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No. 502 (Ulster) Squadron RAF
Active 15 May 1925 - 25 May 1945
10 May 1946 - 10 March 1957
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Auxiliary Air Force
Part of RAF Bomber Command (25-38,46)
RAF Coastal Command (38-45)
RAF Fighter Command (47-57)
Motto Latin: Nihil timeo
("I fear nothing")
Battle honours Atlantic, 1939-44; Biscay, 1941-44; Channel & North Sea, 1942-45; Dieppe; Baltic, 1944-45
Insignia
Squadron Badge heraldry A red hand erased
The red hand is taken from the arms of Ulster, 502 being the Ulster Auxiliary Squadron[1]
Squadron Codes KQ (Apr 1939 - Sep 1939)
YG (Sep 1939 - Feb 1943)
V9 (Jun 1944 - May 1945, 1949 - 1953)
RAC (May 1946 - 1949)

No. 502 (Ulster) Squadron was a Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron that saw service in World War II.

Contents

History

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Formation and early years

Formed as a Special Reserve squadron at RAF Aldergrove on 15 May 1925, it was composed of a mixture of regular and reserve personnel. The squadron operated in the heavy bomber role it was initially equipped with Vimys from June, re-equipping with Hyderabads in July 1928. Virginias arrived in December 1931, but in October 1935 the squadron was transferred to the day bomber role for which it received Wallaces, Hinds arriving in April 1937. Shortly after this in July, it was transferred to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, the Special Reserve being disbanded.[2]

In Coastal Command

On November 28, 1938, No.502 (Ulster) Squadron became part of RAF Coastal Command, and was re-equipped with the Avro Anson in January 1939. When war broke out, the squadron was used to fly patrol in the Atlantic off the Irish Coast. From October 1940, the Squadron flew with Whitleys. It was reported that on 30 November 1941 the squadron became the first Coastal Command unit to make a successful attack on a U-boat with air-to-surface radar, sinking U-Boat U-206 in the Bay of Biscay. This report has been countered with newer information that the U-206 was more probably sunk by the minefield, "Beech," laid there by the British after August 1940[1], and that the squadron's attack was actually on U-71, which escaped without loss[2].

In January 1942 the squadron officially moved to both Norfolk (RAF Docking) and Cornwall, where a maintenance base was set up at RAF St Eval. Until 1944 the squadron's main role was to carry anti-submarine patrols. In January 1943 conversion to Halifax Mk.IIs began, the first patrol by this type being flown on 12 March. In addition to anti-submarine patrols, now also attacks on enemy shipping off the French coast were made. In September 1944, with the French coast back in Allied hands, the squadron moved to Scotland at RAF Stornoway to carry out attacks on German shipping off the Norwegian coast, remaining there until the end of the war. It was disbanded on 25 May 1945.

Into the jet age

With the reactivation of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 502 was reformed on 10 May 1946, again at Aldergrove, but now as a light bomber squadron, equipped with Mosquito B.25s from July. In December night fighter Mosquitoes replaced the bombers but in June 1948, it converted to the day fighter role, receiving Spitfire F.22s for the purpose. Jet conversion began in January 1951 with the arrival of Vampire FB.5s, which were supplemented by FB.9s in July 1954. It continued to fly both types until, along with all the flying units of the RAuxAF, it was disbanded on 10 March 1957.

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by 502 Squadron[1][3][4]
From To Aircraft Version
Jun 1925 Jun 1928 Vickers Vimy
Jul 1928 Dec 1931 Handley Page Hyderabad
Dec 1941 Oct 1935 Vickers Virginia Mk.X
Oct 1935 Apr 1937 Westland Wallace Mk.II
Apr 1937 Jan 1939 Hawker Hind
Jan 1939 Nov 1940 Avro Anson Mk.I
Oct 1940 Feb 1942 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.V
Nov 1941 Feb 1943 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.VII
Jan 1943 Mar 1945 Handley Page Halifax GR.Mk.II Srs.IA
Dec 1944 May 1945 Handley Page Halifax GR.Mks.IIIA, VI
Jul 1946 Dec 1947 De Havilland Mosquito B.25
Dec 1947 Jun 1948 De Havilland Mosquito NF.30
Jun 1948 Jan 1951 Supermarine Spitfire F.22
Jan 1951 Mar 1951 De Havilland Vampire F.3
Mar 1951 Mar 1957 De Havilland Vampire FB.5
Jul 1954 Mar 1957 De Havilland Vampire FB.9

Squadron bases

Bases used by 502 Squadron[1][3][4][5]
From To Name
27 January 1925 27 January 1941 RAF Aldergrove, det. Hooton Park
27 January 1941 12 January 1942 RAF Limavady, dets RAF Wick, RAF Chivenor, RAF St Eval, Reykjavik
12 Feb 1942 22 Feb 1942 RAF Docking, (det. RAF St Eval)
22 Feb 1942 2 Mar 1943 RAF St Eval
2 Mar 1943 25 March 1943 RAF Holmesley South, (det. RAF St Eval)
25 Mar 1943 30 Jun 1943 RAF St Eval
30 Jun 1943 10 Dec 1943 RAF Holmesley South, (det. RAF St Eval)
10 Dec 1943 11 Sep 1944 RAF St David's
11 Sep 1944 25 May 1945 RAF Stornoway, (det. RAF Wick)
17 Jul 1946 10 Mar 1957 RAF Aldergrove

References

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Rawlings 1982, p. 227.
  2. ^ http://www.rafweb.org/Sqn500-520.htm
  3. ^ a b Halley 1988, p. 391.
  4. ^ a b Jefford 2001, p. 965.
  5. ^ http://www.rafcommands.currantbun.com/Coastal/502C.html

Bibliography

  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937-56. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Flintham, Vic and Andrew Thomas. Combat Codes: A Full Explanation and Listing of British, Commonwealth and Allied Air Force Unit Codes Since 1938. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlif Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-281-8.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918-1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Hunt, Leslie. Twenty-one Squadrons: History of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 1925-57. London: Garnstone Press, 1972. ISBN 0-85511-110-0. (New edition in 1992 by Crécy Publishing, ISBN 0-94755-426-2.)
  • 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: Airlife Publishing, 1998 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1964 (new edition 1976). ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.

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