RAF Eye

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RAF Eye
USAAF Station 134
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Eighth Air Force - Emblem (World War II).png
Located Near Stowmarket, Suffolk, United Kingdom
RAF Eye - 16 July 1943 - Airphoto.jpg
Aerial photograph of Eye Airfield, looking north, 16 July 1943 while still under construction . Photograph taken by 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, oriented north.
RAF Eye is located in Suffolk
RAF Eye
RAF Eye
RAF Eye, shown within Suffolk
Coordinates 52°19′58.73″N 001°07′47.65″E / 52.3329806°N 1.1299028°E / 52.3329806; 1.1299028
Type Military airfield
Code EY
Site information
Controlled by Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Site history
Built 1943
In use 1944-1963
Battles/wars European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
Garrison information
Garrison Eighth Air Force
RAF Bomber Command
Occupants 490th Bombardment Group

Royal Air Force Eye or more simply RAF Eye is a former Royal Air Force station located 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Stowmarket, Suffolk, England.

History[edit]

Eye airfield was started by the 829th Battalion in September 1942. The 827th Battalion arrived in December to help out and the 859th Battalion arrived in May the following year when the 829th Battalion left. The bulk of the work was done in the summer of 1943 with the 827th setting records in pouring concrete while the 859th made their mark in building construction. Additional work was done by British contractors. The airfield was declared operational and turned over to the Air Forces on 7 December 1943, two years after the attack on Pearl Harbor. On 1 April 1944, the entire field was complete and occupied by the 8th Air Force who designated it Station 134. RAF Eye was one of the last wartime airfields to be built in the area and some of the equipment used in its construction remained for many years after the war.

United States Army Air Forces use[edit]

USAAF Station Units assigned to RAF Eye were:[1]

  • 477th Sub-Depot
  • 18th Weather Squadron
  • 329th Station Complement Squadron
  • 1240th Quartermaster Company
  • 1276th Military Police Company
  • 1448th Ordnance Supply & Maintenance Company
  • 814th Chemical Company
  • 2116th Engineer Fire Fighting Platoon

490th Bombardment Group (Heavy)[edit]

Ground personnel of the 490th Bomb Group work on a B-24 Liberator (serial number 42-94837 ) nicknamed "The Jinx 13" at Eye.
Boeing B-17G-85-BO Fortress Serial No. 43-38400 "Alice Blue Gown" of the 851st Bomb Squadron. This aircraft completed 67 missions.
A B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number 43-38729) of the 490th Bomb Group moves into takeoff position at Eye

The airfield was opened on 1 May 1944 and was used by the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force 490th Bombardment Group (Heavy). The 490th arrived from Mountain Home AAF Idaho and was assigned to the 93d Combat Bombardment Wing. The group flew Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses and Consolidated B-24 Liberators as part of the Eighth Air Force's strategic bombing campaign.

The group tail code was initially a "Square-T" when it moved in with B-24 Liberators. After being re-equipped with B-17G Flying Fortresses, it adopted a red stripe at the top of the plane's vertical stabilizers.

Operational flying squadrons of the group were:

The 490th BG combat in June 1944 with B-24's, bombing airfields and coastal defenses in France immediately preceding and during the invasion of Normandy. Then struck bridges, rail lines, vehicles, road junctions, and troop concentrations in France. Supported ground forces near Caen in July and near Brest in September 1944.

The group converted to B-17's in October and operated primarily against strategic targets until the end of February 1945. The 490th mounted attacks against enemy oil plants, tank factories, marshalling yards, aircraft plants, and airfields in such cities as Berlin, Hamburg, Merseburg, Münster, Kassel, Hannover, and Cologne. Interrupted strategic missions to attack supply lines and military installations during the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944-January 1945. Beginning in March 1945, attacked interdictory targets and supported advancing ground forces.

After V-E Day, carried food to flood-stricken areas of the Netherlands and transported French, Spanish, and Belgian prisoners of war from Austria to Allied centers.

The 490th returned to Drew Field, Florida on 3 September 1945, then was inactivated on 7 November 1945.

Postwar RAF use[edit]

After the war Eye then transferred to RAF Bomber Command on 1 November 1945 as an active station. However the airfield was gradually run down and was finally sold by the Air Ministry during 1962-63.

Current use[edit]

With the end of military control, Eye airfield was converted into an industrial estate with a small factory for processing straw being established in the hangars and former technical site. Later, other industrial development and new buildings were built in the same area. There is a natural gas pumping station in the center of the former airfield.

The world's first poultry litter-fueled generating plant was built on the site in 1992. It produces 12.7MW of power and consumes 140,000 tonnes of chicken litter a year, as well as a proportion of horse bedding and feathers, and is owned by Energy Power Resources (EPR).

Many of the old taxiways and runways remain, along with a T-2 hangar and various wartime buildings in various states of repair and use.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ "Eye". American Air Museum in Britain. Retrieved 7 Mar 2015. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]