Tiger Force (air)

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Tiger Force, also known as the Very Long Range Bomber Force, was the name given to a World War II British Commonwealth long-range heavy bomber force, formed in 1945, from squadrons serving with RAF Bomber Command in Europe, for proposed use against targets in Japan. The unit was scheduled to be deployed to Okinawa in the Pacific theatre in the lead-up to the Allies' proposed invasion of Japan. The unit was disbanded after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Soviet invasion of Manchuria ended the war.


At the Quebec Conference of September 1944, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill proposed to transfer a large part of Bomber Command to the Pacific, comprising from 500 to 1,000 heavy bombers, once Germany was defeated. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the offer, stating that a "long and costly struggle" still lay ahead of the Allies.[1]

The proposed force was soon scaled back to 22 squadrons in three groups: one British Royal Air Force (RAF), one Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and one from various air forces. By late 1945 this had been scaled back to 10 squadrons in two composite groups, made up of RAF, RCAF, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) squadrons. Tiger Force was to have been based on Okinawa and would have used Avro Lancasters, Avro Lincolns (the latest development of the Lancaster) and Consolidated Liberators.

Two RAF fighter squadrons had begun converting to the new Hawker Tempest II at RAF Chilbolton, in order to perform escort duties, when the war ended. Escorts would also have been available from the fighter units of the U.S. Far East Air Force, the Australian First Tactical Air Force and/or other Commonwealth units.

The colour scheme for Tiger Force aircraft was white upper-surfaces with black undersides; this scheme, developed to reflect sunlight and thus lower the internal temperatures in the tropical heat, despite the cancellation of operations against Japan, was apparent on many post-war Lancasters and Lincolns. To enable the aircraft to operate at the long distances involved, flight refuelling was to have been employed, using equipment developed by Flight Refuelling Ltd.

Tiger Force was officially disbanded on October 31, 1945, by which stage it included only British units.[2]

Order of battle[edit]

Tiger Force - Order of Battle (15 August 1945)[3]
No. 5 Group,  Royal Air Force No. 6 Group,  Royal Canadian Air Force
No. 551 Wing RAF No. 661 Wing RCAF
No. 552 Wing RAF No. 662 Wing RCAF
No. 553 Wing RAF No. 663 Wing RCAF
No. 554 Wing RAF No. 664 Wing RCAF
Special Missions Wing
Reserve forces
Support units
  • Communications Flight
  • Air-Sea Rescue Squadron
Support units
  • Communications Flight


  1. ^ Odgers p. 289
  2. ^ Herrington, p. 449
  3. ^ "Lancaster's Of Tiger Force: CANADA's Contribution to Tiger Force". www.lancaster-archive.com. The Lancaster & Manchester Bomber Archive. June 2008. 


External links[edit]