Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Coll Serge Van Heertum, Coll Denis Eusicom, Courtesy RAF MOD, 
Waddington Heritage Centre - Translation: Marc Arys   © sbap 2017
  

RAF Waddington (IATA: WTN, ICAO: EGXW) is a Royal Air Force station located 6.8 km south of Lincoln, Lincolnshire. This active airbase is owned by the Ministry of Defence and managed by the RAF.

 
      
Waddington in 1919...
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
...and in 1979
(© Waddington Heritage Centre)

History:
First World War… 100 years ago...
In 1916, in an effort to provide more training facilities, many areas in the United Kingdom were surveyed for suitable sites for airfields. The land had to be well-drained and reasonably level, but not of the highest agricultural quality. One such area was found at Waddington Heath, approximately 4.5 miles south of Lincoln Cathedral, including the site of the old village race course, which had fallen into disuse well before the outbreak of war. RAF Waddington takes its name from the nearby village and parish. No time was lost in requisitioning four parcels of land from local farmers. The largest piece was acquired from Mr JW Dennis for the airfield and technical buildings bordered by the High Dyke and Mere Road. Construction work began on seven hangars and a full complement of other technical and administrative buildings were erected on the south side of the airfield, with access from Mere Road. Along High Dyke construction of three more hangars began. Domestic buildings were located on the detached site at the crossroads. Construction materials were hauled up the steep incline from Waddington railway station by steam traction engine. By late autumn of 1916 work had progressed far enough to allow the RFC to take possession of many of the buildings, although the hangars were not completed for some time. Waddington opened then as a Royal Flying Corps flying training station, they taught many pilots, including members of the American army or Soviet aviation, teaching students to fly a variety of aircraft. The base was transferred to the Royal Air Force on 01 April 1918 operating until 1920, when the station went into care and maintenance.
Squadrons operating from Waddington during this period:
No. 82 Squadron RFC (30 March 1917 to 17 November 1917) moved to St Omer.
No. 97 Squadron RFC (01 December 1917 to 21 January 1918) moved to Stonehenge.
No. 105 Squadron RFC (23 September 1917 to 03 October 1917) the squadron was formed at Waddington and moved to Andover.
No. 117 Squadron RFC (01 January 1918 to 03 April 1918) formed at Waddington, the squadron moved to Hucknall.
No. 123 Squadron RFC (01 February 1918 to 01 March 1918) created at Waddington and moved to Duxford.
No. 23 Squadron RAF (15 March 1919 to 31 December 1919) disbanded.
No. 203 Squadron RAF (27 March 1919 to 11 December 1919) moved to Scopwick.
No. 204 Squadron RAF (11 February 1919 to 31 December 1919) disbanded.

 
 Cranwell airship above Waddington in 1917
(© Waddington Heritage Centre)
RFC 203 Sqn Sopwith Camel crashed in France
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
 

Inter war period
As part of the pre-war expansion program the Waddington site was earmarked for development into a fully equipped Bomber Station. As it developed, RAF Waddington made an increasingly dramatic imposition on the surrounding rural landscape such as to the Lincolnshire Edge, a Jurassic limestone ridge, which forms the distinctive backbone of the county from Whitton on the Humber Estuary in the north, down to Grantham in the south. Along the top of the Edge a series of airfields were developed, including RAF Waddington, RAF Cranwell and RAF Scampton. They lie within an open landscape, consisting of rectilinear fields and few boundaries. Waddington reopened as a bomber base on 12 March 1937, with 50 Squadron arriving on the same day with their Hawker Hinds and then adding the Handley Page Hampden. 110 Squadron arrived on site 15 days later initially with the Hind before switching to the Bristol Blenheim Mk I. On 07 June 1937 the 88 Squadron reformed at Waddington with the Hind before moving to RAF Boscombe Down on 17 July 1937. On 16 June 1937 44 Squadron moved in from RAF Andover flying the Bristol Blenheim Mk I before switching to the Avro Anson Mk I and the Handley Page HP.52 Hampden in February 1939. In May 1939 110 Squadron left going to RAF Wattisham and 50 Squadron left the following year being moved to RAF Lindholme.

 
 The 50 Sqn and the HP.52 Hampden
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
Handley Page HP.52 Hampden from the 44 sqn
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
 

Second World War
RAF Waddington began the war, housing the Hampdens of 44 Squadron and 50 Squadron. Both squadrons were in action on the same day as Britain's war declaration, attacking German naval targets at Kiel. Waddington squadrons were also involved during the critical stages of the late summer and early autumn of 1940, attacking barges in the channel ports which were being assembled as part of the invasion fleet. In November 1940 it was the first station to receive the Avro Manchester heavy bomber.
No. 44 Squadron RAF was the first in RAF Bomber Command to fly operationally with the Avro Lancaster on 02 March 1942 from Waddington. The BT308, the first prototype Lancaster (or Mk III Manchester), arrived at Waddington in September 1941 for flight testing. Similar to RAF Scampton, the station was part of 5 Group. 44 Squadron left on 31 May 1943 going to RAF Dunholme Lodge.

 
 Fairey Battle Mk I from the 142 sqn shooted during the Battle of France
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
44 sqn Avro Lancaster Mk I
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
 

Ausburg Raid 17 April 1942: Operation "Margin"
To take advantage of the capabilities of the new Avro Lancaster, RAF Bomber Command targeted the MAN U-boat diesel engine factory at Augsburg on 17 April 1942. The target was a long distance inside Germany, and a night-time attack would not have been as accurate, so the plan was to attack by day and cross enemy territory at low level. The bomber force was drawn from No. 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron at RAF Waddington and No. 97 Squadron at RAF Woodhall Spa. Each provided a flight of six aircraft. They practiced low flying for a week. Thirty Douglas Boston medium bombers and a large Fighter Command effort were dispatched to targets in Northern France intending to draw off German fighters. One Boston was lost in these diversionary activities.
Flying at around 50 feet, the bombers crossed France but the aircraft of 44 Squadron, under Squadron Leader John Dering Nettleton, flew close by an airfield of II Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 2. German fighters coming in to land set off in pursuit and shot down four Lancasters. The two remaining bombers flew on and attacked the target with four 1,000 lbs bombs each. One was hit by flak and crash-landed with the loss of three of the crew. The other, Nettleton's, flew back. The second six, from 97 Squadron, attacked shortly after in two sections of three. The first attacked at roof height, flying lower after dropping their load to evade flak on the way out but one was hit and exploded. Of the last three aircraft, two were hit and caught fire. One exploded after completing the attack, the others had also completed the bomb run and were able to return home. In the course of the raid, seven of the twelve Lancasters had been shot down with the loss of 49 crewmen, 37 killed and 12 taken prisoner. Seven bombers were claimed by Hpt. Walter Oesau (2), Fw. Otto Pohl (2), Fw. Alexander Bleymüller (1), Hptm. Karl-Heinz Greisert (1) and Fw. Ernst Bosseckert (1).
Only two of the first formation of Lancasters dropped their bombs on the factory. Five of the next dropped their bombs. After attacking, the surviving Lancasters flew home at higher level under cover of darkness. Squadron Leader Nettleton returned in a badly damaged aircraft, landing near Blackpool.
The operation had propaganda value to the British public, having proved that bomber command could reach distant targets within Germany. Post-war analysis indicated the damage inflicted on the enemy was minor; five of the bombs dropped had failed to explode. Eight machine tools were destroyed out of a total of 2,700, and five cranes out of 558. Courageous men and valuable aircraft had been lost although Bomber Command had already learned not to send unescorted bombers on such sorties. Another lesson was that the Lancaster bomber's rifle-calibre machine guns had proved quite inadequate against enemy fighters that were fitted with self-sealing fuel tanks.

 
 The 44 sqn flight plan to Ausburg In formation during the  operation "Margin"
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
 John Nettleton KM-B aicraft
(© Waddington Heritage Centre)
Artist view of the Ausburg attack
(© Waddington Heritage Centre)
 

RAF Waddington VC recipients
On 17 April 1942, Squadron Leader John Nettleton was the leader of one of two formations of six Avro Lancasters from 44 Squadron detailed to deliver a low-level attack in daylight on the diesel engine factory at Augsburg in Southern Germany. The enterprise was daring, the target being of high military importance. To reach it and get back, some 1,000 miles had to be flown over hostile territory. Soon after crossing into enemy territory his formation was engaged by 25 to 30 fighters. A running fight ensued, one by one the aircraft of his formation were shot down until in the end only his own and one other remained. The fighters were shaken off but the target was still far distant. With great spirit and almost defenseless, he held his two remaining aircraft on their perilous course and after a long and arduous flight, mostly at only 50 feet above the ground, he brought them to Augsburg. Here anti-aircraft fire of great intensity and accuracy was encountered. The two aircraft came low over the roof tops. Though fired at from point blank range, they stayed on course to drop their bombs on the target. The second aircraft, hit by flak, burst into flames and crash-landed. The leading aircraft, though riddled with holes, flew safely back to base, the only one of the six to return. For his outstanding determination and leadership, Nettleton, who had nursed his crippled Lancaster aircraft back to England, would be awarded the Victoria Cross later that same month. Many of the other officers and men who had survived the mission received recognition with the award of Distinguished Service Orders, Distinguished Flying Crosses and Distinguished Flying Medals.

 
 44 Squadron crest
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
John Deering Nettleton portrait
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
The R5508 / KM-B crew:

Back Row (Left to Right):
 F/Sgt Leonard Henry Mutter DFM (RAF)
F/Sgt Frank Howe Harrison DFM (RAF)
Sgt Donald Norman Huntley (Rhodesia)

Front Row (Left to Right):
Plt Off Patrick Arthur Dorehill DFM (Rhodesia)
Sqn Ldr John Deering Nettleton VC (South Africa & Rhodesia)
Plt Off D.O. Sands DFC (RAF)
Flt Sgt Charles Flemming Churchill DFM (South Africa)

  (© Courtesy RAF - MOD)

Squadrons operating from Waddington during this period
No 97 Sqn (25 February 1941 to 10 March 1941) reformed at Waddington on Avro Manchester and moved to RAF Coningsby.
No 9 Sqn (07 August 1942 to 14 April 1943) flown the Vickers Wellington Mk III, switching to Lancaster Mk I and Mk III. Moved to RAF Bardney.
No 142 Sqn (15 June 1940 to 03 July 1940) Fairey Battle Mk I equipped. moved to RAF Binbrook.
No 207 Sqn (01 November 1940 17 November 1941) Avro Manchester Mk I equipped. Adding the HP.52 Hampden for a month (July 1941). Moved to RAF Bottesford.
No 420 Sqn RCAF (19 December 1941 to 07 August 1942) Formed at Waddington and HP.52 Hampden equipped. Moved to RAF Skipton-on-Swale.
No 463 Sqn RAAF (25 November 1943 to 03 July 1945) Formed at Waddington and Lancaster Mks I and III equipped. Moved to RAF Skellingthorpe.
No 467 Sqn RAAF (13 November 1943 to 15 June 1945) Lancaster Mks I and III equipped. Moved to RAF Metheringham.
No 617 Sqn (17 June 1945 to 19 January 1946) Lancaster Mk VII-FE equipped. Moved to RAF Digri.

   
  Lancaster Mk II JO-V from the 463 sqn at Waddington
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
 The same with some special markings at the end of the WW II
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
 

Cold War
In the Cold War, RAF Waddington became an Avro Vulcan V-bomber base, with 83 Squadron being the first in the RAF to receive the Vulcan in May 1957. It continued in this role until 1984 when the last Vulcan squadron, No. 50 squadron, was disbanded. From 1968, the UK nuclear deterrent was transferred to Polaris submarines, starting with HMS Resolution.
In August 1960, the station developed the suds mobile technique to lay a 914 × 27 meters foam carpet in around a half-hour for a possible wheels-up landing. Previously it had taken around three hours to lay a foam carpet on the runway. A Canberra from RAF Wyton landed wheels-up on 23 August 1960, with a Victor managing the same on 5 December 1960.
The fiftieth anniversary of the RAF was celebrated at the base on 01 April 1968, mainly because the RAF's last flying Lancaster was based at the airfield from the mid-1960s until 1970, when moved temporarily to Hendon.

 
Avro Lincoln B.2 of the 57 sqn
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
Avro Vulcan B.1 of the 83 sqn during maintenance
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
 

Cold war and Nuclear Deterrent dates:

26 June 1948 - After Russia closes all land routes into Berlin, the British and American governments begin a massive airlift of supplies into the city. Operation Plainfare sees RAF transports deliver 1,340 tons of food every day during the operation. Clothing, food, fuel and supplies are flown into Gatow airport in York and Dakota aircraft, other supplies such as salt are flown onto Lake Havel by Sunderlands. Although the blockade was lifted on 12 May 1949, flights continued until October to build up stocks. The RAF delivered 17% of the total material delivered to the city.

04 April 1949 - A treaty detailing the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is signed by 12 founder states in Washington.

12 May 1949 - Russia lifts the blockade against Berlin, although the airlift continued until October to build up stocks of supplies.

August 1950 - A stop-gap measure to fill the long-range bomber requirement in the Cold War, the Boeing B-29D Washington began entering service with Bomber Command Squadrons during August. The type began to be retired in 1953 with the advent of the V-bombers, but the last did not leave the RAF until 1958.

22 August 1950 - RAF Sunderland flying boats begin blockade operations off the west coast of Korea.

January 1952 - As a stop-gap, while the Avro Shackleton entered service, four UK based Squadrons were equipped with the Lockheed Neptune MR1. With a crew of ten (two pilots, two navigators , five air signalers and an engineer) and an 8,000 lb weapon load, the long range Neptunes were returned to the US in 1956.

12 March 1953 - Seven airmen are killed when the Avro Lincoln B2 they are flying in, RF531, is shot down by a Soviet fighter in the Berlin air corridor. The aircraft, from the RAF Central Gunnery School, was on a training flight.

January 1955 - The first of the new V-Bombers, the Vickers Valiant, enters service with No. 138 Sqn at RAF Gaydon, Warwickshire.

February 1956 - The Gloster Javelin all-weather fighter enters service with No. 46 Sqn, Odiham.

May 1956 - The Avro Vulcan becomes the second V-bomber to enter RAF service, equipping No. 230 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at Waddington.

11 October 1956 - WZ366, a Valiant of No. 49 Sqn, drops the first British air dropped fission weapon (Blue Danube) during Operation Buffalo over the Maralinga test area, South Australia.

31 October 1956 - Operation Musketeer, the Suez Crisis, begins. After failing to stop Egyptian and Israeli fighting around the Suez Canal, RAF Canberra and Valiant bombers flying from Malta and Cyprus, in conjunction with French Air Force aircraft, attack twelve airfields in the Canal Zone. Airfield attacks continued until 04 November, by which time the Egyptian Air Force had been decimated. Key installations were captured by Anglo-French airborne troops on the 5th prior to a major seaborne offensive. The operations continued until 7 November, when a cease-fire was arranged. So deep was the crisis, that the United States Air Force was brought to a high state of readiness in case of Russian intervention.

04 Apr 1957 - After publication of a Defence White Paper in the UK by the Conservative government, the days of manned aircraft look numbered when Britain chooses to concentrate on defence by advanced interception and nuclear strike missiles. This infamous paper, presented by Duncan Sandys, forces the cancellation of almost all new British military aircraft projects - notable exceptions being the Lightning fighter and the highly controversial TSR2 strike/attack and reconnaissance aircraft.

15 May 1957 - The first British Hydrogen bomb (Yellow Sun) is dropped near Christmas Island in the south- west Pacific in a series of tests known as Operation Grapple. The aircraft involved, XD818, a Valiant of No. 49 Squadron, is now preserved at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford.

29 November 1957 - No. 232 OCU at RAF Gaydon receives the first Victor B1 aircraft, the third of the RAF's V- bombers.

19 September 1958 - The first American-built Thor Ballistic Missile (IRBM) is handed over to No. 77 Sqn, Bomber Command at RAF Feltwell. The first RAF-controlled launch of Thor took place at Vandenberg Air Base, USA, on 16 April 1959.

01 November 1959 - The first RAuxAF Maritime Headquarters Unit (MHQ) is set up at Edinburgh. Others are later formed at Northwood, Plymouth and Belfast.

16 February 1960 - In a change to UK defence policy, the government decides that instead of a ground-based nuclear deterrent, air- and submarine-launched missiles will now be used. This decision was further amended on 13 Apr, when the UK abandoned development of submarine-launched missiles and opted for V-bombers armed with the new American Skybolt missile.

September 1960 - During the Farnborough Airshow, scrambles by each of the RAF's V-bombers demonstrate an average of 1 min 47 sec to get four aircraft airborne.

01 May 1961 - Elements of Fighter Command, including fighter and missile squadrons as well as control and reporting centres, are assigned to NATO under the command of Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR). Air Officer Commanding Fighter Command, Air Marshal Sir Hector McGregor, assumes the additional title of Commander UK Air Defence Region.

01 February 1962 - V-force started its Quick Reaction Alert readiness commitment of one loaded weapon system and crew per operational squadron normally at 15 minutes readiness - an arrangement continued until 30 June 1969 and the basis of Bomber Command at the time.

05 August 1962 - The UK Government signs the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

January 1964 - The Ballistic Missile Entry Warning System radar site at Fylingdales in Yorkshire becomes operational.

30 June 1969 - Responsibility for Britain's strategic nuclear deterrent passes to the Polaris submarines of the Royal Navy. This was marking the end of RAF nuclear power end deterrent.

  
 Yellow Sun Mk II nuclear bomb
(© Courtesy RAF - MOD)
Blue Steel nuclear missile
(© Courtesy RAF - MOD)
 

Squadrons operating from Waddington during this period
No. IX Squadron operating the Avro Vulcan B.2 between 1975 and April 1982 when they were disbanded, later reforming at RAF Honington as the first operational Panavia Tornado GR.1 squadron.
No. 12 Squadron (26 July 1946 to 18 September 1946) Lancaster Mk I and III equipped, transformed on Avro Lincoln B.2. Moving to RAF Binbrook.
No. 21 Squadron (26 May 1955 to 31 December 1957) English Electric Canberra B.2 equipped. Disbanded.
No. 44 Squadron (10 August 1960 to 21 December 1982) Avro Vulcan B.1 and B.2 equipped. Disbanded.
No. 50 Squadron (26 January 1946 to 31 January 1951) Lincoln B.2 equipped. Disbanded.
No. 50 Squadron (01 August 1962 to 31 March 1984) Reactivated at Waddington and Avro Vulcan Mks B.1, B.2 and B.2K equipped. Disbanded.
No. 57 Squadron RAF between 7 October 1946 and 4 April 1951 with the Lincoln B.2 before moving to RAF Marham, the squadron returned on 4 June 1951 with the Washington B Mk 1 before leaving again on 2 April 1952 to RAF Coningsby.
No. 61 Squadron (25 January 1946 to 06 August 1953) Lancaster Mks I and III equipped, replaced by Avro Lincoln B.2. Moved to RAF Wittering.
No. 83 Squadron (21 March 1957 to 10 August 1960) Avro Vulcan B.1 before being reduced to a cadre with no aircraft. Moved to RAF Scampton.
No. 101 Squadron ( 26 June 1961 to 04 August 1982) Avro Vulcan B.1 and B.2. Disbanded.

 

Falklands War
During the 1982 Falklands War, Operations Black Buck 1 to Black Buck 7 were a series of seven extremely long-range ground attack missions by Royal Air Force Vulcan bombers of the RAF Waddington Wing. Comprising aircraft from 44 Squadron, 50 Squadron, 101 Squadron and planned against Argentine positions in the Falkland Islands, of which five missions actually completed attacks on the Falklands. The objectives of all missions were to attack Port Stanley airfield and its associated defences.
The Operation Black Buck raids were staged from RAF Ascension Island, close to the equator. The aircraft carried either twenty-one 1,000 lbs bombs internally or two or four Shrike anti-radar missiles externally. The overall effect of the raids on the war is difficult to determine. The raids did minimal damage to the runway and damage to radars was quickly repaired. Commonly dismissed as post-war propaganda, Argentine sources originally claimed that the Vulcan raids influenced Argentina to withdraw some of their Dassault Mirage III fighter aircraft from the Southern Argentina Defence Zone to the Buenos Aires Defence Zone. This dissuasive effect was however watered down when British officials made clear that there would be no strikes on air bases in Argentina. It has been suggested that the Black Buck raids were pressed home by the Royal Air Force because the British armed forces had been cut in the late seventies and the RAF may have desired a greater role in the conflict to prevent further cuts.
A single crater was produced on the runway, rendering it impossible for the airfield to be used by fast jets. Argentine ground crew repaired the runway within twenty-four hours, to a level of quality suitable for the C-130 Hercules transport and Aermacchi MB-339 light attack jet. Many sources claim that fake craters confounded British damage assessment; however, the British were well aware that the runway remained in use by C-130 military transport aircraft and IA 58 Pucará, a local built ground-attack aircraft.
The Vulcan lacked the range to fly to the Falklands without refueling several times, as it had been designed for medium-range stand-off nuclear missions in Europe. The RAF's tanker planes were mostly converted Handley Page Victor bombers with similar range, so they too had to be refueled in the air. A total of 11 tankers were required for two Vulcans, a huge logistical effort as all aircraft had to use the same strip. The raids, at almost 6,800 nautical miles (12,600 km) and 16 hours for the return journey, were the longest-ranged bombing raids in history at that time (surpassed in the Gulf War of 1991 by USAF Boeing B-52G Stratofortresses flying from the continental United States but using forward-positioned tankers). Of the five Black Buck raids flown to completion, three were against Stanley Airfield's runway and operational facilities, and the other two were anti-radar missions using Shrike anti-radiation missiles against defences in the Port Stanley area.

 
Asuncion Island 1982, the RAF concentration
(© Courtesy RAF - MOD)
Avron Vulcan B.2 XM598
(© Courtesy RAF - MOD)
 
Mission Target Date Aircaraft Reserve Notes
Black Buck 1 Port Stanley Airport runway 30 April to
01 May
XM598 XM607 Performed; lead aircraft developed a fault shortly after takeoff, replaced by reserve
Black Buck 2 Port Stanley Airport runway 03 may to 04 May XM607 XM598 Performed
Black Buck 3 Port Stanley Airport runway 13 May XM612 XM607 Cancelled before takeoff due to weather conditions
Black Buck 4 Anti-aircraft radar 28 May XM597 XM598 Cancelled 5 hours into flight, due to a fault in the Victor fleet
Black Buck 5 Anti-aircraft rada 31 May XM597 XM598 Performed
Black Buck 6 Anti-aircraft radar 03 June XM597 XM598 Aircraft forced to divert to Brazil due to a broken refueling probe, and played no further part in the missions
Black Buck 7 Port Stanley Airport stores and aircraft 12 June XM607 XM598 Performed
 
 Artist view: Refueling time Bad weather between Asuncion and Port Stanley
 

Airborne early warning
In the mid-1980s the base became home to a few NATO AWACS aircraft operating from their main base with eighteen Boeing E-3A Sentry planes at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen in North Rhine-Westphalia on the Germany-Dutch border. The RAF used these aircraft until it had bought its own AWACS fleet, which was due to enter service in 1991.
During the 1991 Gulf War, American casualties were ferried through the base to the USAF Nocton Hall military hospital. The Electronic Warfare Operational Support Element (EWOSE - now known as the Air Warfare Centre) moved from RAF Wyton to Waddington in March 1995.

Present day
The base is the RAF's Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) hub and is home to a fleet of aircraft composed of Sentry AEW1, Sentinel R1, Shadow R1, RC-135W Rivet Joint and operating base for the RAF's MQ-9 Reaper. The station is also home to No. 34 Expeditionary Air Wing.
There is an outdoor viewing area east of the A15 road close to the northern end of the long runway which was designed to accommodate V-bombers. Short-term visits from different NATO and Swiss fighter squadrons, in the past, used to generate occasional additional noise and interest because the airfield was conveniently placed for offshore practice firing ranges above the North Sea. However, with the closure of the aforementioned Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation range these visits have ceased. Waddington also has a very active Force Development ethos, putting emphasis on the development of its busy staff.
No. 34 Expeditionary Air Wing was formed at Waddington on 01 April 2006 encompassing most of the non-formed unit personnel on station. The EAW does not include the flying units at the station. The station commander is dual-hatted as the commander of the wing.
The Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance, now flying its second MD-902 Explorer, began operating from the base in 1994, and continues to be based on station, providing a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service to the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire public.
All of the aircraft operating squadrons based at RAF Waddington were dispersed to other airfields in July 2014 when the runway was closed for rebuild. The project rated at £35 million and due to take 12 months, actually ran over to 26 months and re-opened to aircraft officially in November 2016. The work is expected to increase the operational capability of the runway and airfield by 25 years.

 
The heritage centre
(Pictures in the Heritage Centre © Serge Van Heertum)
 

The Heritage Centre is a voluntarily ran museum which allows you to step into the history of RAF Waddington. The displays will let you travel back in time and engage with this history, from the wreckage of the downed Avro Lancaster PD-259 from WWII through to the Vulcan bomber XM607 of Black Buck fame, which currently stands as the Station's gate guardian. With plenty to see and learn you are sure to leave with a greater knowledge of the Station's standing in past and current operations. Furthermore, they are part of the Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire partnership with links to other museums within the county. All the volunteers are proud of their aviation heritage and their goal is to share the rich Waddington base history with the visitors.

(© Waddington Heritage Centre)

Building history: The only significant attack on Waddington was made during major Luftwaffe attacks on Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby on 9 May 1941. A direct hit by an aerial mine destroyed Waddington church and seven houses, and damaged several others, killing a civilian. Two hours later, a string of five bombs fell across RAF Waddington: the bombs seriously damaged the NAAFI club on the airfield - unfortunately an air-raid shelter on Station received a direct hit, killing 7 NAAFI girls and 3 airmen. One of the casualties was the manageress of the club, Mrs Constance Raven. (The Airmen's Club at RAF Waddington, which also houses the Heritage Centre, was quickly rebuilt and is still called the "Raven's Club" in her memory).
The Heritage centre is now open to civilian visitors and service personnel but only on appointment basis and best of all it's free (although a small donation to enable the upkeep is always appreciated). Due to the operational nature of the Station, anyone wishing to book a visit should contact the Visits Co-coordinator or the Officer in Charge of the Heritage Centre via the details at end of the page.
SBAP would like to thanks the RAF Waddington authorities that have made a visit possible and also our guide of the day who took all the needed time to give us many and mostly interesting information about the rich history of this mythical Lincolnshire airbase.

 
Room 1: From beginning to the second World War
 
 Some plan of the base evolution...in 1918... ...and in 1939
 The beginning Hythe Mk III camera gun in use between 1916 and 1934!
 Fairey Fawn of the 503 Sqn Handley Page Hyderabad of the 503 sqn above Lincoln cathedral

Handley Page HP.52 Hampden model

 
 Some clear and interesting explanations about Waddington history
 A real bible: the operations book of the 44 Squadron... ...incredible the amount of information's that can be retreived in this book
 Probably THE picture of the first missing of WW II departed Waddington No more comments needed here
  History continue...
The Avro Manchester era Avro Manchester Mk I of 207 sqn
  T1154 transmitter on the left and R1155 receiver on the right
 Artist view of the new bomber aircraft, the Lancaster...a real successful aircraft
 Some dummy to show the clothing: Royal Flying Corp - Inter War period flying suit - RAF navigator uniform
 General view of the room 1 The bomber command and the operations
 The operation "Margin" explanations 463 sqn Lancaster Mk I model
"Nick the Nazi Neutralizer" was painted on the JO-N (LM130)
  "Whoa Bessie" and Flt Lt Bruce Buckham

 The original Lancaster "S for Sugar" is visible at Hendon RAF Museum 467 sqn crew members and the "S for Sugar"

From Oboe to Gee-H: Distance measuring navigation systems

Oboe was a British aerial blind bombing targeting system in World War II, based on radio transponder technology. The system consisted of a pair of radio transmitters on the ground, which sent signals which were received and retransmitted by a transponder in the aircraft. By comparing the time each signal took to reach the aircraft, the distance between the aircraft and the station could be determined. The Oboe operators then sent radio signals to the aircraft to bring them onto their target and properly time the release of their bombs.
The system was first used in December 1941 in short range attacks over France where the necessary line of sight could be maintained. To attack the valuable industrial targets in the Ruhr, only the De Havilland Mosquito flew high enough to be visible to the ground stations at that distance. Such operations began in 1942, when Mosquitos used Oboe both to mark targets for heavy bombers, as well as for direct attacks on high value targets. In an attack on 21 December 1942, Oboe guided bombers dropped over 50% of their bombs on the Krupp factories in Essen, an enormous improvement over previous efforts that resulted in less than 10% of bombs landing on their targets. Versions using shorter wavelengths demonstrated accuracy on the order of 15 meters. Oboe was most used during the Battle of the Ruhr in 1943, after which Bomber Command began moving its attention further eastward, out of Oboe range. For these raids new systems were used, notably increasingly accurate versions of H2S. Additionally, Oboe's limitation of guiding a single aircraft at a time led to the Gee-H system that placed the transponder on the ground and the readouts in the aircraft, allowing around 80 aircraft to use the service at once. Neither offered the accuracy of Oboe, however, which demonstrated the highest average bombing accuracy of any system in the war.

Gee was a radio navigation system used by the Royal Air Force during World War II. It measured the time delay between two radio signals to produce a fix, with accuracy on the order of a few hundred meters at ranges up to about 350 miles (560 km). It was the first hyperbolic navigation system to be used operationally, entering service with RAF Bomber Command in 1942. Gee was devised by Robert Dippy as a short-range blind landing system to improve safety during night operations, but during development by the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) at Swanage it was found the range was far better than expected and it developed into a long-range general navigation system. For large, fixed targets, like the cities that were attacked at night, Gee offered enough accuracy to be used as an aiming reference without the need to use a bombsight or other external reference. Jamming reduced its usefulness as a bombing aid, but it remained in use as a navigational aid in the UK area throughout the war. Gee remained an important part of the Royal Air Force's suite of navigation systems in the post-war era, and was featured on aircraft such as the English Electric Canberra and the V-bomber fleet. It also saw civilian use, and a number of new Gee chains were set up to support military and civil aviation across Europe. The system started to be shut down in the late 1960s, with the last station going off the air in 1970. Gee also inspired the original LORAN ("Loran-A") system

Gee-H was an improved radio navigation system based on the former Gee system to aid RAF Bomber Command. The name refers to the system's use of the earlier Gee equipment, as well as its use of the "H principle" or "twin-range principle" of location determination. Its official name was AMES Type 100. Gee-H was used to supplant the Oboe bombing system, both of which worked along similar lines. By measuring the distance to a radio station, the bomber was able to navigate along an arc in the sky, dropping their bombs when they reached a set distance from another station. The main difference between Oboe and Gee-H was the location of the equipment; Oboe used very large displays in ground stations to take very accurate measurements but could only direct one aircraft at a time. Gee-H used much smaller gear on board the aircraft and was somewhat less accurate but could direct as many as 80 aircraft at a time. Gee-H entered service in October 1943 and first used successfully in November against the Mannesmann steel works at Düsseldorf on the night of 1/2 November when about half of the sets failed leaving only 15 aircraft to bomb the factory on Gee-H. Gee-H remained in use throughout the war, although it was subject to considerable jamming from the Germans. It also remained a standard fixture of post-war RAF aircraft like the English Electric Canberra. Gee-H was adapted by RCA into the US wartime SHORAN system with improved accuracy. The same basic concept remains in widespread use today as the civilian DME system.

 
 Radar indicator unit Type 166A for Gee H Mark II airborne navigation system Radar Indicator unit Type 62 - 10Q/13000 for GEE airborne navigation system
 
Room 2: Lancaster PD259  /  JO-G   463 Squadron
 
 

Lancaster PD259 JO-G crashed in mysterious circumstances on a remote hillside near Kingussie, Scotland; during a training flight on the night of 21 August 1944.The wreckage of the plane was strewn over a square kilometer of barely accessible terrain.
The land where the aircraft crashed is owned by the Macpherson-Fletcher family, who protected the site from scavengers and souvenir hunters who wanted to remove any parts of the wreckage, as they felt it would be disrespectful to the crew of the aircraft who lost their lives.
The family was then approached by the RAF in 2008 and decided to allow the fuselage to be removed, as it was being vandalized and they wanted to protect it for future generations.
A small team of service personnel from RAF Waddington, with help from the Army, set about recovering the debris to return as much of the aircraft as possible to its home base.
A blade from one of the Lancaster's propellers was restored at Waddington and made into a memorial in the private graveyard at Balavail House - the Macpherson-Fletcher family home.
Other recovered parts, including a huge fuselage panel, a bomb bay door, a wheel and tyre and the entrance door have been mounted on a chassis in a display at RAF Waddington, thanks to support from Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire and the Arts Council.

The crash
Lancaster PD259 took off from RAF Waddington on 31 August 1944 to carry out a night non-operational cross-country flight. The aircraft crashed at 2315 hours in the Monadhliath Mountains about 10 miles north of Kingussie, Inverness Shire, Scotland, killing all the crew members.
On RAF casualty file A705, 166/5/687 held by Archives the following details are recorded in the Court of Inquiry into the accident:
A meteorology report of conditions in the area at the time of the accident stated "Fairly frequent showers in the north of Scotland at the time of the accident. Cumulus and Cumulonimbus clouds extensive to 20,000 feet locally with some reaching to 25,000 feet. Cloud base was locally below 1000 feet in showers and would be covering hilltops. Visibility under cloud in the area was 15/30 miles. Temperatures -30° C to -44° C at 20,000 feet and 25,000 feet respectively. These were far too low for icing to be expected if aircraft was flying at the briefed height of 25,000 feet.
It was also recorded that the crew had a sound training record and that since at this unit the pilot had done 10 hours as second pilot at night and a four hours daylight exercise with his crew. The briefed height was 25,000 feet and the pilot understood the meteorological situation. Despatcher of training flight was considered justified as a bright moon and icing risk negligible at briefed height."

 

The PD259 / JO-G crew:

Back Row (Left to Right):
 
Flt Sgt T R Dent, (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
02 Flt Sgt B M Glover (Rear Gunner)

Front Row (Left to Right):
Flt Sgt D H Ryan, (Bomb Aimer)
FO Beddoe, R H Captain (Pilot)
Flt Sgt F M Walker (Navigator)
Flt Sgt S A Abbott (Mid Upper Gunner)

Missing on the picture
WO G H Middleton, (Flight Engineer)

 
 A 1/48 scale model showing the PD259 / JO-G The other side of the historic aircraft
 Left side part of the fuselage Incredible preservation of the painting after 65 years in the Scottish moors

The RAF roundel in 1944

  The left vertical fin
 Right side part of the fuselage The PD259 code
 Floor part of the aircraft One of the four engine
 A main wheel Many little parts retrieved are visible in different showcases
 Pictures of the recuperation The floor part you could see above

Fuselage part is ready for transport

  Leaving Scotland heading Waddington
 The remembrance corner with a bomber crew dummy
 Some losses statistics August 14th, 1940 the HP.52 Hampden P2077 from 44 squadron
was shot and crashed at Valom (NL)
 Crest from units stationed at Waddington:
5 Sqn - 8 Sqn - 9 Sqn - 12 Sqn - 21 Sqn - 23 Sqn - 27 Sqn - 44 Sqn - 49 Sqn
50 Sqn - 51 Sqn - 57 Sqn - 61 Sqn - 82 Sqn - 83 Sqn - 88 Sqn - 97 Sqn
100 Sqn - 101 Sqn - 110 Sqn - 142 Sqn - 207 Sqn - 463 Sqn - 467 Sqn - 617 Sqn - 420 Sqn
 
Room 3: Cold War - Nuclear Deterrent - Present Day
 
 General view of the room Many interesting and historic items are showed to the visitors

 The Canberra era and the Suez channel crisis

 NBC protection clothes Avro Vulcan Type 3KS Ejection Seat - Ground mapping radar display – 
The Blue Steel storage area near the base.
 The Avro Vulcan era

The Yellow Sun model

 
 The lighted alert state board
 
 A caricature of operation Black Buck showing one Vulcan and the tankers needed to perform the mission… The operation refueling plan…Simply incredible

The AEW era with the Nimrod and later the Sentry

 
 Some of the current aircraft and squadron based at Waddington
 The historical XM607 as gate guardian of the base A Falkland War veteran
 As conclusion a splendid picture taken at Waddington, the past in action
(© Courtesy RAFAT via Tom Evans)
RAF Waddington today, a great and active airbase with 
an amazing Heritage Centre
(Google Earth)
 

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