Air-Sea Rescue

A 279 Squadron Hudson carrying an airborne lifeboat

Air-sea rescue provided assistance to aicrew who had ditched in the sea. Various rescue packs were developed for dropping from rescue aircraft, including the ‘Lindholme Dinghy’, consisting of a well-equipped dinghy into which survivors could transfer and four containers stocked with food, warm clothing and distress signals. Later an airborne lifeboat was developed, equipped with engines, radio, food and water and survival equipment. This was capable of being carried and dropped by aircraft, initially the Lockheed Hudson but later by the Vickers Warwick.

Two air-sea rescue squadrons operated from Bircham Newton and its satellites. No. 279 Squadron was formed at Bircham Newton and operated there and at Docking until late 1944, equipped with Hudson aircraft. It was the first RAF squadron to drop the Mark I Airborne Lifeboat. No. 280 Squadron operated from Bircham Newton and Langham in 1942 using Anson aircraft. The Squadron returned to Bircham Newton in late 1943, when it converted to Warwick aircraft, which was also capable of carrying and dropping airborne lifeboats. The illustration shows a 279 Squadron Hudson carrying a Mark I airborne lifeboat in its bomb bay.

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© D. Jacklin 2017. This website is owned by the RAF Bircham Newton Memorial Project.