RAF Alconbury, England


History



RAF Alconbury and view at 25000

ALCONBURY, Huntingdonshire (now Cambridgeshire)
RAF Station No: 102
Location: Four miles north of Huntingdon and 19 miles south of Peterborough on A14
Origin of Name: Named for a nearby village

RAF Alconbury began operations in 1938 as a satellite base for nearby RAF Wyton during the early days of World War II. The first American unit at Alconbury was the 93rd Bombardment Group and its B-24 Liberators. The major unit from 1942 to 1945 was the 482nd Bomb Group. The Royal Air Force again took control of Alconbury in 1945, after the end of the Second World War. The U.S. Air Force again took control of the base in 1953. The base was administered by 7560th ABG, with the 86th BS operating the B-45 from 1955 as a satellite of the 47th BW at RAF Sculthorpe, Norfolk, until the end of the year.

In August 1959, the 10th TRW moved here from Spangdahlem AB. Although wing headquarters was located at Alconbury, the 19th TRS was stationed at RAF Bruntingthorpe with the 42nd TRS at RAF Chelveston. However, following the closure of the other two bases, the 10th consolidated it squadrons at Alconbury. The wing operated the RB-66 until May 1965 when it began conversion to the RF-4C. The wing gradually reduced complement to just one squadron of Phantoms before adding an aggressor role with the formation of the 527th TFTAS in April 1976. Most USAFE squadrons deployed to Alconbury for aggressor training until July 1988 when the 527th relocated to RAF Bentwaters.

SAC began operations from Alconbury in October 1982 when the 17th RW was formed to operate the TR-1A. However, a realignment of reconnaissance assets resulted in the wing inactivating during 1991 with assets reassigned to the 9th SRW (later 9th Wing).

The wing became the 10th TFW in August 1987 with two squadrons of A-10As relocating from the 81st TFW. However, the rundown of USAFE units resulted in the A-10s being withdrawn in late 1991/early 1992 with the 10th becoming the 10th Air Base Wing on March 31, 1993. To maintain the units heritage, the Air Force moved the 10th Air Base Wing flag to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., on Nov. 1, 1994. The 710th Air Base Wing was activated as the host unit on RAF Alconbury, then inactivated July 12, 1995, upon the activation of the 423d Air Base Squadron at RAF Molesworth.

Europe-based Special Operations forces began moving to Alconbury from RAF Woodbridge and Rhein Main AB during 1992. The 39th Special Operations Wing arrived at RAF Alconbury in 1992. After consolidating its aircraft and people at the base, the 39th SOW inactivated, and the 352nd Special Operations Group activated, linking the unit's heritage with a historic World War II commando unit. The 352nd SOG departed RAF Alconbury for RAF Mildenhall on February 17, 1995. Restructuring throughout Europe resulted in the RAF Alconbury flight line being turned back to the Ministry of Defence on September 30, 1995.

Alconbury's future is uncertain. Making civilian non-aeronautical use of much of a large air base poses major problems, not the least of which is removal of even small parts of the infrastructure. Although strategically well situated to become a large distribution center, it may need better road and rail links. Local opposition to make sensible use. Internationally Alconbury still plays a part. The quite amazing HASs built for TR-Is served as a center from which relief supplies were sent to Kosovo in 1999.

Units stationed at RAF Alconbury

93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) (8th AF) 1942
92nd Bombardment Group (Heavy) (8th AF) 1943
95th Bombardment Group (Heavy) (8th AF) 1943
36th Bombardment Squadron (8th AF) 1943-45
482nd Bombardment Wing (8th AF) 1943-45
1st Air Division (8thAF) (8th AF) 1945
1st Bombardment Wing (8th AF) 1945
2nd Bombardment Wing (8th AF) 1945
94th Bombardment Wing (8thAF) 1945
Det. 7523rd Air Base Squadron (USAFE) 1953
Det. 7523rd Support Squadron 1954
7560th Air Base Squadron 1954-59
7650th Air Base Group 1955-59
86th Bombardment Squadron (Tactical) 1955-59
4th Tactical Depot Squadron 1956-62
42nd Troop Carrier Squadron 1957-59
7518th Communications Squadron 1959-62
1266th AACS Squadron 1959-61
10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing 1959-unk
1st TRS (10th TRW) 1959-unk
30th TRS (10th TRW) 1959-1976
32 TRS (10th TRW) 1966-1976
10th Air Base Group 1959-62
10th APS 1959-67
2166th Communications Squadron 1961-unk
10th Combat Support Group 1962-unk
10th SPS 1967-unk
527th TFTAS 1976-88
17th Reconnaissance Wing 1982-91
10th Tactical Fighter Wing 1987
509th Tactical Fighter Squadron (81st TFW) 1988
511th Tactical Fighter Squadron (81st TFW) 1988
39th Special Operations Wing 1992
352nd Special Operations Group 1992 -95
10th Air Base Wing 1993-94
710th Air Base Wing 1994-95

Note: The above is not a complete listing of all units assigned to Alconbury.
Source: Historical information on Alconbury provided by David Farrant, a member of the Airfield Research Group in Great Britain. For more information, view his site: WW2 & Cold War History in Britain

Additional Information:

Glenn Miller - On the southern side of the base was the USAAF's 35th Air Depot Group (35th Depot Repair Squadron) area. The 8th AF Service Command had several Air Depot Groups including the 44th SAD Wattisham, which ran a number of subsidiary Depot and Servicing Squadrons, one of which was at Abbots Ripton within the perimeter of Alconbury. Work was undertaken on B-17s and B24s. Incidentally, the unit operated a Noorduyn UC-64A, which is claimed to have been the aircraft in which Glenn Miller died on 15 December 1944.

Jimmy Stewart - He spent his entire combat tour during WWII assigned to B-24 Liberator units in the 8th Air Force stationed in England, rising from squadron operations officer to wing commander. He flew many combat missions, although I cannot document this, some of these missions were probably flown from RAF Alconbury. I remember his picture hanging in the headquarters building with other commanders, and when the new runway was reopened in 1957, he was invited to be the keynote speaker, but was unable because of other commitments. He retired from the Air Force Reserves in 1968 as a Brigadier General and a highly decorated officer. While researching his military history, I discovered that after his death in 1997, Air Power History published a memorandum that stated, "In 1966, during his annual two weeks of active duty, Stewart requested a combat assignment and participated in a bombing strike over Vietnam. Stewart's stepson, 1st Lt. Ronald McLean, was killed at age 24 in the Vietnam War."

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