The Handley Page HALIFAX
Tacked incongruously on to the soutern end of Spain, a dozen or miles opposite the
African coast, Gibraltar's strategic positionat the western entrance to the Mediterranean
has led to its use as a military base of long standing. Moreover, surrounded on three sides
by water 'the Rock' was a natural site for both land- and seaplane operations, a feature not
missed by the Royal Navy when it began what was probably the earliest military flying
here in 1915.
In the last weeks of 1942, during Operation Torch, detachments of special duties
Halifaxes from 161 Sqn, North Africa, were stationed here for
On a more permanent basis, 520 Sqn formed in September 1943
from the Gibraltar detachment of 1403 Meteorologiacl Flight, which had been flying Gladiators.
No.520 Sqn spent its entire existance here until disbandment in 1946, during which time
it was equipped with the Hudson, Halifax, Spitfire, Hurricane and Warwick, together with a
small flight of Martinets for target-towing from September 1994 onwards.
When 520 Sqn disbanded in April 1946 its duties were taken over by a detachment
of 518 Sqn Halifax VIs from Northern Ireland. This detachment was
maintained after 518 sqn was renumbered 202. In May 1948 224 Sqn
was reformed for meteorological reconnaissance in Northern Ireland and
also began sending detachments of Halifax GR6s to Gibraltar, before moving in toto to
the Rock in October 1948.
No.224 maintained a particular watch on shipping passing through the Straits,
re-equipping with Shackleton MR2s in May 1953 and disbanding here in October 1966.