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Alconbury

Military site : airfield

Alconbury had been constructed as a satellite airfield for RAF Upwood and Wyton and was used by RAF Squadrons: Nos. 15, 40 and 156. In preparation for the arrival of American heavy bombers, the base was developed in 1942 with the runways extended. When these extensions were finished the total area of land occupied by the base was 500 acres. Alconbury was the first Eighth Air Force base to be visited by King George VI, who visited the 93rd Bomb Group based there on 13 November 1942. In May 1943, while the 95th Bomb Group were stationed there, a fatal accident occurred. A 500lb bomb inexplicably went off whilst a B-17 was being loaded. It set off several others. Eighteen men were killed, twenty-seven injured and four B-17s completely destroyed. In the late summer of 1943 the 92nd Bomb Group left to make way for specialist Pathfinder Groups. It was announced in January 2015 by the US Department of Defense that RAF Alconbury will close as a USAFE base in 2022. The USAF intelligence and support elements currently located at RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth will be combined in a new complex at RAF Croughton, Northamptonshire. RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, will also close as a USAFE base after 2020.

Detailed history

Not yet known

English Heritage's record description

A military airfield built in 1938 as a satellite airfield for Royal Air Force Wyton. The airfield initially had 3 runways. Until 1942, it was the base for 15, 40 and 156 Squadrons of the Royal Air Force. In 1942 the airfield was expanded to a 500 acre site, the length of the runways was increased and 26 hardstanding loops were added. In 1943 a Strategic Air Depot was built on the east side of the site in the village of Little Stukely. From 1942 onwards the site was used by the 8th United States Army Air Force. The 93rd bomber group flying Liberators were the first American Unit at the base, from September to December 1942; they were followed by the 92nd Bombardment Group, nicknamed "Fame's Famous Few", operating Flying Fortresses. For a short time between April and June of 1943 they were joined by 95th Bomber Group. On May 27th 1943, as aircraft were being armed there was an accidental detonation of some of the 500 pound bombs, which killed and injured a number of men and destroyed or damaged 15 aircraft. In September 1943 the 92nd moved out to be replaced by 482 Bombardment Group's pathfinders, operating B-17 Flying Fortresses and Liberators. From March 1944 they concentrated on testing and training with radar devices. The depot to the east side of the site was run as a seperate station by 2nd Strategic Air Depot. From November 1945 to 1948 the site was also used by the Royal Air Force 264 Munitions Unit. After World War Two the base continued to be used by the United States Air Force (Europe). The base was upgraded and modernised in 1951. In 1982 until the late 1980s the base was used by the 19th Reconnaissance Squadron. Special extra-wide hardened aircraft shelters were constructed to accommodate their large TR1 aircraft; in the late 1980s a 2-storey bunker was built as a centre for evaluating intelligence. The base closed in 1995. Some buildings survived in 2003, the site is said to be designated as a brown field site for housing or a distribution centre.

Service

Units

  • 1st Air Division

    1st Air Division

    Division
    In December 1944, the 1st Bomb Division was redesginated the 1st Air Division.

  • 1st Bomb Division

    1st Bomb Division

    Division
    The groups under the command of the 1st Bomb Wing came under the command of the 1st Bomb Division in August 1943. In December 1944, the Division was redesginated the 1st Air Division.

  • 1st Combat Bomb Wing
  • 94th Combat Bomb Wing
  • 440th Sub-Depot
  • 482nd Bomb Group

    482nd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 482nd Bomb Group was a Pathfinder Group, which using radar-equipped aircraft to support bombing missions until March 1944. Aircraft from this Group went ahead of other Bombers and sent information back about the best routes to take and the extent...

  • 482nd Bomb Group

    482nd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 482nd Bomb Group was a Pathfinder Group, which using radar-equipped aircraft to support bombing missions until March 1944. Aircraft from this Group went ahead of other Bombers and sent information back about the best routes to take and the extent...

  • 92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few

    92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few

    Group
    The 92nd Group sometime after arrivial in the UK converted to the role of in-theater combat crew indocrination and training. For this role, the Group traded its B-17F complement and obtained the B-17E, mostly from the 97th BG which was departing for...

  • 93rd Bomb Group

    93rd Bomb Group

    Group
    93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 1-March-1942 at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. On 15-May-1942 the Group moved to Ft. Myers, Florida to continue advanced flight training and also to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico; they...

  • 95th Bomb Group

    95th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 95th Bomb Group was the only Eighth Air Force Group to be awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations. The first, shared by all four Bomb Wing Groups, was for the bombing of an aircraft factory under intense enemy fire at Regensburg on 17 August...

People

  • Andrew Allison

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 482nd Bomb Group
    KIS in B-17F #42-5793 crashed at Brome, Suffolk, en route to leading the 100th Bomb Group. He was the PFF plane, sent to lead the group. This group was a 'secret' group that flew on special OSS missions. DFC, AM w/ 3 Oak Leaf Cluster

  • William Anderson

    Military | Major | Pilot | 482nd Bomb Group
    Major William Anderson was Commanding Officer of the 813th Bomb Squadron. He was pilot of B-17E Serial 41-9051 on a navigational training exercise to Turnhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland as final destination on 14 Sept 43. The B-17 somehow flew off course by...

  • Peter Ardizzi

    Military | Sergeant | Instrument Mechanic; Airplane Electrician | 440th Sub-Depot
    http://www.8thafhs-pa.org/member-profiles/peter-f-ardizzi/

  • Alfred Asch

    Military | Colonel | Pilot | 455th Bomb Group
    Flew in WW II, Korea. Served from Sept 1941 to April 1968. 18-November-1942, while serving as Pilot on B-24D 41-23745 "Katy Bug' sustained a collision with a tree when engine failure resulted in a crash landing at Little Stukeley, 4 crew members killed...

  • Charles Austin

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 303rd Bomb Group
    1LT Charles N. Austin was originally assigned to the 92BG and arrived in England in August 1942. On 10-Feb-43 he and his crew were transferred from 92BG to 303BG/358BS as a replacement crew and assigned to B-17F 41-24558 "Hunga Dunga". He participated...

  • William Austin

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 93rd Bomb Group
    While serving as a Waist Gunner on B-24D 41-24745 'Katy Bug' his aircraft sustained the failure of two engines and crashed into a tree while attempting an emergency landing at Little Stukeley. 4 crew members were killed. SSgt Austin was uninjured and...

  • Eugene Baillie

    Military | Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 482nd Bomb Group
    Hit by flak and exploded in mid-air on a mission to the Marshalling Yards at Frankfurt on 4 Feb 1944 in B-17F #42-5909. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Frank Baldassaro

    Military | Private First Class | Ordnance | 95th Bomb Group
    KIS. 27 May 1943 in an accident at Alconbury, ground crew were loading bombs into B17s for the next day's mission when several bombs detonated. 19 were killed and 14 injured.

  • Clarence Ballagh

    Military | First Lieutenant | passenger | 482nd Bomb Group
    Clarence Ballagh was on board of B-17E Serial 41-9051 on a navigational training exercise to Turnhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland as final destination on 14 Sept 43. Piloted by Captain William C. Anderson, CO of 813th BS, the B-17 somehow flew off course by...

  • Robert Barnes

    Military | Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 482nd Bomb Group
    Hit by flak and exploded in mid-air on a mission to the Marshalling Yards at Frankfurt on 4 Feb 1944 in B-17F 42-5909. Killed in Action (KIA).

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Aircraft

  • 41-23711 'Jerks Natural'

    B-24 Liberator
    Assigned to 328th BS, 93rd BG, 8th AF, TDY 9th Benghazi, Libya. This aircraft flew the Aug. 1, 1943, Ploesti mission, diverting safely to Sicily. A/C was damaged over Austria on mission to Wiener Neustadt Bf 109 factory and crashed in Yugoslavia on...

  • 41-23728 Hot Stuff

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24 Liberator Hot Stuff was the 1st heavy bomber in the 8th Air Force to complete 25 missions even though the B-17 Memphis Belle wears the label. Hot Stuff crashed into a mountain in bad weather on its way back to the United States to tour the...

  • 41-24359

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 301BG Westover 8/9/42; instead of assignment to 12AF, Italy transferred to Chelveston 16/9/42; 813BS/305BG Grafton Underwood/Chelveston 25/11/42, sent to pathfinder base RAF Wyton of installation of Oboe Mk I radar equipment; 325BS/92BG [NV-F]...

  • 41-24373

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned RAF [FA688] but transferred 326BS/92BG Bangor 15/7/42; 341BS/97BG Alconbury 8/42; 429BS/2BG Massicault, Tun 14/11/43; Salvaged 31/1/44. PEACHES II.

  • 41-24460

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 423BS/306BG [RD-A] Westover 8/42; Thurleigh 13/10/42; wrecked 21/10/42 RAF Sutton Bridge, Cambs. with Wilson, life raft latch broke loose and raft tangled round horizontal stabilizer, rep; transferred 482BG Alconbury 22/8/43; 379BG Kimbolton...

  • 41-24606 Werewolf

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F-27-BO 41-24606 "Werewolf" was assigned 358BG/303BG [VK-H] Kellog Field, Battle Creek, Michigan on 14-Sep-42; Arrived at Molesworth, UK 16-Oct-42. ...

  • 41-2578 Butcher Shop/ Big Tin Bird

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Boeing B-17E ...

  • 41-9013

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 341BS/97BG 3/42; courier trip to N.Africa 18/12/42; transferred 327BS/92BG (UX-V) Bovingdon 27/8/43; 482BG Alconbury 27/8/43; 95BG Horham as tow target & hack; 94BG Rougham 10/11/43; Returned to the USA 4136 BU Tinker 22/5/44; Recl Comp 9/2/45.

  • 41-9017 Heidi Ho

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Boeing B-17E ...

  • 41-9019 Li'l Skunk Face

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 414BS/97BG 3/42 as LI'L SKUNKFACE; transferred 305BG Grafton Underwood 6/11/42; 381BG Ridgewell 11/6/43; 327BS/92BG Bovingdon [UX-V] 10/7/43 as target tug; 482BG Alconbury 27/8/43 for operations; with Gene Smith in landing accident at Deopham...

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Revisions

Date Contributor Update
03 September 2019 11:10:35 Emily Changes to english heritage description
Sources

Historic England National Monument Record: TL 27 NW 25

Date Contributor Update
25 September 2017 13:37:16 Lucy May Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

Connected aircraft records that have 'Alconbury' in their biography fields.

Date Contributor Update
04 June 2015 11:15:09 rossingtonj Changes to usaaf from date and usaaf to date
Sources

Dates of American use added. Source: From Far Afield They Came... by Margaret Winham

Date Contributor Update
09 January 2015 11:15:20 IWMPM Changes to description
Sources

USAFE-AFAfrica Press Release, 08 January 2015. See http://www.mildenhall.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123435803.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:02:16 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

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

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