RAF Podington

RAF Podington

Infobox Military Structure
name= Royal Air Force Station Podington
USAAF Station 109
location= Located Near Wellingborough, Bedfordshire, 52|14|06.79|N|000|36|02.12|W|

caption= Aerial Photo of Podington Airfield - 13 April 1947.

caption= Aerial Photo of Podington Airfield - 2000 1945.]
type= Military Airfield
controlledby=Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
garrison=RAF Bomber Command
Eighth Air Force
occupants=92nd Bombardment Group
battles= European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945 Location map|Bedfordshire
label =
lat = 52.23
long = -0.60
caption = Map showing the location of RAF Podington within Bedfordshire.
float = right
background = white
width = 200

: "For the civil use of this facility after 1961, see Santa Pod Raceway"

RAF Podington is a former World War II United States Army Air Force (USAAF) base in England. It is located six miles southeast of Wellingborough, in Bedfordshire.


Podington airfield was originally built in 1940/41 to accommodate two RAF bomber squadrons.


On 18 April 1942 it was made available to the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) 8th Air Force.

Podington was assigned USAAF Station Number 109.

28th Troop Carrier Squadron

The first USAAF unit to use Podington was the 28th Troop Carrier Squadron in June 1942, arriving from Westover Army Air Field, Massachusetts. The 20th was part of the 60th Troop Carrier Group, based at RAF Chelveston.

The 28th TCS flew Douglas C-47s from the base until rejoining the 60th at RAF Aldermaston in August.

15th Bombardment Squadron (Light)

The 15th Bombardment Squadron, arrived on 15 September 1942 from RAF Molesworth, flying the British Boston III light bomber. The 15th was originally part of the 27th Bombardment Group (Light), based in the Philippine Islands, however the group's planes (A-24's), did not arrive by December 7 1941. Due to the deteriorating situation in the Philippines after the Japanese attack, they were diverted to Australia where they reformed into a combat unit and fought in the Dutch East Indies and New Guinea Campaigns.

From Molesworth, the squadron joined with six RAF crews from RAF Swanton Morley for a low-level attack on Luftwaffe airfields in the Netherlands on 4 July. At Podington, the 15th BS later acquired its own USAAF Douglas A-20 Havocsand flew a number of missions with RAF Bomber Command. In October the 15th was transferred to Twelfth Air Force for support of Allied landings in North Africa, being assigned to Ste-Barbe-du-Tlelat, Algeria on 26 December 1942, Its crews were absorbed by the 47th Bombardment Group (Light), and the 15th was inactivated.

8th Bomber Command Combat Crew Replacement Unit

The VII BC CCRU moved almost immediately to Podington in August 1942. The unit remained until May 1943 processing personnel into the UK, then assigning them as replacements to various 8th AF groups in East Anglia.

301st Bombardment Group (Heavy)

From 15 August through 2 September 1942, Podington was briefly used by the 301st Bombardment Group , based at RAF Chelveston as a satellite airfield for its B-17 Flying Fortress bombers.

It was quickly found that Podington was inadequate to support the B-17s. As a result the runways at Podington were lengthened to accommodate the heavy 4-engined bombers of the Eighth Air Force. Topographical limitations, however, resulted in the NE-SW runway being only 1100 yards, giving Podington an exceptionally short secondary runway. Additional hardstands and taxiways were also constructed.

100th Bombardment Group (Heavy)

In early June 1943, the 100th Bombardment Group, Heavy arrived at Podington from Kearney AAF Nebraska. However the group only stayed for less than a week (2 - 8 June) before moving on to RAF Thorpe Abbotts in East Anglia.

92nd Bombardment Group (Heavy)

Podington remained vacant until 23 September when the 92nd Bombardment Group (Heavy) moved into Podington from RAF Alconbury to allow the 482nd Bomb Group to be formed there. The 92d was the oldest group in the 8th Air Force, having been the first USAAF bomber group to make the transatlantic crossing to the UK in July 1942.

The 92nd Bomb Group was known as "Fame's Favored Few", and it was assigned to the 40th Combat Wing, at RAF Thurleigh. The group tail code was a "Triangle B". Its operational squadrons were:

* 325th Bomb Squadron (NV)
* 326th Bomb Squadron (JW)
* 327th Bomb Squadron (UX)
* 407th Bomb Squadron (PY)From Podington, the group flew almost 300 operational missions over Nazi-Occupied Europe. Missions were flown to Wilhelmshaven, a tire plant at Hannover, airfields near Paris, an aircraft factory at Nantes, and a magnesium mine and reducing plant in Norway.

Although handicapped by weather conditions, enemy fire, and insufficient fighter protection, the 92nd bombed aircraft factories in central Germany on 11 January 1944 and received a Distinguished Unit Citation for the mission.

The group part in the intensive campaign of heavy bombers against the German aircraft industry during Big Week, 20-25 Feb 1944. After that, it attacked V-weapon sites in France; airfields in France, Germany, and the Low Countries, and industrial targets in France, Germany, and Belgium, making concentrated strikes on oil and transportation facilities after October 1944.

In addition to strategic missions, the 92nd performed some interdictory and support operations. Assisted the Normandy invasion in June 1944 by hitting gun emplacements, junctions, and marshalling yards in the beachhead area. Supported ground forces at St Lo during the breakthrough in July 1944. Bombed gun positions and bridges to aid the airborne assault on the Netherlands in September 1944. Participated in the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945, by attacking bridges and marshaling yards in and near the battle area. Bombed airfields near the landing zone to cover the airborne assault across the Rhine in March 1945.

After V-E Day, the 92nd Bomb Group Moved to Istres Air Base, France in June 1945 where the unit transported troops from Marseilles to Casablanca for return to the United States. The group was inactivated in France on 28 February 1946 where the personnel demobilized and B-17 aircraft sent to storage.

Medal of Honor

92d Bombardment Group Flight Officer John C. Morgan, co-pilot, received the Medal of Honor for action aboard a B-17 during a mission over Europe on 26 July 1943. His the aircraft was attacked by enemy fighters, the pilot suffered a brain injury which left him in a crazed condition. For two hours Morgan flew in formation with one hand at the controls and the other holding off the struggling pilot who was attempting to fly the plane. Finally another crew member was able to relieve the situation and the B-17 made a safe landing at Podington.


During the Cold War the 92d was a major wing under various designations in the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command. The 92d Bombardment Wing, Very Heavy was organized and activated on 17 November 1947 at Spokane (later Fairchild) AFB where it has been on active duty for almost 60 years. The wing deployed Boeing B-29 Stratofortress aircraft to Far East Air Forces during Korean War, where in 1950 it engaged in combat operations flying propeller-driven bomber aircraft against enemy MiG-15 jet fighter aircraft.

The 92d Bombardment Wing, Heavy was bestowed the honors and history of the USAAF 92d Bombardment Group in 1952. Returning from Korea, the wing was equipped with the Consolidated B-36 "Peacemaker" aircraft, later the Boeing B-52 "Stratofortresses", and stood nuclear alert during the Cold War years of the 1950s and early 1960s. The wing also supported SAC combat operations in the Vietnam War from 1968-1973.

During the post Cold War era, the 92d Wing was a major B-52H bomber wing of the new Air Combat Command during 1992-94. Redesignated as the 92d Air Refueling Wing in 1994, the wing was assigned to Air Mobility Command as a very large KC-135 tanker wing.

The 92d ARW is currently on active duty.

Air Ministry use

The USAAF returned Podington to the RAF in July 1945 and the airfield was retained by the Air Ministry for storage. As late as 1960, Ministry of Defence personnel were assigned to Podington looking after the well-being of several million sandbags.

In 1961, a public inquiry was made by a Member of Parliament with regards to the need by the MoD to maintain millions of World War II sandbags, and the outcome of the investigation was the sale of Podington to private interests later that year.

Civil Use

With the end of military control, some demolition and concrete removal was performed in the early 1960s, however before all the airfield was ground into aggregate, a group of drag-racing enthusiasts approached the owners to use the main runway as a drag racing strip. In 1964 an agreement was reached for what became Santa Pod Raceway, which opened during Easter weekend, 1966.

In 1972, the concrete was resurfaced with asphalt and Santa Pod became a major European centre for drag racing.

Some of the buildings in the old Technical Site remain, though most have succumbed to vandalism or demolition. The two main T-2 hangars are gone - one was dismantled and the other lost in a fire. The old control tower is one of the few to have been converted into an unusual private house. Those buildings that remain are generally in use by local businesses though some are derelict. The old HQ and Operations Block in particular has seen recent use as a stables, and is not in the best of condition. The perimeter track remains in many places, though reduced in width, and the runways have long since gone (with the exception of the portion now in use as a drag tracing track).

Podington may yet serve the nation once again - there is a proposal by Nuon Renewables to build 9 wind turbines (downgraded from the original proposal of 15) on the old airfield site. Though this is running into significant local opposition as is usually the case with proposed windfarms. The proposed Windfarm would generate electricity for 10,000 local homes.

RAF Podington unit emblems

See also

* List of RAF stations
* USAAF Eighth Air Force - World War II


* Freeman, Roger A. (1978) Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBN 0900913096
* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
* Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
* Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
* [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/usafserials.html] USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present

External links

* [http://www.armyairforces.com/dbgroups.asp?Group=82 60th Troop Carrier Group]
* [http://www.301bg.com 301st Bombardment Group]
* [http://www.afa.org/magazine/valor/0591valor.asp 15th Bombardment Squadron]
* [http://www.100thbg.com 100th Bombardment Group]
* [http://www.92ndma.org 92nd Bombardment Group]
* [http://8thcontrails.com/ipw-web/gallery/album74 Historic Podington photo gallery]
* [http://mighty8thaf.preller.us/php/1Loc.php?Base=Podington United States Army Air Forces - Podington]
* [http://multimap.com/map/photo.cgi?scale=25000&icon=x&lat=%2052.2333&lon=-0.6167&mapsize=big Aerial Photo of RAF Podington from Multimap.Com]

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