No. 222 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.222 Squadron was a fighter squadron that took part in the Dunkirk evacuations, the Battle of Britain and the invasion of North West Europe, before becoming one of the first jet fighter squadrons in the RAF in the summer of 1945.

The squadron reformed on 5 October 1939 at Duxford as a shipping protection squadron equipped with the Blenheim bomber, but this was a short-lived role, and in March 1940 the squadron converted to the Spitfire and became a day fighter squadron in No.12 Group. The squadron moved south to Essex in May to help cover the Dunkirk evacuation, before returning to Lincolnshire where it remained during the first part of the Battle of Britain.

At the end of August the squadron moved south to join No.11 Group, arriving at Hornchurch on 29 August and remaining there until mid November. This meant that the squadron was involved in the most dangerous part of the Battle of Britain, the assault on Fighter Command's inland airfields that lasted from 24 August until 6 September. Hornchurch was the target of repeated raids, including one on 31 August in which three aircraft from No.54 Squadron were destroyed while taking to the air!

The squadron remained at Hornchurch during the fourth phase of the battle (the period of day and night attacks on London) and the fifth and final phase (night raids on London and daylight fighter-bomber raids). By mid-November, when the squadron moved to East Anglia, the daylight raids had stopped, and the Luftwaffe was concentrating on the night time blitz.

Early in 1941 the squadron began to fly offensive sweeps over occupied Europe, part of the RAF's policy of 'leaning over the channel'. This period lasted until August 1942 when the squadron moved to Scotland, although it did return south briefly in the same month to take part in the Dieppe raid. In March 1943 the squadron moved back to Essex again, becoming an early member of 2nd Tactical Air Force.

In April 1944 the squadron moved to Selsey Bill, where it became part of No.136 Airfield (later No.135 Wing). The wing's role was to provide fighter cover over the invasion convoys and the D-Day beaches. In August the squadron moved to Normandy, and it followed the armies east until it reached Belgium. In December the squadron returned to the UK to convert to the Hawker Tempest, returning to the continent in February 1945 to rejoin No.135 wing at Gilze-Rijen. The squadron continued to support the army until the end of the war. In June 1945 it returned to the UK and converted to the Meteor jet fighter.

Aircraft
November 1939-March 1940: Bristol Blenheim IF
March 1940-March 1941: Supermarine Spitfire I
March-August 1941: Supermarine Spitfire IIA and IIB
August 1941-May 1943: Supermarine Spitfire VB
May 1943-December 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
December 1944-October 1945: Hawker Tempest V

Location
October 1939-May 1940: Duxford
May 1940: Digby
May 1940: Kirton-in-Lindsey
May-June 1940: Hornchurch
June-August 1940: Kirton-in-Lindsey
August-November 1940: Hornchurch
November 1940-June 1941: Coltishall
June-July 1941: Matlask
July 1941: Manston
July-August 1941: Southend
August 1941-May 1942: North Weald
May-July 1942: Manston
July-August 1942: North Weald
August 1942: Winfield
August 1942: Drem
August 1942: Biggin Hull
August-October 1942: Drem
October 1942-March 1943: Ayr
March-April 1943: Southend
April 1943: Martlesham Heath
April-December 1943: Hornchurch
December 1943-February 1944: Woodvale
February 1944: Catterick
February-March 1944: Acklington
March-April 1944: Hornchurch
April 1944: Southend
April-June 1944: Selsey
June-July 1944: Coolham
July-August 1944: Funtington
August 1944: Selsey
August 1944: Tangmere
August-September 1944: B.17 Carpiquet
September 1944: B.35 Baromesnil
September-November 1944: B.53 Merville
November-December 1944: B.65 Maldeghem
December 1944-February 1945: Predannack
February-April 1945: B.77 Gilze-Rijen
April 1945: B.91 Kluis
April-June 1945: B.109 Quackenbruck

Squadron Codes: ZD

Duty
8 August 1940: No.12 Group; Fighter Command
29 August-11 November 1940: No.11 Group; Fighter Command
11 November-: No.12 Group; Fighter Command
6 June 1944: No.135 Wing; No.84 Group; 2nd Tactical Air Force; Allied Expeditionary Air Force

Role
1939-1940: Shipping protection
1940: Defensive fighter squadron
1941-1945: Offensive fighter squadron

Books
Typhoon and Tempest Aces of World War War 2, Chris Thomas. This book tells the tale of the troubled Hawker Typhoon, concentrating on its use as a fighter rather than its more successful career as a ground attack aircraft, and its transformation into the excellent Tempest, one of the best fighters of the later years of the Second World War [see more] cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 February 2011), No. 222 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/222_wwII.html

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