Chris Kemp’s Not Quite Mechanised

British Air Forces (RAF RAAF RCAF RNZAF SAAF*)

South East Asia Command (SEAC)

Airfield HQ   1 Commander in  Staff Car (s3), Morris Control Tower Van (C3)
Sqn x 3 1 Aircraft per Sqn (See notes below) (S3)
Ground Sp  1-6 Ground Support Crews(S3), Fuel Bowser, Fire Truck and Crew (L3), Ammo Tender (L3)
RAF Regt  Comd (C3), 0-4 3.7″AA + limber(S3) , 0-4 Bofors 40mm AA +or-  limber (S3),  (later 6pdr) 0-3 Rifles mounted in trucks or carriers (F3), 0-1 Mortars + 0-3 MG (S3). A max of 2 stands @ of 3 bases for the infantry component of the regiment and 4 for the AA component. Armoured cars may be added to this orbat 0-2 (R3) .

In support of ground forces, the RAF fought in 3 Main Theatres: Western Europe, The Mediterranean and The Far East. It was mainly successful in its role of winning air superiority, and as the war went on, in supporting ground forces. The Desert Air Force in particular was noted for the close cooperation it managed with the 8th Army

Forces were organised into Flights and Squadrons  by type of aircraft. Squadrons were then formed into Wings, Groups and then Air Forces. I usually model one aircraft to a Flight or Squadron, and 2-3 to a Wing, upping this to as many as 6 or 9 depending on the scenario. The reason for this wide variance is to take account of serviceability and availability of aircraft.

The lists below are not claimed to be authoritative or complete – if I could not find a record of use, then the aircraft type was not included. Some inclusions are from uncaptioned photos of the AC in theatre camouflage. Any assistance in verification is welcome. Some prevalent transports such as Dakotas served everywhere but are not included as combat aircraft.

The Far East

The British and Commonwealth airforces suffered early on from every sort of scarcity. Brewster Buffalos were a signature aircraft in the early days, supplied to Singapore by the RAAF and flown by the RAF.  Because the Japanese Marked their aircraft with a red roundel, The Allied air forces removed the red centres from their own roundels and stars. I have found records of the following types  serving in combat in the Far East:

Bristol Beaufort, Beaufighter, Blenheim, Mosquito. (wp.scn.ru)

Commonwealth Boomerang  (RAAF) (4, 5 and 84 Sqns saw service against Japanese forces in New Guinea and Borneo)***

De Havilland DH 83 Fox Moth (used as an air ambulance in Burma)

DH83_camo Fox Moth

Fairy Barracuda. (wp.scn.ru)

Hawker Hurricanes. (wp.scn.ru)

Short Sunderland. (This photo is attributed to the Far East , but is probably taken after the fall of Japan as the red centre to the roundel is present)

Supermarine Sea Otter, Spitfires, Seafire. (wp.scn.ru)

Vickers Vilderbeast (2 Sqns in Singapore, 1941: 36 & 100 Sqns)

US Lend Lease Aircraft

Bell P-39 Aircobra.

Brewster F2A Buffalo. (wp.scn.ru)

Consolidated Vultee 28 PBY Catalina.* (wp.scn.ru)

Curtis Tomahawk/Kittyhawk/Warhawk, Mohawk (Also RAAF & SAAF) (wp.scn.ru)

Douglas Boston III, Dauntless (RAAF & RNZAF). Photo from the Jaques Trempe Collection (2003)

Grumman Avenger MkIII/Tarpon (Fleet Air Arm, RAAF & RNZAF), Hellcat (Fleet Air Arm), Mustang (Fleet Air Arm, RAAF). (wp.scn.ru)

Lockheed Hudson (RAF, RAAF,RNZAF), Ventura (RAF, RAAF,RNZAF).

North American Mitchell (RAAF).

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt (RAAF)

Vought Corsair (Fleet Air Arm, RNZAF).

Vultee Vengeance (RAF, RAAF, IAF 7Sqn)

The Australians produced 102 (3) CA-12 Commonwealth Boomerangs in record time for service in New Guinea according to Gunston (1978).

According to Ellis (1993) The proportions of types of aircraft in  the Far East in Dec 1942 (roughly double that of Dec 1941) were Fighter (19) Squadrons, Medium and Heavy Bombers (7), Light bombers (9), Torpedo Bombers (2), Flying boat (4).

Western Europe

 Use Spitfires and Hurricanes in equal proportions. Add Typhoons and Tempests later in the War. Almost every type of aircraft made in Britain served in Western Europe. Often a type would be transferred to North Africa or the Far East when it was superseded by a newer design or Mark.

According to Ellis (1993) The proportions of types of aircraft in  The UK in Dec 1942  were Fighter (93) Squadrons, Ground Attack (12), Medium and Heavy Bombers (17), Light bombers (8), Torpedo Bombers (8), Flying boat (9).

Commonwealth Air Forces.

A significant part of the United Kingdom’s air strength was made up from the Australians RAAF (55) Squadrons, Canadians RCAF (84) Squadrons, Indian (9) Squadrons, New Zealand RNZAF (28) Squadrons. These figures are for the whole war.

*Additionally in October 1942 in the Mediterranean Theatre, the  South African SAAF independently fielded (17) Squadrons: (5) Fighter, (2) Tank Destroyer, (4) Bomber and (6) Recce.

The exigencies of war would mean that very few units would exactly match their Order of Battle. Combat would quickly reduce the strength of the fighting squadrons down. 

      * Some pictures from www.tankzone.co.uk

** Thanks to Scott Saylor for the pointers on these entries.

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