RAF Scampton.( Pic: Allen Walker)
RAF Scampton, just to the north of Lincoln and adjacent to the A15, needs little introduction; famous as the home of the Dambusters. The airfield was originally a WWI aerodrome known as Brattleby which closed following the end of the war. By 1920 most of the hangars and buildings were gone. However, the site was redeveloped under the expansion schemes of the mid-1930s and on 27 August 1936, RAF Scampton was opened as a bomber airfield under 3 Group.
The airfield was built to standard Expansion Period design. A grass surfaced flying field was fronted by four ‘C’ Type hangars, beyond which was the technical site with its permanent brick-built structures. To the east and south of the technical site, but still within camp, barrack blocks, messes, dining rooms and semi-detached married quarters were constructed, again to permanent, brick-built designs.
When WWII broke out Scampton was within 5 Group and home to 49 and 83 Squadron, who had arrived at the airfield on 14 March 1938 with their Hinds. Both squadrons had replaced the Hinds with Hampdens by November. The Hampdens were active from the beginning to the end of the war, although the initial targets were restricted to shipping; land targets not being authorised until May 1940.
In December 1941, 83 Squadron converted to the Manchester with 49 Squadron converting to the same type in April 1942. History has shown the Manchester to have been a poor design with both squadrons suffering losses in flying accidents. It would have been to both squadrons’ relief when they received the replacement for the Manchester, the Lancaster, in mid-1942.
On 15 August 1942, 83 Squadron moved to Wyton, Cambridgeshire, to join the Pathfinder force and its replacement 57 Squadron arrived from Fretwell, Norfolk on 4 September. On January 1943, 49 Squadron left the airfield, moving to Fiskerton, leaving 57 Squadron as Scampton’s sole unit. That was until 23 March 1943, when a secret squadron formed at the airfield – the squadron was numbered 617, becoming famous as the Dam Busters.
By 1943 the grass runways were in a poor state and the airfield closed for construction of concrete runways. On 29 August 1943, 57 Squadron left for East Kirkby and 617 Squadron left the next day for Coningsby.
Scampton reopened in July 1944, having been brought up to Class ‘A’ standard. On 15 October 1944, 53 Squadron arrived from Kirmington, the squadron seeing out the war at the airfield and was disbanded there on 28 September 1945. On 5 April 1945, 625 Squadron arrived from Kelstern, disbanding on 7 October 1945.
Scampton was retained post-war and continued to house bomber units. It played a major role in the Cold War and later became a training establishment.
At present Scampton is home to the Red Arrows RAF acrobatic display team.
Link: RAF Scampton
Map: Dambusters Museum