RAF Bottisham

RAF Bottisham

Infobox Military Structure
name= Royal Air Force Station Bottisham
USAAF Station 374
location= Located Near Bottisham, Cambridgeshire, England
coordinates=coord|52|12|18|N|000|15|09|E|


caption= Bottisham Airfield - 7 May 1946
type= Military Airfield
code=IM
built=1940
builder=
materials=
height=
used=1940-1946
demolished=
condition=
ownership=
controlledby=Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
garrison=RAF Fighter Command
Eighth Air Force
commanders=
occupants=652 & 168 Squadrons
361st Fighter Group
battles= European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945 Location map|Cambridgeshire
label =
lat = 52.20
long = 0.25
caption = Map showing the location of RAF Bottisham within Cambridgeshire.
float = right
background = white
width = 200
RAF Bottisham is a former World War II airfield in England. The field is located 5 miles E of Cambridge, S of Bottisham village in Cambridgeshire.

RAF Fighter Command use

Bottisham airfield opened in March 1940 and was first used by bomb-armed Tiger Moths transferred from 22 EFTS to be prepared for possible anti-invasion duties. Then beginning in October 1940, the airfield was used by 22 EFTS Tiger Moths as an RLG until mid-1941.

With the departure of the Tiger Moths, Bottisham was transferred to the 241 Sqn Army Co-operation Command with Lysanders, Tomahawks, Mustang I's, moved to Ayr.

From 15 June 1942, the airfield was used by RAF 652 and 168 Squadrons.

USAAF use

With the arrival of large numbers of USAAF fighter groups in 1943, Bottisham was allocated to the Americans and assigned designation as Station 374 (IM). The airfield was enlarged and areas of steel matting were laid on the airfield.

361st Fighter Group

The airfield was first used by the United States Army Air Force Eighth Air Force 361st Fighter Group, arriving from Richmond AAF, Virginia on 30 November 1943. The group was under the command of the 65th Fighter Wing of the VIII Fighter Command. Aircraft of the group were identified by yellow around their cowlings and tails.

The group consisted of the following squadrons:

* 374th Fighter Squadron (B7)
* 375th Fighter Squadron (E2)
* 376th Fighter Squadron (E9)

The 361st FG entered combat with P-47 aircraft on 21 January 1944 and converted to P-51's in May 1944. The unit served primarily as an escort organization, covering the penetration, attack, and withdrawal of B-17/B-24 bomber formations that the USAAF sent against targets on the Continent.

The group also engaged in counter-air patrols, fighter sweeps, and strafing and dive-bombing missions. Attacked such targets as airdromes, marshalling yards, missile sites, industrial areas, ordnance depots, oil refineries, trains, and highways. During its operations, participated in the assault against the German Air Force and aircraft industry during Big Week, 20-25 February 1944; the Normandy invasion, June 1944 and the Saint-Lô breakthrough in July.

The weight of the heavy P-47 fighters soon began to tell on the wet surface making take-offs tricky. A team of American engineers were called in during January 1944 and, in three days, they constructed a 1,470-yard-long runway with pierced-steel planking. This feat was considered a record for laying this type of prefabricated surfacing. The runway, which was aligned NE-SW, became the main at Bottisham the other also being constructed of P5P.

In September 1944 the 361st FG moved to RAF Little Walden when it became available after the departure of the 409th Bombardment Group (Light) for France. Little Walden was a Class A airfield with concrete runways and much better facilities than were available at Bottisham.

Postwar use

From mid-1945 until 5 January 1946 Bottisham was used temporarily by Belgian airmen until being closed. Today, few traces of Bottisham remain as the land has all been reclaimed for farming, however a few buildings remain in use.

ee also

* List of RAF stations
* USAAF Eighth Air Force - World War II
* 361st Fighter Group

References

* Freeman, Roger A. (1978) Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBN 0900913096
* Freeman, Roger A. (1991) The Mighty Eighth The Colour Record. Cassell & Co. ISBN 0-304-35708-1
* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
* [http://www.controltowers.co.uk/B/bottisham.htm www.controltowers.co.uk Bottisham]
* [http://mighty8thaf.preller.us/php/1Loc.php?Base=Bottisham mighty8thaf.preller.us Bottisham]
* [http://www.littlefriends.co.uk/361stfg.php 361st Fighter Group on www.littlefriends.co.uk]
* [http://home.att.net/~jbaugher/usafserials.html USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present]

External links

* [http://www.multimap.com/map/photo.cgi?client=public&X=554000&Y=259000&scale=25000&width=700&height=400&gride=554050&gridn=259450&lang=&db=hcgaz&coordsys=gb Aerial photo of RAF Bottisham from Multimap.Com]


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