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No 452 Australian Squadron

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Published on Nov 14, 2007

No. 452 Squadron was a Royal Australian Air Force fighter unit formed during World War II, in England. The squadron flew Supermarine Spitfires for the entire war, initially over the UK and Nazi-occupied Europe. The squadron was later based in Australia and the Netherlands East Indies.

Keith "Bluey" Truscott was perhaps the best-known of the squadron's fliers. Although it was an RAAF unit, while it was in Europe, 452 Sqn also had some British personnel, from the Royal Air Force as well as other British Commonwealth air forces and other nationalities. One of these was the Irish ace Paddy Finucane. A number of Polish pilots also flew with the squadron and proved to be formidable pilots, despite occasional language problems.

No. 452 Squadron rapidly developed a formidable reputation in operations against German forces. They were involved in many different kinds of operations. One of the most unusual was escorting a bomber that — with the co-operation of the Germans — dropped an artificial leg by parachute into Europe, for the use of the British ace Douglas Bader, who was a prisoner of war. The bombers flew on to bomb a factory.

Another notable operation was the attack on the pocket battleships Scharnhorst, Prince Eugen and Gneisenau which were attempting the "Channel Dash", from their French harbour. Allied aircraft inflicted severe damage to these ships, despite intense anti-aircraft fire. The squadron did not lose an aircraft or suffer any damage to it on this occasion. Truscott was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for this action.

In 1943, the squadron returned to Australia and was based in Darwin, defending northern Australia from Japanese air raids.

The squadron finished the war as part of the Australian First Tactical Air Force, based in the Dutch East Indies.

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