RAF Waterbeach

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RAF Waterbeach
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
RAF Waterbeach 1945.png
1945 aerial photograph
Summary
Airport type Military
Owner Ministry of Defence
Operator Royal Air Force
Location Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire
Built 1940 (1940)
In use 1941-2013 (2013)
Elevation AMSL 33 ft / 10 m
Coordinates 52°16′28″N 000°11′24″E / 52.27444°N 0.19000°E / 52.27444; 0.19000Coordinates: 52°16′28″N 000°11′24″E / 52.27444°N 0.19000°E / 52.27444; 0.19000
Map
Waterbeach Barracks is located in Cambridgeshire
Waterbeach Barracks
Waterbeach Barracks
Location in Cambridgeshire
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
04/22 6,070 1,850 Asphalt
10/28 4,140 1,262 Asphalt
16/34 4,250 1,296 Asphalt

Royal Air Force Waterbeach or more simply RAF Waterbeach is a former Royal Air Force station located in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire which is about 5.5 miles (8.9 km) north of Cambridge. The site was transferred to the Royal Engineers, part of the British Army, in 1966, as Waterbeach Barracks.

History[edit]

Royal Air Force[edit]

The airfield was built in 1940 on the northern edge of Waterbeach village and operated under the control of RAF Bomber Command.[1] The original control tower and many RAF buildings, including several hangars, are still present.[2]

RAF units and aircraft - Bomber Command, WW2[edit]

Years Unit Aircraft Variant Notes
1941-1942 No. 99 Squadron RAF Vickers Wellington Ic, II
1941-1942 26 Conversion Flight RAF Short Stirling I On 2 January 1942 it was upgraded to form 1651 CU
1942–1943 1651 Conversion Unit RAF Short Stirling I, III During 1942 it flew 49 operational sorties, with a loss of five aircraft
1942 214 Squadron Conversion Flight RAF Short Stirling I Two short stays April–May and August–October 1942
1943 1665 Heavy Conversion Unit RAF Short Stirling I
1943 1678 Conversion Unit RAF Avro Lancaster II The training unit for No. 514 Squadron RAF
1943-1945 No. 514 Squadron RAF Avro Lancaster I, II and III

Transport Command, 1945-1949[edit]

After the Second World War, Consolidated B-24 Liberators and Douglas Dakotas from RAF Transport Command flew from RAF Waterbeach.[3]

RAF units and aircraft - Transport Command[edit]

Years Unit Aircraft Variant Notes
1945-1946 No. 59 Squadron RAF Consolidated Liberator B, C and GR Carrying troops to and from India and the Far East
1945-1946 No. 220 Squadron RAF Consolidated Liberator C Mk V, VI and VIII
1946 1552 (BABS) Flight RAF Airspeed Oxford Training in Beam Approach Beacon System, March–July
1946-1947 No. 51 Squadron RAF Avro York C
1947–1949 No. 77 Squadron RAF Douglas Dakota Participated in Operation Plainfare, the Berlin Airlift
1947–1949 No. 62 Squadron RAF Douglas Dakota Participated in Operation Plainfare, the Berlin Airlift
1947–1949 No. 53 Squadron RAF Douglas Dakota Participated in Operation Plainfare, the Berlin Airlift
1947-1950 No. 18 Squadron RAF Douglas Dakota Participated in Operation Plainfare, the Berlin Airlift
1949-1950 No. 24 Squadron RAF Avro Lancastrian
Douglas Dakota
Avro York
C2
C Mk IV
C Mk I
Participated in Operation Plainfare and then European scheduled services

Fighter Command, 1950-1963[edit]

RAF Fighter Command took over the base on 1 March 1950 and used Gloster Meteors, Supermarine Swifts, de Havilland Venoms, de Havilland Vampires and Gloster Javelins. In addition Hawker Hunter fighters arrived in May 1955 and, two years later, the prototype English Electric P1 (Lightning) visited RAF Waterbeach.[citation needed]

RAF units and aircraft - Fighter Command[edit]

Years Unit Aircraft Variant Notes
1950-1959 No. 56 Squadron RAF Gloster Meteor
Supermarine Swift
Hawker Hunter
F4 and F8
F1 and F2
F5 and F8
27 Meteor F4s from RAF Thorney Island arrived on 10 May 1950
1950-1958 No. 63 Squadron RAF Gloster Meteor
Hawker Hunter
F4 and F8
F6a
1955-1957 No. 253 Squadron RAF de Havilland Venom
de Havilland Vampire
NF2a
T11
1957-1958 No. 153 Squadron RAF Gloster Meteor
Gloster Javelin
NF12 and 14
FAW 7 and 9
1958-1961 No. 25 Squadron RAF Gloster Meteor
Gloster Javelin
NF12 and 14
FAW 7 and 9
1959-1961 No. 46 Squadron RAF Gloster Javelin FAW 2
1961-1962 No. 64 Squadron RAF Gloster Javelin FAW 9
1961-1963 No. 1 Squadron RAF Hawker Hunter F6 and FGA9
1961-1963 No. 54 Squadron RAF Hawker Hunter FGA9 Hunter XG264 was the last to leave RAF Waterbeach for RAF West Raynham on 8 August 1963

After the last RAF fixed-wing aircraft, from No. 54 Squadron RAF, left in August 1963,[4] the site was used by the Airfield Construction Branch RAF until 1966.[5]

Royal Engineers[edit]

In 1966 the station and airfield remained the property of the Ministry of Defence, but was transferred from the Royal Air Force to the Royal Engineers, part of the British Army, as Waterbeach Barracks.[6] Until the closure of nearby RAF Oakington in the early 1970s, the main runway at Waterbeach remained active, along with the control tower, and was used as a relief landing ground for Varsities used in the advanced pilot training role. The former airfield was used as a training area for troops, with occasional visits by helicopters and, in the past, by Harriers.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Hamlin and Merrington 2011
  2. ^ Waterbeach Military Heritage Museum, displays and unpublished archives.
  3. ^ Hamlin and Merrington, 2011 & p.31-35
  4. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 42.
  5. ^ Hamlin & Merrington 2011, p. 21-22.
  6. ^ Planning Application CP88 - Denny St Francis (Waterbeach), Cambridgeshire County Council, accessed 2011-07-20
  7. ^ Waterbeach Barracks, 12 (Air Support) Engineer Group

Bibliography[edit]

  • Hamlin, John F. & Oliver J. Merrington (2011, updated 2014) At the 'Beach: the story of Royal Air Force Waterbeach and Waterbeach Barracks. Peterborough: GMS Enterprises (available from Waterbeach Military Heritage Museum) ISBN 1-904514-63-4
  • Jefford MBE, Wg Cdr C G (1988). RAF Squadrons. A comprehensive record of the movement and equipment of all RAF squadrons and their antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-053-6. 

External links[edit]