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No. 41 Squadron ‡
AIR 130
GND 55
Sorties 118


Tactical Deployment and Organization of Defensive Fighter Forces

17. Squadron Organization. A day fighter squadron consists of sixteen aircraft, of which twelve operate. It is commanded by a squadron leader who is responsible for the operational and administrative efficiency of the flying and ground personnel within the squadron.

18. Flight and Section Organization. Day fighter squadrons are normally divided into two flights, each of six aircraft. Each flight is commanded by a flight commander (flight lieutenant). Operating units are designated "A" and "B" flights and are normally divided into three sections of two aircraft. The section represents the basic tactical unit of day fighter operations. Sections are designated as follows :-

  1. Red, Yellow, and White in "A" Flight.
  2. Blue, Green, and Black in "B" Flight.

In the air, sections are led by section leaders who are usually of flying officer rank, though sometimes of pilot officer or aircrew rank.

Manual of Fighter Operations, A.P.3200. Air Ministry. April, 1949.


16. The accuracy of the briefing depended on the nature of the task, the amount of information available about the target and on the amount of time available for briefing. The main principle was that there should be no sortie without an appropriate briefing and that all pilots who were taking part in the operation should be present. The briefing had as its aim the acquainting of the pilots with the following informations:-

  1. Particulars about the force taking part. The number of aircraft, the formation to be used, the armament (number and type of bombs), the sequence of take-off etc.
  2. Information about the target. Whenever possible, photographs and an exact plan and description of the target were provided. All the possible interferences such as enemy defences, observation posts, and flak were pointed out. Special attention was given to the terrain around the target.
  3. Navigation and maps. The maps generally used were 1:250,000 on which the bomb line was always kept up to date. In the case of targets were difficult to locate or extremely important for destruction more accurate maps were used such as 1:50,000 and sometimes 1:25,000. For the purpose of co-operation with Contact Cars the 1:50,000 were used with a special grid, duplicate maps being held by the Contact Car.
  4. R/T. The button, the call signs and all homing procedures were repeated for the pilots' information.
  5. The leader informed the pilots as to his intended tactics of approach, flight, rendezvous, etc.

If only experienced pilots had to be briefed, the briefing could be limited to the essential points; but, taking into consideration that many pilots were young and inexperienced, the general rule was to repeat instructions and remind the pilots of the usual things, such as what they were to do in case of being hit, emergency landing, how to attack, how to dive, at what height to release bombs, etc.

Tactics used by Spitfire Day Fighter/Bomber Squadrons of 2nd T.A.F. during the Campaign in Western Europe,
Tactical Paper No. 4. Air Ministry. September, 1947.