RAF Third Tactical Air Force

RAF Third Tactical Air Force

The RAF Third Tactical Air Force (Third TAF), which was formed in south Asia in December 1943, was one of three tactical air forces formed by the Royal Air Force during World War II. It was made up of squadrons and personnel from the RAF and the air forces of the British Commonwealth. Third TAF was formed shortly after the establishment of South East Asia Command to provide close air support to the Fourteenth Army.

It was first formed on 19 December 1943 designated the Tactical Air Force (Burma) and renamed as the Third TAF on 28 December 1943. Along with parts of the USAAF Tenth Air Force, it was subordinate to Joint Allied Eastern Air Command which was also formed in December 1943.ref|RAFBB

As the Air Force was formed, it was felt that at last British forces could go over to the offensive against the Japanese in the Burma Campaign. A start was made towards establishing a general offensive in Arakan in early 1943, but this was forestalled by a Japanese offensive. The Japanese were decisively beaten, but they shifted the focus of their attack to central Burma. Third TAF gave sterling service to Fourteenth Army during the Battle of Kohima and the Battle of Imphal, strafing and bombing the besieging Japanese troops, often at very low level.

After the defeat of the Japanese by Indian IV and XXXIII Corps in Assam, the monsoon intervened before many counterattacks could take place. After the enforced period of reduced operations, the Third TAF supported the advance of Fourteenth Army against the Japanese forces. However, command arrangement changes at the end of 1944 cutting short the life of the Third TAF. It was redesignated HQ RAF Bengal and Burma on 4 December 1944.ref label|RAFBB|1|a

The Third TAF had two commanders, Air Vice Marshal John Baldwin up until 15 August 1944, and then Air Marshal Sir Alec Coryton.

The Third TAF had two Groups:
# No. 221 Group RAF supporting Indian IV Corps.
#* During the battle of Imphal there were seldom more than seven squadrons engaged at one time but over the three months' of the siege altogether 21 squadrons took part: including three from the Indian Air Force (Nos. 1, 7 and 9). The R.A.F. squadrons were Nos. 5, 11, 20, 28, 34, 42, 60, 81, 82, 84, 110, 113, 123, 136, 152, 176, 607 and 615.
# No. 224 Group RAF ( commanding officer Air Commodore Alexander Gray) supporting Indian XV Corps. In the 1943–44 campaigning season, this Group comprised:
#* Three RAF fighter squadrons equipped with Spitfires (this campaign marked the first time Spitfires were being used in South-East Asia)
#* Six fighter-bomber squadrons with Hurricanes (mainly IIc variants)
#* A single tactical reconnaissance squadron No. 6 Squadron IAF equipped with the Hurricane IIb
#* Two light bomber squadrons (one of which was No. 8 Squadron IAF commanded by Squadron-Leader Niranjan Prasa] ), equipped with Vultee Vengeances.



# note label|RAFBB|1|a [http://www.rafweb.org/Cmd_O3.htm Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation: Overseas Commands - Iraq, India and the Far East]

External links

* [http://www.211squadron.org No. 211 Squadron RAF]
* [http://indianairforce.nic.in/afsqnn6.htm Indian Airforce Official site: 6 Sqdn ] [http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/History/1940s/6Sqn-History.html No. 6 Squadron, Indian Air Force - The First Five Years]
* [http://members.shaw.ca/hufilleul/acafinal/atholl.html No. 177 Squadron RAF ] [http://www.burmabeaufighters.com/pages/articles/burmarevisited.php No. 177 Squadron RAF]
* [http://www.chindit.net/marchondelhi.html RAF at the Battle of Imphal]

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