RAF Alconbury was opened in 1938 as a satellite field, 1st for RAF Upwood then RAF Wyton in 1939. It was occupied by No 15 squadron with Bristol Blenhiem bombers, returning to Wyton in mid 1940 to convert to Vickers Wellingtons after heavy losses. In Nov 1940 work construction work started to convert Alconbury to full operational status and 40 squadron moved in with it’s Wellingtons, becoming 156 squadron when most of 40 went to Malta
In August 1942 Alconbury was transferred to the USAAF and the Liberators of the (93rd Bombardment Group flew in in November. These were replaced by the B17’s of the 92nd BG in Jan 1943. They flew operations until Sept 1943 when it moved to RAF Poddington. Alconbury was not used for operation missions except for training missions after this until Aug 1943 when the 482nd Pathfinder group was activated. In Nov 1943 the ‘Operation Carpetbagger’ Liberators of the 36th and 406th Bombardment Squadrons started operations to support the French Resistance for the OSS. These were redesignated the 856th and 858th BS’s respectively. The 36th was then activated at Alconbury as a electronics countermeasures unit operating P38 Lightnings as well as it’s Liberators. Alconbury was also the flying facility for the RAF Abbots Rippon major maintenance base
Control of Alconbury airfield was transferred back to the Royal Air Force on 26.11.1945. and post war used it as a site for the storage, distribution and the dismantling of munitions.
In June 1953 control was given to the USAFE and the airfield and depot upgraded to accommodate modern jet aircraft and to provide comfortable conditions for it’s personnel
Sept 1955 – B45 Tornadoes of the 86th BS(light) arrive. Part of Tactical Air Command’s 47th Bombardment Wing stationed at Sculthorpe. In May 1958 they were re-equipped with B66 Destroyers. The 42nd Troop Carrier Squadron moved in briefly from May to December 1957 and RAF Molesworth became Alconbury’s inactive satellite base. Again temporary, the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron moved in during April 1959 from Burtonwood while Mildenhall was being prepared, to where it was transferred to in August.
In August 1959 the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing began it’s 35 year occupation of Alconbury with RB66 Destroyers and the 86th BS moved to RAF Sculthorpe. In May 1965 the 10th TRW started replacing it’s RB66’s with RF4C Phantom II’s.
April 1976 saw the activation of the 527th Tactical Fighter Training and Aggressor Squadron equipped with F5E Tiger II’s painted in a variety of simulated Warsaw Pact camouflage patterns. These operated for 12 years flying their last mission in 1988 when they were replaced by F16c Fighting Falcons and the squadron moved to RAF Bentwaters in 1989.
In August 1987 the 10th changed from a reconnaissance to a tactical fighter wing and 2 squadrons, the 509th and the 511th arrived in 1988. with A10 Thunderbolts.
The airfield area and associated infrastructure were returned to the British Ministery of Defense by the USAF on 30 September 1995. The main base support areas (the portion of the base containing activities such as housing, base exchange, commissary, financial institutions, administrative and support offices) were retained under USAF control. The former airfield site of RAF Alconbury is now administered by Urban & Civic Limited and will be developed as an Enterprise Zone for business and about 8,000 houses. It will also include a Heritage Centre to commemorate the history of the base
The following pictures were taken at USAFE ‘Open Houses’ at RAF Alconbury in September 1983 and July 1984
24th September 1983