RAF Timeline 1943

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Bristol hercules Lancaster II 16-17 Jan 1943 - During the first Bomber Command attack on Berlin since November 1941, the RAF makes its first use of Target Indicator marker bombs.

21 Jan 1943 - The Combined Chiefs of Staff issue the Casablanca Directive. Its principal aim was to weld RAF and USAAF strategic bomber forces into one mighty air arm able to crush the German industrial, military and economic system. It was also decided that to defer the cross-channel invasion until 1944.

30 Jan 1943 - A rally in Berlin to mark the 10th anniversary of Hitler coming to power and addressed by senior Nazi leaders including Goering and Goebbels, is interrupted several times by six raiding Mosquitoes of Nos. 105 and 139 Sqns. In a night-time attack on Hamburg, aircraft of the Halifax 3 Pathfinder Force use the H2S bombing radar for the first time.

14 Feb 1943 - Dakotas of No. 31 Sqn and Hudsons of No. 194 Sqn begin air supply missions to Chindit forces working behind enemy lines in Burma. Chindits were small pockets of highly trained British troops, usually with local guides, who operated behind enemy lines, cutting enemy lines of communication. The name was taken from that of a mythical Burmese God.

Dakota at night 25 Feb 1943 - The beginning of the Allied round-the-clock strategic bombing campaign in Europe. In the next 2 days, more than 2,000 sorties are flown against enemy targets.

27 Feb 1943 - USAAF bomber aircraft make their first raid on Germany.

5 Mar 1943 - The only jet aircraft to serve with the RAF in World War II, the Gloster Meteor, is flown for the first time.

Meteor 5-6 Mar 1943 - Bomber Command commences The Battle of the Ruhr, an attempt to seriously deplete Germanys industrial strength.

25 Mar 1943 - Royal Air Force Transport Command was formed from the former Ferry Command.

16/17 May 1943 - The famous Dambusters Raid. The Mohne and Eder Dams in the industrial heart of Germany were attacked and breached by mines York dropped from specially modified Lancasters of No. 617 Sqn. The Sorpe dam was was also attacked by by two aircraft and damaged. A fourth dam, the Ennepe was reported as being attacked by a single aircraft (O-Orange), but with no damage. An estimated 1,294 people were killed by floodwaters and 8 of the 19 aircraft dispatched failed to return with the loss of 53 aircrew and 3 taken prisoner of war. Wg Cdr Guy Gibson, Officer Commanding No. 617 Sqn, is awarded the VC for his part in Dambusters leading the attack.

14 Jun 1943 - Following an assessment of Exercise Spartan, Tactical Air Forces (TAFs) are created as replacements for RAF Army Co-operation Command. The exercise tested the efficiency of Army co-operation squadrons under mobile conditions, and was effectively a rehearsal for the invasion and liberation of Northwest Europe.

20 Jun 1943 - Bomber Command begins its first shuttle bombing raid. On the outward leg aircraft bomb radar-building works Friedrichshafen, Germany then land in North Africa. On the return journey to the UK they bomb La Spezia in Italy.

30 Jun 1943 - First use of Serrate radar homing equipment fitted in RAF nightfighting aircraft. The receivers allowed Beaufighters to home in on German night-fighter Beaufighter VIF interception radars.

9-10 Jul 1943 - Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily begins. Large numbers of gliders, towed by USAAF Dakotas, Albemarles and Halifaxes of No. 38 Wing, RAF, carry the Army's 1st Air Landing Brigade into battle. Fighter cover was provided by Maltese-based Hurricanes of No. 73 Sqn. The airborne Taylorcraft assault was a disaster; of 137 gliders released, 69 landed in rough seas, 56 landed on the south-eastern coast, and only 12, all towed by the RAF made the landing zone. The seaborne landings, by contrast were a major success; fighter cover for the landings being provided by Spitfires, Mustangs, Tomahawks and Lightnings of the Desert Air Force.

24-25 Jul 1943 - During the first of four large-scale attacks on Hamburg, Bomber Command aircraft make first use of Window (a forerunner of chaff) - strips of tinfoil dropped from aircraft to confuse enemy radar installations. After a second raid 3 Dakota and Horsa Glider days later on residential areas, an intense firestorm results in some 40,000 deaths and 1.2 million people fleeing the city.

17 Aug 1943 - USAAF bombers make a daylight raid on the ball-bearing factory in Schweinfurt, Germany. The raid proves costly as Luftwaffe fighters shoot down 60 of the 309 aircraft dispatched A second attack on October 14th proves equally costly when 60 out of 244 aircraft are lost.

Hamburg 17-18 Aug 1943 - Bomber Command dispatches 597 aircraft to attack the German rocket research centre at Peenemunde on the Baltic coast. Forty aircraft failed to return, but the V-2 rocket programme is delayed by approximately two months.

9 Sep 1943 - Anglo-American forces land on continental Europe at Salerno, Italy.

15 Sep 1943 - RAF Regiment units deploy for action by air for the first time. No.2909 Sqn is flown into the Greek island of Cos, and No.2682 Sqn is flown into Southern Italy.

B17 Formation 15/16 Sep 1943 - The 12,000lb (5,443kg) Blockbuster bomb is used for the first time, when Lancasters of No. 617 Sqn make a low-level attack on the Dortmund-Ems Canal. This raid, and a second on the following night, was a disaster. Five out of eight aircraft were lost, including a number of veterans of the Dambusters raid and the new CO of No. 617 Squadron, Wing Commander George Holden.

Peenemunde 10 Oct 1943 - No. 38 (Airborne Forces) Group is formed at Netheravon, Wiltshire.

15 Nov 1943 - The 2nd Tactical Air Force (2nd TAF) is formed; this in turn forms part of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force (AEAF), commanded by Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, in Air Chief Marshal Leigh Mallory preparation for the invasion of mainland Europe.

18-19 Nov 1943 - Bomber Command aircraft begin a major campaign against Berlin. Over the next 4 months, 16 major attacks were launched against the German capital, involving a total of 9,111 sorties. During this period, 492 aircraft failed to return, and 954 were damaged.

18 Dec 1943 - The 3rd Tactical Air Force was formed to provide offensive support to operations in Burma.

Lancaster in high flight Forward to 1944

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