RAF Timeline 1942

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453 Squadron Buffaloes Jan 1942 - Reinforcements arrive in the Far East to supplement the defensive air forces; 51 Hurricanes arrive in Singapore, 48 Hurricanes in Sumatra and 30 Hurricanes and Blenheims arrived in Burma from the Middle East.

Jan-Feb 1942 - In Europe, RAF operations are mainly concerned with attacks on German warships and naval facilities in the Atlantic and North Germany.

26 Jan-30 Mar 1942 - The Japanese advance through the Far East. By the end of January, the RAF and other British and allied forces had withdrawn from Malaya and Singapore to Sumatra. Two weeks later, the enemy captured Palembang airfield in Sumatra destroying 39 Hurricanes in the process. By 18 February, the Allies had evacuated to Java. RAF aircraft in the area had been reduced to 18 serviceable Hurricane fighters, 12 Hudson, 6 Blenheim and four Vildebeest bombers. On 3 March, Allied forces began evacuating Java; those that remained capitulated the next day. In Burma, the channel dash Japanese forces entered Rangoon on 8 March forcing the remaining RAF Hurricanes and Blenheims to move north. Finally on 27 March, the Japanese began a three-day assault forcing the Allies to evacuate to India. During these final days, Dakotas of No.31 Sqn and the USAAF airlifted 8,600 civilians to safety.

11-12 Feb 1942 - The Channel Dash. The German warships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen were spotted by a Spitfire pilot off Le Touquet attempting to escape Brest Harbour to Germany. Despite repeated air attacks by RAF and FAA aircraft which had been on alert for a week, all three pass through the channel unscathed. Gneisenau and Scharnhorst were, however, later damaged by mines dropped by Bomber Command aircraft.

Air Chief Marshal Arthur Harris 12 Feb 1942 - Major General C F Liardet assumes command of the newly formed RAF Regiment.

22 Feb 1942 - Air Marshal Arthur "Bomber" Harris is appointed Commander-in-Chief RAF Bomber Command.

13-14 Mar 1942 - 50 aircraft equipped with Gee receivers attack Cologne. This is the most successful attack to date with the device; estimates put it is being five times more effective than non-Gee equipped aircraft.

Lancaster with bomb April-May 1942 - Bomber Command raids continue on Germany. Larger numbers of aircraft (between 100 and 250) are now regularly dispatched against a variety of industrial targets and cities but still the results are disappointing; one raid on Essen during the night of 10/11 April sees the first use of a 8,000lb (3,630kg) bomb.

7-10 May 1942 - The aircraft carriers HMS Eagle and USS Wasp fly off Spitfires from positions in the Western Mediterranean to reinforce the air defences of Malta.

30-31 May 1942 - The first 1,000-bomber raid. 1,047 aircraft were des patched to Cologne, of which 868 attacked the main target dropping 1,455 tons of explosives, two-thirds of which were incendiaries. The city suffered severe damage and 469 people were killed. Beaufighter head on About 250 factories and 18,400 houses were destroyed or damaged. Half of the city's power supply was out of action, and some 12,000 fires started, many of which burned for days. Forty one aircraft were lost, and Fg Off T Manser was posthumously awarded the VC for remaining at the controls of his No. 50 Sqn Manchester to allow his crew to bale out.

Flying Officer T Manser VC RAF 1-2 Jun 1942 - The second 1,000-bomber raid; 956 aircraft attack Essen. The success of the first raid on Cologne is not repeated as many crews mistakenly bomb other cities.

12 Jun 1942 - A Coastal Command Beaufighter, piloted by Flt Lt K Gatward, makes a daylight flight to Paris and drops a French Tricolour over the tomb of the unknown soldier.

20 Jun 1942 - In the Desert War, Axis forces recapture Tobruk after launching a massive land and air assault.

25-26 Jun 1942 - The third 1,000-bomber raid; of the 960 aircraft launched against Bremen, 49 fail to return. Despite heavy cloud, considerable damage is caused, in particular to the Focke-Wulf aircraft factory which was hit by a 4,000lb (1,800 kg) bomb.

Maachi 205n 1 Jul 1942 - Six Coastal Command Catalinas fly to a lake near Archangel, north-west Russia, to provide air support for Russian convoys.

1-22 Jul 1942 - The first Battle of El Alamein. In the initial seven days of fighting, aircraft of the Desert Air Force fly 5458 sorties, delaying Rommel's advance and enabling the British Eighth Army to take up its positions at El Alamein.

Kittyhawk aircraft 4 Jul 1942 - United States Army Air Force (USAAF) bomber crews, flying RAF Boston aircraft, took part in operations in Europe for the first time attacking enemy airfields in Holland.

7 Jul 1942 - A searchlight equipped Wellington of No. 176 Sqn records the first sinking a U-boat at night.

15 Aug 1942 - Bomber Command takes an important step forward with the creation of the Pathfinder Force, Commanded by Air Commodore D C T Bennett. Air Commodore Bennett Pathfinder aircraft fly ahead of the main bomber stream dropping target-marking flares over the main target. However, on its first mission on 18/19 August, heavy winds blew the flares off-target.

19 Aug 1942 - The Dieppe operation. Sixty squadrons of fighter aircraft fly in support of Operation Jubilee, a large-scale amphibious landing in France. The operation showed major deficiencies in RAF ground support techniques, and this led to the creation of a fully integrated Tactical Air Force to support major ground offensives.

22 Aug 1942 - HRH The Duke of Kent is killed when the No. 228 Sqn Sunderland taking him to Iceland crashes in poor visibility near Scotland.

Typhoon aircraft 23 Oct-4 Nov 1942 - In Northwest Africa the second Battle of El Alamein begins. Fighter aircraft of the Desert Air Force maintain constant air patrols over enemy airfields after a four-day bombing campaign wipes out most of the opposing forces. With overwhelming air power, the Allies advanced steadily westward through North Africa. During Allied landings on 8 November (Operation Torch), additional fighters arrived in support and help maintain air superiority. However, in North West Africa, the Allies suffered heavy losses, handicapped by a lack of suitable airfields to operate from. On 4 December, all 10 Bisley bombers of No. 18 Sqn were shot down attempting to attack an enemy airfield. It wasn't until April 1943 that British Duke of Kent and American forces linked up and isolated Axis troops in Tunisia. The Desert Air Force now had a crushing advantage, and the final combat of the Desert War took place on 7 May with the capture of 275,000 enemy soldiers.

25 Oct 1942 - Formation of No. 6 (Royal Canadian Air Force) Group, Bomber Command. All squadrons in the Group were manned by Canadian airmen.

20-21 Dec 1942 - First use of Oboe blind-bombing equipment by Mosquitoes of No.109 Sqn.

Forward to 1943

Bisley aircraft

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