No. 112 Squadron RAF

  • Active
    30 July 1917–13 June 1919
    16 May 1939–30 December 1946
    12 May 1951–31 May 1957
    1 August 1960–31 March 1964
    2 November 1964–1 July 1975
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Branch: Royal Flying Corps then Royal Air Force
  • Nickname: 'The Shark Squadron'
  • Motto: 'Swift in Destruction'
  • Battle honours: Home Defence 1917-1918, Egypt 1940, Greece 1941, Western Desert 1941-43, Italy 1943
  • Notable Commanders Clive Caldwell; Billy Drake
  • Insignia: 'A cat sejant'

Motto: Swift in destruction

First formed on 30 July 1917 at Throwley in the home defence role, equipped initially with Pups, it received Camels in 1918. One of its first commanding officers being Major Brand (later AVM Sir Qunitin), who would become one of Fighter Command's Group Commanders during the Battle of Britain. The squadron disbanded on 13 June 1919.

The squadron was reformed aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Argus, on 16 May 1939 and it arrived in Egypt ten days later. Gladiators arrived the following month and were immediately in action following the Italian declaration of war on 10 June 1940. One flight was also detached to the Sudan at this time, but was taken over by No 14 Squadron on 30 June. The squadron joined British forces defending Greece in January 1941, first supplying air cover to and offensive support over Albania and later in the air defence of the Athens area. With the collapse of the Allied forces in Greece, the unit withdrew to Crete and then back to Egypt.

In July 1941 the squadron began receiving the Tomahawk, which it now used in both the fighter and fighter-bomber role in support of the 8th Army. In December 1941 the Tomahawks were replaced by the Kittyhawk, which it used for the remainder of its time in the desert. Following the invasion of Sicily the squadron moved there in July 1943 and onto the Italian mainland in September. In June 1944 the Kittyhawks were replaced with Mustang IIIs and from February 1945, Mustang IVs. The squadron remained in Italy as part of the occupying forces until disbanding on 30 December 1946 at Treviso.

The squadron reformed at Fassburg in Germany on 12 May 1951 in the fighter-bomber role, equipped with Vampire FB Mk 5s, but on 7 March 1952 it re-located to Jever. In January 1954 it reverted to the day fighter role when its Vampires were replaced by Sabre F Mk 4s, by which time it had been based at Bruggen since 6 July 1953. Hunters arrived in April 1956 but just over a year later on 31 May 1957, the squadron disbanded at Bruggen, to where it had moved on 6 July 1953.

No 112's next appearance on the order of battle began on 1 August 1960, when it reformed as a Bloodhound surface-to-air missile unit at Church Fenton to defend the Thor IRBM sites in the area. However, its operational base was to be Breighton and it moved there in November 1960. With the withdrawal of Thor the need for this type of unit was reduced and the squadron disbanded on 31 March 1964. However, a new No 112 SAM unit formed on 2 November of the same year, this time at Woodhall Spa, equipped with the Bloodhound Mk 2. The squadron moved to Cyprus on 1 October 1967 and remained there until finally disbanding on 1 July 1975.

No. 112 Squadron was a squadron of the Royal Air Force. It served in both the First World War and Second World War and was active for three periods during the Cold War. It is nicknamed "The Shark Squadron", an allusion to the fact that it was the first unit from any air force to use the famous "shark mouth" logo on Curtiss P-40s.

The squadron was formed as No. 112 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps on 30 July 1917 at Throwley Aerodrome, Kent, England for air defence duties protecting the London area. It was equipped initially with Sopwith Pups and received Sopwith Camels in 1918. One of its first commanding officers was Major Quintin Brand (who would become a group commander with RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain). Following the end of the war, the squadron was disbanded on 13 June 1919.

RAF 112 Squadron Kittyhawks

Second World War

As war loomed again, the squadron was re-formed 16 May 1939 on board the aircraft carrier HMS Argus for service in Egypt. It was based initially at RAF Helwan (see Hulwan). On 26 May, "B" Flight was detached and sent to Sudan. The squadron did not receive its aircraft, obsolescent Gloster Gladiator biplane fighters, until June. After Italy entered the war, on 10 June 1940, the squadron was almost immediately in action, defending Egypt from Italian bombers. "B" Flight became part of No. 14 Squadron RAF on 30 June.

In January 1941, the squadron joined Allied forces defending Greece, providing air cover and offensive support over Albania. It later took part in fierce dogfights as part of the air defence of the Athens area. With the collapse of the Allied campaign on the Greek mainland, 112 Sqn withdrew to Crete and then to Egypt, from where it rejoined the North African Campaign, supporting the Eighth Army.

For much of the remainder of the war, the squadron was part of No. 239 Wing, along with No. 3 Squadron RAAF, No. 250 Squadron RAF and/or No. 450 Squadron RAAF. For the Allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) on July 10, 1943, No. 239 Wing consisted of these four squadrons and No.260 Squadron as part of Air Vice Marshal Harry Broadhurst's Desert Air Force, an element of Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham's Northwest African Tactical Air Force in the Northwest African Air Forces of Lt. Gen. Carl Spaatz, one of the major sub-commands of the Mediterranean Air Command under Air Commander-in-Chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder.

During July 1941, the squadron was one of the first in the world to become operational with the P-40 Tomahawk, which it used in both the fighter and ground attack role, with the Air Headquarters, Western Desert. Inspired by the unusually large air inlet on the P-40, the squadron began to emulate the "shark mouth" logo used on some German Messerschmitt Bf 110s of Zerstörer Geschwader 76 earlier in the war. This practice was later followed by P-40 units in other parts of the world (including the Flying Tigers, American volunteers serving with the Chinese Air Force). In December, the Tomahawks were replaced by the updated P-40 Kittyhawk, which the squadron used for the remainder of its time in North Africa, often as a fighter bomber.

The squadron during this time included a significant number of personnel from the air forces of Poland, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Another member was the English ace Neville Duke (later prominent as a test pilot). For most of 1942, it was commanded by the highest-scoring Australian ace of World War II, Clive Caldwell, the first Empire Air Training Scheme graduate to command a British unit. He was succeeded by Billy Drake, the highest-scoring RAF P-40 pilot and the second-highest-scoring British Commonwealth P-40 pilot, behind Caldwell.

Later in the war, an increasing number of South African pilots joined the unit.

After the invasion of Sicily the squadron moved to bases there, in July 1943, and onto the Italian mainland in September. In June 1944 the Kittyhawks were replaced by the Mustang Mark III and, from February 1945, Mustang Mk IVs. The squadron remained in Italy as part of the occupying forces until disbanding on 30 December 1946 at Treviso.

By the end of the war some 206 air victories had been claimed by the Squadron, and 62 destroyed on the ground.

Cold War

The squadron re-formed at RAF Fassberg in Germany on 12 May 1951, in the fighter bomber role, equipped with de Havilland Vampire Mk 5s. It later moved to Jever and then RAF Bruggen. In January 1954 it assumed the day fighter role, when its Vampires were replaced by Canadair Sabre F Mk IVs. Hawker Hunters were delivered to 112 Sqn in April 1956, but the unit was disbanded at Bruggen on 31 May 1957.

On 1 August 1960, the squadron was re-formed as a Bloodhound surface-to-air missile unit, at RAF Church Fenton, defending Thor IRBM sites in the area. The squadron's operational base was at RAF Breighton. Following withdrawal of the Thor from service, the need for the unit was reduced, and it disbanded on 31 March 1964.

However, 112 Sqn was re-formed on 2 November 1964, at RAF Woodhall Spa, equipped with Bloodhound Mk 2s. The squadron moved to Cyprus on 1 October 1967 and remained there until it was disbanded on 1 July 1975.

Squadron Codes used: -

  • XO May 1939 - Sep 1939
  • RT 1940 - Jun 1941
  • GA Jun 1941 - Dec 1946
  • T May 1951 - Jul 1953
  • A Jul 1953 - Jan 1954

Aircraft operated

  • 1917-1918 - Sopwith Pup
  • 1918-1919 - Sopwith Camel
  • 1919 - Sopwith Snipe
  • 1939-1941 - Gloster Gladiator I & II
  • 1940-1940 - Gloster Gauntlet
  • 1941 - Hawker Hurricane I
  • 1941 - Curtiss Tomahawk I
  • 1941 - Curtiss Tomahawk IIA & IIB
  • 1941-1942 Curtiss Kittyhawk 1A
  • 1942-1944 Curtiss Kittyhawk III
  • 1944 Curtiss Kittyhawk IV
  • 1944-1945 North American Mustang III
  • 1945-1946 North American Mustang IV
  • 1951-1954 de Havilland Vampire FB5
  • 1954-1956 Canadair Sabre F4
  • 1956-1957 Hawker Hunter F4
  • 1960-1964 Bristol Bloodhound I
  • 1964-1975 Bristol Bloodhound II

Standards:

Award of Standard originally announced on 20 Jul 1971, effective from 1 Apr 1971 but presented:- ?

Battle Honours:

Home Defence, 1917-18: East Africa, 1940: Egypt & Libya, 1940-43: Mediterranean, 1940-43: Greece 1940-41: El Alamein: Sicily, 1943: Salerno: South-East Europe 1943-45: Italy 1943-45: Gothic Line:

Book References:

  1. Black cat facing left within circle "Fighter Squadron Royal Air Force" surrounded by laurel wreath. Source: RAF Heraldry Trust
  2. Crawford 1977 p. 14
  3. 'Aces High'; Shores & Williams, (grub street) page 38

Bibliography

  • Brown, Robin. Shark Squadron: The History of 112 Squadron, 1917-1975. Manchester, UK: Crecy Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-94755-433-5.
  • Crawford, Jerry L. Messerschmitt BF 110 Zerstörer in Action. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1977. ISBN 0-89747-029-X.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G. MBE, BA, RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons: A comprehensive record of the movement and equipment of all RAF squadrons and their antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife, 1988, 2nd edition 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Zbiegniewski, Andre R. 112 Sqn "Shark Squadron", 1939-1941 (bi-lingual Polish/English text). Lublin, Poland: Oficyna Wydawnicza Kagero, 2003. ISBN 83-89088-55-X.
  • Zbiegniewski, Andre R. 112 Sqn "Shark Squadron", 1942-1945 (bi-lingual Polish/English text). Lublin, Poland: Oficyna Wydawnicza Kagero, 2003. ISBN 83-89088-75-4.

Web References:

  • Wikipedi - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._112_Squadron_RAF
  • Wikipedi - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TR_000978_kittyhawk.jpg
  • rafweb.org, "No 111-115 Squadron Histories". Retrieved 19 December 2007.
  • RAF, "Royal Air Force History: History of No. 112 Squadron"
  • Shark Squadron: RAF 112 Sqn Tribute Website

 

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This webpage was updated 25th January 2019