RAF Rivenhall

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Royal Air Force Station Rivenhall
USAAF Station AAF-168

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Patch9thusaaf.png

Located Near Silver End, Essex, England
Rivenhall-04-1944.jpg
Rivenhall airfield photographed in April 1944 with the B-26 Marauders of the 397th Bombardment Group parked on the grass, while the P-51 Mustangs of the 363d Fighter Group still on the dispersal loops.
Coordinates 51°51′19″N 000°38′23″E / 51.85528°N 0.63972°E / 51.85528; 0.63972
Type Military airfield
Code RL
Site information
Controlled by United States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
Site history
Built 1943
In use 1944-1946
Battles/wars European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
RAF Rivenhall is located in Essex
RAF Rivenhall
Magnify-clip.png
RAF Rivenhall, shown within Essex
Garrison information
Garrison Ninth Air Force
RAF Bomber Command
Occupants 363d Fighter Group
397th Bombardment Group
Nos. 295, 570 Squadrons
Rivenhall airfield headquarters site, 1944.
North American P-51B-5 Mustang, Serial 43-6830 of the 382d Fighter Squadron.
Formation of Martin B-26Bs of the 397th Bomb Group. Closest two aircraft are B-26B-55-MA S/N 42-96137 (9F-Y) and 42-96191 (9F-N) "Milk Run Special" of the 597th BS, 397th BG, 9th AF. The other B-26's are from the 598th Bomb Squadron. 42-96137 was shot down on 13 May 1944. 42-96191 was shot down on 24 June 1944. Photo taken before D-Day, as the Marauders are not painted with invasion stripes

RAF Rivenhall is a former World War II airfield in Essex, England. The airfield is located approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) south-southeast of Braintree; about 40 miles (64 km) northeast of London

Opened in 1942, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces. During the war it was used primarily as a combat airfield with various fighter and bomber units. After the war it was closed in 1946 and kept in reserve until 1956.

Today the remains of the airfield are located on private property with the northern half being turned into a quarry.

Overview[edit]

USAAF use[edit]

Rivenhall was known as USAAF Station AAF-168 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 "RL".

363d Fighter Group[edit]

On 22 January 1944, a squadron of the 363d Fighter Group arrived from RAF Keevil where it had been awaiting equipment. The group had been selected as the third in the European Theatere to be equipped with the new North American P-51B Mustang. The group consisted of the following operational squadrons:

On 14 April 1944 as part of a general movement of Ninth Air Force fighter units in the Colchester area to the advanced landing grounds, the 363rd moved to RAF Staplehurst. The actual movement of all elements had begun two days previously.

397th Bombardment Group[edit]

On the day following the departure of the 363d, the first Martin B-26 Marauders of the 397th Bombardment Group arrived from RAF Gosfield. The group consisted of the following operational squadrons:

The group's identification marking was a yellow diagonal band across both sides of the vertical tailplane.

Early in August, officially on the 5th, the 397th transferred from Rivenhall to RAF Hurn in Hampshire, to give the Marauders a better radius of action as the break-out of the Allied forces from the Normandy beachhead meant that potential targets were receding.

Civil use[edit]

Upon its release from military use, in June 1956, Marconi leased part of the airfield and within ten years had taken over most of the surviving buildings. Today, the northern half of the former airfield has been turned into a quarry, with the vast majority of the land in the northwest of the airfield being excavated.

The perimeter track of the airfield has been reduced to a single track agricultural road, however some of the loop hardstands still remain in the southwestern quadrant of the field. All three runways either have been quarried, or substantially reduced in width, with agriculture fields taking over the grass areas of the former airfield. A very small portion of the 28 end of the main runway still exists at full width. One T-2 hangar remains, along with a scattering of buildings. An automobile salvage yard has taken over some of the hardstands in the east end of the airfield, where once C-47s and gliders were stored. As of 2013 only one of the two T-2 hangars remain, with demolition claiming the other historical remaining buildings.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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

  • 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.
  • [1] USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers—1908 to present

External links[edit]