Corgi AA28603 Bristol Beaufighter TF.X, NE775/X2, 455 Sqn RAAF, Langham, Norfolk, June 1944 1/72
Bristol Beaufighter TF.X, NE775/X2, 455 Sqn RAAF, Langham, Norfolk, June 1944
No. 455 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force began operations in the ETO as part of RAF Bomber Command but transferred to Coastal Command at the end of April 1942. Still flying the Handley Page Hampden at that time, crews were immediately required to train in the delivery of airborne torpedo attacks, in advance of flying anti-shipping operations against Axis vessels operating in Norwegian coastal waters. Flying from their home base at Leuchars in Fife, their Hampdens were not particularly suitable for this type of mission and initial success rates were disappointing, with many crews paying the ultimate price for their aircraft's lack of capability. Things improved from December 1943 onwards, when the unit traded their Hampdens for Beaufighters, with crews immediately developing tactics to maximise the impact of their capable new aircraft. Operating in tandem with No.489 Squadron (RNZAF), the two formed the 'ANZAC Strike Wing', using the combined strength of both squadrons to launch devastating attacks against Axis shipping in the North Sea. Beaufighters configured as heavy fighters attacked and neutralised enemy anti-aircraft defences before the bomb and torpedo-equipped aircraft swooped to deliver their destructive blows. The Strike Wing's tactics proved so effective that they were later called upon to clear the sea lanes of the English Channel in the months leading up to D-Day, paying particular attention to the E-boats which posed such a threat to Allied invasion planning.