Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

 

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Operational Training Units


No 41 Operational Training Unit

Formed from the Training Squadron of No 1 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum on 20 September 1941 within No 70 Group to train tactical reconnaissance pilots using Lysanders and Tomahawks.  In March 1942 the Lysanders were retired and the following month Mustangs arrived to supplement the Tomahawks.  In November 1942 the unit moved to Hawarden and in November 1943 was transferred to No 9 Group.  On 15 September 1944 it was transferred to No 12 Group, by which time it was using Hurricanes, Spitfires, Masters Harvards, Martinets, Proctors and a Dominie. 

On 1 February 1945 the unit was split into two with No 41 OTU Day Fighter Wing moving to Poulton, where it was redesignated No 58 OTU on 12 March, whilst the Hawarden element became No 41 OTU Fighter Reconnaissance Wing, moving to Chilbolton on 23 March, where it disbanded on 26 April 1945 its tasking being absorbed by No 61 OTU.

Codes used: -

6R

Allocated but not used

Aircraft & Markings

 

No 42 Operational Training Unit

Formed from an element of No 6 OTU at Andover on 18 July 1941 within No 70 Group, to convert Lysander pilots to Blenheims in anticipation of the introduction of the Bisley, which was cancelled.  In October 1942 the unit moved to Ashbourne, where it continued training Blenheims pilots until May 1943 when it it began training glider tug pilots for squadrons in No 38 Wing (later No 38 Group).   For this role it used Whitleys, the Blenheims leaving in July 1943, and later Albemarles.  It was transferred to No 38 Group on 1 November 1943 and four of its aircraft actually took part in the D-Day landings.  The unit disbanded on 20 March 1945 and its tasking was transferred to No 81 OTU.

Aircraft & Markings

 

No 43 Operational Training Unit

Formed from No 1424 Flight at Larkhill on 1 October 1942 within No 70 Group to train Auster AOP pilots and observers.  It operated a variety of light aircraft in this role, moving to Old Sarum on 19 November 1942, Oatlands Hill on 17 February 1944 and finally Andover on 10 August 1944.  In February 1945, it formed a Helicopter Training Flight using Hoverfly Is which lasted until 16 January 1946.  Control was passed to No 12 Group on 10 July 1946 and it finally disbanded by being redesignated No 227 OCU on 7 May 1947.

Codes used: -

BD

xxx 1943 - May 1947

PF

xxx 1943 - May 1947

Aircraft & Markings

 

No 51 Operational Training Unit

Formed at Debden on 26 July 1941 within No 81 Group to train night fighter crews including some destined to Turbinlites operations.  As such it was equipped with Blenheims and Havocs, which it took to Cranfield on 17 August.  In May 1942 its No 2 (Intruder) Squadron was transferred to No 60 OTU, in June it received some Beauforts and in August, Beaufighters.  No 4 (Beaufighter) Squadron was transferred from No 60 OTU in September when it was passed over to Coastal Command control.

In early 1943 the unit began training USAAF crews and in April it was transferred to No 9 Group.  May saw the arrival of some Mosquitoes but again this intruder training was transferred to No 60 OTU.  From 17 September the Advanced Training Squadron, at Twinwood Farm, was given the designation No 551 Squadron.  Wellingtons were added to the strength in March 1944 to provide training for radar operators and from June the Beaufighters began to be replaced by Mosquitoes with the unit finally disbanding on 14 June 1945.

Codes used: -

PF

Jul 1941 - xxx 1942

Aircraft & Markings

   

No 52 Operational Training Unit

Formed at Debden on 25 March 1941 within No 81 Group to train day fighter pilots using Hurricanes.  In August it moved to Aston Down and the following month began converting to Spitfires.  From 15 January 1943 the half of the unit located at Charmy Down was redesignated as the Fighter Leaders School and in April it was transferred to No 9 Group control.  In August 1943, the Fighter Leaders School returned to Aston Down at which point No 52 OTU was officially reduced to half OTU status.  Further redesignations followed, firstly as No 52 OTU (FLS) in September and then No 52 OTU (Fighter Command School of Tactics) in October and finally on 25 January 1944 the unit lost the OTU title altogether when it became simply the Fighter Leaders School again.

Codes used: -

NS

xxx xxxx - Aug 1943

GK

Allocated and probably used

TJ

Allocated but not used?

OQ

xxx xxxx - Aug 1943

Aircraft & Markings

   

No 53 Operational Training Unit

Formed at Heston on 18 February 1941 within No 81 Group to train Spitfire pilots for Fighter Command.  In June 'B' Flight moved to Llandow, followed by the rest of the OTU, except 'A' and 'C' Flights, on 1 July.  The two flights left at Heston forming the basis of No 61 OTU.  In April 1943 control was transferred to No 9 Group and the following month it re-located again, this time to Kirton-in-Lindsey.  It finally disbanded by being absorbed into No 61 OTU on 15 May 1945.

In the event of a German invasion the OTU would have become No's 553 and 554 Squadron and would have operated from Church Fenton.

Codes used: -

KU

Feb 1941 - xxx xxxx

MV

Feb 1941 - May 1945

OB

Allocated but not used?

QG

xxx 1943 - May 1945

Aircraft & Markings

   

No 54 Operational Training Unit

Formed at Church Fenton on 25 November 1940 within No 12 Group to train night fighter crews for Fighter Command.  Equipped with Blenheims, and Defiants as its main equipment, it was transferred to No 81 Group on 31 December 1940.  In June 1941 the Defiants were transferred to No 60 OTU and No 54 concentrated on twin engine training.  The unit moved to Charterhall in May 1942, Beaufighters having replaced the Blenheims in February.  On 20 April 1943, control was passed to No 9 Group.  May 1944 saw the arrival of some Mosquitoes and the Beaufort radar trainer were gradually replaced by Wellingtons.  By July 1945 the last Beaufighter had left and in November the unit moved to East Moor and back to No 12 Group.  Its final move came in June 1946 when it transferred to Leeming, where on 1 May 1947 it merged with No 13 OTU to form No 228 OCU.

Codes used: -

BF

Dec 1940 - xxx 1943

LX

xxx 1944 - xxx 1945

ST

May 1942 - May 1945

YX

xxx 1942 - May 1947

Aircraft & Markings

   

No 55 Operational Training Unit

Formed at Aston Down from No 5 OTU on 1 November 1940 within No 10 Group to train fighter pilots for Fighter Command, using Hurricanes, Blenheims, Defiants and Masters.  In December the Blenheims and Defiant were transferred to No 54 OTU and at the end of that month it was transferred to the control of No 81 Group.  In February 1941 a flight moved to Usworth, to be followed by the rest of the unit on 14 March.  In April 1942 it moved to Annan and a year later was transferred to No 9 Group.  By early 1944 it was acting as a Day Pilot Holding Pool and on 26 January it was disbanded by being redesignated No 4 Tactical Exercise Unit.

In the event of a German invasion the OTU would have become No 555 Squadron to operate from Turnhouse, but this was later modified to forming No's 555 and 554 Squadron to operate from Ouston.

The unit reformed on18 December 1944, again at Aston Down in No 12 Group by redesignating No 3 Tactical Exercise Unit.  Equipped with over a hundred Typhoons it acted as a ground attack training unit until disbanding on 14 June 1945.

Codes used: -

UW

Nov 1940 - Jan 1944?,  Dec 1944 - Jun 1945?

EH

Nov 1940 - Jan 1944?,  Dec 1944 - Jun 1945?

PA

Nov 1940 - Jan 1944?,  Dec 1944 - Jun 1945?

ZX

Nov 1940 - Jan 1944?,  Dec 1944 - Jun 1945?

Aircraft & Markings

   

No 56 Operational Training Unit

Formed at Sutton Bridge from No 6 OTU on 1 November 1940 within No 81 Group to train fighhter pilots for Fighter Command, using Hurricanes.  In March 1942 it moved to Tealing and in April 1943 it passed to the control of No 9 Group.  It disbanded on 5 October1943 when it was redesignated No 1 Combat Training Wing (later changed to No 1 Tactical Exercise Unit).  In the event of a German invasion the OTU's 'E' and 'F' Flights would have become No 556 Squadron to operate within the Peterhead Sector.

The unit reformed on15 December 1944, again at Miilfield in No 12 Group, equipped with both Typhoon and Tempest Vs until disbanding on 14 February 1946.

Codes used: -

FE

Nov 1940 - Oct 1943?, Dec 1944 - Feb 1946

GF

Nov 1940 - Oct 1943?, Dec 1944 - Feb 1946

HQ

Dec 1944 - Feb 1946

OD

Dec 1944 - Feb 1946

Aircraft & Markings

 

No 57 Operational Training Unit

Formed at Hawarden from No 7 OTU on 1 November 1940 within No 10 Group to train fighter pilots for Fighter Command using Spitfires and Masters.  It was transferred to No 81 Group on 31 December 1940 and from 10 November 1942 operated from Eshott before passing to the control of No 9 Group on 20 April 1943.  A further transfer of control to No 12 Group occurred on 15 September 1944 and it finally disbanded on 6 June 1945.

Codes used: -

JZ

Dec 1940 - Jun 1945

LV

Dec 1940 - Jun 1945

PW

xxx xxxx - Jun 1945

XO

Dec 1940 - Jun 1945

Aircraft & Markings

   

No 58 Operational Training Unit

Planned to form at Grangemouth on 21 October 1940 within No 10 Group to train night fighter crews but this was changed on 2 December when it actually formed as a day fighter pilot training unit, using Spitfires and Masters.  It was transferred to No 81 Group on 31 December 1940 and disbanded on 5 October1943 when it was redesignated No 2 Combat Training Wing (later changed to No 2 Tactical Exercise Unit).  In the event of a German invasion the OTU would have become No 558 Squadron (and later also as No 563 Squadron) to operate from Turnhouse.

The unit reformed on15 March 1945, at Poulton in No 12 Group, as a half OTU equipped with Spitfires from the day fighter element of No 41 OTU until disbanding on 20 July 1945.

Codes used: -

PQ

Dec 1940 - Oct 1943

P9

Mar 1945 - Jul 1945

Aircraft & Markings

 

No 59 Operational Training Unit

Personnel assembled at Turnhouse on 4 December 1940 but the unit did not form until 16 December.  Initially controlled by No 13 Group, it was transferred to No 81 Group on 31 December and finally moved to its designated station of Crosby-on-Eden on 20 February 1941.  It intended to be a single seat fighter training unit and it first aircraft arrived in early March and training began at the end of the month, with Hurricanes as its main equipment.    In August 1942 it moved to Milfield, by which time it was also operating Typhoons.  In April 1943 control passed to No 9 Group and on 26 January 1944 it was disbanded when it was amalgamated with the Specialised Low Attack Instructor's School to form the Fighter Leaders School.  In the event of a German invasion the OTU would have become No 559 Squadron (and later also as No 564 Squadron) to operate from Newcastle.

The unit reformed at Acklington at half strength on 26 February 1945 to train Typhoon pilots, but after only one course it was disbanded on 6 June 1945.

Codes used: -

MF

Dec 1940 - xxx 1943

II

Feb 1945 - Jun 1945

7L

Feb 1945 - Jun 1945

4Q

Feb 1945 - Jun 1945

Aircraft & Markings

 

No 60 Operational Training Unit

Formed at Leconfield on 28 April 1941 within No 81 Group to train night fighter crews for Fighter Command, equipped with Blenheim and Defiants as its main equipment, moving to East Fortune on 4 June 1941.  A year later it received its first Beaufighters and by July the Defiants had left leaving just the twin engined types.  However, on 24 November 1942, the unit was disbanded with all the aircraft (except the Beaufighters) and the personnel were transferred to No 132 OTU, Coastal Command, the Beaufighters going to No 51 OTU.

The unit reformed at High Ercall on 17 May 1943 from No 2 Squadron of No 51 OTU as a Mosquito equipped intruder training unit under the control of No 9 Group.  From 19 October 1943 a sub unit was formed at Chedworth from the gunnery flights of No's 60 and 63 OTU, known as No 60/63 Combined Gunnery Squadron.  This arrangement lasted until early 1944 when the individual flights returned to the original bases.  Control was transferred to No 12 Group on 15 September 1944 followed by a move to Finmere on 15 Mach 1945, but on 11 April, the unit was disbanded on being absorbed into No 13 OTU.

Codes used: -

AT

May 1943 - Apr 1945

8V

May 1943 - Apr 1945

Aircraft & Markings

   

No 61 Operational Training Unit

Formed at Heston on 9 June 1941 within No 81 Group to train fighter pilots for Fighter Command using Spitfires and Masters.  It was moved to Rednal on 15 April 1942 and was transferred to No 9 Group on 20 April 1943 and then to No 12 Group on 15 September 1944.  In October 1943, it operated 'Q' Flight, composed of 9 Gladiators and a Wellington, which were used to make a film depicting the Greek campaign of 1940/41.  On 21 June 1945 it moved to Keevil, where it took over the Fighter Reconnaissance Wing of No 41 OTU.  It disbanded by being redesignated No 203 Advanced Flying School on1 July 1947.

In the event of a German invasion the OTU would have become No 561 Squadron (and later also as No 565 Squadron) to operate from Woodvale.

Codes used: -

HX

Jun 1941 - Jul 1947

UU

xxx 1943 - Jul 1947

DE

xxx 1944 - xxx xxxx

KR

xxx xxxx - Jul 1947

TO

xxx 1945 - Jul 1947

Aircraft & Markings

   

No 62 Operational Training Unit

Formed on 1 June 1942 under the control of No 81 Group at Usworth from No 3 Radio School.  This move was brought about by a need to improve on the training of  Observers (Radio) - Radar operators, using Ansons equipped with AI Mk IV.   Control of the unit passed to No 9 Group on 20 April 1943 and in June  part of the unit moved to Ouston, to be followed by the remainder in July.  'C' Flight was formed in August 1944 to undertake GEE training and on 15 September 1944 control was passed to No 12 Group and on 6 June 1945 the unit disbanded.

Aircraft & Markings

 

No 63 Operational Training Unit

Personnel assembled at Honiley on 17 August 1943 but the unit did not form until 7 September. Controlled by No 9 Group, its task was to train night fighter crews using Beaufighters and Beauforts.  Wellingtons were received in September to act as flying radar classrooms.  From 19 October 1943 a sub unit was formed at Chedworth from the gunnery flights of No's 60 and 63 OTU, known as No 60/63 Combined Gunnery Squadron.  This arrangement lasted until early 1944 when the individual flights returned to the original bases.    The unit was disbanded on 21 March 1944 with the Wellingtons being passed to No 51 OTU.

Codes used: -

HI

Sep 1943 - Mar 1944

Aircraft & Markings

   

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