Alconbury

Airfield
Aerial photograph of Alconbury airfield, looking east. The technical site is at the top, the bomb dump is on the left, 9 May 1944. Photograph taken by 13th Photographic Squadron, 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group USAAF, sortie number US/7GR/LOC334. English Heritage (USAAF Photography).

Object Number - US_7GR_LOC334_V_5021 - Aerial photograph of Alconbury airfield, looking east. The technical site is at the top, the bomb dump is on the left, 9 May 1944. Photograph taken...

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.

Connections

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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.

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 100th Bomb Group 482nd Bomb Group 813th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 19002577
  • Highest Rank: Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Tail Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 455th Bomb Group 93rd Bomb Group
  • Service Numbers: 16041581
  • Highest Rank: Colonel
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few 407th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 18060237 at enlistment, then O-659631
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 303rd Bomb Group 92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few 358th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-442766
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 379th Bomb Group 482nd Bomb Group 813th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-447194
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: passenger

Aircraft

A B-24 Liberator (serial number 41-23711) nicknamed "Jerk's Natural" of the 93rd Bomb Group at RAF Gambut, February 1943.
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: Jerks Natural
  • Unit: 93rd Bomb Group 328th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: - Hot Stuff
  • Unit: 93rd Bomb Group 330th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Unit: 301st Bomb Group 305th Bomb Group Can Do 482nd Bomb Group 92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few 325th Bomb Squadron 813th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Unit: 2nd Bomb Group
  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Little Audrey

Revisions

Date3 Sep 2019 11:10:35
ContributorEmily
Sources

Historic England National Monument Record: TL 27 NW 25

Date25 Sep 2017 13:37:16
ContributorLucy May
Sources

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

Date4 Jun 2015 11:15:09
Contributorrossingtonj
Sources

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

Date9 Jan 2015 11:15:20
ContributorIWMPM
Sources

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

Date27 Sep 2014 18:02:16
ContributorAAM
Sources

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

Alconbury: Gallery (58 items)