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Military site : airfield

Shipdham was built in 1941-1942, the first US heavy bomber airfield in the English county of Norfolk. It was a standard design, with T2-type hangars and a domestic site dispersed to the south east. Improvements were carried out to increase the number of hardstandings for aircraft, and more accommodation was built. It was briefly home to the 319th Bomb Group, before the 44th Bomb Group and its B-24 Liberators moved in. Although detached twice to North Africa, this unit operated from the airfield from November 1942 to the end of the war. In 1946-1947, the airfield was used as a transit camp for German Prisoners of War. The airfield was sold in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Today, it is still operated as a General Aviation airfield, and it is also home to a museum telling the story of Shipdham and the 44th Bomb Group.

Detailed history

Not yet known

English Heritage's record description

A former World War Two military airfield, opened in 1942 and closed in 1945, later a civilian airfield. It was the first United States heavy bomber base in Norfolk, used by the 44th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force, as Station 115. The airfield comprised three tarmac runways with the technical site and three aircraft hangars (Type T2) on the south side of the airfield. A bomb dump was located to the south-west of the airfield. Accommodation for around 3000 personnel was dispersed across fields to the south-east of the airfield. The 44th bomb group flew B-24 Liberators and were involved in 343 missions, including a raid on the Romanian oil fields at Ploesti that were vital for the Axis war effort. After the war from 1946-1947 the airfield was used as a holding camp for German Prisoners of War who were to be repatriated. Parts of the former military site were disposed of between 1957 and 1963. In 1970 the airfield reopened as a small civilian airfield with a new aircraft hangar and other buildings. The wartime hangars at the site were reused for industrial purposes. The civilian airfield closed in 1999. The remains of the wartime control tower are on private land to the south of the airfield.




  • Anthony Abad

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Brunswick mission 8-Apr-44 in B-24 42-7767 'Shack Rabbit'; Shot down by fighters, baled out. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 3849 Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Isaac Abeyta

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    ETO/ Queen Mary 9/5/42. ...

  • Vanig Abrahamian

    Military | Flight Engineer | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Joined Sqd 7/6/44. Completed tour 12/11/44. Trans to ZOI 12/21/44. Pilot: Zerman.

  • Edward Ackerman

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Navigator - Crashed into hillside due to poor visibility near Eastbourne, whilst trying to land at Friston ELG on return from mission to Watten, France on 2-Feb-44 in B-24D 41-24282 'Ruth-less'. Killed in Action (KIA). MACR 6385. ...

  • Lonnie Ackerman

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying in B-24 Liberator 41-24201. ...

  • Trent Ackerman

    Military | Lieutenant | Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Joined Sqd 11/10/44. Completed 28 missions. Returned to ZOI 5/30/45. Flew 42-95001 home.

  • Carl Adams

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Joined Sqd 16 August 1944. Shot down 18 October 1944 in AC #42-50596. Killed in Action (KIA). B-24 was 'Flak Magnet'

  • Howard Adams

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Killed in Action 26-Feb-43 in B-24D 41-23777 'Maisey', 44BG/66BS while serving as Pilot. The aircraft came under almost constant fighter attack from Texel Island, Holland and finally exploded in mid-air near Willbroksmoor, Germany. Journalist Robert...

  • John Adams

    Military | Lieutenant | Navigator | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Joined Sqd 8/3/42. ETO/Flight Echelon 10/2/42. Trans prior to 6/26/43. Pilot: Phillips.

  • Richard Adams

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Kiel Canal mission in B-24 #42-40126 'Annie Oakley' 14-May-43; Flak forced them out of formation, shot down by fighters. Killed in Action (KIA), MACR 2441. Awards: AM (OLC), PH.

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  • 41-23690

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D SN # 41-23690, from the 8th Air force in Britain, the 44th Bomb Group, and the 68th Bomb Squadron, was on a mission to bomb the naval installation at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. The pilot was unable to find the target because of weather and...

  • 41-23776 Spirit of 76

    B-24 Liberator
    On 27-Jan-43 B-24D 41-23776 "Spirit of 76" was on a mission to bomb the naval installation at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. The pilot was unable to located the target due to weather and navigation problems. The aircraft was attacked by fighters and shot down...

  • 41-23777 Maisie

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D-5-CO 41-23777 was assigned to the 44th Bomb Group/66 Bomb Squadron at Shipdham, UK. On 26-Feb-43 the aircraft was despatched to bomb the shipyards at Bremen, Germany but the target was obscured by clouds so the aircraft diverted to the secondary...

  • 41-23784 Miss Dianne

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D-5-CO 41-23784 [NB:R] "Miss Dianne" was assigned to the 44BG/47BS. On 8-Mar-1943 the aircraft was despatched on a mission to bomb the railroad marshalling yards at Rouen, France. The aircraft sustained significant damage from German fighters near...

  • 41-23786

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D 41-23786 was assigned to 44th Bomb Group, 68th Bomb Squadron at Shipdham. Shot down by German fighters 6-December-1942 on a mission to bomb the German airfield Drucat at Abbeville, France. 10KIA. First loss for 44th Bomb Group. MACR 2920. ...

  • 41-23794 Railway Express

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D 41-23794 "Railway Express" 44BG/67BS was despatched on 15-Feb-43 to bomb the port facilities and Dunkirk, France. The aircraft was damaged by flak over the target and crashed into the sea off the coast at Dunkirk, France. 11KIA MACR 16003. ...

  • 41-23804 Sad Sack

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D-5-CO 41-23804 "Sad Sack" was assigned to the 44BG/66BS at Shipdham, UK. The aircraft was despatched on 26-Feb-43 to bomb the docks at Bremen. However, cloud cover obscured the target and the formation diverted to Wilhelmshaven as a target of...

  • 41-23807 'Little Beaver'

    B-24 Liberator
    Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Kiel with Chester Phillips crew; crashed north of Kiel 14-May-43. 7 x KIA, 4 x POW MACR 2748. ...

  • 41-23816 'Black Jack'

    B-24 Liberator
    Assigned to 68BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) mission to Wiener Nuestadt Bf109 assembly works. Hit by flak and with bomb bay on fire, A/C went into uncontrolable spin and crashed. 1-Oct-43. 5 x KIA 6 x POW. MACR 3312.

  • 41-23817 'Suzy Q'

    B-24 Liberator
    SUZY-Q, flown by Col. Leon Johnson, led the 44th Bomb Group on the Aug 1, 1943 Ploesti raid and was the most famous ship of the 67th Squadron. The plane was lost on Aug 16, 1943 on a mission to the north airfield at Foggia, Italy. The plane...

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Date Contributor Update
03 September 2019 12:50:36 Emily Changes to english heritage description

Historic England National Monument Record TF 90 NE 26

Date Contributor Update
25 May 2016 09:13:24 Flying8ball Changes to known as and usaaf from date

edited minor details

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:02:18 AAM AAM ingest

Barry Anderson, Army Air Forces Stations (Alabama, 1985) / Roger Freeman, Airfields of the Eighth Then And Now (London, 1978).