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No. 521 Squadron RAF


No. 521 Squadron RAF

No. 521 Squadron RAF
Active 1 August 1942 – 31 March 1943
1 September 1943 – 1 April 1946
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Role meteorological
Part of No. 16 Group RAF, Coastal Command[1]
Squadron Codes 5O (Jun 1944 – Apr 1946)[2][3]

No. 521 Squadron of the Royal Air Force was a Second World War meteorological observation unit operating from Norfolk.


First formation

The Squadron began on 4 February 1941 as No. 401 (Met) Flight of RAF Bomber Command. When all the meteorological flights were put under RAF Coastal Command it became No. 1401 (Met) Flight. On 1 August 1942 at RAF Bircham Newton the flight combined with 1403 flight to form No. 521 (met) Squadron. It took part in Coastal Command's Meteorological operations[4] The squadron had inherited from its 1401 flight aircraft such as Gloster Gladiator biplanes and some Hawker Hurricanes. From 1403 flight came its Bristol Blenheims and Lockheed Hudsons. Later the squadron received some Supermarine Spitfires and de Havilland Mosquitos. The operations of the original Flights and later the Squadron was taking meteorological information for weather forecasting – previously provided by merchant shipping to the Met Office. The aircraft would take measurements of temperature and humidity in set areas over the North Sea from an altitude of 40,000 ft downwards. The squadrons Mosquitos would operate on "PAMPA" flights that took them deep into occupied Europe to assess the weather over target areas for the bombers. On 31 March 1943 at Bircham Newton the squadron was split into nos. 1401 and 1409 (Met) Flights.[5][6][7]

Second formation

The squadron reformed on 1 September 1943 at RAF Docking, a satellite of the Bircham Newton station, adding to its original equipment Handley Page Hampdens, but doing without the earlier Mosquitos and Blenheims. In December 1943 the squadron received Lockheed Venturas to replace its Hudsons. Additional Hurricanes arrived in August 1944, to supplement the aging Gladiators, which were still on strength. Hudsons arrived again in September 1944, because the Venturas were needed elsewhere. In October 1944 the squadron moved a few miles to the other satellite of Bircham Newton, RAF Langham. For long-range missions the squadron received some Boeing Fortresses in December 1944, which were supplemented after the end of the war with Handley Page Halifaxes, by which time the squadron operated from RAF Chivenor, where the unit disbanded on 1 April 1946.[5][6][7]

Aircraft operated

Aircraft operated by no. 521 Squadron RAF, data from[5][6][7]
From To Aircraft Version
August 1942 March 1943 Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV
August 1942 March 1943 de Havilland Mosquito Mk.IV
August 1942 March 1943 Gloster Gladiator Mks.I, II
August 1942 March 1943 Lockheed Hudson Mk.III
August 1942 March 1943 Supermarine Spitfire P.R Mk.IV[8]
September 1943 December 1943 Handley Page Hampden Mk.I
September 1943 January 1944 Lockheed Hudson Mks.III
September 1943 April 1945 Gloster Gladiator Mks.I, II
September 1943 November 1945 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
December 1943 October 1944 Lockheed Ventura Mk.V
August 1944 February 1946 Hawker Hurricane Mk.IIc
September 1944 March 1945 Lockheed Hudson Mk.VI
December 1944 February 1946 Boeing Fortress Mk.II
May 1945 February 1946 Boeing Fortress Mk.III
December 1945 April 1946 Handley Page Halifax Mk.VI

Squadron bases

Bases and airfields used by no. 521 Squadron RAF, data from[5][6][7][9]
From To Base Remark
1 August 1942 31 March 1943 RAF Bircham Newton, Norfolk Det. at RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire
1 September 1943 30 October 1944 RAF Docking, Norfolk Det. at RAF Skitten, Caithness, Scotland
30 October 1944 3 November 1945 RAF Langham, Norfolk Det. at RAF Brawdy, Pembrokeshire, Wales
3 November 1945 1 April 1946 RAF Chivenor, Devon

See also




  • Bowyer, Michael J.F. and John D.R. Rawlings. Squadron Codes, 1937–56. Cambridge, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-85059-364-6.
  • Delve, Ken. The Source Book of the RAF. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1994. ISBN 1-85310-451-5.
  • 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: Airlife 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.
  • 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, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Matusiak, Wojtek. Merlin PR Spitfires (Classic Warbirds No. 10). Wellington, New Zealand: Ventura Publications, 2007. ISBN 0-9582296-2-7.
  • 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.
  • Smith, Graham. Norfolk Airfields in the Second World War. Countryside Books, 1997.
  • Sturtivant, Ray, ISO and John Hamlin. RAF Flying Training And Support Units since 1912. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 2007. ISBN 0-85130-365-X.

External links

  • Squadron history on MOD site
  • Stations used by no. 521 sqn
  • Squadron histories for nos. 521–540 sqn on RafWeb's Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation
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