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Royal Air Force Station Fowlmere
USAAF Station 378

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Patch 8thUSAAF.png

Located Near Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Fowlmere-13April1947.png
Fowlmere Airfield - 13 April 1947
Type Military Airfield
Coordinates 52°04′43.3″N 000°03′28.77″E / 52.078694°N 0.0579917°E / 52.078694; 0.0579917
Location code FW
Built 1940
In use 1940-1946
Controlled by Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Garrison RAF Fighter Command
Eighth Air Force
Occupants 339th Fighter Group
Battles/wars European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
RAF Fowlmere is located in Cambridgeshire
RAF Fowlmere, shown within Cambridgeshire

RAF Fowlmere is a former airfield in the United Kingdom. The airfield is located six miles SW of Cambridge in Cambridgeshire.

Contents

RAF use

Flying at Fowlmere originated in 1918 when the airfield was used by Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Service Aero Squadrons. After World War I ended, the hangars were all demolished along with the assorted buildings by 1923.

With the eruption of World War II, Fowlmere was intended to be a satellite for nearby RAF Duxford and was used by 19 Sqn with Spitfires along with 310 (Czech), 133 (Eagle), 154, 111, 655, 411 (Canadian) and 2 Sqns until March 1943.

USAAF use

When the airfield was turned over to the USAAF, Fowlmere was expanded to meet the requirements of a complete fighter group. The airfield was assigned USAAF designation Station 378 It was allocated to the United States Army Air Force Eighth Air Force fighter command.

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339th Fighter Group

The 339th Fighter Group arrived at Fowlmere from Rice AAF California on 4 April 1944. The group was under the command of the 66th Fighter Wing of the VIII Fighter Command. Aircraft of the group were identified by a red/white chequerboard pattern.

The group consisted of the following squadrons:

  • 503rd Fighter Squadron (D7)
  • 504th Fighter Squadron (5Q)
  • 505th Fighter Squadron (6N)

The 339th FG Began operations with a fighter sweep on 30 April. The unit engaged primarily in B-17/B-24 escort duties during its first five weeks of operations, and afterwards flew many escort missions to cover the operations of medium and heavy bombers that struck strategic objectives, interdicted the enemy's communications, or supported operations on the ground.

The group frequently strafed airfields and other targets of opportunity while on escort missions. the 339th received a Distinguished Unit Citation for operations on 10 and 11 September 1944. On the first of those days, when it escorted bombers to a target in Germany and then attacked an aerodrome near Erding, the group destroyed or damaged many enemy planes despite the intense fire it encountered from anti-aircraft guns and small arms. The following day the bomber formation being escorted to Munich was attacked by enemy fighters, but members of the 339th group destroyed a number of the interceptors and drove off the others and at the same time, other members of the 339th were attacking an airfield near Karlsruhe, where they encountered heavy fire but were able to destroy or damage many of the aircraft parked on the field.

North American P-51 Mustangs of the 505th Fighter squadron. All are P-51D's with the exception of 42-10657 (2nd from front) which is a P-51B. Serials visible are 44-72437 (front), 42-10657, 44-11427 and 44-11215 (top)

The 339th provided fighter cover over the English Channel and the coast of Normandy during the invasion of France in June 1944. Strafed and dive-bombed vehicles, locomotives, marshalling yards, anti-aircraft batteries, and troops while Allied forces fought to break out of the beachhead in France. Attacked transportation targets as Allied armies drove across France after the breakthrough at Saint-Lô in July. Flew area patrols during the airborne attack on Holland in September. Escorted bombers to, and flew patrols over the battle area during the German counter attack in the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge), December 1944-Jan 1945. Provided area patrols during the assault across the Rhine in March 1945.

Among all these varied activities, the outstanding feature of this group's combat record is the large number of enemy aircraft it destroyed in the air or on the ground during its one year of operations.

The 339th Fighter Group returned to Camp Kilmer New Jersey during October 1945 and was inactivated on 18 October.

Postwar RAF use

With the departure of the Americans, Fowlmere was used briefly by 11 Group Fighter Command until January 1946 then closed and placed into care and maintenance status. It was eventually sold back to local farmers in 1957.

Civil Use

With the end of military control, the concreted areas and buildings of Fowlmere airfield were largely ground into aggregate and sold for local construction projects.

The T-2 hangar is still in use by a local farmer and there are a few decaying huts on the west side of Fowlmere village. Other than that, there is little else to indicate previous use of the site as an active fighter airfield. Only fragments of taxi-track remain, and part of a secondary runway is used for light aircraft.

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

External links


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