D-Day: The RCAF and Second Tactical Air Force

June 6, 2019, marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day—the Allied invasion of Normandy. The successful invasion marked the turning point in the
Second World War.

The Royal Air Force’s 2nd Tactical Air Force (2TAF) was created to provide direct air support to the invasion forces.

Originally formed on June 1, 1943, it was modelled after the Desert Air Force and the Anglo-American North African Tactical Air Force. Primarily envisaged as a fighter and fighter-bomber organization, hard lessons-learned during the African campaigns result in 2TAF’s having a light and medium bomber component as well.

On D-Day, 2TAF was composed of four separate groups: No. 2 Group (Bomber Command) with 12 squadrons; No. 83 Group with 34 reconnaissance, fighter and fighter-bomber squadrons; No. 84 Group with 31 squadrons; and No. 85 Group with 21 ½ squadrons. This gave 2TAF an approximate total of 1,576 aircraft in 98 ½ squadrons to support the invasion.

Like the other elements of the Allied air force, 2TAF’s mission began long before June 6, 1944. Almost constant reconnaissance flights were conducted over Normandy to be sure, but an equal or greater number were flown throughout Occupied Europe to keep the enemy guessing about the actual site of the attack.

Bombers from No. 2 Group took part in the interdiction campaign conducted by Bomber Command against German transport and communication centres. The fighter-bombers struck at anything that moved, while the fighters engaged in day and…

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