23 February 1917 – Night Trippers

The RNAS carried out a couple of one-off night raids in November 1916, but to date the RFC has mainly avoided night flying. The French in contrast have switched almost exclusively to night bombing, targeting mainly railway installations and more recently enemy airfields.

Despite initial fears of night flying, the loss rate of French night bombers is low, around 2%, significantly less than daytime raids.

The increasing RFC loss rates (along with the inferiority of British aircraft to the new German Fighters has led to a minor change in strategy, and two squadrons dedicated specifically to night-bombing have been formed.

83 Squadron was formed at Montrose on 7 January 1917, and moved to Spittlegate in Lincolnshire to begin training

100 Squadron, the second night-bomber squadron was formed today at Farnborough  from elements of 51 Squadron based at Hingham on Home Defence Duties. The Squadron is commanded by Major Malcolm Grahame Christie, with Recording Officer, Captain Cecil Cooper Waddington, Equipment officer Lieutenant Frederick Petch and Flight Commanders Captains John Sowery,  William Arthur McClaughry and William E Collison.

51 Squadron are the only operational unit in the Home Defence Wing flying the F.E.2b, and as a result many of the pilots who were posted into the newly-formed Squadron had no experience on the type.

With the departure of the Squadron to France imminent, the experience of the four officers from 51 Squadron will be invaluable in the familiarisation process.


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