No. 274 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.274 Squadron spent most of the Second World War serving as a fighter squadron in North Africa. It then returned to Britain in 1944 where it took part in the campaign against the V-1 flying bomb, before moving to the continent to join 2nd Tactical Air Force.

The squadron was reformed at Amriya in Egypt in the aftermath of the defeat of France and the entry of Italy into the Second World War. At first it was equipped with a mix of aircraft. A Flight had Hurricanes, B Flight had Gladiators and the French Flight, which came from No.80 Squadron, used two Morane 406 fighters and two Potez 63-11 reconnaissance aircraft. This situation soon changed - the French left in September 1940 and the Gladiators in October, leaving the squadron fully equipped with the Hurricane.

In December the squadron began to fly fighter sweeps over the Western Desert, and continued to perform this role as the army advanced and retreated across the Libyan Desert.

In May 1942 the Hurricanes were modified to carry bombs, and the squadron took on a fighter-bomber role. It took part in the battle of El Alamein and the advance across Libya as a fighter bomber unit, but after the fall of Tunisia was allocated to defensive duties.

The squadron received its first Spitfires in April 1943, and had completed converted to the new aircraft in September, by which time it was based on Cyprus. The squadron next move came in February 1944, when it was transferred to Italy. It spend the next two months flying sweeps over Yugoslavia and Albania, supporting the partisans, but it was then withdrawn and prepared for a move back to the UK.

The squadron came back together at Hornchurch on 24 April 1944, and began to fly flight sweeps across northern France. It was used to cover the D-Day landings, but like a number of other fighter squadrons it then had to be diverted to the campaign against the V-1 flying bombs. The squadron converted to the Hawker Tempest, and claimed fifteen victories over V-1s while operating with the Manston Wing alongside No.80 Squadron.

The V-1 campaign lasted until their launching areas were over-run. No.274 Squadron was then free to join 2nd Tactical Air Force, and in early October it reached the wing at landing ground B.80 Volkel, in Holland. Once there it formed part of No.122 Wing, alongside four other Tempest squadrons.

No.122 Wing was used to fly patrols over the battlefield, both to protect against the limited threat from the Luftwaffe and to provide direct support for the troops. The wing was also used to fly long range armed reconnaissance missions into Germany, where on occasions it encountered the Me 262 jet fighter. For most of this period there was very little fighter opposition, but the Luftwaffe made one last effort in December 1944-January 1945 in an attempt to support the offensive in the Ardennes. The Wing's busiest day came on 23 January, when all five squadrons saw combat and between them claimed 23 victories.

The squadron's aircraft returned to the UK in September 1945 for a training course, and while there was renumbered as No.174 Squadron.

Aircraft
August-October 1940: Gloster Gladiator II
August 1940-October 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
October 1941-October 1943: Hawker Hurricane IIB and IIC
April 1943-April 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VB and VC
May-August 1944: Supermarine Spitfire IX
August 1944-September 1945: Hawker Tempest V

Location
August-December 1940: Amriya
December 1940-January 1941: Sidi Haneish South
January-February 1941: Gazala
February-April 1941: Amriya
April 1941: Sidi Haneish
April-September 1941: Gerawla
September-November 1941: Amriya
November 1941: Sidi Haneish North
November 1941: LG.130
November-December 1941: LG.124
December 1941: LG.103
December 1941-February 1942: Msus
February 1942: El Adem
February 1942: Gasr el Arid
February-March 1942: Gambut 2
March-April 1942: Gambut Main
April-May 1942: Sidi Haneish
May-June 1942: Gambut
June 1942: LG.07
June 1942: Sidi Haneish
June-July 1942: LG.92
July-August 1942: LG.173
August-September 1942: LG.88
September-October 1942: LG.229
October 1942: LG.89
October-November 1942: LG.104
November 1942: LG.13
November 1942: Bu Amud
November-December 1942: Martuba 1
December 1942-January 1943: Benina
January 1943: Misurata
January-August 1943: Mellaha
August-September 1943: Derna
September 1943-February 1944: Paphos
February 1944: Madna
February-April 1944: Canne

April-May 1944: Hornchurch
May-June 1944: Detling
June 1944: Merston
June-July 1944: Gatwick
July-August 1944: West Malling
August-September 1944: Manston
September 1944: Coltishall
September-October 1944: B.70 Deurne
October 1944: B.82 Grave
October 1944-March 1945: B.80 Volkel
March-April 1945: B.91 Kluis
April-June 1945: B.109 Quackenbruck
June-September 1945: B.155 Dedelstorf
September 1945: Warmwell

Squadron Codes: T, H, V, JJ

Duty
1940-1942: Fighter squadron, North Africa
1942-1943: Fighter bomber squadron, North Africa
1943: Fighter defence, Tunisia
1943-1944: Fighter squadron, Cyprus
1944: Fighter sweeps, Balkans
1944: Anti V-1 campaign
1944-1945: 2nd Tactical Air Force

Part of
11 November 1941: No.258 Wing; AHQ Western Desert; RAF Middle East
27 October 1942: No.7 (S.A.A.F.) Wing; No.212 Group; AHQ Western Desert; RAF Middle East
10 July 1943: No.210 Group; Air Defences Eastern Mediterranean; RAF Middle East; Mediterranean Air Command
6 June 1944: No.11 Group; Air Defence of Great Britain; Allied Expeditionary Air Force

Books
Gloster Gladiator Aces, Andrew Thomas. A look at the wartime career of the only biplane fighter still in RAF service during the Second World War. Covers the Gladiator's service in Finland, Malta, North Africa, Greece, Aden, East Africa and Iraq, where despite being outdated it performed surprisingly well. cover cover cover

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 September 2011), No. 274 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/274_wwII.html

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