Operation Tiger (x)

This was a British unrealised plan for a bomber force (originally ‘Mould’) to operate against Japan (spring/summer 1945).

Also known as the Very Long Range Bomber Force, ‘Tiger’ Force was to have been British and commonwealth long-range heavy bomber force of squadrons serving with Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris’s RAF Bomber Command in Europe, for proposed use against targets in Japan. The formation was scheduled for redeployment to the Pacific theatre as part of the Allies’ planned ‘Downfall’ invasions of Japan in the form of ‘Olympic’ and ‘Coronet’, but the plan was terminated after the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (‘Silverplate’ and ‘Centerboard’ respectively) had ended the war.

At the ‘Octagon’ 2nd Quebec Conference of September 1944, Prime Minister Winston Churchill proposed to transfer a large part of Bomber Command (500 to 1,000 heavy bombers) to the Pacific after Germany had been defeated, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the offer. The planned force was soon reduced to 22 squadrons in three groups (one British, one Canadian and one provided by other commonwealth nations). By a time later in 1945 this had been reduced to 10 squadrons in two composite groups of RAF, RAAF, RCAF and RNZAF units.

‘Tiger’ Force was to have been based on Okinawa and its equipment would have been Avro Lancaster, Avro Lincoln and Consolidated Liberator bombers, which would have been escorted by fighters of General George C. Kenney’s US Far East Air Forces, Air Commodore Frederick Scherger’s Australian 1st Tactical Air Force and other commonwealth units. To make it possible for the aircraft to operate over the long ranges involved, inflight refuelling was to have been employed.

‘Tiger’ Force was officially disbanded on 31 October 1945, by which time it comprised only British units, namely No. 348 Wing (later renamed No. 551 Wing), No. 349 Wing (later No. 552 Wing), No. 350 Wing (later No. 553 Wing) and No. 351 Wing (later No. 554 Wing) with Nos 7, 9, 35, 44, 49, 75 (New Zealand), 207, 617, 627, 635 and 692 Squadrons.