Northwest African Tactical Air Force

Northwest African Tactical Air Force

The Northwest African Tactical Air Force (NATAF) was a sub-command of the Northwest African Air Forces which itself was a sub-command of the Mediterranean Air Command (MAC). These new Allied air force organizations were created at the Casablanca Conference in January of 1943 to promote cooperation between the British Royal Air Force (RAF), the American United States Army Air Force (USAAF), and their respective ground and naval forces in the North African and Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO). Effective February 18, 1943, the NATAF and other MAC commands existed until December 10, 1943 when MAC was disbanded and the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces (MAAF) were established. Acting Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham was the commander of NATAF.[1]

The components of NATAF at the time of the Allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) on July 10, 1943 are illustrated below.[2][3]

NATAF - Desert Air Force - No. 211 Group - No. 239 Wing - No. 112 Squadron Kittyhawk at Medenine, Tunisia in 1943.

NATAF - XII Air Support Command - 27th Fighter-Bomber Group - A-36 Apache (Mustang).

NATAF - XII Air Support Command - 33rd Fighter Group - 99th Fighter Squadron Tuskegee Airmen standing by one of their P-40 Warhawks.
NATAF - AHQ Western Desert - No. 244 Wing - No. 601 Squadron Spitfires over North Africa in 1943.

Northwest African Tactical Air Force
Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham

Desert Air Force

Air Vice Marshal Harry Broadhurst

XII Air Support Command

Major General Edwin House

Tactical Bomber Force

Air Commodore Laurence Sinclair

No. 7 Wing (SAAF)

No. 2 Squadron, Spitfire
No. 4 Squadron, Spitfire
No. 5 Squadron, Kittyhawk

27th Fighter-Bomber Group (USAAF)
Lieutenant Colonel John Stevenson

522nd Squadron, A-36 Mustang
523rd Squadron, A-36 Mustang
524th Squadron, A-36 Mustang

No. 3 Wing (SAAF)

No. 12 Squadron, Boston
No. 21 Squadron, Baltimore
No. 24 Squadron, Boston

No. 239 Wing

No. 3 Squadron (RAAF), Kittyhawk
No. 112 Squadron (RAF), Kittyhawk
No. 250 Squadron (RAF), Kittyhawk
No. 260 Squadron (RAF), Kittyhawk
No. 450 Squadron (RAAF), Kittyhawk

86th Fighter-Bomber Group (USAAF)
Major Clinton True

525th Squadron, A-36 Mustang
526th Squadron, A-36 Mustang
527th Squadron, A-36 Mustang

No. 232 Wing (RAF)

No. 55 Squadron, Baltimore
No. 223 Squadron, Baltimore

No. 244 Wing

No. 1 Squadron (SAAF), Spitfire
No. 92 Squadron (RAF), Spitfire
No. 145 Squadron (RCAF), Spitfire
No. 417 Squadron (RCAF), Spitfire
No. 601 Squadron (RAF), Spitfire

33d Fighter Group (USAAF)
Colonel William Momyer

58th Squadron, P-40 Warhawk
59th Squadron, P-40 Warhawk
60th Squadron, P-40 Warhawk
99th Squadron, P-40, Detached

No. 326 Wing (RAF)

No. 18 Squadron, Boston
No. 114 Squadron, Boston

No. 322 Wing (RAF)
Colin Falkland Gray (RNZAF)

No. 81 Squadron, Spitfire
No. 152 Squadron, Spitfire
No. 154 Squadron, Spitfire
No. 232 Squadron, Spitfire
No. 242 Squadron, Spitfire

324th Fighter Group (USAAF)
Colonel William McNown

314th Squadron, P-40 Warhawk
315th Squadron, P-40 Warhawk
316th Squadron, P-40 Warhawk

47th Bombardment Group (USAAF)
Colonel Malcolm Green, Jr.

84th Squadron, A-20 Havoc
85th Squadron, A-20 Havoc
86th Squadron, A-20 Havoc
97th Squadron, A-20 Havoc

No. 324 Wing (RAF)

No. 43 Squadron, Spitfire
No. 72 Squadron, Spitfire
No. 93 Squadron, Spitfire
No. 111 Squadron, Spitfire
No. 243 Squadron, Spitfire

31st Fighter Group (USAAF)
Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hill

307th Squadron, Spitfire
308th Squadron, Spitfire
309th Squadron, Spitfire

12th Bombardment Group (USAAF)
Colonel Edward Backus

81st Squadron, B-25 Mitchell
82nd Squadron, B-25 Mitchell
83rd Squadron, B-25 Mitchell
434th Squadron, B-25 Mitchell

57th Fighter Group (USAAF)
Colonel Arthur Salisbury

64th Squadron, P-40 Warhawk
65th Squadron,[4] P-40 Warhawk
66th Squadron, P-40 Warhawk

111th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, Mustang 340th Bombardment Group (USAAF)
Lieutenant Colonel Adolph Tokaz

486th Squadron, B-25 Mitchell
487th Squadron, B-25 Mitchell
488th Squadron, B-25 Mitchell
489th Squadron,[5] B-25 Mitchell

79th Fighter Group (USAAF)
Colonel Earl Bates

85th Squadron, P-40 Warhawk
86th Squadron, P-40 Warhawk
87th Squadron, P-40 Warhawk

Information in table taken from:

1) Participation of the Ninth &
Twelfth Air Forces in the Sicilian
Campaign, Army Air Forces Historical
Study No. 37, Army Air Forces
Historical Office Headquarters,
Maxwell AFB, Alabama, 1945.

No. 225 Squadron (RAF), Spitfire
No. 285 Wing (Reconnaissance)

No. 40 Squadron (SAAF), Det., Spitfire
No. 60 Squadron (SAAF), Mosquito
No. 1437 Flight (RAF), Mustang

2) Maurer, Maurer, Air Force

Combat Units Of World War II,
Office of Air Force History,
Maxwell AFB, Alabama, 1983.

No. 241 Squadron (RAF), Hurricane
No. 6 Squadron (RAF), Hurricane

For Operation Husky, No. 242 Group, originally a component of NATAF in February of 1943, was assigned to the Northwest African Coastal Air Force (NACAF). At the same time, Air Headquarters, Western Desert became known as Desert Air Force. All of the fighter units of Desert Air Force formed No. 211 (Offensive Fighter) Group commanded by Air Commodore Richard Atcherley on April 11, 1943 in Tripoli. The 99th Fighter Squadron was assigned to the XII Air Support Command on May 28, 1943 and subsequently attached to the 33rd Fighter Group. The actual squadron assignments and detachments varied throughout the war depending on the specific needs of the air force. The table above illustrates the squadron assignments and commanders for the important period of World War II when the Allies prepared to invade Italy (Operation Husky), having just won the war in North Africa (Tunisia Campaign). In recognition of XII Air Support Command's operations in Sicily, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower presented Major General Edwin House with the Legion of Merit and stated the following:

"...for the first time established the application of a tactical air force operating in support of an American Army."[6]


  1. ^ Craven, Wesley F. and James L. Cate. The Army Air Forces in World War II, Volume 2, Chicago, Illinois: Chicago University Press, 1949 (Reprinted 1983, ISBN 0-912799-03-X).
  2. ^ Richards, D. and H. Saunders, The Royal Air Force 1939-1945 (Volume 2, HMSO, 1953).
  3. ^ Howe, George F., Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West, Center of Military History, Washington, DC., 1991.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^

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