RAF Balderton

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RAF Balderton
USAAF Station AAF-482

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svgPatch9thusaaf.png
Balderton-18apr44.jpg
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: noneICAO: none
Summary
Airport type Military
Owner Air Ministry
Operator Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Location Balderton, Nottinghamshire
Built 1941 (1941)
In use 1941-1957 (1957)
Elevation AMSL 62 ft / 19 m
Coordinates 53°02′11″N 000°47′09″W / 53.03639°N 0.78583°W / 53.03639; -0.78583Coordinates: 53°02′11″N 000°47′09″W / 53.03639°N 0.78583°W / 53.03639; -0.78583
Map
RAF Balderton is located in Nottinghamshire
RAF Balderton
RAF Balderton
Location in Nottinghamshire
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
08/26 1,828x46 0 Asphalt
03/21 1,280x46 0 Asphalt
15/33 1,280x46 0 Asphalt
Douglas C-47A of the 84th Troop Carrier Squadron.
Douglas C-47A-80-DL Serial 43-15159 of the 94th Troop Carrier Squadron in Normady Invasion Markings.

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.

Today, the remains of the airfield are located on private property being used as agricultural fields.

History[edit]

Major USAF location for Allied operations Overlord (D-Day) and Market (Arnhem); Frank Whittle prototype jets were dispersed to the airfield in March 1943 for engine trials.

Initial RAF Bomber Command[edit]

The airfield was assigned to No. 5 Group RAF[citation needed] and received No. 408 Squadron RAF and its Handley Page Hampdens from RAF Syerston in December 1941.[1]

USAAF Use[edit]

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'.

Operation Market-Garden[edit]

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[edit]

The first USAAF transport unit to arrive was the 437th Troop Carrier Group during January 1944 from Baer Army Airfield, Indiana. The group's squadrons and fuselage codes were:

  • 83d Troop Carrier Squadron (T2)
  • 84th Troop Carrier Squadron (Z8)
  • 85th Troop Carrier Squadron (90)
  • 86th Troop Carrier Squadron (5K)

The 439th was a group of Ninth Air Force's 53d Troop Carrier Wing, IX Troop Carrier Command.

The first aircraft arrived on 21 January. On 5/6 February 5 it was moved south to RAF Ramsbury in Wiltshire.

439th Troop Carrier Group[edit]

On 21 February, the 91st and 92d Troop Carrier Squadrons for the 439th Troop Carrier Group also arrived from Baer Army Airfield. Two other squadrons, the 93d and 94th TCS arrived on 6 March. The group's squadrons and fuselage codes were:

The 439th was a group of Ninth Air Force's 50th Troop Carrier Wing, IX Troop Carrier Command.

Intensive training with paratroops of the 82nd Airborne Division was conducted until the 439th was moved to RAF Upottery in Devon on 26 April, although all elements did not move until May.

Frank Whittle's jet engine trials at Balderton in 1943-1944[edit]

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.'

A further account of Whittle's jet engine trials at Balderton can be found here.

http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/…/85-A-64-Meteor-Prototype-DG20…

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.

Subsequent RAF Use[edit]

Balderton was returned to No. 5 Group RAF Bomber Command, at the end of September[citation needed] and the re-formed No. 227 Squadron RAF with Avro Lancasters flew its first mission from the airfield on 11 October 1944. The squadron (code 9J-) moved to RAF Strubby on 5 April 1945.[2]

Postwar Use[edit]

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.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

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

  1. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 90.
  2. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 74.

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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

External links[edit]

RAF Balderton Information Page