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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

RAF Raydon
USAAF Station 157
Located Near Raydon, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Raydon-7Sep1946.png
RAF Raydon - September 1946
Coordinates52°00′40″N 1°00′00″E / 52.011°N 1.000°E / 52.011; 1.000
TypeMilitary airfield
CodeRA
Site information
OwnerAir Ministry
Controlled by Royal Air Force
US Army Air Corps Hap Arnold Wings.svg
 United States Army Air Forces
Site history
Built1942 (1942)
In use1942-1958 (1958)
Battles/warsEuropean Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
Garrison information
GarrisonEighth Air Force
Ninth Air Force
RAF Fighter Command
Occupants357th Fighter Group
358th Fighter Group
353rd Fighter Group

Royal Air Force Station Raydon or more simply RAF Raydon is a former Royal Air Force station located just to the northeast of the village of Raydon, about 6 miles (9.7 km) from Ipswich, England.

History

Construction

Raydon airfield was constructed by the 833rd and 862nd Aviation Engineer Battalions. Although only ever used by fighters, Raydon airfield was constructed as a standard Class A bomber airfield. As a result, its main concrete runway was approximately 6000 ft long with two intersecting concrete runways of 4200 ft. Two T-2 type hangars were built at opposite ends of the airfield and 52 concrete dispersal points were located around the perimeter track. Accommodation for over 2800 personnel was built to the south east of the airfield.[1]

USAAF use

Raydon was primarily a fighter station for the Eighth and Ninth United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). During the Second World War it was known as USAAF Station 157.

357th Fighter Group

North American P-51B-1-NA Mustang Serial 43-12123 of the 364th Fighter Squadron.
North American P-51B-1-NA Mustang Serial 43-12123 of the 364th Fighter Squadron.

The first American occupants of Raydon was the 357th Fighter Group, moving in from Casper AAF, Wyoming on 30 November 1943.

Operational squadrons of the 357th were:

One pilot with the 357th was a Lt. Charles ‘Chuck’ Yeager.

When the group arrived at Raydon, it was assigned as part of the Ninth Air Force. On 19 December the group received their first fighter, a single North American P-51B.

358th Fighter Group

Republic P-47D-30-RA Thunderbolt Serial No. 44-33240 of the 356th Fighter Squadron
Republic P-47D-30-RA Thunderbolt Serial No. 44-33240 of the 356th Fighter Squadron

The 358th Fighter Group moved to RAF Raydon from RAF Leiston on 31 January 1944. The 358th was initially assigned to the 66th Fighter Wing, at Sawston Hall, Cambridge, then transferred to the Ninth Air Force on 1 February 1944 in exchange for the 357th FG.

Operational squadrons of the 358th were:

Group markings were red, yellow and red spinners, with a 12-inch red and yellow check band around the cowling behind the spinner. Aircraft of the 357th were P-47D "Thunderbolts".

At RAF Raydon the group's mission was to attack enemy communications and fly escort missions with the light bomb groups of the 9th AF. On 13 April 1944 the 358th was transferred to RAF High Halden.

On 19 March 1944 a badly damaged B-17 landed at Raydon due to Raydon being the first airfield the crew came across. The B-17 was B-17 #42-31968 LN:D "Miss Irish" of the 350th Bomb Squadron of the 100th Bomb Group. The aircraft's nose art was a black four leafed clover. The B-17 took a direct 88mm flak hit while on a "milk run" (easy mission) over France. The shell blew a large hole in the radio compartment and the radio operator was blown out of the aircraft. The aircraft was severely weakened around the place of impact so the remaining crew decided to land at Raydon. The B-17 was salvaged.[2]

353d Fighter Group

North American P-51D-10-NA MustangSerial 44-14593 of the 351st Fighter Squadron.
North American P-51D-10-NA MustangSerial 44-14593 of the 351st Fighter Squadron.
P-51D-15-NA Mustang 44-15092 "Lulu Belle II" 352d FS 353rd FG 1944 RAF Station Raydon, England being recovered after a landing accident while being flown by Lt Everett B Bowron.  It was originally named "Alabama Rammer Jammer" and assigned to Lt Arthur C Cundy (KIA 11 March 1945).
P-51D-15-NA Mustang 44-15092 "Lulu Belle II" 352d FS 353rd FG 1944 RAF Station Raydon, England being recovered after a landing accident while being flown by Lt Everett B Bowron. It was originally named "Alabama Rammer Jammer" and assigned to Lt Arthur C Cundy (KIA 11 March 1945).

Replacing the 9th AF 358th FG was the 353rd Fighter Group, moving in from RAF Metfeld in April 1944. The 353d was assigned to the 66th Fighter Wing, at Sawston Hall, Cambridge. The 353rd arrived at a very dirty Raydon airfield as the 358th had not cleaned after leaving.[3]

Operational squadrons of the 353d were:

Group markings were black, yellow, black, yellow spinners, with a 48-inch black and yellow check band around the cowling to the end of the exhaust stubs. In October 1944, the group converted to the P-51 "Mustang".

The 353d flew combat missions until the end of April 1945. After the end of hostilities, the group trained and prepared for transfer to the Pacific Theater. After the end of World War II, in September, the group left Raydon and transferred back to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey where it was inactivated on 18 October 1945.[4][5]

Whilst the 353rd occupied Raydon airfield, a B-17 Flying Fortress belonging to the 91st Bomb Group made an emergency landing at Raydon on 3 November 1944.[6] The B-17 - a member of the 324th Bomb Squadron - went by the name of "Little Patches" and was piloted by 2nd Lt Charles Buchanan on a mission to Merseburg upon which it sustained serious flak damage.[7]

A B-24H Liberator of the 34th Bomb Group also made an emergency landing at Raydon on 26 June 1944.[8]

RAF Fighter Command use

After the Americans left, Raydon was transferred back to RAF Fighter Command on 20 December 1945. The airfield remained under RAF control but was not used for any flying units. In 1952, a small part of the airfield was sold for agricultural use, and the station was closed on 8 August 1958.

During 1960/62 the Air Ministry sold the remaining airfield parts of RAF Raydon to agricultural interests, retaining most of the technical site for storage of emergency vehicles by the Home Office. They were given up and sold in the 1980s.

The local fire brigade used the airfield from 1965 for a short period to practice fire extinguishing.[clarification needed]

Current use

Raydon is one of the more complete Second World War USAAF airfield (bases) in East Anglia that was not also used by the United States Air Force during the Cold War. After the end of military control, Raydon was converted into Notley Industrial Park. The buildings that remain are largely unaltered in appearance, including the old technical site. Two T-2 hangars are in very good condition, one used by a farmer and the other used for car storage.

Some of the taxiways and part of the main runway are still intact. The rifle butts are also extant, although heavily overgrown with foliage. Unfortunately the control tower and many concrete sections of the airfield were removed in the 1960s, being used to construct the A12 highway.

Raydon has been the scene of some reported paranormal incidents, one being the sighting of an American MP with his dog, still patrolling the airfield.

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

Citations

  1. ^ Cross, Graham (2001). Jonah's Feet Are Dry. Thunderbolt Publishing. p. 188.
  2. ^ "100th Bomb Group Website".
  3. ^ Cross, Graham (2001). Jonah's Feet Are Dry. Thunderbolt Publishing. p. 189.
  4. ^ Maurer 1980, p. 00.
  5. ^ Freeman 2001, p. 00.
  6. ^ Bowman 2000, p. 00.
  7. ^ "USAAF Nose Art Research Project".
  8. ^ Bowman & Helton's Hellcats: A Pictorial History of the 493rd Bomb Group 1998, p. 48.

Bibliography

External links

This page was last edited on 22 November 2018, at 19:24
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