|History :: Air mission types|
> Units and Formations
Updated: 27 Jan 12
There were many interesting names applied to the wide variety of mission sets flown by the Lincolnshire based squadrons. Most of these names date from 1941 onwards, first from Fighter Command and then the 2nd Allied Tactical Air Force.
Dive bombing and low level attacks on enemy ships at sea or in harbour. Mixed fighter and bomber formation.
Fighter or fighter-bomber low-level strafing missions of targets of opportunity. The purpose of a rhubarb was to hit the enemy on the ground where it would inconvenience him the most. Hurricanes and Spitfires in pairs or larger formations crossed the Channel above cloud cove before dropping below cloud to find opportunity targets in struck into Nazi-occupied France and Belgium, attacking railroads, munition factories, airfields, electric lines and gun posts. Or in the words of Jack Lucas at RAF Digby, "strafing anything that moves".
Short-range daytime bombing mission with fighter escort to fix Luftwaffe fighters in a particular area and draw them to attack.
The circus was a formation of bombers and fighters which crossed the Channel at high altitude to strike at railroad junctions, airfields, or munitions plants. It had a twofold objective - to inflict damage upon the enemy's communications and industries, and to draw the Luftwaffe into the air where the allied fighter escort could engage it. These varied operations forced the Nazis to maintain large anti- Aircraft defences in the threatened areas and at the same time steadily whittled down the Luftwaffe's fighter strength. The attacks were against short range targets with the intention of occupying enemy fighters and keeping their fighter units in the area concerned. Initially these were only small bomber formations in 1941/42 due to RAF light and medium bombers only being suitable for daytime attacks.
By 1943 the emphasis shifted to Ramrod and Rodeo operations as the USAAF joined the battle and the RAF bomber force matured. Roadsteads aso dwindled as Coastal Command took on the naval strike mission. The anti-surface unit element of Coastal Command was bolstered through the transfer of squadrons from both Bomber and Fighter Commands. These Sqns were in the main equipped with the Blenheim, Hudson, Hampdens and Beaufort. Early achievements were highlighted by the award of a Victoria Cross to RAF North Coates and 22 Sqn's Fg Off Kenneth Campbell. Detached to RAF St Eval he crippled Battle Cruiser Gneisenau in Brest Harbour.
A patrols in the area of enemy airfields in order to prevent aircraft from taking off and to attack those aircraft that succeeded.
RAMROD Operations were heavy bomber protection missions - fighter escorts for long-range strategic bombing strikes over continental Europe from bases in England or attacks against ground targets. The primary objective was to destroy the target, with fighters dedicated to bomber escort. For a detailed narrative, see the example of Ramrod S36 on 6 Sep 1943 in Late Mark Spitfire Aces by Alfred Price.
Fighter sweep over occupied territory, independent of bombers.
'Freelance' flights over enemy territory by units of any size with the intention of occupying and tiring enemy fighters - similar to the Circus but longer range.
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History of the RNAS on the Fleet Air Arm Archive
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