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Royal Air Force Station Matching
Royal Air Force Station Matching Green
USAAF Station AAF-166

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Patch9thusaaf.png

Located Near Harlow, Essex, England
Matching airfield photographed on 1 August 1943 while still under construction.
Type Military airfield
Coordinates 51°47′03″N 000°14′34″E / 51.78417°N 0.24278°E / 51.78417; 0.24278
Location code MT
Built 1943
In use 1944-1946
Controlled by United States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
Garrison Ninth Air Force
RAF Bomber Command
Occupants 391st Bombardment Group
No 38 Group
Battles/wars European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
RAF Matching is located in Essex
RAF Matching, shown within Essex
Martin B-26C-45-MO Marauder Serial 42-107837 of the 575th Bomb Squadron.
Martin B-26B-50-MA Marauder Serial 42-95835 of the 391st Bomb Group.

RAF Station Matching (also known as Matching Green) is a former World War II airfield in Essex, England. The airfield is located approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) east of Harlow; about 22 miles (35 km) northeast of London

Opened in 1944, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Force. During the war it was used primarily as a bomber airfield. After the war it was closed in 1946.

Today the remains of the airfield are located on private property being used as agricultural fields.



Matching airfield was constructed during 1943 by the 834th and 840th Engineer Battalions (Aviation) of the United States Army. It was originally allocated to the USAAF by the Air Ministry in August 1942, and it was planned to be ready for use in the following spring. Due to various construction delays, it was not suitable for occupation until December 1943.

The airfield was designed to be built to the Class A airfield specification for bomber use, the main feature of which was 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 airfield consisted of three runways of 6,000 ft (03/21), 4,200 ft (19/27), and 4,000 ft (14/32). 50 "Loop" hardstands were constructed connecting to an enclosing perimeter track, of a standard width of 50 feet.

The ground support station was constructed largely of Nissen huts of various sizes located on the southeast side of the airfield. 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 and bombsite storage; 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 for storing the aerial bombs and the other munitions required by the combat aircraft.

Various domestic accommodation sites were constructed dispersed away from the airfield to the east, 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 2,282 personnel, including communal and a sick quarters.

In late 1944, the airfield was considered for enlargement with extended runways to accommodate Boeing B-29 Superfortresses for Very Heavy bomber use against Nazi Germany, but this plan was discarded with the end of the European war in May 1945.


Matching was known as USAAF Station AAF-166 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 "MT".


391st Bombardment Group

The first combat organisation, the 391st Bombardment Group, arrived at Matching on 26 January 1944 from Goodman AAF, Kentucky flying Martin B-26 Marauders. Operational squadrons of the group were:

  • 572d Bomb Squadron (P2)
  • 573d Bomb Squadron (T6)
  • 574th Bomb Squadron (4L)
  • 575th Bomb Squadron (O8)

The group marking was a yellow triangle painted on the tail fin of their B-26s.

The first mission was flown on 15 February and 150 more were completed before the group moved into France in late September 1944. During the ensuing weeks the 391st bombed targets such as airfields, marshalling yards, bridges, and V-weapon sites in France and the Low Countries to help prepare for the invasion of Normandy. The group attacked enemy defenses along the invasion beaches on 6 and 7 Jun 1944. From June through September, the group continued cross-Channel operations, which included attacks on fuel dumps and troop concentrations in support of Allied forces during the breakthrough at Saint-Lô in July 1944, and strikes on transportation and communications to block the enemy's retreat to the east.

A total of 20 B-26s were missing in action during the 391st's operations from Matching before the group moved onto the continent, transferring to Roye/Amy, France (ALG A-73) on 19 September 1944. The group then switched to Douglas A-26 Invaders and flew its last mission on 3 May 1945 from Asche, Belgium (ALG Y-29).

The 391st Bomb Group returned to the United States in October and was inactivated at Camp Shanks, New York on 25 October 1945.

With the move of the 391st to France, this was the end of Matching airfield's association with the Ninth Air Force as a combat airfield.

RAF use

Douglas C-47 Skytrains of IX Troop Carrier Command were detached to Matching later in 1944 for exercises with British paratroops. The next occupants were the Short Stirlings of the training unit for the airborne force's squadrons which remained until 1946. Late in the war, the airfield was used by the following RAF units: No 3 Group Bomber Command No 38 Group.

In 1946 the airfield was closed and sold to private owners.

Civil Use

With the facility released from military control, it was rapidly returned to agricultural use and the concrete was soon removed for road hardcore but the hangar on the technical site survived for farm use. However, in the late 1980s the T-2 Hanagar was dismantled and re-erected at North Weald for Aces High where it was used for TV productions, including 'The Crystal Maze' set.

The control tower still stands a half century after it was built and for some years has been used for radar experiments by Cossor Electronics. Many remaining Nissen Huts and corregated roof buildings in the former technical site are now used for small industrial units, farming and storage along with the water tower.

Part of the main runway (03/21) that remains is now used as a public road and another surviving portion was used for heavy goods vehicle instruction. Many single-width sections of the perimeter track are used for agricultural vehicles. However very little of the runways, perimeter track or dispersal hardstands of the former airfield survive. Even in aerial photography, there is very little evidence of the airfield's existence.

A memorial plaque to the men of the 391st Bomb Group is housed in Matching Church.

See also


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

  • 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.
  • USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present

External links


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