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RAF Raydon

RAF Raydon
USAAF Station 157

Located Near Raydon, Suffolk, United Kingdom
RAF Raydon - September 1946
RAF RaydonUSAAF Station 157 File:Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg File:Eighth Air Force - Emblem (World War II).png is located in Suffolk
RAF RaydonUSAAF Station 157 File:Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg File:Eighth Air Force - Emblem (World War II).png
RAF Raydon
USAAF Station 157

Type Military airfield
Code RA
Site information
Owner Air Ministry
Controlled by  Royal Air Force
 United States Army Air Forces
Site history
Built 1942 (1942)
In use 1942- ()
Battles/wars European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
Garrison information
Garrison Eighth Air Force
Ninth Air Force
RAF Fighter Command
Occupants 357th Fighter Group
358th Fighter Group
353rd Fighter Group

Royal Air Force Station Raydon or more simply RAF Raydon is a former Royal Air Force station located just to the northeast of the village of Raydon, about 6 miles (9.7 km) from Ipswich, England.

Contents

  • History 1
    • USAAF use 1.1
      • 357th Fighter Group 1.1.1
      • 358th Fighter Group 1.1.2
      • 353d Fighter Group 1.1.3
    • RAF Fighter Command use 1.2
  • Current use 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
    • Citations 4.1
    • Bibliography 4.2
  • External links 5

History

USAAF use

Raydon was primarily a fighter station for the Eighth and Ninth United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). During the Second World War it was known as USAAF Station 157.

357th Fighter Group

North American P-51B-1-NA Mustang Serial 43-12123 of the 364th Fighter Squadron.

The first American occupants of Raydon was the 357th Fighter Group, moving in from Casper AAF, Wyoming on 30 November 1943.

Operational squadrons of the 357th were:

One pilot with the 357th was a Lt. Charles ‘Chuck’ Yeager.

When the group arrived at Raydon, it was assigned as part of the Ninth Air Force. On 19 December the group received their first fighter, a single North American P-51B.

358th Fighter Group

Republic P-47D-30-RA Thunderbolt Serial No. 44-33240 of the 356th Fighter Squadron

The 358th Fighter Group moved to RAF Raydon from RAF Leiston on 31 January 1944. The 358th was initially assigned to the 66th Fighter Wing, at Sawston Hall, Cambridge, then transferred to the Ninth Air Force on 1 February 1944 in exchange for the 357th FG.

Operational squadrons of the 358th were:

Group markings were red, yellow and red spinners, with a 12-inch red and yellow check band around the cowling behind the spinner. Aircraft of the 357th were P-47D "Thunderbolts".

At RAF Raydon the group's mission was to attack enemy communications and fly escort missions with the light bomb groups of the 9th AF. On 13 April 1944 the 358th was transferred to RAF High Halden.

On 19th March 1944 a badly damaged B-17 landed at Raydon due to Raydon being the first airfield the crew came across. The B-17 was B-17 #42-31968 LN:D "Miss Irish" of the 350th Bomb Squadron of the 100th Bomb Group. The aircraft's nose art was a black four leafed clover. The B-17 took a direct 88mm flak hit while on a "milk run" (easy mission) over France. The shell blew a large hole in the radio compartment and the radio operator was blown out of the aircraft. The aircraft was severely weakened around the place of impact so the remaining crew decided to land at Raydon. The B-17 was salvaged.[1]

353d Fighter Group

North American P-51D-10-NA MustangSerial 44-14593 of the 351st Fighter Squadron.
P-51D-15-NA Mustang 44-15092 "Lulu Belle II" 352d FS 353rd FG 1944 RAF Station Raydon, England being recovered after a landing accident while being flown by Lt Everett B Bowron. It was originally named "Alabama Rammer Jammer" and assigned to Lt Arthur C Cundy (KIA 11 March 1945).

Replacing the 9th AF 358th FG was the 353rd Fighter Group, moving in from RAF Metfeld in April 1944. The 353d was assigned to the 66th Fighter Wing, at Sawston Hall, Cambridge.

Operational squadrons of the 353d were:

Group markings were black, yellow, black, yellow spinners, with a 48-inch black and yellow check band around the cowling to the end of the exhaust stubs. In October 1944, the group converted to the P-51 "Mustang".

The 353d flew combat missions until the end of April 1945. After the end of hostilities, the group trained and prepared for transfer to the Pacific Theater. After the end of World War II, in September, the group left Raydon and transferred back to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey where it was inactivated on 18 October 1945.[2][3]

RAF Fighter Command use

After the Americans left, Raydon was transferred back to RAF Fighter Command on 20 December 1945. The airfield remained under RAF control but was not used for any flying units. In 1952, a small part of the airfield was sold for agricultural use, and the station was closed on 8 August 1958.

During 1960/62 the Air Ministry sold the remaining airfield parts of RAF Raydon to agricultural interests, retaining most of the technical site for storage of emergency vehicles by the Home Office. They were given up and sold in the 1980s.

The local fire brigade used the airfield from 1965 for a short period to practice fire extinguishing.

Current use

With the end of military control Raydon was converted into Notley Industrial Park. The buildings that remain are largely unaltered in appearance.

Raydon has also been the scene of some paranormal incidents, one being the sighting of an American MP with his dog, still patrolling the airfield.

Unfortunately the control tower and much of the concrete parts of the airfield was removed in the 1960s, being used to construct the A12 highway. Today RAF Raydon retains many of the buildings of the old technical site, including two T-2 hangars in very good condition (one used by the farmer and the other used for car storage).

However some of the taxiways and part of the main runway is still intact. The firing Butts are also still intact but are covered by a large growth of foliage.

Raydon is one of the more complete Second World War USAAF airfield (bases) in East Anglia that was not used by the United States Air Force during the Cold War.

See also

References

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

Citations

  1. ^ "100th Bomb Group Website". 
  2. ^ Maurer 1980, p. 00.
  3. ^ Freeman 2001, p. 00.

Bibliography

  • Freeman, R. Airfields of the Eighth - Then and Now. After the Battle. London, UK: Battle of Britain International Ltd., 2001. ISBN 0-9009-13-09-6.
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1991) The Mighty Eighth: The Colour Record. Cassell & Co. ISBN 0-304-35708-1
  • Maurer, M. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. USAF Historical Division. Washington D.C., USA: Zenger Publishing Co., Inc, 1980. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present

External links

  • 357th Fighter Group website
  • 353d Fighter Group website
  • United States Army Air Forces - Raydon
  • Historic Raydon photo gallery
  • Raydon Airfield Hadleigh.com
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