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Report - RAF Upwood, Cambridgeshire - August 2010

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by RaymondKHessel, Aug 21, 2010.

  1. RaymondKHessel

    RaymondKHessel 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    Obviously RAF Upwood has been covered quite a bit in the past however he's my report on the site.

    History

    RAF Upwood's aviation history began in WW1 when it was briefly used by the Royal Flying Corps as night flying training base. However by June 1919 their service was no longer required and the airstrip was returned to the community.

    The sudden requirement of aviation expansion in the inter-war years led to the reactivation of RAF Upwood and the construction of more permanent buildings and hangers. During this period it operated as a training base for Hawker Hinds and Audaxes and later Bristol Blenheim bombers.

    It continued its training role in WW2 as the newly formed No 17 Operational Training Unit. It was bombed by the Luftwaffe on 3 occasions, twice in 1940 and once in 1942, however they only suffered one fatality. On February 1st 1941 a German spy, Josef Jakobs, was caught in the area and was subsequently executed at the Tower of London. Upwood's first mission against the enemy was conducted on February 2nd 1944 when a single Mosquito dropped target indicators over Berlin, this was followed by another on 15 March 1944 with 22 Lancaster bombers attacking Stuttgart.

    During the Cold War it became a base for troop transportation and supply while it continued its bomber training role. Canberras from Upwood took part in Operation Alacrity conducting raids against Egypt. However its squadrons were continually disbanded throughout the 1950s and by the 1960s it had become home of various technical training schools. This continued until the late 1970s but by 1981 the base was mostly dormant.

    Control was eventually passed over to the USAF and was adopted by the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing and primarily operated it as a satellite base for RAF Alconbury. It saw the construction of a high-tech medical facility in 1986 (which is still in use by the USAF) however with the end of the Cold War in 1991 its operations were phased down and it was returned to the MOD in September 1995.

    The explore

    RAF Upwood is pretty much as open a site as you can get. You can literally do a drive-thru explore if you like. Some nice guy mowing the grass verges even bid us good morning as we strode into the airbase. There is no security and all of the buildings seem to be open, no windows are boarded up, in fact most don't even have glass left in them. We didn't encounter a single locked door. It's the perfect place for a newbie explorer (such as myself) and you can really take your time. The police seem to patrol it every now and then but they drove by us without batting an eyelid.

    Most of the large buildings are pretty devoid of anything really interesting. The site is used by airsofters so I guess they remove objects and things from the play area, however some of the smaller buildings which aren't used by them, do house some interesting stuff. Namely the guard house, complete with cell, and the building opposite the guard house which featured some kind of 1980s computer/telephone exchange. There are two water towers which aren't the tallest in the world but again are ideal for new explorers, not too hair raising but still worth the climb.

    Perhaps most interesting (for a military buff like me) is the two Soviet made PT-76 amphibious light tanks. One of which we were able to scramble into. You could even rotate the turret (although only by pushing it from the outside).

    We only eventually left because we became hungry, not because of lack of buildings to explore, although I'm kicking myself for forgetting to go into the NBC decontamination bunker I'd seen in other reports.

    According to wikipedia the site is used by airsofters 'every other Saturday' so might be best to avoid it on Saturdays as their play area is pretty big and encompasses many of the buildings as well as the tanks.

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    Now for the tank, perhaps the best thing about Upwood. For anyone whose interested here is some information:

    The PT-76 is a Soviet light amphibious tank which was introduced in the early 1950s and soon became the standard reconnaissance tank of the Soviet Army and the other Warsaw Pact armed forces. It was widely exported to other friendly states, like India, Iraq, North Korea and North Vietnam. Overall, some 25 countries used the PT-76.

    The tank's full name is Floating Tank–76 (Russian: Плавающий Танк, Plavayushchiy Tank, or ПТ-76). 76 stands for the caliber of the main armament: the 76.2 mm D-56T series rifled tank gun.

    The PT-76 is used in the reconnaissance and fire-support roles. Its chassis served as the basis for a number of other vehicle designs, many of them amphibious, including the BTR-50 armored personnel carrier, the ZSU-23-4 self-propelled antiaircraft gun, the ASU-85 airborne self-propelled gun and the 2K12 Kub anti-aircraft missile launch vehicle.

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    Hope you enjoyed.
     

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