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Royal Air Force Station Fulbeck
USAAF Station AAF-488

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Patch9thusaaf.png

Located Near Fulbeck, Lincolnshire, England
Fullbeck-18apr44.jpg
RAF Fullbeck during World War II, 18 April 1944. About six weeks before D-Day, dozens of gliders are dispersed around the airfield.
Type Military airfield
Coordinates 53°02′57″N 000°39′32″W / 53.04917°N 0.65889°W / 53.04917; -0.65889
Location code FK
Built 1940
In use 1940-Present
Controlled by United States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
Garrison Ninth Air Force
RAF Bomber Command
Occupants 434th, 442d, 440th Troop Carrier Groups
No. 5 Group
No. 49 Squadron
No. 1 Group
No. 189 Squadron
Battles/wars European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
RAF Fulbeck is located in Lincolnshire
RAF Fulbeck, shown within Lincolnshire
Douglas C-47A Skytrain of the 74th TCS/434th TCG at Fullbeck.
Douglas C-47A-15-DK Skytrain Serial 42-92879 of the 303d TCS/442d TCG at Fullbeck in Normandy invasion markings.

RAF Station Fulbeck is a former World War II airfield in Lincolnshire, England. The airfield is located approximately 17 miles (27 km) east-northeast of Radcliffe on Trent; about 106 miles (171 km) north-northwest of London

Opened in 1940, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Force. During the war it was used primarily as troop carrier airfield for airborne units. After the war it was closed in 1948.

RAF Fullbeck is still used for military training exercises.

Contents

Overview

In 1940, meadows six miles east south east of Newark, between the villages of Fenton and Stragglethorpe, were requisitioned for use as a relief landing ground by training aircraft from the RAF College at Cranwell. Known unofficially as Fenton, the site continued to serve Cranwell for the next 18 months, gradually collecting a number of huts through the facilities were always basic.

In February 1942, Fenton was scheduled for upgrading to a full-size Class A airfield when it was given the official name of Fulbeck after the village 2.5 miles to the east in which parish most of the domestic sites were placed.

The airfield had a set of three converging runways each containing a concrete runway for takeoffs and landings, optimally placed at 60 degree angles to each other in a triangular pattern. The main was 6000 ft (05/23) and two 4200 ft secondary runways aligned 12/30 and 01/19 connecting to an enclosing perimeter track, of a width of 50 feet.

The ground support station was constructed largely of Nissen huts of various sizes. The support station was where the group and ground station commanders and squadron headquarters and orderly rooms were located. Also on the ground station were where the mess facilities; chapel; hospital; mission briefing and debriefing; armory; life support; parachute rigging; supply warehouses; station and airfield security; motor pool and the other ground support functions necessary to support the air operations of the group. These facilities were all connected by a network of single path support roads.

The technical site, connected to the ground station and airfield consisted of at least two T-2 type hangars and various organizational, component and field maintenance shops along with the crew chiefs and other personnel necessary to keep the aircraft airworthy and to quickly repair light and moderate battle damage. Aircraft severely damaged in combat were sent to repair depots for major structural repair. The Ammunition dump was located on the south side of the airfield, outside of the perimeter track surrounded by large dirt mounds and concrete storage pens.

Various domestic accommodation sites were constructed dispersed away from the airfield, but within a mile or so of the technical support site, also using clusters of Maycrete or Nissen huts. The Huts were either connected, set up end-to-end or built singly and made of prefabricated corrugated iron with a door and two small windows at the front and back. They provided accommodation for 2.841 personnel, including communal and a sick quarters.

During airborne operations, when large numbers of airborne parachutists were moved to the airfield, tents would be pitched on the interior grass regions of the airfield, or wherever space could be found to accommodate the airborne forces for the short time they would be bivouacked at the station prior to the operation.

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USAAF use

In May 1943, a beam approach flight used the airfield but in August Fulbeck was allocated for USAAF Ninth Air Force use and work commenced to increase accommodation and the number of hardstands, a total of 15 loops being added. Constable Hart & Co. Ltd and F. G. Mintee Ltd were the contractors involved. It was known as USAAF Station AAF-488 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. It's USAAF Station Code was "FB".

434th Troop Carrier Group

In October 1943, the 434th Troop Carrier Group arrived at Fulbeck from Baer AAF, Indiana. The group was assigned to the 53d Troop Carrier Wing and flew Douglas C-47/C-53 Skytrains. Operational squadrons of the 434th and fuselage codes were:

The 434th TCG had 56 C-47s and started training with some detachments elsewhere until finally moving to RAF Welford on 10 December 1943.

442d Troop Carrier Group

At the end of March 1944 the 442d Troop Carrier Group arrived at Fulbeck from Baer AAF, Indiana. The group was assigned to the 50th Troop Carrier Wing and flew Douglas C-47/C-53 Skytrains. Operational squadrons of the 442d and fuselage codes were:

  • 303d Troop Carrier (J7)
  • 304th Troop Carrier (V4)
  • 305th Troop Carrier (4J)
  • 306th Troop Carrier (7H)

The 442d received additional training with C-47's and C-53's at Fulbeck, and later used these aircraft for operations. The group flew the first missions during the invasion of the Continent, dropping paratroops of the U.S. 82nd Airborne and U.S. 101st Airborne Divisions near Sainte-Mère-Église on 6 June 1944 and flying a resupply mission on 7 June, being awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its part in the Normandy invasion.

The 442d TCG moved to RAF Weston Zoyland in mid-June after having taken part in the D-Day operations.

440th Troop Carrier Group

During the following two months there was little activity at Fulbeck until some C-47s of the 440th Troop Carrier Group arrived in September 1944 from RAF Exeter to use Fulbeck as part of Operation Market, the air component of Operation Market-Garden.

The 440th TCG dropped paratroops of 82nd Airborne Division near Groesbeek Holland on 17 September 1944 and released gliders with reinforcements on 18 and 23 September.

RAF Bomber Command use

The IX Troop Carrier Command relinquished the airfield back to the RAF in late September and No. 5 Group Bomber Command moved in the distinguished No. 49 Squadron from Fiskerton, an airfield which was transferred to No. 1 Group the following month.

On 2 November the recently-formed No. 189 Squadron arrived from Bardney having taken part in its first operation the previous day. Both Nos. 49 and 189 Squadron's Lancasters remained based at Fulbeck until April 1945. No. 49 flew some 60 raids from the airfield losing 15 aircraft and No. 189 took part in 40 raids with 16 aircraft lost. No. 189 moved back to Bardney on the 8th of the month and No. 49 moved to Syerston on the 22nd. On the morning of transfer, a No. 49 Squadron Lancaster making a low farewell pass across the airfield crashed into the technical area and of the resulting 24 casualties among air and ground personnel, 15 were fatal.

Bomber Command operations from Fulbeck cost 38 Lancasters, either failing to return or destroyed in crashes.

Postwar Military Use

RAF Fulbeck memorial.

With no flying unit in residence, the station came under No. 255 Maintenance Unit handling RAF surplus stores, much of the material being disposed of in auctions held during 1948. The airfield was then on a care and maintenance status for five years as a sub-station of No. 93 Maintenance Unit, and at one point the hangars housed the Air Historical Branch's static aircraft collection.

Retained as a reserve airfield, Fulbeck was also used as a Ministry of Defence training area playing host to a number of military exercises. The runways, apart from narrow strips used as farm roads, were removed in the 1970s and all but three of the hardstandings but the perimeter track was kept intact. Small sections of the 30 and 10 runway ends, however, still exist in their full width. At one time Fulbeck was proposed for a nuclear waste disposal site.

RAF Fullbeck is still used for military training exercises and a karting track has now been built over the previous site of the runway.

See also

References

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

  • Bruce Barrymore Halpenny Action Stations: Wartime Military Airfields of Lincolnshire and the East Midlands v. 2 (ISBN 978-0850594843)
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0900913800
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1996) The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle ISBN 1854092723
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.

External links


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