RAF Bottesford

RAF Bottesford

Infobox Military Structure
name= Royal Air Force Station Bottesford
USAAF Station 481
location= Located Near Bottesford, Leicestershire, United Kingdom

caption= Bottesford airfield, April 1944
type= Military airfield
controlledby=Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
garrison=RAF Bomber Command
Ninth Air Force
occupants=No. 207 Squadron
No. 467 Squadron (RAAF)
436th Troop Carrier Group
440th Troop Carrier Group
battles= European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945 Location map|Leicestershire
caption= RAF Bottesford, shown within Leicestershire
lat= 52.9375
long= -0.8020
width= 200

RAF Bottesford was a World War II airfield in England located largely in the parish of Normanton, about six miles north-west of Grantham on the Leicestershire-Lincolnshire county borders. As Normanton was the nearest village, the airfield became known locally by that name, although the official name was Bottesford after the larger village 1 mile to the south.

During the war the airfield was used by the Royal Air Force as a bomber and training station as well as United States Army Air Force Ninth Air Force as a troop carrier base, equipped with Douglas C-47 Skytrain transports.

The station was assigned USAAF Station Code 481, ID Code: AQ.


Built by George Wimpey & Co. Ltd from November 1940, it had concrete runways from the outset, one of the first in the area to do so. Runways were a 6,000 ft main aligned 01-19 and two secondaries of 3,600 ft alsigned 08-26 and 3,000 ft at 14-32. The main was originally shorter but its length was increased while the airfield was still under construction. There were originally 36 pan type hardstands but five of these were lost in the extension of taxiwys and another 21 loop standings were added.

Intended as a parent station. Bottesford was given two T-2 hangars and one R-1, but in 1943, four more T-2 hangars were added specifically for the Airspeed Horsa gliders which were to be stored at this airfield. Bomb stores and an armoury were on the east side in Noss Plantation near Big Grange. The dispersed camp sites, 11 domestic, two communal and a sick quarters providing for a maximum complement of 2,373 males and 462 females was to the north of the airfield.

RAF Bomber Command Use

The airfield was opened as a Bomber Command station in No. 5 Group area during the autumn of 1941, with No. 207 Squadron moving in with its troublesome Avro Manchesters during November. However because of continual difficulties experienced with their Vulture engines. operations were frequently curtailed, but in March 1942 the squadron was able to step up its bombing raids on Germany when it became one of the first to receive the new Avro Lancaster in March 1942.

No. 207 left in September 1942 for RAF Langar and in November a new Australian manned squadron, No. 467, arrived in November 1942 commencing operations on the night of January 2/3, 1943.

Two more T-2 hangars were erected near the technical site in 1943 specifically to protect Horsa gliders from inclement weather as Bottesford was the recipient of over 50 of these wood and canvas craft in preparation for the cross-Channel invasion. In November 1943, No. 467 Squadron was moved out to RAF Waddington as Bottesford had been allocated to the USAAF's IX Troop Carrier Command for the forthcoming operation.

RAF Bomber Command operational losses sustained by the units based at Bottesford amounted to three Manchesters and 55 Lancasters, a total of 58.


Work started immediately on providing more hardstandings, 21 loops being added in two clusters on the west side of the Bottesford-Bennington road. In the course of this work, five of the pans were destroyed.

Bottesford was one of the cluster of a dozen airfields in the Grantham area that were allocated for US Troop Carrier Command use in August 1943, and it was first occupied by the 50th Troop Carrier Wing Headquarters on 15 November. It was then opened as a reception base for Douglas C-47/C-53 Skytrain groups that were scheduled to fly in from the United States.

436th Troop Carrier Group

The first USAAF group to arrive at Bottesford was 436th Troop Carrier Group a few days into the New Year from Baer Army Airfield, Indiana. Operational squadrons of the group were:

* 79th Troop Carrier Squadron (S6)
* 80th Troop Carrier Squadron (7D)
* 81st Troop Carrier Squadron (U5)
* 82d Troop Carrier Squadron (3D)

The 436th TCW was assigned to the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing.

Each squadron was equipped with 14 aircraft. In late January, a school was set up for training C-47 navigators in the use of "Gee" navigational aid, the school moving to more ample quarters at RAF Cottesmore in February 1944.

On 3 March the 436th Group was moved south to lake up station at RAF Membury

440th Troop Carrier Group

Within a week (between 8/11 March), the C-47s of the 440th Troop Carrier Group started to arrive from Baer Army Airfield, although the ground echelon traveling by sea did not come in until the 23rd. Operational squadrons of the group were:

* 95th Troop Carrier Squadron (9X)
* 96th Troop Carrier Squadron (6Z)
* 97th Troop Carrier Squadron (W6)
* 98th Troop Carrier Squadron (8Y)

This group was soon training with the paratroops of the 82nd Airborne Division deployed in the Leicester area. On 26 April the 440th moved south to RAF Exeter as part of the general move of the groups of the 50th TCW to obtain better operational deployment.

After using the airfield during the following two months for glider repair and modification, the USAAF then departed.

Subsequent RAF Wartime use

The USAAF relinquished Bottesford to No. 5 Group Bomber Command in July 1944.

No. 1668 Heavy Conversion Unit with Lancasters arrived and later some specialist flights were also based at the station with a variety of aircraft types. In November, No. 1668 HCU was re-assigned to No. 7 Training Group. Bottesford remained a Lancaster training station until the late summer of 1945, No. 1668 HCU moving to more comfortable accommodation at Cottesmore in September. Thereafter little flying took place although the hangars were used for storage by the Air Ministry. After the end of the war, a small holding party remained for a few years until it was sold off in 1948.

Civil Use

With the facility released from military control, farmers were using the land for crops. Today, the technical site buildings and hangars are operated as an industrial storage complex. Most of the runways and perimeter track still exist, which are used for outside storage of goods. The control tower is now restored and used as offices.

ee also

* List of RAF stations
* USAAF Ninth Air Force - World War II
* 436th Airlift Wing
* 440th Airlift Wing


* Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0900913800
* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
* [http://www.armyairforces.com/dbgroups.asp?Group=248] ArmyAirForces.com 436th Troop Carrier Group
* [http://www.armyairforces.com/dbgroups.asp?Group=252] ArmyAirForces.com 440th Troop Carrier Group

External links

* [http://www.multimap.com/map/photo.cgi?client=public&X=482000&Y=341000&width=700&height=400&gride=482000&gridn=341500&srec=0&coordsys=gb&db=grid&pc=&zm=0&scale=25000&up.x=284&up.y=6 Aerial Photo of RAF Bottesford from Multimap.Com]

* [http://www.controltowers.co.uk/B/Bottesford.htm RAF Bottesford at controltowers.co.uk]
* [http://actionstations.fotopic.net/c519671.html Recent photos of RAF Bottesford]

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