RAF Kirton in Lindsey
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|RAF Kirton in Lindsey
USAAF Station 349
|Near Lincoln, Lincolnshire in England|
Shown within Lincolnshire
|Type||Royal Air Force station|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
|Battles/wars||Second World War, Cold War, War in Afghanistan (2001–present)|
From the historical point of view, there is some uncertainty about the correct name of the location. Kirton Lindsey or Kirton-in-Lindsey?
It appears to have been an RAF habit (inherited from the RFC) to name its bases after the nearest railway station, possibly to simplify the process of issuing Rail Warrants to personnel posted there. By that token, the site should be RAF Kirton Lindsey, Kirton Lindsey being the name of the nearby railway station constructed in 1849. No.255 Squadron's Operations Record Book (ORB) consistently uses that version of the name. So does the airfield's separate ORB, from the date of the site's WWII creation (15 May 1940) through to May 1941. After mid-1941 and the departure of No.255 Squadron, use of RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey begins to appear in the site's own records – eventually dominating.
On 25 March 2013 it was announced to dispose of the airfield and technical facilities with only accommodation remaining, which was emptied later that year. The airfield used to host No. 1 Air Control Centre (1ACC), the RAF’s only deployable ground-based early warning and air control radar unit, which was parented by RAF Scampton.
First World War
The Royal Flying Corps and later Royal Air Force airfield at Kirton in Lindsey was used during the First World War from December 1916 to June 1919. The airfield was used by detachments of 33 Squadron from nearby Gainsborough until the squadron moved was based from June 1918, 33 Squadron was a home defence squadron equipped with the Bristol Fighters and Avro 504s.
With the end of the war, the airfield was returned to agricultural use.
RAF Fighter Command use
The airfield was built on a new site by John Laing & Son in the late 1930s. It opened in May 1940 as a Fighter Command Station covering the NE of England during World War II. Many Defiant and Spitfire Squadrons rested here for a short time during the Battle of Britain.
The first pilot casualty during the Battle of Britain, when Sgt Ian Clenshaw flew a dawn patrol from here on 10 July 1940, and was killed in what is generally regarded as a disorientation accident.
The airfield was home of Number 71 Squadron of the RAF's Fighter Command. 71 Squadron was composed of mostly Americans and was one of the "Eagle Squadrons" of American volunteers who fought in World War II prior to the American entry into the war. 71 Squadron was assigned the squadron code XR.
The squadron arrived at the station in November 1940. By January the squadron was declared combat ready and began flying convoy escort over the North Sea. On 9 April No. 71 was moved to RAF Martlesham Heath.
RAF units and aircraft
|1942||No. 43 Squadron RAF||Hawker Hurricane||I||Short stay in September before the squadron moved to North Africa|
|1941||No. 65 Squadron RAF||Supermarine Spitfire||IIA||February to September operating coastal patrols before moving south|
|1940–1941||No. 71 Squadron RAF||Hawker Hurricane||I||Eagle Squadron|
|1940||No. 74 Squadron RAF||Supermarine Spitfire||IIA||Short stay August/September 1940|
|1940||No. 85 Squadron RAF||Hawker Hurricane||I||Short stay October/November 1940|
|1941||No. 121 Squadron RAF||Hawker Hurricane||I and IIB||Eagle Squadron formed May 1941 before moving to RAF North Weald|
|1941–1942||No. 133 Squadron RAF||Supermarine Spitfire||IIA then VA and VB|
|1941||No. 136 Squadron RAF||Hawker Hurricane||IIA and IIB||Squadron formed August 1941 before moving to the Far East|
|1942||No. 169 Squadron RAF||North American Mustang||I||Detachments from Doncaster|
|1940||No. 222 Squadron RAF||Supermarine Spitfire||I||Two short stays|
|1940||No. 253 Squadron RAF||Hawker Hurricane||I||May to July|
|1940–1941||No. 255 Squadron RAF||Boulton Paul Defiant
|1940||No. 264 Squadron RAF||Boulton Paul Defiant||I|
|1943||No. 302 (Polish) Squadron RAF||Supermarine Spitfire||VB|
|No. 303 (Polish) Squadron RAF||Supermarine Spitfire||VB|
|1942||No. 306 (Polish) Squadron RAF||Supermarine Spitfire||VB|
|1940||No. 307 (Polish) RAF||Boulton Paul Defiant||I||Formed September 1940|
|1941–1942||No. 409 Squadron RCAF||Bristol Beaufighter||IIF||Detachment from Coleby Grange|
|1941||No. 452 Squadron RAAF||Supermarine Spitfire||I and IIA|
|1942||No. 457 Squadron RAAF||Supermarine Spitfire||VB||Short stay before move to Australia.|
|1942||No. 486 Squadron RNZAF||Hawker Hurricane||II||Formed March 1942|
|1940–1941||No. 616 Squadron RAF||Supermarine Spitfire||I|
1st Fighter Group
81st Fighter Group
In October 1942, the 91st Fighter Squadron of the 81st Fighter Group used the station for training. The squadron arrived in Europe from Muroc AAF California flying Bell P-39 Airacobras. The squadron remained until December then departed for French Morocco as part of Twelfth Air Force.
RAF Flying Training Command use
In May 1943, the station was transferred back to RAF control for use as a Fighter Operational Training Unit with Spitfires of 53 OTU from Llandow, Caistor and Hibaldstow used as satellite airfields. Kirton in Lindsey remained a front-line RAF base during the Cold War and afterwards, with the following units assigned:
- 05/46 to /48, No.7 Service Flying Training School with Oxfords from Sutton Bridge, moved to Cottesmore.
- 48 to /52, Used by non-flying RAF Training Schools.
- 52 to /57, No.2 ITS (later renamed No.1 ITS) with Tiger Moths.
- 57 to /60, Airfield closed and on Care and Maintenance.
- 60 to 12/65, Reopened with 7 School of Technical Training and a Gliding School.
British Army use
In 1966, control of Kirton in Lindsey was transferred to the Royal Artillery and was renamed Rapier Barracks.
Due to the Royal Artillery association, the Army Cadet Force detachment which is housed there has the Royal Artillery cap badge. The former RAF camp was taken over by the army in 1966 and the 1st Bn Royal Northumberland Fusiliers were there from 1966, going to Aden from August 1966 to June 1967 and then were amalgamated into the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers on 23 April 1968 and left for Gibraltar in 1971 after a few tours of Northern Ireland.
Return to RAF control
In 2004, the station was returned to RAF control and became the home of No. 1 Air Control Centre (1ACC), a deployable ground-based early warning and air control radar unit having relocated from RAF Boulmer in 2004–05.
Kirton formerly provided accommodation and messing for personnel based at, and was administered by, RAF Scampton.
In 2011–12, the technical site was vacated and No 1 ACC moved all personnel and equipment to RAF Scampton. During the same period the Junior Ranks Mess, accommodation blocks and dental centre were all closed. The Officers' Mess, Gym and a number of Service Families Accommodation were retained as a satellite of RAF Scampton, but following an announced on 25 March 2013 all parts of the site were closed.A decision has subsequently been taken to dispose of the former airfield and technical facilities.
- The National Archives : AIR27/1518
- The National Archives : AIR28/427 (Overview, various dates 1940–1941).
- "Council outbid in race to buy RAF Kirton site scuppers business park plan". Scunthorpe Telegraph. 9 October 2014. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
- Ritchie, p. 91
- "Battle of Britain Then and Now," 1st ed., p 266
- "Defence Estate Rationalisation Update" (PDF). Ministry Of Defence. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
- Freeman, Roger A. (1978) Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-09-6
- Freeman, Roger A. (1991) The Mighty Eighth The Colour Record. Cassell & Co. ISBN 0-304-35708-1
- Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore Action Stations: Wartime Military Airfields of Lincolnshire and the East Midlands v. 2 (ISBN 978-0850594843)
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Ritchie, Berry (1997). The Good Builder: The John Laing Story. James & James.
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