No. 303 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No.303 'Warsaw-Kosciusco' Squadron was a Polish manned fighter squadron that took part in the Battle of Britain, flew offensive sweeps over France and joined Second Tactical Air Force for the invasion of Europe.

The squadron was formed on 22 July 1940 around a core of Polish airmen who had escaped from France. This high level of experience allowed the new squadron to become operational by the end of the month. The squadron was formed at the Sector station at Northolt and stayed there throughout the most intense periods of the Battle of Britain, only moving north on 11 October, during the final period of fighter-bomber attacks. The squadron swapped with another Polish squadron, No.302.  

The squadron returned south in January 1941, converted to the Spitfire and began to fly offensive sweeps over France. Over the next few years this pattern was repeated, with the squadron moving to Merseyside in July 1941, returning south in October, moving to Lincolnshire in June 1942 and south again in February 1943, and to Northern Ireland in November 1943.

In April 1944 the squadron joined Second Tactical Air Force, but unlike most fighter squadrons in that force it remained in Britain after the Normandy landings. Instead the squadron was based in East Anglia, from where it provided bomber escorts and flew armed reconnaissance sweeps over the occupied Netherlands.

In April 1945 the Spitfires were replaced with Mustangs, but only two operational missions were flown before the end of the war. The squadron survived for more than a year after the war, but was finally disbanded on 11 December 1946.

Aircraft
August 1940-January 1941: Hawker Hurricane I
January-March 1941: Supermarine Spitfire I
February-August 1941: Supermarine Spitfire IIA and IIB
August-October 1941: Supermarine Spitfire I
October 1941-June 1943: Supermarine Spitfire VB
June-November 1943: Supermarine Spitfire IX
November 1943-July 1944: Supermarine Spitfire VB
July 1944-April 1945: Supermarine Spitfire IX
April 1945-December 1946: North American Mustang IV

Location
July-October 1940: Northolt
October 1940-January 1941: Leconfield
January-July 1941: Northolt
July-October 1941: Speke
October 1941-June 1942: Northolt
June-August 1942: Kirton-in-Lindsey
August 1942: Redhill
August 1942-February 1943: Kirton-in-Lindsey
February 1943: Northolt
February-March 1943: Heston
March 1943: Debden
March 1943: Heston
March-April 1943: Martlesham Heath
April-June 1943: Heston
June-November 1943: Northolt
November 1943-April 1944: Ballyhalbert
April-June 1944: Horne
June 1944: Westhampnett
June-August 1944: Merston
August-September 1944: Westhampnett
September 1944-April 1945: Coltishall
April-May 1945: Andrews Field
May-August 1945: Coltishall
August-November 1945: Andrews Field
November 1945-January 1946: Turnhouse
January-March 1946: Wick
March 1946: Charterhall
March-December 1946: Hethel

Squadron Codes: RF

Duty
1941-1944: Fighter Command
1944-1945: Second Tactical Air Force

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 (20 October 2011), No. 303 Squadron (RAF): Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/RAF/303_wwII.html

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