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RAF Kings Cliffe: Wikis


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Royal Air Force Station Kings Cliffe
USAAF Station 367

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

Located Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire, near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England
Kings Cliffe Airfield - 16 January 1947
Type Military Airfield
Coordinates 52°34′12″N 000°28′54″W / 52.57°N 0.48167°W / 52.57; -0.48167
Built 1943
In use 1943-1959
Controlled by Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Garrison Royal Air Force
Eighth Air Force
Battles/wars European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
RAF Kings Cliffe is located in Cambridgeshire
Map showing the location of RAF Kings Cliffe within Cambridgeshire.
Lockheed P-38J Lightning of the 79th Fighter Squadron.
North American P-51D-20-NA Mustang Serial 44-72519 of the 77th Fighter Squadron.

RAF Kings Cliffe is a former World War II airfield in England. The field is located near Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire, 12 miles west of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire. Originally the airfield was grass-surfaced but hard-surfaced runways and a perimeter track were laid down early in 1943.



Kings Cliffe was assigned USAAF designation Station 367. It was the most northerly and furthest west of all Eighth Air Force fighter stations. It was in the 1st Air Division heavy bomber base area and more than fifty miles west of any other fighter bases. In spite of the reduced range of escort flights operating from such a westerly airfield, there does not appear to have been any attempt to move the Group to another site nearer the coast


347th Fighter Squadron

While still under construction, Kingscliffe received its first American units in December 1942 when a few P-39 Airacobras of the 347th Fighter Squadron of the 350th Fighter Group based at RAF Duxford were briefly based there.

56th Fighter Group

In January 1943 the 56th Fighter Group of the U.S. Army Air Force's Eighth Air Force arrived at Kings Cliffe from Bridgeport AAF Connecticut with the 347th FS returning to Duxford. The group was under the command of the 67th Fighter Wing of the VIII Fighter Command.

The group consisted of the following squadrons:

The 56th Fighter group spent its time at Kings Cliffe learning RAF fighter control procedures and training for combat with new P-47s and did not fly any operational missions. In April 1943, the group was transferred to the 65th Figher Wing and moved to RAF Horsham St Faith.

20th Fighter Group

On 26 August 1943, the 20th Figher Group arrived from March AAF California. The group was under the command of the 67th Fighter Wing of the VIII Fighter Command. Aircraft of the 20th were identified by a black/white stripes along their cowlings and tails.

The group consisted of the following squadrons:

At first. one squadron, the 55th. was billeted at RAF Wittering because of the shortage of accommodation at Kings Cliffe, later moving to the base when additional barracks had been built. The 20th FG entered combat with P-38's late in December 1943 and for several months was engaged primarily in escorting heavy and medium bombers to targets on the Continent. The group frequently strafed targets of opportunity while on escort missions.

The group retained escort as its primary function until the end of the war, but in March 1944 began to fly fighter-bomber missions, which became almost as frequent as escort operations. The squadrons strafed and dive-bombed airfields, trains, vehicles, barges, tugs, bridges, flak positions, gun emplacements, barracks, radio stations, and other targets in France, Belgium, and Germany.

The 20th became known as the "Loco Group" because of its numerous and successful attacks on locomotives. Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its performance on 8 April 1944 when the group struck airfields in central Germany and then, after breaking up an attack by enemy interceptors, proceeded to hit railroad equipment, oil facilities, power plants, factories, and other targets.

Aircraft from the 20th flew patrols over the English Channel during the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, and supported the invasion force later that month by escorting bombers that struck interdictory targets in France, Belgium, and Holland, and by attacking troops, transportation targets, and airfields.

The 20th FG converted to P-51s in July 1944 and continued to fly escort and fighter-bomber missions as the enemy retreated across France to the Siegfried Line. The group participated in the airborne attack on Holland in September 1944, and escorted bombers to Germany and struck rail lines, trains, vehicles, barges, power stations, and other targets in and beyond the Siegfried Line during the period October-December 1944.

The unit took part in the Battle of the Bulge by escorting bombers to the battle area. Flew patrols to support the airborne attack across the Rhine in March 1945, and carried out escort and fighter-bomber missions as enemy resistance collapsed in April.

The 20th Fighter Group returned to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey and was deactivated on 18 Dec 1945.


On 29 July 1946 the 20th was reactivated Biggs Field, Texas then to Shaw AFB, South Carolina in Oct 1946 (in August 1947 it became part of the new 20th Fighter Wing), then Langley AFB, Virginia in Nov 1951, in June 1952 the 20th Fighter-Bomber Wing returned to RAF Wethersfield then in 1970 to RAF Upper Heyford as part of the United States Air Force in Europe. The unit remained in the UK until 1993 when it returned to Shaw Air Force Base South Carolina as part of the drawdown of US forces in Europe after the end of the Cold War.

Postwar use

After the war, the field was used by the RAF for armament storage until being sold and returned to agriculture in January 1959.

Today Kings Cliffe airfield has largely returned to agriculture, however the outlines and concreted areas of the runways are readily identifiable. The perimeter track has been reduced to a single-track agricultural road with the hardstands removed for hardcore. The technical site and hangars have been razed, however an abandoned control tower still exists.

See also


External links


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