USAAF Station AAF-482
RAF Balderton, taken 18 April 1944 oriented eastward (top). As part of the buildup to D-Day, the 439th Troop Carrier Group has large numbers of C-47s and CG-4 Horsa Gliders parked on the grass interior of airfield as well as on the dispersal loops along the perimeter track.
|IATA: none – ICAO: none|
|Operator||Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
|Elevation AMSL||62 ft / 19 m|
Royal Air Force Station Balderton or more simply RAF Balderton was a former Royal Air Force station located 2.0 miles (3.2 km) south of Newark-on-Trent, sandwiched between the now extinct Great Northern Railway (GNR) Bottesford-Newark line and the A1 road in Nottinghamshire, England.
Balderton airfield opened in June 1941 with a grass surface over stiff clay, 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 transport airfield and after for munitions storage before it closed in 1957.
The airfield was built to a dispersed plan. By 1943 the airfield had tarmac landing areas with three intersecting runways and 50 hard standings suitable for Heavy Bombers. In 1944 it was used by Bomber Command's 5 Group. There were two T-2 aircraft hangars, two Glider hangars and one B1 type hangar by 1944. There were 1510 male and 208 female personnel stationed on the base at that time. Part of the accommodation was temporary, and the officers accommodation was at a nearby hospital, Balderton Hall.
During the airfields short operational life over two hundred aircrew failed to return and paid the ultimate sacrifice, a little known fact in Nottinghamshire’s history.
Today, the remains of the airfield are located on private property being used as agricultural fields and a gypsum quarry.
- 1 History
- 2 Initial RAF Bomber Command
- 3 USAAF Use
- 4 Operation Market-Garden
- 5 437th Troop Carrier Group
- 6 439th Troop Carrier Group
- 7 Frank Whittle's jet engine trials at Balderton 1943-1944
- 8 227 Squadron - Subsequent RAF Use
- 9 Postwar Use
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Squadrons: 25 OTU; 408 (Goose) Squadron RCAF; 1668 HCU; 12 (P) AFU; 437th& 439th TCG of 9th USAF; 227 Sqn; MU disposal site.
Aircraft: Hampden, Lancaster, Halifax, CG-4 Horsa glider, Blenheim, Douglas C-47 Skytrain / Dakota, Waco glider.
Nationalities: Canadian, American, British.
Major USAF location for Allied operations Overlord (D-Day) and Market (Arnhem); Frank Whittle prototype jets were dispersed to the airfield in March 1943 and February 1944 for engine trials.
Initial RAF Bomber Command
The airfield was assigned to No. 5 Group RAF and received No. 408 Squadron RAF and its Handley Page Hampdens from RAF Syerston in December 1941. 408 Squadron remained at Balderton 9 December 1941 to 1 February 1942.
The airfield was officially taken over by Ninth Air Force on New Year's Day 1944. Balderton was used as a reception center for C-47 troop carrier groups arriving from the United States that were subsequently located at other UK airfields. Balderton was known as USAAF Station AAF-482 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. Its USAAF Station Code was "BD". It's WWII radio callsign was 'Cheapride'.
Balderton was retained by IX Troop Carrier Command throughout the summer of 1944, and it was about to be released to the Royal Air Force when, in September, it was required as an advance base for Operation "Market".
Ground units moved in during the first week and the air echelon of the 439th TCG, which had been in the process of moving to France, returned to Balderton to airlift the ground forces into the Netherlands.
On 17 September, the 439th despatched two flights of aircraft. The first, with 30 C-47s carrying paratroops of the 82nd Airborne Division to Groesbeek near Nijmegen, successfully completed their mission. The 50 C-47s of the second flight towed CG-4A Waco gliders, losing one but no C-47s were lost.
The next day, 50 C-47s again towed gliders to Groesbeck. On D-plus 2, 25 C-47s took port in an unsuccessful re-supply mission. On D-plus 3, 15 C-47s of the group carried out a re-supply drop to the 101st Airborne Division from RAF Greenham Common.
437th Troop Carrier Group
- 83d Troop Carrier Squadron (T2)
- 84th Troop Carrier Squadron (Z8)
- 85th Troop Carrier Squadron (90)
- 86th Troop Carrier Squadron (5K)
439th Troop Carrier Group
In early February 1944 the air echelon of the 439th was ordered to Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Indiana, the aerial port of embarkation, arriving there on the 14th of the month. The ground echelon would follow by ship to England. The advance parties of the 439th and two of its squadrons, the 91st and 92nd, departed Baer Field in their C47 transports o/a 19 February 1944. Flying a circuitous route they arrived at Balderton Airdrome in England on 21 February 1944. The remaining two squadrons, the 93rd and 94th, did not arrive at Balderton until 6 March. The airdrome was located 2 miles south of Newark, England in the midlands. Skidmore and the ground echelon of the 439th TC Group and its four squadrons left New York aboard the U. S. S. George Washington, an Army troop transport, on 28 February 1944. After eleven days at sea the ship arrived at Liverpool, England on 10 March 1944. From there they traveled by rail to Balderton where they would remain until 26 April 1944. On that date the group was relocated to the airdrome at Upottery, England.
The group's squadrons and fuselage codes were:
- 91st Troop Carrier Squadron (L4)
- 92d Troop Carrier Squadron (J8)
- 93d Troop Carrier Squadron (3B)
- 94th Troop Carrier Squadron (D8)
Frank Whittle's jet engine trials at Balderton 1943-1944
Jet aircraft with Rolls Royce engines were subsequently test flown from Balderton, Nottinghamshire, during 1943-4 (notably Whittle's Meteor jet trials) and Church Broughton, Derbyshire, where concrete runways were available.
This account taken from the book 'Men of Power: The Lives of Rolls-Royce Chief Test Pilots Harvey and Jim Heyworth.'
It includes the following details;
Jan 44 - Returned to Glosters for a complete overhaul.
24 Feb 44 - To Rolls-Royces’ aerodrome at Balderton following completion of overhaul. 25 minute flight. To quote from the flight report held by DoRIS; ‘due to the landing of an entire American Transport Squadron, the aircraft was flown around Balderton for a few minutes while waiting for the aerodrome to clear’.
Whittle is believed to have lived and worked on his engine designs at Balderton Hall during this time.
28 Apr 44 Following tests, transferred to Church Broughton for further development flying.
227 Squadron - Subsequent RAF Use
Balderton was returned to No. 5 Group RAF Bomber Command, at the end of September 1944 and the re-formed No. 227 Squadron RAF with Avro Lancasters and flew its first mission from the airfield on 10/11 October 1944 - 3 Lancasters bombed gun positions at Flushing.
Having no operational usefulness to the RAF, from June 1945, bombs were stored on the runways. Like many wartime airfields, it languished unused with a little demolition until gradually disposed of in the 1950s. A notice in The Times for 20 May 1957 lists the airfield as one of those no longer needed by the RAF.
Balderton was then sold by the MOD and returned to agriculture, the runway concrete disappearing as hardcore under the Al improvements of the 1960s. At that time, the developed Al was routed west of the original road, over the eastern perimeter track of the airfield, before coming back to the east to bypass Balderton village and Newark.
Gypsum open-pit mining has also taken its toll where quarrying has completely obliterated the western side of the airfield.
- Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-80-0
- 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.
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4. ]
- British Automobile Association (AA), (1978), Complete Atlas of Britain, ISBN 0-86145-005-1
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to RAF Balderton.|
RAF Balderton Research Group Page