Bomber Command

Bomber Command No.90 Squadron

No. 90 Squadron

90 squadron badge Motto: "Celer" ("Swift").
Badge: A hind salient. The Hind - "representative of vigilance and great speed" - commemorates the fact that, at one time, the squadron was equipped with Hind aircraft.
Authority: King George VI, July 1938.

No. 90 Squadron, RFC, was formed at Shawbury, Shropshire, on 8th October 1917. It was eventually equipped with Sopwith Dolphin single-seat fighters for use in France, but was not sent overseas, and on 3rd August 1918, was disbanded. Eleven days later it was re-formed as a Home Defence unit. It was equipped with Sopwith Camels and Avro 504s and remained in existence until June 1919, when it became a casualty of post-war disarmament.

The squadron was re-formed as a bomber unit in March 1937, and equipped with Hawker Hinds. It was given Bristol Blenheim Mk. Is during the summer of 1937 and was selected to conduct Service development trials of these aircraft and also staged many flying demonstrations. In the spring of 1939 the "short-nosed" Blenheim Is were replaced by "long-nosed" Mk. IV's.

Soon after the outbreak of war No. 90 ceased to be a first-line unit and assumed the role of a Group pool squadron or, in other words, became a training squadron. In April 1940, it was absorbed into. No.17 OTU but in May 1941, it re-formed, having been selected as the RAF squadron to receive the first Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft from America. Its role was now high-altitude day bombing and it flew its first operational mission with Fortresses on 8th July 1941, when Wilhelmshaven was attacked from 30,000 feet. It continued to operate its Fortresses over Europe - albeit with little success - until September 1941, and, later, had a detachment operating in the Middle East.

The squadron was again disbanded in February 1942, but re-formed in November 1942, as a heavy-bomber squadron equipped with Stirlings, and subsequently made a significant contribution to the Battle of the Ruhr, the devastation of Hamburg and the famous raid on Peenemunde. It also did a great deal of minelaying. In May/June 1944, No. 90 exchanged its Stirlings for Lancasters and with these continued to playa prominent part in Bomber Command's offensive until late April 1945.

Between 8/9th January 1943 (when it began operations with Stirlings) and 22nd April 1945, members of No. 90 Squadron earned 6 DSOs 123 DFCs, one bar to a DFC, 1 CGM, 1 AFC and 33 DFMs.

Bomber Command WWII Bases:

  • West Raynham : May 1939-Sep 1939
  • Upwood : Sep 1939-Apr 1940

Became a No. 6 Group training sqdn 18.9.39 and in 4.40 merged with No. 35 Sqdn & SHQ Upwood to form No. 17 OTU.
Re-formed 7.5.41 as No. 90 (B) Sqdn at

  • Watton : May 1941
  • West Raynham : May 1941-Jun 1941
  • Polebrook : Jun 1941-Feb 1942
  • Detachment to Kinloss in Sep 1941 for ops against the Von Scheer at Oslo.
  • Detachment to Shallufa, Egypt, in Oct 1941 and eventually absorbed into No.
  • 220 Sqdn.

Re-formed as No. 90 (B) Squadron at:

  • Bottesford : Nov 1942-Dec 1942
  • Ridgewell : Dec 1942-May 1943
  • West Wickham (re-named Wratting Common, Aug 43) : May 1943-Oct 1943
  • Tuddenham : Oct 1943 onwards

Bomber Command WWII Aircraft:

  • Bristol Blenheim I and IV : May 1937-Apr 1940
  • Boeing Fortress I : May 1941-Feb 1942
  • Short Stirling I and III : Nov 1942-Jun 1944
  • Avro Lancaster B.I and B.III : May 1944 onwards

90 squadron Blenheim IV
90 squadron Stirling B Mk III

Code Letters:

  • During the 1938 Munich crisis No. 90 was allotted the code letters "TW". In
  • WW2 the sqdn's a/c were coded "WP" and - in the case of "C" FIt's Stirlings & Lancasters - "XY". ("C" FIt was formed in early 1943).

First Operational Mission in WWII:

  • 8th July 1941 : 2 Fortresses bombed Wilhelmshaven (primary target) and
  • another Fortress bombed Norderney instead.

Last Operational Mission in WWII:

  • 22nd April 1945 : 12 Lancasters bombed Bremen & 2 other Lancasters
  • aborted.

Last Mission before VE Day:

  • 7th May 1942 : 17 Lancasters dropped supplies to Dutch at The Hague

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