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USAAF Station AAF-484
|Folkingham Airfield - 9 May 1944 with scores of gliders and C-47s about a month before D-Day.|
|IATA: none – ICAO: none|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
|Elevation AMSL||266 ft / 81 m|
Royal Air Force Station Folkingham or more simply RAF Folkingham is a former Royal Air Force station located south west of Folkingham, Lincolnshire and about 29 miles (47 km) due south of county town Lincoln and 112 miles (180 km) north of London, England.
Opened in 1940, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces. During the war it was used primarily as a troop carrier airfield for airborne units and as a subsidiary training depot of the newly formed Royal Air Force Regiment. After the war it was placed on care and maintenance during 1947 when the RAF Regiment relocated to RAF Catterick.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the RAF Bomber Command used Folkingham as a PGM-17 Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) base.
Today the remains of the airfield are located on private property being used as agricultural fields, with the main north-south runway acting as hardstanding for hundreds of scrapped vehicles.
Although surveyed and approved as suitable for the construction of a bomber airfield, the initial Royal Air Force use of the site began in 1940 when it was set up as a decoy for RAF Grantham. The intention was to make it look like a real airfield so that it would draw aerial attacks which might otherwise be made on active stations. As such it attracted the attention of the Luftwaffe on at least three occasions. The terrain of Folkingham, however, was not optimum for a large airfield.
Not until early 1943 did Messrs Lehane. MacKenzies & Shand arrive with directions to build an airfield to the Class A airfield specification by the Air Ministry, the main feature of which was a set of three converging runways each containing a concrete runway for takeoffs and landings, optimally placed at 60 degree angles to each other in a triangular pattern.
The airfield's main runway was 6,000 ft in length with two 4,200 ft auxiliaries, aligned 01/19, 07/25 and 13/31 respectively. The 50 hardstands were all loop type connecting to an enclosing perimeter track, of a standard width of 50 feet.
The ground support station was constructed largely of Nissen huts of various sizes. The support station was where the group and ground station commanders and squadron headquarters and orderly rooms were located. Also on the ground station were where the mess facilities; chapel; hospital; mission briefing and debriefing; armory; life support; parachute rigging; supply warehouses; station and airfield security; motor transport sheds and the other ground support functions necessary to support the air operations of the group. These facilities were all connected by a network of single path support roads.
The technical site, connected to the ground station and airfield consisted of at least two T-2 type hangars and various organisational, component and field maintenance shops along with the crew chiefs and other personnel necessary to keep the aircraft airworthy and to quickly repair light and moderate battle damage. Aircraft severely damaged in combat were sent to repair depots for major structural repair. The Ammunition dump was located on the southeast side of the airfield, outside of the perimeter track surrounded by large dirt mounds and concrete storage pens.
Various domestic accommodation sites were constructed dispersed away from the airfield, but within a mile or so of the technical support site, also using clusters of Maycrete or Nissen huts built by Bovis Ltd. The Huts were either connected, set up end-to-end or built singly and made of prefabricated corrugated iron with a door and two small windows at the front and back. They provided accommodation for 2,189 personnel, including communal and a sick quarters.
During airborne operations, when large numbers of airborne parachutists were moved to the airfield, tents would be pitched on the interior grass regions of the airfield, or wherever space could be found to accommodate the airborne forces for the short time they would be bivouacked at the station prior to the operation.
USAAF use 
Folkingham was known as USAAF Station AAF-484 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. It's USAAF Station Code was "FK".
313th Troop Carrier Group 
US personnel started to arrive in January 1944 to prepare for the 313th Troop Carrier Group scheduled to transfer from Trapani/Milo Airfield, Sicily. On 5 February it opened as a USAAF IX Troop Carrier Command station flying four squadrons of C-47s. Operational squadrons and fuselage codes were:
- 29th Troop Carrier Squadron (Z7)
- 47th Troop Carrier Squadron (N3)
- 48th Troop Carrier Squadron (5X)
- 49th Troop Carrier Squadron (H2)
The 313th TCG was part of the 52nd Troop Carrier Wing.
The first of its squadrons, the 29th TCS, did not fly in until the 24th. The 47th TCS followed on March 1 and the 48th and 49th TCSs on March 3 and 5 respectively. At this time, the squadrons had an authorised strength of 18 C-47s, although during the spring and early summer this was increased to 24.
Operation Overlord 
In the early hours of 6 June, seventy-two C-47s and C-53s of the 313th were sent to drop paratroops of the 82nd Airborne Division 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment near Picauville France and they carried out a re-supply mission next day. From these operations, four C-47s were missing and many damaged by light flak.
Operation Market-Garden 
In between training with paratroops, the group `trucked' supplies and fuel to Normandy but in September it was alerted for another airborne operation. The 313th was selected to make the first drop in the Netherlands after the Pathfinders, the first serial to arrive (it had overtaken the lead one) consisting of 43 C-47s and two C-53s dropping some 740 American paratroops of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and 260 parapacks at Groesbeek, while the second serial of 45 aircraft, some five minutes behind, dropped some 756 paratroops and 226 parapacks. Two C-47s with the first serial were shot down by flak and 11 damaged but the second serial escaped with only light damage to three aircraft.
Next day the 313th launched 79 C-47s and three C-53s carrying the British Parachute Regiment from Folkingham, all towing CG-4A gliders. They had been billeted in Bourne and at Grimsthorpe Castle, ten and seven kilometres away respectively. Again plenty of ground fire was encountered and one C-47 failed to return.
The 313th's final combat mission for Operation "Market" was on the 23rd when, again towing gliders, two serials of 49 aircraft each carried in reinforcements. Only one C-47 was lost and two of the gliders were shot down. Then, on 26 September, thirty-six C-47s carried in troops and supplies to the landing strip Si Keent, near Grave.
The group was scheduled to receive 200 of the roomy Curtiss C-46 Commando transports in the autumn of 1944, although the first did not arrive until late December. The 313th began conversion at the end of January 1945 and had 90 on hand by March. The group also conducted trials with the heavy CO-13A assault glider which arrived at Folkingham.
However, at the end of February, the group began its move to a new base in France at Achiet (Advanced Landing Ground B-54), although the last elements did not leave until well into March. It appears there was some apprehension in the group about conditions they would encounter in France as furniture and many base fittings - even coal - were shipped across the Channel in its aircraft!
RAF Maintenance Command 
Folkingham was retained by the USAAF although most personnel had departed by mid-April. The base was then turned over to RAF Maintenance Command and little flying took place thereafter. RAF Technical training was carried out until 1946 and the station was closed in 1947.
With the facility released from military control, the runway was used for development testing of the new BRM 16 cylinder 1.5 litre racing car which was presented before the press for the first time on 15 December 1949, at Folkingham airfield. A BRM engine test house and other facilities were later built there.
Thor Missile use by RAF Bomber Command 
RAF Folkingham later served as a post-war PGM-17 Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) base with 3 IRBM launchers operated by No. 223 (Strategic Missile) Squadron RAF. With the reactivation of the site in late 1958, BRM was relocated to RAF North Witham. Construction began on three Thor launch pads that became operational on 1 December 1959. The three Thor missiles at Folkingham were placed on 15 minute readiness for firing, fuelled and ready for launch, during the Cuban Missile Crisis in November 1962.
The Thor IRBM deployment in the United Kingdom was nothing more than an interim measure and was scheduled to terminate in November 1964. However it was actually terminated in 1963, when the USAF had deployed its first ICBM (Inter continental ballistic missile), the Atlas. At the same time, the RAF's V Force of Valiant, Victor and Vulcan bombers had reached a new peak of effectiveness with its own deployment of the Blue Steel stand off weapon, which equipped several squadrons, and the Thor squadrons were disbanded, with 223 disbanding on 23 August 1963.
Current use 
On the closure of the Thor site, British Racing Motors (BRM) moved back and its later cars were tested at Folkingham, but only remained for a few years. In the mid-1960s the testing track closed and the airfield was sold off to agricultural interests.
Today the airfield is largely used by agriculture. Most of the runways and perimeter track were removed after the sale of the airfield by BRM for hardcore aggregate, with some single-lane agricultural roads remaining that generally outlines the former concreted area. No evidence of the technical site located to the northeast of the airfield remains. Evidence of some dispersed personnel sites appear to the north and northeast of the airfield, with some abandoned concrete roads now in abandoned, overgrown areas.
The southern half of the airfield partially remains containing several single and double-loop hardstands, along with a full-width length of the 00-18 north-south main runway. The runway now serves as a vehicle compound for Nelson M Green & Sons Ltd, for the storage of decommissioned agricultural vehicles, lorries and other equipment. The vehicles, many often rare and long out of production, are stored for the resale of their spare parts. The abandoned hulks also line the sides of the remaining perimeter track along with several of the old dispersal loops. The wartime bomb dump exists, although it is now a forested area still containing concrete disused bomb stores, evidence of which can be seen by the pattern of vegetation that has overgrown and reclaimed the facility.
The remains of the three postwar Thor missile pads are the most prominent military features remaining on the airfield, their heavily reinforced concrete areas making them difficult and uneconomical to remove for the small amount of aggregate that can be reclaimed from them.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: RAF Folkingham|
- Bruce Barrymore Halpenny Action Stations: Wartime Military Airfields of Lincolnshire and the East Midlands v. 2 (ISBN 978-0850594843)
- Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-80-0
- Freeman, Roger A. (1996) The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle ISBN 1-85409-272-3
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present