No. 278 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.278 Squadron was an air-sea rescue squadron formed to cover the coast off East Anglia, but that ended the war with responsibility for the English Channel.

The squadron was formed on 1 October 1941 from No.3 Air Sea Rescue Flight at Matlask, and was equipped with a mix of Lysanders and Walruses. It was one of four squadrons formed at this time, and was allocated to Fighter Command. Like most other air-sea rescue squadrons, No.278 used quite a variety of aircraft. The Lysanders remained in use until February 1943, when they were replaced with Avro Ansons. Spitfires were used for spotting between April 1944 and February 1945, and Vickers Warwicks were used to drop lifeboats from May 1944 until February 1945. At that point the squadron standardised on the Walrus, joined in May 1945 by the more modern Sea Otter II.

The squadron was originally responsible for the coast off East Anglia. During 1943 this was extended to include the north-eat of England. In February 1944 the squadron took over two detachments from No.282 Squadron, and gained responsibility for southern Scotland and the extreme north of Scotland. This was a short-lived expansion, and in April the squadron reverted to just covering East Anglia.

In February 1945 the squadron was moved to the English Channel, replacing No.277 Squadron. No.278 Squadron was disbanded on 14 October 1945.

Aircraft
October 1941-February 1943: Westland Lysander IIIA
October 1941-October 1945: Supermarine Walrus I and II
February 1943-July 1944: Avro Anson I
April 1944-February 1945: Supermarine Spitfire VB
May-October 1945: Supermarine Sea Otter II

Location - Main
October 1941-April 1942: Matlask
April 1942-April 1944: Coltishall
April 1944-February 1945: Bradwell Bay
February 1945-October 1945: Thorney Island

Detachments
November 1941-January 1943: North Coates
October-December 1943: Woolsington
December 1943: Acklington
December 1943-March 1944: Hutton Cranswick
February-April 1944: Ayr, Drem, Castletown, Peterhead and Sumburgh
April-September 1944: Martlesham Heath
November 1944-February 1945: Hornchurch
Febriary-October 1945: Hawkinge and Beccles
July-October 1945: Exeter

Squadron Codes: E, MY, Y, MV

Duty
1941-1945: Air sea rescue

Part of
6 June 1944: No.11 Group; Air Defence of Great Britain; Allied Expeditionary Air Force

Books

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (7 September 2011), No. 278 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/178_wwII.html

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