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Report - RAF King's Cliffe, Northants, March 2016

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by HughieD, Apr 28, 2016.

  1. HughieD

    HughieD 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Jan 15, 2013
    Likes Received:
    You really can’t beat a bit of WW2 RAF airfield action. Been meaning to go to RAF King’s Cliffe for some time and finally got round to it over Easter. It was a beautiful crisp March morning and near perfect light for taking pictures. There’s quite a lot to see here but it’s quite spread out. The jewel in the crown is the watch tower but this is a good mile or so’s walk from the road. The remains of the base are on farmer’s land which includes a deer sanctuary. The keep-out sign warned of deer culls at anytime and while walking out to and back from the watch-tower the constant crack of shotguns could be heard! Anyhow…plenty to see here. Didn’t get round everything as time was limited and some of the stuff is well hidden. Here’s the history bit.

    Twelve miles west of Peterborough in the north-east tip of Northamptonshire, RAF King’s Cliffe first became operational October 1941. It was assigned to the United States Army Air Forces and in January 1943 the 56th Fighter Group of the 8th Air Force arrived at Kings Cliffe from Bridgeport AAF Connecticut. The group was under the command of 67th Fighter Wing of the VIII Fighter Command. Initially the airfield was grass-surfaced but three concrete run-ways and a perimeter track were laid down early in 1943. The base boasted four Blister hangers, two T2’s and eight others. The 56th fighter group spent its time at Kings Cliffe learning RAF fighter control procedures and training for combat with new Republic P-47 Thunderbolts although no operational missions were flown. In August 1943 the 56th transferred to RAF Horsham St Faith and the 20th Fighter Group arrived from March AAF California.

    The 20th FG entered combat late in December 1943 with Lockheed P-38 Lightnings (pictured below) and engaged primarily in the escorting of heavy and medium bombers to targets on the Continent, while frequently strafing targets of opportunity while on escort missions, then in March 1944 flying its own fighter-bomber missions.

    [​IMG]20th_Fighter_Group_P38 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The 20th went on to became known as the "Loco Group" due of its numerous attacks on locomotives. The group also 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. North American P-51 Mustangs arrived in July 1944 and the group continued to fly escort and fighter-bomber missions as the enemy retreated across France. The 20th Fighter Group returned to the US in December 1945. Another claim-to-fame of King’s Cliffe was the fact that Glenn Miller played his last airfield band concert in the big hangar here on Tuesday 3rd October 1944, primarily because it was getting too cold to play in unheated hangars. The base as it appeared in 1947 is show below:

    [​IMG]Kingscliffe-16jan47 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    After the war, the base was used by the RAF for armament storage until the base finally closed in January 1959 and returned to agricultural use.

    Here’s the pictures…

    Think we’re in the right place….

    [​IMG]img4915 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4914 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4913 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Ah…yes, this is what I was after – my first ever mushroom pillbox!

    [​IMG]img4866 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Can’t get enough of this fella…

    [​IMG]img4868 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4869 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    A quick peek inside:

    [​IMG]img4870 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    And on-ward to our main goal…the watch tower:

    [​IMG]img4873 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4879 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4891 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    In we go:

    [​IMG]img4880 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4884 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Many visitors have left their mark:

    [​IMG]img4885 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    ..as bricks crumble:

    [​IMG]img4886 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4887 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4889 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4890 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    But this place still possesses its magic:

    [​IMG]img4883 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4892bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4893 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    A few other bits and bobs on the way back:

    [​IMG]img4897 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Including this Stanton shelter with what appears to be its original paint:

    [​IMG]img4898 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4902 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4903 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4907 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4908 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    [​IMG]img4912 by HughieDW, on Flickr

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  2. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
    Regular User

    Mar 16, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Great history. Certainly some interesting buildings there.
    Let's get looking and HughieD like this.
  3. Troll

    Troll Nosey Fcuker
    28DL Full Member

    May 17, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Might not be there for too much longer. There is talk of some holiday chalets being built on the site. Go see it whilst you can.
  4. Coxieboy

    Coxieboy 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Apr 26, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Cracking report and greah history.
    HughieD likes this.
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