newton
August 1939-January 1942: Thornaby
    November 1940-April 1941: Detachment to St. Eval
    March-April 1941: Detachment to Wick
    December 1941-May 1942: Detachment to Shallufa
January-June 1942: Nutts Corner
June 1942-February 1943: Ballykelly
February-March 1943: Aldergrove
March-October 1943: Benbecula

October 1943-May 1945: Lagens
May-September 1945: St. Davids
September 1945-May 1946: Waterbeach

Squadron Codes: NR (Anson, Hudson)

Duty
1939: General reconnaissance unit, Coastal Command
1940-1942: Anti-shipping squadron, Coastal Command
1943-1945: Anti-submarine warfare, Coastal Command

Part of
September 1939: No.18 G.R. Group; Coastal Command
15 February 1943: No.15 Group; Coastal Command

Books

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 February 2011), No. 220 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/220_wwII.html

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