No. 51 Squadron (RAF)

About This Unit

No. 51 Squadron (RAF)

No.51 Squadron was formed from B. Flight of No.58 Squadron in 1937. By the start of the Second World War it was equipped with the Armstrong Whitley bomber, which it retained until late in 1942.

As with most Bomber Command squadrons, No. 51 squadron didn't really enter the battle until May 1940, when the German attack in the west saw the restrictions on bomber squadrons lifted.  For most of the rest of the war No. 51 Squadron acted as a standard night bomber squadron, first with the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley twin engined medium bomber, and later with the Handley Page Halifax, a four engined heavy bomber.

In February 1942, led by the legendary Percy Pickard, 51 Squadron carried 119 paratroops and an RAF flight sergeant skilled in electronics to Bruneval, France, in converted Whitleys. The men then carried out a very successful raid on a German radar installation, removing parts of a new type known as a Würzburg, which they took back to Britain.[9]

A brief period as part of Coastal Command patrolling against the U-Boats in the Bay of Biscay preceded the re-equipment with the Halifax in 1942. No. 51 Squadron spent the rest of the war in Europe flying as part of No. 4 Group RAF, in RAF Bomber Command's strategic bombing offensive against the Nazis, operating from RAF Snaith in East Yorkshire.