||This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2012)|
|IATA: WTN – ICAO: EGXW|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence (MoD)|
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
|Serves||City of Lincoln|
1937 - present
|Commander||Group Captain A Gillespie ADC MA BSc (Hons) RAF|
|Elevation AMSL||230 ft / 70 m|
Royal Air Force Station Waddington or more simply RAF Waddington (IATA: WTN, ICAO: EGXW) is a Royal Air Force station located 4.2 miles (6.8 km) south of Lincoln, Lincolnshire and 13.3 miles (21.4 km) north east of Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, England.
Waddington opened as a Royal Flying Corps flying training station in 1916 and was transferred to the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918 operating until 1920, when the station went into care and maintenance.
Squadrons operating during this time:
- No. 82 Squadron RFC between 30 March 1917 and 17 November 1917 using the AW FK 8 before moving to St Omer.
- No. 97 Squadron RFC between 1 December 1917 and 21 January 1918 with no aircraft before moving to Stonehenge.
- No. 105 Squadron RFC formed at the airfield on 23 September 1917 flying various aircraft and stayed until 3 October 1917 when it moved to Andover.
- No. 117 Squadron RFC formed at Waddington on 1 January 1918 flying various aircraft and stayed until 3 April 1918 when the squadron moved to Hucknall.
- No. 123 Squadron RFC formed at the airfield on 1 February 1918 and flew various aircraft before moving to Duxford on 1 March 1918.
- No. 23 Squadron RAF between 15 March 1919 and 31 December 1919 with no aircraft before being disbanded.
- No. 203 Squadron RAF between 27 March 1919 and December 1919 with no aircraft as a cadre before moving to Scopwick.
- No. 204 Squadron RAF from 11 February 1919 as a cadre with no aircraft until 31 December 1919 when the squadron disbanded.
Waddington reopened as a bomber base on 3 March 1937, with 50 Sqn arriving on the same day with their Hawker Hinds and then adding the Handley Page Hampden. 110 Sqn arrived 15 days later initially with the Hind before switching to the Bristol Blenheim I. On 7 June 1937 88 Sqn reformed at Waddington with the Hind before moving to RAF Boscombe Down on 17 July 1937. On 16 June 1937 44 Sqn moved in from RAF Andover flying the Blenheim I before switching to the Avro Anson I and the Hampden in February 1939. In May 1939 110 Sqn left going to RAF Wattisham and 50 Sqn left the following year being moved to RAF Lindholme.
Second World War
On 17 April 1942 at around 3pm, six Avro Lancasters from 44 Sqn left in daylight for the MAN diesel engine (for U-boats) factory at Augsburg in southern Germany (Bavaria). Four Lancasters were shot down and Squadron Leader John Dering Nettleton received a VC, piloting R5508. He survived due to the German fighters running out of fuel, and lack of daylight.
Squadrons operating during this time:
- 97 Sqn reformed here on 25 February 1941 with the Avro Manchester before moving to RAF Coningsby on 10 March 1941.
- 9 Sqn joined the airfield on 7 August 1942 initially with the Vickers Wellington III before switching to the Lancaster I and III during September 1942. The squadron moved to RAF Bardney on 14 April 1943.
- 142 Sqn between 15 June 1940 and 3 July 1940 with the Fairey Battle before moving to RAF Binbrook.
- 207 Sqn reformed at Waddington on 1 November 1940 with the Manchester adding the Hampden for a month in July 41. The squadron moved to RAF Bottesford on 17 November 1941
- 420 Sqn formed here on 19 December 1941 with the Hampden before moving to RAF Skipton-on-Swale on 7 August 1942.
- 463 Sqn formed at the airfield on 25 November 1943 with the Lancaster Mks I and III before moving to RAF Skellingthorpe on 3 July 1945.
- 467 Sqn between 13 November 1943 and 15 June 1945 with the Lancaster Mks I and III. The squadron then moved to RAF Metheringham.
- 617 Sqn between 17 June 1945 and 19 January 1946 with the Lancaster Mk VII-FE before moving to RAF Digri.
In the Cold War, RAF Waddington became an Avro Vulcan V-bomber bomber base, with 83 Sqn being the first in the RAF to receive the Vulcan in May 1957. It continued in this role until 1984 when the last Vulcan squadron, No. 50, disbanded. From 1968, the UK nuclear deterrent was transferred to Polaris submarines, starting with HMS Resolution.
In August 1960, the station developed the sudsmobile technique to lay a 1,000 yd × 30 yd (910 m × 27 m) carpet of foam in around a half-hour for a wheels-up landing. Previously it had taken around three hours to lay a foam carpet on the runway. A Canberra from RAF Wyton landed wheels-up on 23 August 1960, with a Victor managing the same on 5 December 1960.
The fiftieth anniversary of the RAF was celebrated at the base on 1 April 1968, mainly because the RAF's last flying Lancaster was based at the airfield from the mid-1960s until 1970, when moved temporarily to Hendon.
Squadrons operating during this time:
- No. 12 Squadron RAF between 26 July 1946 and 18 September 1946 initially with the Lancaster Mk I and III before swapping to the Avro Lincoln B.2 and moving to RAF Binbrook.
- No. 21 Squadron RAF from 26 May 1955 until 31 December 1957 with the English Electric Canberra B.2 before being disbanded also No. 27 Squadron RAF which both joined and departed RAF Waddington on the same days as 21 Sqn. The squadron also operatied the Canberra B.2 and was disbanded on 31 December 1957.
- No. 44 Squadron RAF between 10 August 1960 and 21 December 1982 when they were disbanded. The squadron operated the Avro Vulcan B.1 and B.2.
- No. 50 Squadron RAF were based at Waddington from 26 January 1946 with the Lincoln B.2 before being disbanded on 31 January 1951.
- No. 50 Squadron RAF reformed at the airfield on 31 March 1984 and operated the Vulcan Mks B.1, B.2 and B.2K before being disbanded on 31 March 1984.
- No. 57 Squadron RAF between 7 October 1946 and 4 April 1951 with the Lincoln B.2 before moving to RAF Marham, the squadron returned on 4 June 1951 with the Washington B Mk 1 before leaving again on 2 April 1952 to RAF Coningsby.
- No. 61 Squadron RAF starting from 25 January 1946 with the Lancaster Mks I and III before being replaced by the Lincoln B.2. The squadron left on 6 August 1953 moving to Wittering.
- No. 83 Squadron RAF from 21 March 1957 with the Vulcan B.1 before being reduced to a cadre with no aircraft and moving to RAF Scampton on 10 August 1960.
- No. 101 Squadron RAF from 26 June 1961 with the Vulcan B.1 and B.2 before being disbanded on 4 August 1982.
Operation Black Buck involved aircraft (three) and crews from the base (44 Sqn, 50 Sqn and 101 Sqn). The three Vulcan B2s were twenty-two years old, and were selected for their more powerful Olympus 301 engines. The complicated refuelling plan (14 Victor tankers) was only contemplated due to the belief of Sir Michael Beetham, then Chief of the Air Staff. Spare parts for the operation were requisitioned from scrapyards in Newark-on-Trent and military museums. Navigation came from the Delco Carousel inertial navigation system, never used previously by the RAF. 44 Squadron left on 21 December 1982.
Later during 1982, there was a female peace camp outside the base for five months. At the beginning of 1982, the base had been designated to be closed, when the Vulcans would have left.
In 1993 the last RAF Avro Vulcan bomber, serialled XH558, was retired to Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire. This aircraft has returned to display flying following prolonged refurbishment.
Airborne early warning
In the mid-1980s the base became home to a few NATO AWACS aircraft operating from their main base (with eighteen AWACS planes) at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen in North Rhine-Westphalia on the Germany-Dutch border. The RAF used these aircraft until it had bought its own AWACS fleet, which were due to enter service in 1991.
During the 1991 Gulf War, American casualties were ferried through the base to the USAF Nocton Hall military hospital. The Electronic Warfare Operational Support Element (EWOSE - now known as the Air Warfare Centre) moved from RAF Wyton to Waddington in March 1995.
It is presently home to the RAF's Sentry and Raytheon Sentinel R1 ASTOR (Airborne STand-Off Radar) ground-surveillance/intelligence aircraft. The station is also home to No. 34 Expeditionary Air Wing.
There is an outdoor viewing area east of the A15 road close to the northern end of the long runway which was designed to accommodate V bombers. Short-term visits from different NATO and Swiss fighter squadrons, in the past, used to generate occasional additional noise and interest because the airfield was conveniently placed for offshore practice firing ranges above the North Sea. However with the closure of the aforementioned Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation range these visits have ceased. Waddington also has a very active Force Development ethos, putting emphasis on the development of its busy personnel.
No. 34 Expeditionary Air Wing was formed at Waddington on 1 April 2006 encompassing most of the non-formed unit personnel on station. The EAW does not include the flying units at the station. The station commander is dual-hatted as the commander of the wing.
The Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance, which began operating in 1994, is based at the airfield.
RAF Waddington Voluntary Band is one of seven voluntary bands within the RAF and is proud to serve the station and the surrounding areas. Members of the band include RAF personnel as a second duty, dependants, civil servants and local civilians. As part of the station's musical heritage, Pink Floyd performed at the station's Raven Club on 20 April 1968.
The RAF Waddington structure as of October 2011 is as follows:
- 34 Expeditionary Air Wing
- Combat Support 2 Group
- No. 5 (Army Co-operation) Sqn - ASTOR/Sentinel R1
- No. 8 Sqn - E-3 Sentry
- No. 39 Sqn - UAV/MQ-9 Reaper Due to relocate at Waddington in 2011-12. It is presently at Creech AFB in Nevada.
- No. 51 Sqn - operated the Nimrod R1 until June 2011. Crews are currently training on the RC135 Rivet Joint in the USA, whilst awaiting delivery of Air Seeker
- No. 14 Sqn - Shadow R1
- No. 54 (Reserve) Sqn - Intelligence Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Operational Conversion Unit
- No. 56 (Reserve) Sqn - Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Operational Evaluation Unit (ISTAR OEU).
- No. 92 Squadron RAF - Tactics and Training Wing in the Air Warfare Centre.
- Other auxiliary units
- Air Warfare Centre
- No 7006 (VR) Squadron RAuxAF
- No 7010 (VR) Squadron RAuxAF
- No 7630 (VR) Squadron RAuxAF
Squadrons as of 2012
- No. 26 Squadron RAF Regiment - Ground Based Air Defence. This unit disbanded in March 2008 following a tour in Afghanistan but was reformed in 2010 at RAF Honington.
- No. 23 Squadron RAF - E3D Sentry (Disbanded in 2009)
Former Station Commanders
- Group Captain Charles Elworthy 1943-1944
- Air Cdre Hugh Connolly CB DFC 1955-1956
- AVM Arthur Griffiths CB 1967-1969
- AVM Charles Maughan CB CBE
- AVM Hubert Hall CB CBE 1971-1973
- AVM Sir Richard Peirse CB 1973
- AVM Michael Pilkington CB CBE 1979-1981
- Group Captain Richard Powell OBE MBA MA MCMI RAF 2009-2010
- Group Captain Chris Jones ADC MA RAF 2010-11
Waddington International Air Show
Inauguration in 1995
The first RAF Waddington International Air Show was staged at RAF Waddington in 1995, after the event was moved down from RAF Finningley - an RAF station located east of Doncaster (now Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield) which was closed down in 1995. Since then the RAF Waddington International Air Show has developed into the largest of all Royal Air Force air shows. It regularly takes place on the first weekend in July, attracting over 140,000 visitors and representatives of Air Forces from all round the world. The main purpose of the show is to raise public awareness and understanding of the RAF and its role today. 85% of all proceeds from the event are distributed to the two main Service charities; the RAF Benevolent Fund and the RAF Association; the remaining 15% is donated to local worthy causes. Since the inaugural year 1995 the Air Show has raised over £2,700,000 for Service and local charities.
The 2010 Air Show took place over the weekend of 3 and 4 July. The main themes being 90 years since the first ever RAF air show, at RAF Hendon, 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and 35 years of Airborne Early Warning. The flying display included Vulcan XH558, many regular exhibitors and aircraft but also display teams that had never been to Waddington before, including the Turkish Stars and the Czech Saab JAS 39 Gripen and Alca L-159 display.
The 2011 Air Show took place on 2 and 3 July, with the theme of Air Power - Past, Present and Future. Several indoor and outdoor exhibitions reflected this theme, including a new audio-visual experience in the main exhibition hangar. Visitors learned about the RAF's current operations abroad, the RAF's equipment and the RAF's personnel, devoted to their roles within the Royal Air Force. The USAF Display Team, The Thunderbirds, also took part. Displays included the Red Arrows, Team Viper, Belgian F16 solo, Avro Vulcan XH558 and the Royal Jordanian Falcons as well as many others.
Ground displays included over 100 aircraft, 250 trade stands, two exhibition hangars and the Military Village concept where all services display, the Waddington SERE (Survive, Evade, Resist, Extract) School display with its close RNLI association. Many clubs also featured in the Village demonstrating the diversity of hobbies and interests available to RAF personnel today.
The 2012 (30 June/ 1 July 2012) airshow attracted over 130,000 visitors to RAF Waddington from across the UK and beyond. Celebrating 100 years of the Central Flying School, Combat ISTAR and the Year of Lincolnshire Aviation the airshow had over 210 aircraft on display. 20 countries took part in the event, with the first appearance in the UK by a RAAF Boeing Wedgetail and the debut appearance in Europe by the Republic of Korea Black Eagles display team. The team took the best flying display award.
The 2013 airshow will be held over 6 and 7 July 2013 at RAF Waddington and will celebrate the 95th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force. The airshow will also commemorate 70yrs since the historic and daring raids on the German Dams of WW2, the 100th Anniversary of RAF Waddington's own 5(AC) Squadron and look into the secretive world of ISTAR.
In popular culture
In 2002, the half-hour ITV programme Airbase documented life at the airfield. Elizabeth Simmonds, the Olympic swimmer, trained at the base's pool.
- List of Royal Air Force stations
- List of AWACS aircraft operators
- List of V Bomber dispersal bases
- List of surviving Avro Lancasters
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- "Who Are Sentry Maintenance Squadron?". RAF. Retrieved 18 October 2008.
- Clements, Richard (15 January 2013) UK’s Royal Air Force to support French forces deployed to Mali with airlifters. And drones The Aviationist, Retrieved 5 February 2013
- Halpenny, B.B. Action Stations: Wartime Military Airfields of Lincolnshire and the East Midlands v. 2. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1981. ISBN 0-85059-484-7.
- Jefford, C.G, MBE,BA ,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: RAF Waddington|
- RAF Waddington
- RAF Waddington International Air Show
- Air Warfare Centre, RAF Waddington
- RAF History - Waddington
- Airport information for EGXW at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.
- RAF Waddington Pipes and Drums
- Sentinel joins 5 Squadron in February 2009
- Archaeological team in Scotland in August 2008
- 26 Squadron disbanded in March 2008
- Air ambulance covers 10,000th mission in March 2008
- AWACS aircraft protect the Olympics in Greece in 2004
- 10th anniversary of Air Ambulance in July 2003
- AWACS return in April 2003
- Flying General Pinochet out of Britain in March 2000
- RAF Waddington International Air Show 2007 Review
- RAF Waddington International Air Show 2008 Review
- RAF Waddington International Air Show 2009 Review
- RAF Waddington International Air Show 2010 Review
- RAF Waddington International Air Show 2011 Review
- RAF Waddington International Air Show 2011 Images