B26 MARAUDER - RAF
Although the B-26 Marauder played a major role in the air war against the German war machine, it was mainly in the hands of other air forces, rather than the R.A.F.
Despite the fact that 521 Marauders were manufactured for the R.A.F., only two of its Squadrons used them operationally, although from this total, five South African Air Force Squadrons were equipped, together with No. 70 Operational Training Unit at Shandur, and No. 1 (Middle East) Check and Conversion Unit replaced by No. 1330 Conversion Unit at Bilbeis in Egypt's Canal Zone. This accounts for a sum total of around 500 aircraft, leaving between 30 and 40 in reserve and for experimental flying.
The failure by the RA.F. to utilize this great warplane to better effect is incomprehensible except inasmuch as its horrendous, but totally undeserved reputation, had gone before it and seems to have been accepted as fact by the British authorities. Even so, the highly successful operations of the United States 9th and 12th Air Forces could hardly have gone unnoticed, so once again we must ask the question "Why was this much maligned aircraft prevented from taking its full and deserved place in the R.A.F. 's part of the final victory?"
In addition, the first of the two RAE Squadrons equipped, No. 14, operated their early and later models with great success in the coastal reconnaissance and attack role throughout the whole of the Mediterranean for more than two years, from October 1942 to November 1944. So the mystery remains?
With the departure of No. 14 back to the U.K to convert to Leighuight Wellingtons and antisubmarine operations, No. 39 began re-equipping with Marauders for the medium level bombing role. This is their story, as they settled in as the latest part of the medium and light bomber elements of Balkan Air Force, alongside No. 25 SAAF Squadron's Marauders and the Baltimores of the two Stormo Gruppos of the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force.
It is not a story of high drama or Hollywood style heroics, but rather that of ordinary crews, composed of ordinary young men, some of them incredibly young, doing their level best to justil~i their long and arduous training, during what was obviously going to be the final months of WW II.
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