1941 in aviation

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Years in aviation: 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944
Centuries: 19th century · 20th century · 21st century
Decades: 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s
Years: 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944

This is a list of aviation-related events from 1941:

Events[edit]

January[edit]

February[edit]

March[edit]

April[edit]

May[edit]

  • Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish aircraft attack Vichy French shipping and shore targets in Syria.[31]
  • Royal Navy Swordfish of No. 814 Squadron from HMS Hermes assist in quelling a rebellion in Iraq, bombing the barracks at Samawa and Nasiriyah.[31]
  • Antishipping strikes by Malta-based Royal Air Force Bristol Blenheims and Fleet Air Arm Swordfish against Axis convoys in the Mediterranean in May and June will leave German and Italian forces in North Africa too short of ammunition to conduct a counteroffensive after defeating the British Operation Battleaxe in June.[32]
  • May 2 – The Anglo-Iraqi War between British forces and a pro-Axis Iraqi government begins with 41 Royal Air Force Station Habbaniya- and Shaibah-based Royal Air Force planes launching a surprise attack against Iraqi forces surrounding Habbaniya and Iraqi airfields. Royal Iraqi Air Force aircraft respond. By the end of the day, the British have destroyed 22 Iraqi aircraft on the ground, losing five of their own.
  • May 3–6 – RAF aircraft continue to attack Iraqi positions surrounding RAF Habbinya and Iraqi airfields, eventually forcing Iraq forces to withdraw on May 6.
  • May 6 – Igor Sikorsky sets a world endurance record for helicopter flight of 1 hour 32 minutes, in a Sikorsky VS-300.
  • May 6–7 (overnight) through 11-12 (overnight) – Royal Air Force Bomber Command mounts four major raids on Hamburg, Germany, over the course of six nights, averaging 128 bombers per raid. The second, third, and fourth raids combined kill 233, injure 713, and leave 2,195 homeless.[33]
  • May 7 – 40 RAF aircraft attack Iraqi reinforcements headed for Habbaniya, inflicting about 1,000 casualties and paralyzing the Iraqi column. Over the next few days, British aircraft destroy the remainder of the Royal Iraqi Air Force.
  • May 10 – Flying via Vichy French-controlled Syria, aircraft of the German Luftwaffe begin to arrive at Mosul, Iraq, to support Iraqi forces against the British under the command of Fliegerführer Irak.
  • May 10 – Rudolf Hess parachutes into Scotland to try to negotiate an alliance with Britain against the Soviet Union.
  • May 10 – 550 German bombers drop more than 700 tons (711 tonnes, 635,036 kg) of bombs on London, killing 1,500 people and seriously injuring 1,800.[34]
  • May 14 – German aircraft begin daily bombing of Crete to soften it up for the upcoming German airborne assault on the island.[35]
  • May 14 – The RAF receives authorization to attack German aircraft on Vichy French airfields in Syria. British fighters disable two Heinkel He 111s on the ground at Palmyra, Syria.
  • May 15–16 – Iraqi and German aircraft attack a British column moving into Iraq from Palestine.
  • May 18 – RAF aircraft bomb Iraqi positions around Fallujah and along the road from Fallujah to Baghdad.
  • May 19 – 57 British aircraft attack Iraqi positions around Falljuah. dropped 10 tons (9,072 kg) of bombs as well as leaflets in 134 sorties. German aircraft attack RAF Habbaniya.
  • May 20 – Germany invades Crete in Operation Merkur ("Mercury"), the Luftwaffe '​s first large airborne assault and the first mainly airborne invasion in military history, dropping 10,000 paratroopers and 750 glider troops onto the island; 610 bombers, dive bombers, and fighters, 500 transport aircraft, and 80 gliders support the operation. The Germans encounter such unexpectedly heavy opposition by British and Commonwealth troops on the island that they fear the operation will fail.[36]
  • May 20 – Italian CANT Z.1007 high-level bombers sink the British destroyer HMS Juno southeast of Crete.[37]
  • May 21 – The British aircraft carrier HMS Argus flies off 43 Royal Air Force Hawker Hurricanes to Malta from a point south of Sardinia.[24]
  • May 21 – German airborne forces belatedly capture Maleme airfield on Crete, allowing an airlift of 5,000 German mountain troops to begin.[36]
  • May 22 – German dive bombers attack a British naval task force as it retires westward after raiding caiques carrying German troops north of Crete. They sink the light cruisers HMS Fiji and HMS Gloucester and the destroyer HMS Greyhound and damage the battleship HMS Warspite and the light cruisers HMS Carlisle and HMS Naiad.[38]
  • May 23 – 24 German dive bombers attack the British destroyers HMS Kelly and HMS Kashmir as they attempt to retire after a patrol north of Crete the previous night, sinking both. Among the survivors is Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten.[39]
  • May 23 – German aircraft attack British positions around Fallujah for the first time, with little effect.
  • May 24 – Nine Swordfish torpedo bombers from the British aircraft carrier HMS Victorious score a torpedo hit on the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic Ocean, aggravating damage she had sustained early in the day in the Battle of Denmark Strait.[40]
  • May 26 – 15 Swordfish from the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal attack Bismarck, scoring two torpedo hits. One hit damages Bismarck '​s port rudder so badly that she becomes unmaneuverable, allowing British surface ships to catch and sink her the following morning.[41]
  • May 26 – German dive bombers set the British infantry landing ship HMS Glenroy on fire, preventing her from bringing reinforcements to Crete.[42]
  • May 26 – Eight aircraft from the British aircraft carrier HMS Formidable raid the Axis airfield at Scarpanto. Retaliating German dive bombers badly damage Formidable and a destroyer; the following day they also damage the battleship HMS Barham.[42]
  • May 27 – Twelve Italian Fiat CR.42 bombers arrive at Mosul to support Iraqi forces against the British under the command of the German Fliegerführer Irak.
  • May 29 – Surviving elements of Fliegerführer Irak depart Iraq.
  • May 29 – German dive bombers attack a British naval task force as it retires from Crete with evacuated British troops aboard. They fatally damage the destroyer HMS Imperial, sink the destroyer HMS Hereward, and damage the light cruisers HMS Ajax, HMS Dido, and HMS Orion. A single bomb that strikes Orion kills 260 and wounds 280.[43]
  • May 29 – The United States Army Air Corps forms Ferrying Command to fly newly manufactured aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean to the United Kingdom.
  • May 30 – German bombers damage the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth as she retires after evacuating troops from Crete. Two more British destroyers also will be damaged before the evacuation is complete.[44]
  • May 31 – The Anglo-Iraq War ends with the collapse of Iraqi resistance.

June[edit]

July[edit]

August[edit]

September[edit]

October[edit]

  • Aircraft from the British aircraft carrier HMS Victorious strike Glomfjord, Norway, sinking two merchant ships for the loss of two Fairey Albacores.[76]
  • October 1 – Inter-Island Airways is renamed Hawaiian Airlines.
  • October 2 – Heini Dittmar sets a new airspeed record of 1,004 km/h (624 mph) in a Messerschmitt Me 163A. The record is unofficial because the flight (and the Me 163 programme) is kept secret, and remains "unbroken" until officially exceeded by the American Douglas Skystreak in August 1947.
  • October 6 – During the first week of Operation Typhoon, the Soviet Air Force has flown 700 sorties against German forces driving toward Moscow.[77]
  • October 9 – Since October 1, German aircraft supporting Operation Typhoon have flown more than 4,000 sorties against the Soviet Western Front alone.[77]
  • October 11–18 – Soviet Air Force aircraft strike Luftwaffe staging airfields along the northwestern, western, and southwestern approaches to Moscow.[78]
  • October 11–12 – After Soviet intelligence detects Luftwaffe plans for a major air attack on October 12 targeting industrial complexes, airfields, railroad terminals, and logistical facilities in the Soviet Western Front area, Soviet Air Force aircraft mount a major preemptive strike against German airfields at Vitebsk, Smolensk, Orel, Orsha, Siversk, and elsewhere overnight on October 11–12, followed by another large raid on the morning of October 12. The Soviets claim 500 German aircraft destroyed, although German sources do not confirm that number.[78]
  • October 18 – The German drive on Moscow stalls because of mud, and will make little progress until the ground freezes in mid-November. During this period, the Soviet Air Force flies 26,000 sorties in support of forces defending Moscow.[79]
  • October 27 – Victor Talalikhin, the Soviet Union '​s first major air hero of World War II, is killed in action during a dogfight with German aircraft.
  • October 28 – General Yakov Smushkevich, commander of the Soviet Air Force from 1939 to 1940 who had overseen its poor performance during the Winter War with Finland, is executed.[80]

November[edit]

  • Italy begins the conversion of the passenger liner SS Roma into the first Italian aircraft carrier, later named Aquila ("Eagle"). The conversion will halt in an incomplete state when Italy surrenders to the Allies in September 1943 and will never be finished.[81]
  • November 7–8 (overnight) – 392 British bombers attack Berlin, Cologne, and Mannheim, losing 36 of their number – a heavy 9.2 percent loss rate.[82]
  • November 12 – The British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal is sunk in the Mediterranean east of Gibraltar by the German submarine German submarine German submarine (U-81).
  • November 15-December 5 – The Luftwaffe carries out 41 raids on Moscow. Soviet air defenses claim an average of 30 to 40 German aircraft shot down per day during the attacks.[77] During the same period, the Soviet Air Force, better prepared for cold-weather operations than the Luftwaffe, reportedly flies 15,840 sorties while Luftwaffe aircraft supporting Operation Typhoon manage only 3,500. Soviet sources claim that the Luftwaffe loses 1,400 aircraft during this time.[83]
  • November 17 – Ernst Udet, the Luftwaffe '​s Director-General of Equipment and the second-highest German ace of World War I (62 victories), commits suicide.
  • November 22
    • The German fighter ace Werner Mölders dies in the crash of a Heinkel He 111 bomber at Breslau while riding as a passenger on his way to Ernst Udet '​s funeral. His official kill total stands at 115 at the time of his death, although he is believed to have shot down another 30 Soviet aircraft for which he received no credit while making unauthorized combat flights during the last months of his career.
    • Malta-based British aircraft attack an Axis convoy bound fro Naples to North Africa, damaging the Italian light cruiser Duca degli Abruzzi.[84]
  • November 30
  • November 30-December 4 – U.S. Navy patrol aircraft based in the Philippine Islands monitor Japanese naval and shipping activity at Camranh Bay in French Indochina.[86]

December[edit]

First flights[edit]

January[edit]

February[edit]

March[edit]

April[edit]

May[edit]

July[edit]

August[edit]

September[edit]

December[edit]

Entered service[edit]

February[edit]

April[edit]

May[edit]

July[edit]

September[edit]

November[edit]

December[edit]

Retirements[edit]

References[edit]

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