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Thread: Number of aircraft in a squadron?

  1. #1
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    Number of aircraft in a squadron?

    If this has been answered a hundred times already I am sorry for asking again. I tried to search for it but was unable to find what I am looking for.



    I would like to find the number of aircraft that would be found in a squadron during WWII. I am interested in all the nations that fought during the war.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Member Thorlifter's Avatar
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    I always thought it was between 12 and 15. I'm sure our smarter people have the correct answer.
    Last edited by Thorlifter; 08-06-2008 at 12:10 PM.

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    Senior Member drgondog's Avatar
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    for Usaaf Operations 16 aircraft for Fighter ops and 12 for bomber ops - each with variations

    Total squadron strength was closer to 24-26 per sqaudron with 4 flights of 8 plus pilots per flight.

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    Regia Aeronautica (italian Royal Air Force) "squadriglia" strenght 7/12 (7 recce, 9 bomber, 12 fighter), "squadriglia" operational 5/9 (5 recce, 7 bomber, 9 fighter)

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    Thanks for the info guys.

    If any one knows of websites were I could find more info that would be great too.

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    The Pop-Tart Whisperer Njaco's Avatar
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    for the German side check this.....

    High Command of the Luftwaffe

    "The Gruppe (Group) was led by a Gruppenkommandeur or Kommandeur, an executive post held by an aircrew member whose rank could vary considerably - normally it was a Major in the case of bomber units and a Hauptmann in fighter units. He had his own operational and administrative Gruppenstab (Staff), and flew combat operations with his Stabsschwarm (Staff Flight) usually of 3 to 4 aircraft. Under his command there were three, or sometimes four, Staffeln (Squadrons) led by a Staffelkapitän, an executive post that could be held by any aircrew officer from Leutnant to Hauptmann. In the temporary absence of the Staffelkapitän, the unit was led by a Staffelführer. For tactical operations, the Staffel was split into Schwarm (Section of four aircraft) or Rotte (pair of aircraft) in the case of fighters, fighter-bombers or close -support aircraft, or Kette (Flight of three aircraft) in the case of bombers and dive-bombers. The Staffel normally comprised between 12 and 16 aircraft, with the number of aircrew varying according to the strength; normally there were 20-25 pilots and 150 ground crew in the case of single-engined fighter units and 80 groundcrew in the case of twin-engined fighter units. Thus, a Gruppe consisted of 40-50 aircraft on establishment with around 500 ground personnel.

    The Geschwader would thus have between 120-125 aircraft, in the case of a Jagdgeschwader, whereas the Kampfgeschwader had about 80-90 on strength. In October 1943, JG 2 and JG 26 became the first Geschwaders to increase the strength of their Gruppen from three to four Staffeln, thus raising the establishment to about 160 aircraft."

    This was mostly a paper number as the war ground on. Unservicable planes marked as servicable, lack of equipment and pilots, etc., all contributed to many groups not having full strength in reality.

    "If you can read this, thank a teacher. If it's English, thank a soldier!"


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    Senior Member freebird's Avatar
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    Did the British/Commonwealth have larger squadrons than the US?

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    Senior Member drgondog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freebird View Post
    Did the British/Commonwealth have larger squadrons than the US?
    IIRC the Commonwealth typically flew 12/Sq on ops. US doctrine was two sections comprised of two four ship flights each for fighters

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    Senior Member renrich's Avatar
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    An air group of carrier based USN AC during the Guadalcanal campaign consisted of four squadrons. The fighting squadron, VF, comprised 27 F4F4s, the bombing squadrons, VS and VB, each had 18 SBD3s, and the torpedo squadron VT, had 18 TBF1s. You guys always seem to want to neglect the airdales. LOL
    Last edited by renrich; 08-09-2008 at 06:42 PM.

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    Junior Member MFH's Avatar
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    Note: USN Pacific Fleet units only; dates are approximate; not all carriers carried these exact compliments, esp. early in the war and due to combat losses. CAG birds not listed. Errors are due to my memory (or lack thereof).

    For fleet carrier air groups (CVGs; this is mostly from memory, but I think it's right) authorized strength was:

    December 1941 to April 1942:

    VF - 18 (I found one document that indicates this was supposed to be increased to 27 starting 10/1/41, but no unit had this strength until early 1942 due to limited aircraft production)
    VB - 18
    VS - 18
    VT - 18 (usually carried less)

    April 1942 to June 1942 (including Midway):

    VF - 27 (but not all squadrons reached this strength due to squadron composition & deployment, see VF-2 & VF-42 at Coral Sea)
    VB - 18
    VS - 18
    VT - 18 (usually 12-15)

    July 1942 to March 1943:

    VF - 36 (note: USS Wasp carried only ~30 VF)
    VB - 18
    VS - 18 (note: USS Wasp had two VS and no VB)
    VT - 18 (usually 12-16)

    March 1943 to July 1943:

    VF - 36
    2xVB - 18 each (VS were redesignated VB ~ 3/1/1943)
    VT - 18

    July 1943 to September 1944:

    VF - 36 (could increase to over 40)
    VF(N) - 4 (from ~January 1944 on)
    VB - 36 (2xVBs combined into one unit; could decrease to ~30)
    VT - 18

    September 1944 to December 1944:

    VF - 49 + VF(N) - 4
    VB - 25
    VT - 18

    From December 1944 to August 1945, there was much variation in response to kamikazes:

    (CV-9 [12/44-3/45], CV-18 [1/45-3/45]):

    VF - 50 + VF(N) - 4 (though this might have gone as high as 64, I just don't remember for sure right now)
    VT - 15
    2xVMF - 18

    (CV-13 [3/45], CV-17 [2/45-5/45] & CV-20 [2/45-6-45]):

    VF - 36 (includes VF(N))
    VB - 15
    VT - 15
    2xVMF -18

    Others:
    VF - 69 + VF(N) - 4
    VB - 15
    VT - 15

    Still others:

    VF - 36 (includes VF(N))
    VBF - 36
    VB - 15
    VT - 15

    For the invasion of Japan, CVGs were to go be composed as (none saw action with this composition):

    VF - 32 (includes 4 - VF(N) & 4 VF(P))
    VBF - 24
    VB - 24
    VT - 20

    For USN Night Carrier Air Groups (though CVG(N)-53 differed by including a VF):

    VF(N) - 37
    VT(N) - 18

    For USN Light Fleet Carrier Air Groups (CVLGs):

    August 1943 to August 1945:

    VF - 24
    VT - 9

    CVLG(N)-41 (8/44-1/45):
    VF(N) - 19
    VT(N) - 8

    For the invasion of Japan (none saw combat with this composition):

    VF - 36

    Let me know if help is needed deciphering anything.
    Last edited by MFH; 10-06-2008 at 12:02 AM. Reason: Punctuation.
    It is my intention and expectation that between us we shall make the name ESSEX carry fear and destruction to our enemies, win praise of our friends, and be an everlasting credit to our country and our flag.

    Captain Donald B. Duncan, USN
    31 December 1942

  11. #11
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    As a small nation with a small air force the strength of a Finnish squadron varied a lot. A Brewster squadron Le.Lv.24 had +40 planes in Summer 1941 but an other fighter squadron Le.Lv.30 had only few captured Polikarpov I-153s and Fokkers.

    So no one can't write down an accurate number without knowing the unit and time.

  12. #12
    Benevolens Magister Airframes's Avatar
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    WW2 R.A.F. Squadrons generally consisted of 12 aircraft available, although there were operational variations. Depending on role, the squadron would be made up of 'A' Flight and 'B' Flight, each of 6 operational aircraft. On fighter squadrons, the Flights were sub-divided into sections, eg, Red Section, Blue Section, etc, of 2-3 aircaft, again depending on operational requirements.
    The actual STRENGTH of a Squadron could, however, be 18 aircraft, allowing for reserves, 'spare' A/C, and aircraft temporarily unserviceable. In some units later in the war, operational strength could be up to 18 A/C, although this was not the norm.

  13. #13
    Senior Member freebird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airframes View Post
    WW2 R.A.F. Squadrons generally consisted of 12 aircraft available, although there were operational variations. Depending on role, the squadron would be made up of 'A' Flight and 'B' Flight, each of 6 operational aircraft. On fighter squadrons, the Flights were sub-divided into sections, eg, Red Section, Blue Section, etc, of 2-3 aircaft, again depending on operational requirements.
    The actual STRENGTH of a Squadron could, however, be 18 aircraft, allowing for reserves, 'spare' A/C, and aircraft temporarily unserviceable. In some units later in the war, operational strength could be up to 18 A/C, although this was not the norm.


    Thanks very much Airframes!

    I noticed on the (always-reliable ) Wiki that they have most fighter squadrons of the 1942 Desert AF with 16 or 18 aircraft, would that probably mean 12 operation aircraft and 18 total? (ie - including spares & unservicable)

    Quote Originally Posted by wiki
    Western Desert Air ForceOn 27 October 1942, the Western Desert Air Force (WDAF) was organized as shown below:[7]

    Subordinated to General Headquarters RAF Middle East (GHQ RAF Middle East)

    No. 3 South African Air Force (SAAF) Bomber Wing
    No. 12 Squadron SAAF (24 × Martin Marylands)
    No. 21 Squadron SAAF (24 × Martin Baltimores I,II & III)
    No. 24 Squadron SAAF (24 × Douglas Boston III)
    No. 232 Bomber Wing
    No. 55 Squadron RAF (24 × Baltimores I,II & III)
    No. 223 Squadron RAF (24 × Baltimores I,II & III)
    82nd Bombardment Squadron USAAF (12 × Mitchell B-25C)
    83rd Bombardment Squadron USAAF (12 × Mitchell B-25C)
    434th Bombardment Squadron USAAF (12 × Mitchell B-25C)
    No. 285 Reconnaissance Wing
    No. 2 PRU Squadron RAF (Photo Reconnaissance) (Spitfire VB)
    No. 40 Squadron SAAF (Tactical Reconnaissance) (18 × Hurricane I/II/A/B)
    No. 60 Survey Squadron SAAF (Photo Reconnaissance) (12 × Marylands)
    No. 208 Squadron RAF (Tactical Reconnaissance) (18 × Hurricane IIA/B)
    No. 1437 Flight RAF (Strategic Reconnaissance) (8 × Baltimores I/II/III)
    No. 211 Group
    No. 7 Squadron SAAF (anti-tank) (16 × Hurricane IID)
    No. 6 Squadron RAF (anti-tank) (16 × Hurricane IID)
    64th Fighter Squadron USAAF (25 × P-40F Warhawks)
    65th Fighter Squadron USAAF (25 × P-40F Warhawks)
    No. 233 Wing
    No. 2 Squadron SAAF (16 × Kittyhawks I, II & III)
    No. 4 Squadron SAAF (16 × Kittyhawks I, II & III)
    No. 5 Squadron SAAF (16 × Tomahawks)
    No. 260 Squadron RAF (16 × Kittyhawks I & IIb)
    No. 239 Wing
    No. 3 Squadron SAAF (16 × Kittyhawk I/II/III)
    No. 112 Squadron RAF (16 × Kittyhawk IA)
    No. 250 Squadron RAF (16 × Kittyhawk IIA)
    No. 450 Squadron RAAF (16 × Kittyhawk)
    66th Fighter Squadron USAAF (25 × P-40F Warhawks)
    No. 244 Wing
    No. 145 Squadron RAF (16 × Spitfires Vb)
    No. 601 Squadron RAF (16 × Spitfires Vb)
    No. 73 Squadron RAF (16 × Hurricane IIc)
    No. 92 Squadron RAF (16 × Spitfires Vb/c)
    No. 212 Group
    No. 243 Wing
    No. 1 Squadron SAAF (16 × Hurricane IIc)
    No. 35 Squadron RAF (16 × Hurricane IIc)
    No. 213 Squadron RAF (16 × Hurricane IIc)
    No. 238 Squadron RAF (16 × Hurricane IIc)
    No. 7 Wing
    No. 80 Squadron RAF (16 × Hurricane IIc)
    No. 127 Squadron RAF (16 × Hurricane IIb)
    No. 335 (Greek) Squadron RAF (16 × Hurricane IIb)
    No. 274 Squadron RAF (16 × Hurricane IIb)

  14. #14
    Senior Member buffnut453's Avatar
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    Commonwealth fighter squadrons typically had 12 aircraft Initial Equipment (IE) with an additional 6 as Immediate Reserve (IR). The total strength would vary, however, depending on local circumstances.

  15. #15
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    During the BoB, RAF fighter squadrons had 18-22 a/c on hand.

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