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[Home] [Articles and Misc] [Air Dropped Weapons 103 Sqn 576 Sqn]

Air Dropped Weapons – 103 Squadron – 576 Squadron

Armourers Group RAF Elsham Wolds

103 Squadron Armourers with 2 x 1000 lb GP bombs evident

103 Squadron - WW1

While flying the DH9 103 Squadron used 2 types of bomb during WW1/1918 with some success.

The main targets for these were German airfields, troop concentrations and communications on the Western Front

High Explosive 112 lb Mk 1/2 - Heavy Cast Steel - 35 or 40 lb Amatol TNT – Usually 2 were carried.

High Explosive 230 lb - Light/Mild Steel - 110 or 140 lb Amatol TNT – Used in early stages.

103 Squadron 112 lb HE bombs

112 lb HE Bombs. 103 Squadron Dump 1919

103 Squadron 230 lb HE bomb

103 Squadron 230 lb HE bomb

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103 Squadron - Interwar

From 1936 to 1938 103 Squadron operated the Hawker Hind bi plane bomber.

This aircraft could carry up to 4 Medium Capacity 100 lb High Explosive bombs under the lower wing.

These however were never used in anger as the Hinds were replaced by the Fairey Battle in 1938.

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103 Squadron / 576 Squadron – WW2

Fairey Battle – 103 Squadron

103 Squadron  Bomb train and Battle Bethenville

103 Squadron  Bomb train and Battle Bethenville Spring 1940

During the Battle of France 103 Squadron used standard Medium Capacity 250 lb General Purpose bombs fitted in four wing cells giving a load of 1000 lb. On return from France there is also mention of the use 40 lb General Purpose Fragmentation bombs and unspecified small Incendiary bombs. 103 Squadron used the former invasion barges in the French Channel ports

 MC 250 lb General Purpose

103 Squadron German examines 250 lb MC bomb from force landed Fairey Battle in background

103 Squadron German examines 250 lb MC bomb from force landed Fairey Battle in background

40 lb General Purpose Fragmentation

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Vickers Wellington – 103 Squadron.

Vickers Wellington bombing up

Bombing up a Wellington prior to an op. The load suggests a naval target. I think the larger bomb on the left is a 1000 lb SAP. The others are 250 lb GP bombs. There is no record that the 103 Wellingtons carried the 1000 lb SAP - only 500 lb SAP

With the conversion of 103 Squadron to the Vickers Wellington medium twin engined bomber in late 1940 the weight of bombs carried was significantly increased. Also the weapons used became more varied and included sea mines which became available in early 1942.

These weapons used by 103 Squadron on this type are listed below :-

250 lb General Purpose and Semi Armour Piercing

Vickers Wellington being loaded with MC GP HE bombs

Vickers Wellington being loaded with MC GP HE bombs

500 lb General Purpose and Semi Armour Piercing and General Purpose Delayed Action/ Time Delay

250 lb General Purpose and Semi Armour Piercing

1000 lb General Purpose

250 lb Incendiary Bomb

25 lb Phosphorous Incendiaries

4 lb Incendiaries in small bomb containers

Small Bomb Container

Small Bomb Container containing 4 lb incendiaries

1500 lb Sea Mines from early 42

Wellington_HF598_300_Sqn_with_parachute_mines

Wellington HF598 300 Sqn with parachute mines

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Handley Page Halifax – 103 Squadron

Handley Page Halifax Area Bombing Load

Handley Page Halifax Area HE and Incendiary Bombing Load. Note additional small bomb containers in wing cells

The Halifax four engined bomber was able to carry a significantly heavier bomb load than the Wellington. 103 Squadron operated the type from the beginning of August 1942 to the end of October 1942 when they converted to Lancasters. The payload carried by 103 Squadron during this period was restricted to 2 types as set out below.

1000 lb General Purpose

4 lb Incendiaries in small bomb containers.

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Avro Lancaster Bombing Up

Avro Lancasters – 103 Squadron and 576 Squadron.

The Lancaster equipped 103 Squadron from November 1942 to the end of WW2 and 576 Squadron from its formation in December 1943 to the end of WW2. It proved an excellent machine with good handling characteristics, performance and reliability and also had the added advantage of a long unobstructed bomb bay enabling it to carry a variety of bomb loads including all the heaviest weapons used by the RAF during WW2

Avro Lancaster Area Bombing Load

Avro Lancaster Area Bombing Load - 4000 lb HC HE Blockbuster and 4 lb incendiaries in small bomb containers

4000 lb High Capacity High Explosive

2000 lb General Purpose High Explosive

1000 lb General Purpose Time Delay

500 lb General Purpose High Explosive

4 lb Incendiaries

4 lb Incendiaries 60 Type X

30 lb Incendiaries - Phosphorous

Avro Lancaster  with 1800 lb sea mines

Sea Mines 1500 lb and 1800 lb

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The loads carried by Main Force Lancaster bombers were standardised and given code names. They may have varied periodically dependent on availability These are listed below showing Code Name and the type of target on which they were used.

Arson - Incendiary area bombing - 14 Small Bomb Containers, each with 236 x 4 lb Incendiary and Explosive Incendiary bombs - Total 3,304.

Abnormal - Factories, railway yards, dockyards - 14 x 1,000 lb General Purpose High Explosive bombs using both impact and long delay (up to 144 hours) fuses.

Plumduff ( or Cookie) - Blast, demolition and fire - 1 x 4,000 lb impact-fused High Capacity bomb. 3 x 1,000 lb General Purpose High Explosive bombs, and up to 6 Small Bomb Containers with 1,416 incendiary bombs.

Gardening - Mining of ports, canals, rivers and seaways - 6 x 1,850 lb parachute mines.

No-Ball - V-1 flying bomb launch sites - 1 x 4,000 lb impact fused High Capacity and up to 18 x 500 lb General Purpose bombs with both impact and delay fusing.

Piece - Docks, fortifications and ships - 6 x 2,000 lb short-delay fused Armour Piercing bombs, plus other General Purpose/High Explosive bombs based on local needs or availability.

Plumduff-Plus - Heavy industry - 1 x 8,000 lb impact or barometric fused High Capacity and up to 6 x 500 lb impact or delay fused General Purpose High Explosive bombs.

Usual - Blast and incendiary area bombing - 1 x 4,000 lb impact-fused High Capacity bomb, and 12 Small Bomb Containers with a total of 2,832 incendiary bombs.

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No Code Name Given - Medium-range low altitude tactical raids - 6 x 1,000 lb short and long delay fused General Purpose High Explosive bombs with additional 250 lb General Purpose High Explosive bombs sometimes added.

No Code Name Given – Submarines - (up to 1942) - 5 x 250 lb short-delay fuse Semi Armour Piercing bombs for surfaced U-boats; (post-1942): 6 x 500 lb and 3 x 250 lb anti-submarine depth charge bombs. Not applicable to 103 Squadron or 576 Squadron.

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103 Squadron – Post war

103 Squadron was reformed on the 30 November 1954 and was part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force at RAF Gutersloh. At this time the unit flew the excellent English Electric Canberra B 2 jet bomber. This was the final bomber type operated by the Squadron which was disbanded again 1 August 1956. The Canberra carried a bomb load of 6000 lb. As far as I know during its  short career with 103 Squadron the Canberra carried 6 General Purpose Medium Capacity 1000 lb bombs stowed in the internal bomb bay

Post war RAF GP MC 1000lb

Post war RAF GP MC 1000lb

Compiled by David Fell with photos from my archive and WWP

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* 1st December 2023 - Photos of F/L Jacob t'Hart DFC and bar

1st December 2023 - Bremen – 2/3rd July 1942

1st December 2023 - Skinner Profile

* 1st November 2023 - Memoirs of F/L Jacob t'Hart DFC and bar

1st November 2023 - Mine laying Biarritz / Biscay coast - 21 November 1942

1st November 2023 - Billie - Lancaster - W4364 - 103 Squadron

1st November 2023 - Curtin Twins Profile

*1st October 2023 - Dusseldorf - 1 August 1942

1st October 2023 - RAF Usworth Photo Album - 103 Squadron Era 1937/38

1st October 2023 - Mills Profile

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1st September 2023 - Ostend docks and barges - 22 December 1940

* 1st August 2023 - Defensive Armament - 103 Squadron and 576 Squadron

1st August 2023 - Chesterton Profile

1st August 2023 - Targets in Holland - 21/22 July 1940

1st August 2023 - Numerous additions and updates throughout the site

*1st July 2023 - Armed Reconnaissance/Leaflet Raid – Koblenz area – 20/21 March 1940

1st July 2023 - Air Dropped Weapons Article

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Also of local RAF Bomber Command interest are the

166 Squadron website

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550 Squadron and North Killingholme website.