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Thread: Flight in a CC Squadron

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    Default Flight in a CC Squadron

    Hello,

    Can anyone confirm that in a Catalina or Sunderland Squadron, there was only one flight?

    Thanks

    Phil

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    I am almost 100% certain that all wartime RAF flying boat squadrons would have had the normal "A" and "B" Flight organization, with the 12 aircraft establishment adopted part-way through the war merely increasing the size of the two Flights. The RAF Narratives (The RAF in the Maritime War) chose to list the establishments of various Commands at different times, and these usually give the aircraft establishments.
    David D

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    Default 490 (NZ) Sqn

    Hello David,

    I thought it was the rules like you but even if I may be wrong, in many cases the number of aircraft issued to for a Flying Boat Squadron was 9 and not 12, and the good example is the 490 Sqn in Africa (Catalina and Sunderland, 9 each time), but also for the 209 or 259.
    If so, not so easy to split the Squadron in two with nine aircraft!

    Phil

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    Phil

    The flights might only have 'controlled' the crews, six each', with the aircraft being pooled under the Sqn OC and allocated to the flights as required for operational duties. This is still standard practice today with aircraft such as the Nimrod (now retired), Hercules, both of which are/were pooled on a station basis and issued on an as required basis to squadrons.

    The C17s of 99 Sqn and VC10s of 101 Sqn are operated in a simliar way.

    Malcolm

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    Hello Malcolm,

    That's indeed a possibility I have to consider, but even if I may have missed some information, I was unable to find a 'Flight A or B' but only 'Flight' and more importantly more than a Squadron Leader in the same time, unless the Wing Commander was also in charge of one of the Flight!

    Not very clear actually...

    Phil

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    Phil,
    As you say, a flying boat squadron with two flights should be commanded by a Wing Commander (as for a bomber or other Coastal Command squadron) with two subservient Flights, each commanded by a Squadron Leader. Normally the Flights were quite separate, each with their own allocated aircraft (and usually with A Flight having letters A and up, and B Flight having M and up, but with a UE of 12 aircraft, a different system was possible, this was splitting the available letters between two similarly equipped squadrons at the same base (a well-known Coastal Command peculiarity later in WW2). I am aware that 490 squadron usually only 9 or 10 aircraft on strength, but how many crews did they have at any one time? And the "problem" of an uneven number of aircraft on charge need not really be a problem at all. The RNZAF from late 1943 to late 1945 had a standard establishment of 15 PV-1 Venturas and 15 crews, divided between A and B Flights, 8 in the first, 7 in B Flight.
    Because 490 Squadron did not come directly under Coastal Command I can only add that the standard UE of a CC flying boat squadron in March 1943 was 6+3 (9) aircraft, although it was probably starting to have this upgraded to 9+3 (12) as 202 Squadron in Gibraltar had this strength at the time. By May 1943 all flying boat squadrons in CC had the increased UE of 9+3 (12) and most squadrons had an actual strength of 10 to 12, with 202 Squadron at Gibraltar with 13! Incidentally the US Navy Catalina squadrons which came under Coastal Command also had an establishment of 12 aircraft at this time, although this was coincidental, as the USN and the RAF usually looked at the ideal size of a squadron quite differently. Another important consideration of RAF flying boast squadrons (and probably also US Navy!) was that serviceable aircraft were often only about 25 to 30% of actual strength at any given time, far lower than figures for land-based aircraft. I see that by June 1944 many of the CC Sunderland squadrons, despite the same establishments as in 1943, had actual strengths of 14 or 15 aircraft, and in September 1944 No. 330 Norge Squadron had an establishment of 9 Sunderlands and 3 Catalinas. An RCAF Canso squadron had an establishment of 15 aircraft in 1944/45, while the RAF CC squadrons retained the 12 UE establishment through to the end of the war in Europe.
    David D

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    Hi Phil
    I haven't researched the organisation of Coastal during WW2 but in 1958 when I joined 224 Sqn in Gib it was divided into 2 flights,A being the Aircrew and B the groundcrew.The sqn was commanded by a W/Cdr and each flight was commanded by an Aircrew S/Ldr each of whom had their own or was part of a designated crew(B Flt cdr was in fact a Navigator).
    Given the relative small size of a Coastal Sqn and the fact that they often operated detached ,as conditions dictated, this post war configuration may have operated in wartime from time to time and might explain the relatively low level of clear operational references to Flights in Sqn records.
    Regards
    Dick

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    Phil

    A check of Sqn COs during WW2 shows that most flying boat squadrons were commanded by Wing Commanders but even if commanded by a Sqn Ldr, flights could still exist, commanded by Flt Lts as in fighter squadrons at the time.

    Bearing in mind that a 9 aircraft flying boat squadron would have about 120 aircrew compared to about 84 aircrew for a 12 aircraft bomber squadron it is unlikely that there wouldn't be two flights purely for adminstrative purposes if not operational ones.

    Coastal Command was also the first unit of the RAF to introduce Scheduled Maintenance into the service in 1943 so it is also possibly they introoduced a form of Centralised Servicing as I mentioned earlier.

    Malcolm

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    Phil, I would have to go for two flights. My research into 490 Sqn in Apr 45 produced two flight commanders: Sqn Ldrs Silk and Kilgour, both in flying appointments. Regards, Terry

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