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Thread: RAF/USAF Alconbury

  1. #1
    Join Date
    June 2010
    Looking for things you've missed

    Default RAF/USAF Alconbury

    I don't profess to be any kind of expert on airfields, not even close, but they do interest me, especially Cold War airfields. The following is a 'cut up' of material from a variety of locations mingled in with some of my own words. Its certainly not a definitive history on Alconbury, more of an overview to accompany the pictures.

    Thanks for looking :-)

    RAF Bomber Command use (1939-1941)
    In September 1939, RAF Upwood squadrons were given operational training roles and Alconbury became RAF Wyton's satellite under No. 2 Group, Squadron Nos. 12, 40 and 139. These squadrons were frequently deployed to Alconbury, No. 139 being the first to be actually stationed there. Squadrons 15 and 40 converted from Battles to Bristol Blenheim bombers. No. 15 Squadron took up residence on 14 April 1940, when additional requisitioned accommodation was available. It flew its first raid of the war on 10 May against a German occupied airfield near Rotterdam.

    In May 1942, RAF Alconbury was allocated to the United States Army Air Force:

    93d Bombardment Group, 7 September 1942 - 5 December 1942
    92d Bombardment Group, 6 January - 15 September 1943
    95th Bombardment Group, 15 April - 15 June 1943
    482d Bombardment Group, 20 August 1943 - 21 May 1945
    801st Bombardment Group (Provisional), January - 1 May 1944
    94th Bombardment Wing, 12–18 June 1945
    2d Bombardment Wing, 12 June - 26 August 1945
    1st Bombardment Wing, 26 June - 26 August 1945
    1st Air Division, 20 September - 31 October 1945
    406th Bombardment Squadron, 11 November 1943 - 7 February 1944
    857th Bombardment Squadron, 11 June - 6 August 1945
    652d Bombardment Squadron, 13 July - 25 October 1945
    36th Bombardment Squadron: Attached to 328th Service Group, assigned to RAF Watton, operated from Alconbury, 7 February-28

    March 1944, Assigned to: 1st Bombardment Division, 28 February - 15 October 1945.

    Postwar United States Air Force use:

    7560th Air Base Squadron, 7 November 1954 - 25 March 1955 (Redesignated: 7560th Air Base Group, 25 March 1955 - 25 August 1959
    86th Bombardment Squadron, 15 September 1955 - 5 August 1959
    42d Troop Carrier Squadron, 31 May - 8 December 1957
    53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, 25 April - 9 August 1959
    10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, 25 August 1959 - 20 August 1987 (Redesignated: 10th Tactical Fighter Wing, 10 August 1987 - 31 March 1993, Redesignated: 10th Air Base Wing, 31 March 1993 - 1 October 1994)
    527th Tactical Fighter Training Aggressor Squadron, 1 April 1976 - 14 July 1988
    17th Reconnaissance Wing, 1 October 1982 - 30 June 1991 (Assigned to Strategic Air Command Eighth Air Force 7th Air Division)
    39th Special Operations Wing, 1 December 1992 - 1 January 1993
    352d Special Operations Group, 1 January 1993 - 17 February 1995
    710th Air Base Wing, 1 October 1994 - 12 July 1995
    423d Air Base Squadron, 12 July 1995 - 1 July 2005 (Based at RAF Molesworth) (Redesignated: 423d Air Base Group, 1 July 2005 - present)
    501st Combat Support Wing, 1 May 2007–present

    The Cold War, Spy Planes & Operation Desert Storm
    In 1959 with the Cold War hotting up (lame humour..), the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing arrived at Alconbury and over the coming years flew many reconnaissance, electronic warfare and 'Aggressor Support' missions.

    The Strategic Air Command arrived at Alconbury on 1 October 1982 when the 17th Reconnaissance Wing was activated, bringing with them the U2 and later the TR-1 Spy Plane. These assets required major remodelling of the airfield including Ready Sheds, 13 extra wide Hardened Aircraft Shelters, a Photographic Interpretation Centre [ame=""]and a Nuclear Hardened Command Post/Avionics Suite for the TR-1 spyplanes known only as Building 210 (later nicknamed Magic Mountain).

    After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the threat of the Cold War vanishing there were rumours that RAF Alconbury would be closed down but then in August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait.
    Some of the first aircraft to be sent into the Gulf were three TR-1A's from Alconbury's 17th Reconnaissance Wing and 23 A-10's from the 10th Tactical Fighter Wing (511th Tactical Fighter Squadron) were deployed to Saudi Arabia for combat operations.

    The 511th TFS A-10s flew no fewer than 1700 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm and played an important part in wreaking havoc on Iraqi tank forces, Scud missiles and other ground positions during the conflict.

    In recent years things have wound down considerably and in 1995 the USAF returned the base to the MoD (but retaining the Base Support Area under USAF control). The USAF 423d Air Base Squadron and USAF 501st Combat Support Wing still operate from Alconbury.

    Romney Sheds, WW2 Crew, Locker and Drying Rooms - Airfield & Technical Site.

    Parachute Store (Building 51) - Airfield & Technical Site

    Command Building - Airfield & Technical Site

    Hercules Bomber artwork - Airfield & Technical Site

    Photographic Processing and Interpretation Facility (Building 69) - Airfield & Technical Site.

    WW2 Control Tower & Watch Office with Operations Room for Bomber Satellite Stations - Technical Site

    Uni-Seco USAFE Control Tower - Airfield & Technical Site

    Guard Tower - Weapons Storage Site

    Awesome Warthog/30mm Cannon cartoon drawn by an airman

    TR-1/U2 Hardened Aircraft Shelter (Building 4105) - Airfield & Technical Site

    17th Reconnaissance Wing Squadron Headquarters - Hardened Area (flooded basement)
    (Currently in use by Cambridgeshire Police for tactical training)

    Hardened Aircraft Shelter / Tab-Vee 'Oh Johnnie' - Airfield & Technical Site
    This was demolished by the SAS as a training exercise, took them 3 attempts to flatten it!! :p

    The gratuitous 'Oh Johnnie vent shot' taken by everyone (yawn...)

    'Sally Ann' Tab-Vee/HAS
    (most likely for A-10 Warthog or F5 Tiger...maybe even Phantom )

    'Sally Ann' Tab-Vee/HAS Emergency Exit

    Last edited by sYnc_below; 4th Jan 12 at 11:27. Reason: Linked to Magic Mountain report

  2. Thanks given by: Ace5150, alex76, Andymacg, Chris34, Curious Dragon, Dunny007, eclectic_fence, Engineer, Faing, flyboys90, gingrove, hydealfred, Jet48, Jimthething, John_D, jools, krela, Lolpeacock, Malcog, Munchh, nelly, oldscrote, Pincheck, Priority 7, Pugstar, Silas87, skeleton key, supermotolee, tank2020, Tarron, TeeJF, tigger2, Tizzme, urban phantom, urbanisle, UrbanX, Wallsey, Wantage Will, Winch It In
  4. #2
    Join Date
    March 2010


    Very cool pics I like this very much :)

  5. Thanks given by: sYnc_below
  6. #3
    Join Date
    September 2005
    Bristol, UK.


    Very nice.

    I hate warthogs, they have the worse engine noise ever!

  7. Thanks given by: sYnc_below
  8. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    In the past


    Excellant report Tocsin,very Upper Heyford!

  9. Thanks given by: sYnc_below
  10. #5
    Join Date
    April 2011


    Oh yes this i like this verry good thanks for sharing

  11. Thanks given by: sYnc_below
  12. #6
    Join Date
    August 2010
    Bedford, UK


    Did you use your access all area's pass again bud?

  13. Thanks given by: sYnc_below
  14. #7
    Join Date
    January 2007
    East Devon's Jurassic Park!


    Excellent site. Some seriously amazing stuff there. Nice. :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

    I can't read and I can't write, but that don't really matter,
    I come from the west country and I can drive a tractor.

    Website Story

  15. Thanks given by: sYnc_below
  16. #8
    Join Date
    February 2010


    These not long deserted USAF bases are always fascinating. So much spent on the infrastructure then just deserted and left. Superb report - well done. I remember the A10's well from the 80's - awesome piece of kit then and still is now. Very odd sounding engines though. Alconbury also had the very noisey and smokey F.4's based there. Wonderful aircraft - you could see them coming for miles with all that smoke. :)

    These were good to - 527th Tactical Fighter Training Aggressor Squadron, 1 April 1976 - 14 July 1988 - flying F.5's - they were Englands own Top Guns !!

  17. Thanks given by: sYnc_below
  18. #9
    Join Date
    April 2007


    Nice one! Some really interesting buildings well documented!
    "We're not giving you a quote for your stupid forum signature"
    - Essex Police

  19. Thanks given by: sYnc_below
  20. #10
    Join Date
    June 2010
    Looking for things you've missed


    Quote Originally Posted by Priority 7 View Post
    Did you use your access all area's pass again bud?
    I detect piss taking ;)

    Nothing spectacular about this was organised (I HATE organised visits tbh) but the way things are up there currently it was this or nothing. Was escorted round by security all day long who watched my every move (and watched their watches), weren't allowed in any of the juicy bits (health & safety blah blah blah).

    Curiously there have been plenty of film crews given access to stuff here that we weren't though....perhaps splashing the cash opens more doors (literally)

  21. Thanks given by: klempner69
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