|Near Waddington, Lincolnshire in England|
An E-3D Sentry lands at RAF Waddington
For Faith and Freedom
|Type||Royal Air Force station|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
|Controlled by||No. 1 Group (Air Combat)|
|Group Captain T Burke|
|Identifiers||IATA: WTN, ICAO: EGXW, WMO: 03377|
|Elevation||70.1 metres (230 ft) AMSL|
|Source: RAF Waddington Defence Aerodrome Manual|
Royal Air Force Waddington otherwise known as RAF Waddington (IATA: WTN, ICAO: EGXW) is a Royal Air Force station located beside the village of Waddington, 4.2 miles (6.8 km) south of Lincoln, Lincolnshire in England.
The station is the RAF’s Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) hub and is home to a fleet of aircraft composed of the Sentry AEW1, Sentinel R1, Shadow R1, RC-135W Rivet Joint and operating base for the RAF's MQ-9 Reaper.
- 1 History
- 2 Role and operations
- 3 Based units
- 4 Future
- 5 Gate guardian
- 6 Former Station Commanders
- 7 Previous units
- 8 Waddington International Air Show
- 9 In popular culture
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
First World War
RAF Waddington opened as a Royal Flying Corps flying training station in 1916. Student pilots, including members of the US Army, were taught to fly a variety of aircraft. The station came under the control of the Royal Air Force when it was created on 1 April 1918. It operated until 1920, when the station went into care and maintenance.
During and after the First World War, the following squadrons operated from Waddington.
- No. 82 Squadron RFC between 30 March 1917 and 17 November 1917, using the Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8, before moving to Saint-Omer in France.
- No. 97 Squadron RFC between 1 December 1917 and 21 January 1918, with no aircraft before moving to Stonehenge, in Wiltshire.
- 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 in Hampshire.
- 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 in Nottinghamshire.
- No. 123 Squadron RFC formed at the airfield on 1 February 1918 and flew various aircraft before moving to Duxford in Cambridgeshire 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 RAF Scopwick, also in Lincolnshire.
- No. 204 Squadron RAF from 11 February 1919 as a cadre with no aircraft until 31 December 1919 when the squadron disbanded.
As part of the pre-war expansion programme the Waddington site was earmarked for development into a fully equipped bomber station. It reopened as a bomber base on 12 March 1937, with No. 50 Squadron arriving on the same day with their Hawker Hinds and then adding the Handley Page Hampden. No. 110 Squadron arrived 15 days later initially with the Hind before switching to the Bristol Blenheim. On 7 June 1937 No. 88 Squadron reformed at Waddington with the Hind before moving to RAF Boscombe Down in Wiltshire on 17 July 1937. On 16 June 1937 No. 44 Squadron moved in from RAF Andover flying the Blenheim, before switching to the Avro Anson and the Hampden in February 1939. In May 1939 No. 110 Squadron left going to RAF Wattisham in Suffolk and No. 50 Squadron left the following year being moved to RAF Lindholme in South Yorkshire.
Second World War
RAF Waddington began the Second World War housing the Hampdens of No. 44 Squadron and No. 50 Squadron. Both squadrons were in action on the same day as Britain's war declaration, attacking German naval targets at Kiel. Waddington squadrons were also involved during the critical stages of the late summer and early autumn of 1940, attacking barges in the channel ports which were being assembled as part of the invasion fleet.
No. 44 Squadron RAF was the first in RAF Bomber Command to fly operationally with the Avro Lancaster on 2 March 1942 from Waddington. BT308, the first prototype Lancaster (or Mk III Manchester), arrived at Waddington in September 1941 for flight tests. Similar to RAF Scampton, the station was part of 5 Group.
On 7 April 1943, seven Lancasters of No. 44 Squadron took off from Waddington as part of Operation Margin, a bombing raid on the MAN U-boat engine plant in Augsburg in Germany. The squadron subsequently left Waddington on 31 May 1943, moving to RAF Dunholme Lodge, also in Lincolnshire.
During the Second World War the following squadrons are known to have operated from Waddington.
- No. 97 Squadron reformed on 25 February 1941, with the Avro Manchester before moving to nearby RAF Coningsby on 10 March 1941.
- No. 9 Squadron arrived 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, also in Lincolnshire, on 14 April 1943.
- No. 142 Squadronn was present between 15 June 1940 and 3 July 1940 with the Fairey Battle before moving to RAF Binbrook, also in Lincolnshire.
- No. 207 Squadron 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
- No. 420 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) formed on 19 December 1941 with the Hampden before moving to RAF Skipton-on-Swale in North Yorkshire on 7 August 1942.
- No. 463 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) formed at the airfield on 25 November 1943 with the Lancaster I and III before moving to RAF Skellingthorpe in Lincoln on 3 July 1945.
- No. 467 Sqn RAAF was present between 13 November 1943 and 15 June 1945 with the Lancaster Mks I and III. The squadron then moved to nearby RAF Metheringham.
- No. 617 Squadron was present between 17 June 1945 and 19 January 1946 with the Lancaster VII-FE before moving to RAF Digri in Pakistan.
During the Cold War, RAF Waddington became an Avro Vulcan V-bomber station, with No. 83 Squadron 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 Squadron, disbanded. From 1968, the UK nuclear deterrent was transferred to Polaris submarines, beginning with HMS Resolution.
In August 1960, the station developed the sudsmobile technique to lay a 1,000 yd × 30 yd (914 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. An English Electric Canberra from RAF Wyton landed wheels-up on 23 August 1960, with a Handley Page 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.
During the Cold War the following squadrons are known to have operated from Waddington.
- No. 9 Squadron operating the Avro Vulcan B.2 between 1975 and April 1982 when they were disbanded, later reforming at RAF Honington in Suffolk as the first operational Panavia Tornado GR1 squadron.
- No. 12 Squadron between 26 July 1946 and 18 September 1946 initially with the Lancaster I and III before swapping to the Avro Lincoln B.2 and moving to RAF Binbrook.
- No. 21 Squadron and No. 27 Squadron, which were both present from 26 May 1955 until 31 December 1957 with the English Electric Canberra B.2 before being disbanded.
- No. 44 Squadron 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 were based at Waddington from 26 January 1946 with the Lincoln B.2 before being disbanded on 31 January 1951. It reformed at the airfield on 1 August 1962 and operated the Vulcan B.1, B.2 and B.2K before being disbanded on 31 March 1984.
- No. 57 Squadron between 7 October 1946 and 4 April 1951 with the Lincoln B.2 before moving to RAF Marham in Norfolk, the squadron returned on 4 June 1951 with the Washington B.1 before leaving again on 2 April 1952 to RAF Coningsby.
- No. 61 Squadron starting from 25 January 1946 with the Lancaster I and III before being replaced by the Lincoln B.2. The squadron left on 6 August 1953 moving to RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire.
- No. 83 Squadron 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 from 26 June 1961 with the Vulcan B.1 and B.2 before being disbanded on 4 August 1982.
During the Falklands War, Operation Black Buck saw three aircraft and crews from Waddington take part in a long-range bombing raid on Port Stanley airfield in the Falkland Islands. The three Vulcan B2s, of No. 44 Squadron, No. 50 Squadron and No. 101 Squadron, were twenty-two years old, and were selected due to their more powerful Olympus 301 engines. The complicated air-to-air refuelling plan, involving fourteen Handley Page Victor K.2 tankers, was only contemplated due to the belief of Sir Mike Beetham, then Chief of the Air Staff, who had developed the RAF's in-flight refuelling capability with Vickers Valiants of No. 214 Squadron at RAF Marham in 1959. 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. The Victor tanker aircraft came from No. 55 Squadron and No. 57 Squadron at RAF Marham. Later during 1982, there was a female peace camp outside the base for five months.
1980s and 1990s
In the mid-1980s the station became home to NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft operating from their main base (with eighteen AWACS planes) at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The RAF used these aircraft until it had bought its own AWACS fleet, which were due to enter service in 1991.
In 1993, the only RAF Avro Vulcan bomber maintained by RAF Waddington for flying displays, XH558, was retired due to budget restraints to Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, Leicestershire. This aircraft returned to display flying following refurbishment and was the only airworthy Avro Vulcan example, operated by the Vulcan to the Sky Trust as a display aircraft, before retiring from flight in October 2015.
All of the aircraft operating squadrons based at RAF Waddington were dispersed to other airfields in July 2014 when the runway was closed for rebuilding. The project, valued at £35 million and due to take 12 months, actually took 26 months and re-opened to aircraft officially in November 2016. The work was expected to increase the operational capability of the runway and airfield by 25 years.
Role and operations
RAF Waddington is the RAF’s Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) hub and is home to a fleet of aircraft composed of the Sentry AEW1, Sentinel R1, Shadow R1, RC-135W Rivet Joint and operating base for the RAF's MQ-9 Reaper.
No. 34 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) 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.
No. 1 Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Wing formed on 1 April 2016. It is a mix of the staff and capabilities of the Tactical Imagery Intelligence Wing (TIW) at RAF Marham, No. 54 Signals Unit at RAF Digby and No. 5 (AC) Squadron. Waddington is home to the wing headquarters.
The Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance, flying a AgustaWestland AW169 (previously a MD-902 Explorer), began operating from the station in 1994 and provides a helicopter emergency medical service throughout Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.
RAF Waddington Voluntary Band is one of seven voluntary bands within the RAF. Members of the band include RAF personnel as a second duty, dependants, civil servants and local civilians.
There is an outdoor aircraft viewing area east of the A15 road, close to the northern end of the runway.
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 (ACMI) range these visits have ceased.
Amateur radio licensees are not allowed to operate unattended radio beacon transmitters on 28.000 - 29.700 MHz, 10.000 - 10.125 GHz, 24.000 - 24.050 GHz or 47.000 - 47.200 GHz within 50 km of the Waddington airfield, centred on Ordnance Survey Grid Reference SK 985640.
Royal Air Force
- No. 1 Group ISTAR Force Headquarters (ISTAR FHQ)
- No. 1 Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Wing (1 ISR Wg)
- No. 1 ISR Wing Headquarters
- No. 1 ISR Squadron
- No. 2 ISR Squadron
- No. 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron – Sentinel R1
- No. 8 Squadron – Sentry AEW1
- No. 13 Squadron – MQ-9A Reaper
- No. 14 Squadron – Shadow R1
- No. 39 Squadron – MQ-9A Reaper
- No. 51 Squadron – RC-135W Rivet Joint
- No. 54 Squadron – ISTAR Force Operational Conversion Unit (OCU)
- Intelligence Reserve Wing
- No. 7006 (VR) Intelligence Squadron (Royal Auxiliary Air Force)
- No. 7010 (VR) Photographic Interpretation Squadron (Royal Auxiliary Air Force)
- No. 7630 (VR) Intelligence Squadron (Royal Auxiliary Air Force)
- No. 8 RAF Force Protection Wing
- No. 8 Force Protection Wing HQ
- No. 5 RAF Police Squadron
- No. 2503 (County of Lincoln) Squadron (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) Regiment
- Air Warfare Centre Headquarters
- No. 56 Squadron – ISTAR Operational Evaluation Unit (OEU)
- No. 92 Tactics and Training Squadron
- Joint Electronic Warfare Operational Support Centre
Other RAF Units
- Air Battlespace Training Centre (ABTC)
- E-3D Software Support Team (SST)
- RAF Waddington Voluntary Band
- 20 Works Group Royal Engineers (Air Support)
- 531 Specialist Team Royal Engineers (Airfields) (STRE)
- Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance - AgustaWestland AW169.
- RAF Waddington Flying Club - Cessna 152, Cessna 172 and PA-28.
The General Atomics MQ-9B, a remotely piloted air system (RPAS), which will be known as the Protector RG1 in RAF service, will be based at RAF Waddington. The first squadron to operate the Protector is expected to be No. 31 Squadron. A new hangar, support facilities and crew accommodation will be constructed at Waddington at a cost of £93 million.
- gate guardian at RAF Waddington is Avro Vulcan XM607, one of three Vulcan bombers (XM597, XM598, XM607) which took part in Operation Black Buck raids between April and June 1982 during the Falklands War. XM607 was stationed at Waddington and took part in the raids, captained by pilots Flight Lieutenant Martin Withers (on mission 1 and 7) and by Squadron Leader John Reeve (on mission 2). In 1984, along with all other remaining Vulcans, XM607 was retired from active service, and was preserved as the gate guardian at Waddington.
- A Hawker Hunter F.6A acts as gate guardian outside the No. 8 Squadron facilities at Waddington. Styled as 'XE620' in No. 8 Squadron markings, the aircraft was originally XE606.
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 J. Laycock BA RAF 1981-1982
- Air Cdre J.L. Uprichard CBE RAF 1983
- Group Captain M.J. Remlinger RAF 1995-1996
- Group Captain Richard Powell OBE MBA MA MCMI RAF 2009-2010
- Group Captain Chris Jones ADC MA RAF 2010-2011
- Group Captain Al Gillespie ADC MA BSc RAF 2011-2013
- Air Cdre Al Gillespie ADC MA BSc RAF 01 Nov 13 - 16 Nov 13
- Group Captain Rich Barrow ADC OBE RAF 2013-2016
- Group Captain Al Marshall ADC OBE RAF 2016-2018 
The following units were stationed at Waddington at some point:
- No. 1 Aircraft Storage Unit RAF
- No. 3 Group Practice Flight RAF
- No. 6 Blind Approach Training Flight RAF
- No. 9 Conversion Flight RAF
- 11th Aero Squadron
- No. 23 Squadron RAF
- No. 26 Squadron RAF Regiment
- 27th (Training) Wing RAF
- No. 44 Conversion Flight RAF
- No. 53 Base RAF
- 135th Aero Squadron
- No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit RAF
- No. 420 Conversion Flight RAF
- No. 1506 (Beam Approach Training) Flight RAF
- No. 1661 Heavy Conversion Unit RAF
- No. 2956 Squadron RAF Regiment
- Air Transport and Air-to-Air Refuelling Operational Evaluation Unit
- DB-7 Flight
- Electronic Warfare Detachment
- Electronic Warfare Operational Support Establishment
- Ferrying Flight
- Lincoln Conversion Flight
- Lincoln Reserve Holding Unit
- Nimrod AEW Joint Trials Unit
- Sentry Maintenance Squadron
- Sentry Operational Evaluation Unit
- Sentry Standards Unit
- Sentry Training Sqn
- Vulcan Display Flight
- Defence Electronic Warfare Centre (DEWC)
- Electronic Reconnaissance Operations Support Squadron (EROSS)
- Operational Intelligence Support Centre (OSC)
- Air Intelligence Centre (AIC)
Waddington International Air Show
|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. Over the following years the RAF Waddington International Air Show developed into the largest of all Royal Air Force air shows. It took 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 was to raise public awareness and understanding of the RAF and its role today. Eighty five percent (85%) of all proceeds from the event were distributed to the two main Service charities; the RAF Benevolent Fund and the RAF Association; the remaining 15% 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. Twenty 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 was held over 6 and 7 July 2013 at RAF Waddington and celebrated the 95th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force. The airshow also commemorated 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 looked into the secretive world of ISTAR. Over 150,000 visitors attended the show in 2013, making it the biggest and best attended military airshow in the UK. The show featured the only display in the UK by the Turkish Air Forces Solo Türk F-16 demo as well as participation from the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, France, Italy, Jordan, Czech Republic and many more. The show also featured the Saab 37 Viggen.
The RAF Waddington Airshow of 2014 was also widely regarded as a success. Crowds in excess of 135,000 flocked to the base over the two days of the show helping to generate a sum of £260,000 which was in turn donated to Service and local charities. However 2014 was to prove to be the last time an airshow would be staged at RAF Waddington.
The base was earmarked for development, a significant part of which being concerned with the station's runway with work scheduled for 59 weeks. This therefore ruled out an airshow during 2015.
The timing of the works coincided with a review of the base in general, the continuance of the airshow being also part of the review. The outcome was that having weighed up the content of the report, it was decided that: "significant security risks as well as certain operational risks" resulted from the operation of the RAF Waddington Airshow, and therefore the airshow, for the reasons cited, would not be continued with. These security risks have generally centred around RAF Waddington being used as a base for the operation of Reaper drones.
There was strong public objection to the decision regarding the event. A petition numbering 4,262 signatories was gathered with local politicians also campaigning for the retention of the airshow.
In February 2016 it was announced that following an agreement between the Royal Air Force and the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust, the venue of the airshow would switch from RAF Waddington to RAF Scampton, with the hope that the airshow will be resurrected in 2017.
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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