No. 452 Squadron RAAF


No. 452 Squadron RAAF
452 Squadron RAAF Badge.jpg
No. Squadron Badge of No. 452 Squadron
Active8 April 1941 – 17 November 1945
BranchRoyal Australian Air Force
RoleFighter (1941–1945)
Air traffic control (2011–current)
Part ofNo. 44 Wing
Motto(s)Miundus Pro Nobis (Sweeping the world before us)
EngagementsWorld War II
Battle honours[1]Defence of Britain 1940–1945
English Channel and North Sea 1939–1945
Fortress Europe 1940–1944
Pacific 1941–1945
Darwin 1943–1944
Keith "Bluey" Truscott
Lou Spence
Raymond Thorold-Smith
Squadron codesUD (Apr 1941 – Mar 1942)[2][3]
QY (Jan 1943 – Nov 1945)[4][5]
Aircraft flown
FighterSupermarine Spitfire

No. 452 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) air traffic control unit. It was established in 1941 as a fighter squadron, in accordance with Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme during World War II. The squadron flew Supermarine Spitfires for the entire war, initially over the United Kingdom and Nazi-occupied Europe. It was later based in Australia and the Netherlands East Indies, before being disbanded in 1945. It was re-raised in its current role in February 2011.


No. 452 Squadron RAAF was formed at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey on 8 April 1941 under Article XV of the Empire Air Training Scheme; it was the first Australian squadron formed in Britain during World War II. On 22 May, the squadron became operational as a fighter unit, flying early model Supermarine Spitfires.[1][6] In July, it was moved to RAF Kenley,[6] where it became part of No. 11 Group RAF.[7]

No. 452 Squadron pilots posing with a Spitfire at Kirton-in-Lindsey

The squadron rapidly developed a formidable reputation in operations against German forces; in one month it was credited with shooting down 22 German Bf 109 fighters.[8] It was involved in many different kinds of operation, including offensive patrols, convoy escort and bomber escort missions over Europe.[9] One of the most unusual occurred on 19 August 1941, when the Kenley Wing—among others—had to escort a formation that included a Blenheim bomber that—with the co-operation of the Germans—dropped an artificial leg by parachute, for British ace Douglas Bader, who was a prisoner of war. The bombers then flew on to bomb the Gosnay power plant.[10] In the dogfighting that took place during the operation, No. 452 Squadron was heavily engaged, shooting down one aircraft and scoring "probable" victories over two others; several of its aircraft were damaged.[11]

Another notable operation was the attack on the German warships Scharnhorst, Prinz Eugen and Gneisenau, which were attempting the Channel Dash from Brest harbour on 11 February 1942, damaging one of the escorting destroyers.[1][12] One of the squadron's best known pilots during this time was Keith "Bluey" Truscott, who was credited with 16 aerial victories from April 1941 to March 1942 and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) while serving with No. 452 Squadron in Britain.[13] Although nominally an Australian unit while it was in Europe, No. 452 Squadron also had some British personnel, members from British Commonwealth countries and other nationalities. One of these was the Irish ace Paddy Finucane.[14] A number of Polish pilots also flew with the squadron.[15]

The squadron moved to RAF Redhill in October 1941, remaining there until March 1942, when No. 452 Squadron replaced its sister, No. 457 Squadron, at RAF Andreas, Isle of Man, where it remained until it withdrew from operations in Britain in June to return to Australia.[9] Its final aerial victory came that month and the squadron's final tally in Europe was 70 enemy aircraft shot down and 17 damaged, for the loss of 22 pilots killed.[8] It sailed for home on 21 June, arriving in Melbourne on 13 August and re-assembled at RAAF Station Richmond, New South Wales on 6 September. The squadron began refresher training at Richmond, using a varied collection of aircraft because its Spitfires had been commandeered in transit by the Royal Air Force in the Middle East.[12]

No. 452 Squadron Spitfire aircraft near Morotai in late 1944

No. 452 Squadron became operational again on 17 January 1943, having received Spitfire MK Vc aircraft in October the previous year.[12] Based at Batchelor Airfield in the Northern Territory it became part of No. 1 Wing RAAF, which defended Darwin from Japanese air raids. The squadron was relocated to Strauss Airfield on 1 February and apart a brief period between 9 and 27 March 1943 when it was deployed to RAAF Station Pearce to reinforce the air defences of Perth, it remained at Strauss, protecting Darwin, until 30 June 1944.[1] The previous April, the squadron had received more advanced Mark VIII Spitfire.[16] In May, it had become part of No. 80 Wing RAAF.[17] Throughout this period, the squadron was involved in significant actions during which it shot down several Japanese aircraft; its first big battle took place in early March.[18]

On 1 July 1944 the squadron relocated again, this time to Sattler Airfield in the Northern Territory. Responsibility for defending Darwin had been handed over to two Royal Air Force squadrons; No. 452 Squadron was reassigned to ground-attack missions.[1] The squadron began attacking targets in the Dutch East Indies and on 11 December 1944 it was sent to Morotai, where it was assigned to the 1st Tactical Air Force, to support the Australian operations in Kalimantan, flying mainly ground attack missions and anti-shipping strikes.[19] The ground staff were sent to Juwata airfield on Tarakan in May 1945 but operations had to wait until the landing field was ready. The squadron undertook missions against Kelabaken and Simalumong on 2 July; further attacks occurred on Tawoa on 10 July. A detachment moved to Balikpapan on 15 July and began operations to support Australian troops there. The detachment remained until the end of the war, flying its last sortie on 10 August 1945;[1] its final aerial victory of the war came on 24 July when a Japanese bomber was shot down in a night raid over Balikpapan.[20]

Operations continued after the war, albeit limited to defensive duties only. In October the aircraft of 452 Squadron were returned to Australia and the unit disbanded at Tarakan on 17 November 1945.[21] Australian casualties during the war amounted to 49 killed.[1]

No. 452 Squadron was re-raised as an air traffic control unit on 16 February 2011. It forms part of No. 44 Wing at RAAF Base Darwin. It maintains subordinate flights at the "northern" RAAF bases, RAAF Base Darwin, RAAF Base Tindal, RAAF Base Amberley, RAAF Base Townsville and the Oakey Army Aviation Centre. These flights provide the air traffic control service for these bases.[22]

Aircraft operated

No. 452 Squadron operated the following aircraft:[23][24][25]

From To Aircraft Version
April 1941 May 1941 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I
May 1941 August 1941 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IIa
August 1941 October 1943 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
October 1943 April 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vc
April 1944[16] November 1945 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VIII

Squadron bases

No. 452 Squadron operated from the following bases and airfields:[23][24][25][26]

From To Base Remark
8 April 1941 21 July 1941 RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire
21 July 1941 21 October 1941 RAF Kenley, Surrey
21 October 1941 14 January 1942 RAF Redhill, Surrey
14 January 1942 23 March 1942 RAF Kenley
23 March 1942 21 June 1942 RAF Andreas, Isle of Man Ground echelon at RAF Atcham, Shropshire
21 June 1942 13 August 1942 en route to Australia
6 September 1942 17 January 1943 RAAF Richmond, New South Wales RAAF Station Mascot[25]
17 January 1943 1 February 1943 Batchelor Airfield, Northern Territory
1 February 1943 9 March 1943 Strauss Airfield, Northern Territory Dets. at Wyndham, Western Australia
and Milingimbi Island, Northern Territory
9 March 1943 27 March 1943 RAAF Station Pearce, Western Australia Guildford Airfield[25]
27 March 1943 30 June 1944 Strauss Airfield, Northern Territory
1 July 1944 11 December 1944 Sattler Airfield, Northern Territory
11 December 1944 29 June 1945 Morotai, Dutch East Indies
29 June 1945 17 November 1945 Juwata Airfield, Tarakan Det. at Balikpapan Airfield, Kalimantan
16 February 2011 Current RAAF Base Darwin, Northern Territory Subordinate detachments at RAAF Base Tindal, RAAF Base Townsville, RAAF Base Amberley and Oakey Army Aviation Centre

Commanding officers

No. 452 Squadron was commanded by the following officers:[23][27]

From Name
13 April 1941 Squadron Leader Roy Dutton (RAF), DFC & Bar
15 June 1941 Squadron Leader Robert Wilton Bungey
25 January 1942 Squadron Leader Keith "Bluey" Truscott, DFC & Bar
18 March 1942 Squadron Leader Ray Edward Thorold-Smith, DFC
30 March 1943 Squadron Leader Ronald Sommerville MacDonald
3 February 1944 Squadron Leader Louis Thomas Spence, DFC
4 June 1945 Squadron Leader Kevin Milne Barclay

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g "452 Squadron RAAF". Second World War, 1939–1945 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  2. ^ Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, p. 100.
  3. ^ Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 109.
  4. ^ Bowyer & Rawlings 1979, p. 143.
  5. ^ Flintham & Thomas 2003, p. 132.
  6. ^ a b Barnes 2000, p. 260.
  7. ^ Herington 1954, p. 133.
  8. ^ a b "No. 452 Squadron". RAAF Museum. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  9. ^ a b Barnes 2000, pp. 260–261.
  10. ^ Warner 2005, p. 366.
  11. ^ Herington 1954, pp. 135–136.
  12. ^ a b c Barnes 2000, p. 261.
  13. ^ Dennis et al 1995, p. 596.
  14. ^ Stokes 1992, pp. 49–51.
  15. ^ Cynk 1998, p. 238.
  16. ^ a b RAAF Historical Section 1995, p. 122.
  17. ^ Alexander 2006, pp. 159–161.
  18. ^ Alexander 2006, pp. 109–111.
  19. ^ Barnes 2000, p. 262.
  20. ^ Odgers 1968, pp. 487–489.
  21. ^ Barnes 2000, pp. 262–263.
  22. ^ "Senator Feeney Celebrates the Reformation of Number 452 and 453 Squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown". Media Release. Senator The Hon. David Feeney MP Parliamentary Secretary for Defence. 16 February 2011. Archived from the original on 19 February 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2011.
  23. ^ a b c Rawlings 1978, p. 444.
  24. ^ a b Halley 1988, p. 475.
  25. ^ a b c d Jefford 2001, p. 94.
  26. ^ RAAF Historical Section 1995, pp. 117–122.
  27. ^ RAAF Historical Section 1995, p. 123.


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  • Barnes, Norman (2000). The RAAF and the Flying Squadrons. St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-130-2.
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  • Herington, John (1954). Air War Against Germany and Italy, 1939–1943. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 3 – Air. 3 (1st ed.). Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 3633363.
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  • Odgers, George (1968) [1957]. Air War Against Japan 1943–1945. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 3 – Air. 2 (reprint ed.). Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 246580191.
  • RAAF Historical Section (1995). Units of the Royal Australian Air Force: A Concise History Volume 2: Fighter Units. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. ISBN 0-644-42794-9.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. (1978) [1969]. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and Their Aircraft (2nd ed.). London: Macdonald & Jane's (Publishers). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.
  • Smith, Frank; Geoffrey Pentland (1971). Spitfire Markings of the RAAF: Pacific Area 1942–45, Part 1. Dandenong, Victoria, Australia: Kookaburra Technical Publications. ISBN 0-85880-001-2.
  • Smith, Frank; Peter Malone (1971). Spitfire Markings of the RAAF: Pacific Area 1944–45, Part 2. Dandenong, Victoria, Australia: Kookaburra Technical Publications. ISBN 0-85880-007-1.
  • Southall, Ivan (1958). Bluey Truscott: Squadron Leader Keith William Truscott, R.A.A.F., D.F.C. and Bar. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia: Angus and Robertson.
  • Stokes, Doug (1992) [1983]. Paddy Finucane, Fighter Ace: A Biography of Wing Commander Brendan E. Finucane, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Two Bars. Somerton, Somerset, UK: Crécy Publishing. ISBN 0-947554-22-X.
  • Warner, Graham (2005). The Bristol Blenheim: A Complete History. Manchester: Crécy. ISBN 9780859791014.

External links

  • "Out of the Blue" – Thorold-Smith painting by Troy White