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Eagle Squadrons

DAYTON, Ohio -- Eagle Squadrons exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Eagle Squadrons exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - RAF flying boots, blouse, trousers and Mae West on display in the Early Years Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The uniform was worn by Col. Reade Tilley, USAF retired, while a member of the No. 121 Eagle Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - RAF flying boots, blouse, trousers and Mae West on display in the Early Years Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The uniform was worn by Col. Reade Tilley, USAF retired, while a member of the No. 121 Eagle Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Two flights of Eagle Squadron Spitfires return from patrol as other Eagle pilots watch from under the flag of their homeland. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Two flights of Eagle Squadron Spitfires return from patrol as other Eagle pilots watch from under the flag of their homeland. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Two Eagle Squadron Hurricanes make a low pass over a third on the tarmac. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Two Eagle Squadron Hurricanes make a low pass over a third on the tarmac. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On the other side of the world, Americans flocked in droves to British and Canadian recruiting stations. Approximately 15,000 joined the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force where, as a rule, they were assimilated into various flying units.

The exception was the famed Eagle Squadrons which, contrary to popular belief, consisted of three individual squadrons, not one. Manned entirely by American pilots, these three RAF units, Numbers 71, 121 and 133 Squadrons, flew Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires in combat over Europe from Feb. 5, 1941, to Sept. 29, 1942, when they were transferred to the AAF. Formed into the 4th Fighter Group, they provided numerous experienced combat veterans who proved invaluable to the inexperienced AAF fighter pilots who began to arrive in England in large numbers in 1943.

Click here to return to the Early Years Gallery.

 

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Related Fact Sheets
Hawker Hurricane MkIIa
Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vc
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Other Resources
First in the Air: The Eagle Squadrons of World War II (Provided by AFHSO)
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