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Thread: No.1 Group Defensive Formation

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    Default No.1 Group Defensive Formation

    Hi,

    I keep coming across the above for the Fairey Battles of the AASF in France.

    Can anyone please advice what was the No.1 Group Defensive Formation for a section, flight or squadron circa 1939?

    Regards

    Steve
    No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
    No.623 squadron Research

    ~~IN TIME ~~

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    G'day Steve,

    From Greg Baughen's, The Fairey Battle:

    With no strategic bombing allowed and no action on the ground to support, it seemed that there was little the Battles could do. Leaflet dropping was one alternative employment, but Ludlow-Hewitt was strongly against any attempt to operate the Battle by night. The crews only ever practised taking off and landing in darkness. They had no training in night-flying and the plane lacked adequate navigational aids. Slessor agreed that this was a problem, but argued that dropping leaflets did not require accurate navigation. For the time being Ludlow-Hewiit got his way. No-one, not even Slessor it seemed, was confident about Battles finding their way around by night*.

    Both the French and British were anxious to use the Battles for something. French Army commanders wanted the entire German front line photographed and this seemed a task the Battles could help the French Air Force complete. The idea was to fly these missions at high altitude in formations of three to six planes and use their combined defensive firepower to beat off the enemy attack. 'High altitude' was scarcely an accurate description: the Battle only had a service ceiling of around 25,000 feet and formation flying required the plane to fly well below this. The altitude these planes were flying was not going to pose any difficulties for German fighters. The first mission was flown on 10 September (1939), by three Battles from No. 150 Squadron**.

    Initially the missions flew along the Allied side of the lines, with the Battles photographing German positions obliquely. From the 19th, they started flying on the German side of the lines, first 10 miles inside, then 20 miles***. As the missions penetrated further into enemy airspace, so Playfair's concerns grew. He tried to make sure the missions took place when French fighters were in the are, but did not seem particularly confident that this would be enough. Even before any losses occurred, he was already planning to ask the French to provide a close escort if German fighters started interfering ****.

    * AIR2/3130 (5 September)
    ** Shores, C., Fledgling Eagles (London:Grub Street.1991). p.61.
    *** AIR41/21, pp. 141-142.
    **** AIR14/170 (18 Sept 1939).

    See:
    The Fairey Battle A Reassessment of its RAF Career.
    Baughen,Greg.
    N.p.,:Fonthill Media,2017.
    pp.46 & 117.

    Greg Baughen goes on to describe the events of 20 September, when a formation of three No.88 Squadron and six No.218 Squadron Battles undertook reconnaissance flights over Germany. The 150 Squadron formation ran into Bf 109 Ds of JGr 152, and were severely mauled.

    See the following for a detailed account of that action:

    Fledgling Eagles.
    Shores,Christopher et al.
    London:Grub Street,1991.
    p.61.

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 5th September 2019 at 08:26.

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