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[RAF Elsham Wolds] [Other Local Airfields] [RAF Waddington Pt 3]

RAF Waddington Lincolnshire - Part 3 – Post War

RAF Waddington map

Post WW2 RAF Waddington remained as a bomber airfield and returned to a peace-time training role with 617 Squadron moving in from RAF Woodhall Spa during June 1945. In January 1946, 617 Squadron moved to Salbani, India and was replaced by 61 Squadron that arrived from RAF Sturgate. The Royal Observer Corps moved their Operations Room to the station but this later moved into a purpose-built underground ops room on the ex-wartime airfield of RAF Fiskerton.

Avro Lincoln 1948

Avro Lincoln 1948

The Avro Lincoln replaced the Lancaster and in May 1946 61 Squadron re-equipped with this type. During July 12 Squadron arrived back from RAF Binbrook and after re-equipping with Lincolns returned to Binbrook the following September.

During October the Lincolns of 57 Squadron flew in from RAF Lindholme. From 1947 this squadron was detached at various times to RAF Hemswell, Singapore, RAF Marham and Malta.

In March 1950 the Lincolns of 100 Squadron arrived only to depart again later that year.

By now the Lincoln era was coming to an end and in April 1952 57 Squadron moved to RAF Coningsby. In May 100 Squadron moved to Shallufa, Egypt but returned the following August. During July 1952 the Lincolns of 49 Squadron arrived. Then in August 1953 49, 61 and 100 Squadrons all moved to RAF Wittering.

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The station was put on care and maintenance while the airfield was brought to Class I standard in readiness for V bombers. In order to take these aircraft one long runway was needed and this extended over the main A15 Ermine Street which resulted in the road being re-routed to curve around the lengthened runway. This was the first change from the standard wartime pattern. The main runway was now 9,000 ft long by 200 ft wide and orientated 210/030. The two other runways were retained but not used for flying purposes.

Also needed were stronger dispersals and taxiways. Specialised buildings were also constructed and at the end of 1956 the electronics and operations blocks were completed. In June 1954, the Queen gave her approval to the RAF Waddington Station badge, which includes the towers of Lincoln Cathedral standing above the morning mists.

On 1 June 1955 the station re-opened as a Master Diversion Airfield with 21 and 27 Squadrons from Scampton both flying Canberras. The Vulcan B1 was introduced in 1955 and in mid-1956, 230 Operational Conversion Unit conducted Service Trials on the aircraft at Waddington.

On 30 June 1957 21 Squadron disbanded followed on 31 December 1957 by 27 Squadron. The Operaional Conversion Unit had by now begun crew training for the Vulcans and in May 1957 83 Squadron was re-formed as the first operational Vulcan squadron in the RAF.

Avro Vulcan take off

Vulcan take off

On August 10 1960 44 re-formed as a V-force squadron and in October of the same year 83 moved to Scampton. In June 1961 the OCU departed and 101 moved in from RAF Finningley that same month. To continue the build-up 50 Squadron was re-formed as a V force squadron on August 1 1961.

Finally, to complete the Waddington Wing, 9 Squadron joined the station from Cyprus in January 1975 arriving with Vulcan B2s.

The station continued as part of the Strike Command deterrent but evolved to become a base for airborne early warning aircraft.

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During the Cold War the following squadrons are known to have operated from Waddington :-

9 Squadron operating the Avro Vulcan B2 between 1975 and April 1982

12 Squadron between 26 July 1946 and 18 September 1946 initially with the Lancaster I and III before swapping to the Avro Lincoln B.2 and moving to RAF Binbrook.

21 Squadron and 27 Squadron, which were both present from 26 May 1955 until 31 December 1957 with the English Electric Canberra B2 before being disbanded.

44 Squadron between 10 August 1960 and 21 December 1982 when they were disbanded. The squadron operated the Avro Vulcan B1 and B2.

50 Squadron were based at Waddington from 26 January 1946 with the Lincoln B2 before being disbanded on 31 January 1951. It reformed at the airfield on 1 August 1962 and operated the Vulcan B.1, B.2 and B.2K before being disbanded on 31 March 1984.

57 Squadron between 7 October 1946 and 4 April 1951 with the Lincoln B2 before moving to RAF Marham in Norfolk, the squadron returned on 4 June 1951 with the Washington B1 before leaving again on 2 April 1952 to RAF Coningsby.

61 Squadron starting from 25 January 1946 with the Lancaster I and III before being replaced by the Lincoln B2. The squadron left on 6 August 1953 moving to RAF Wittering.

83 Squadron from 21 March 1957 with the Vulcan B1 before being reduced to a cadre with no aircraft and moving to RAF Scampton on 10 August 1960.

101 Squadron from 26 June 1961 with the Vulcan B1 and B2 before being disbanded on 4 August 1982.

In addition Waddington was home to several USAF Coronet deployments throughout the Cold War.

During the Falklands War Vulcans from Waddington were active. Operation Black Buck saw three Vulcan B2s and crews from Waddington take part in a long-range bombing raid on Port Stanley airfield in the Falkland Islands.

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Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS

Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS

In July 1991 8 Squadron moved to Waddington and re-equipped with Boeing E-3 Sentrys.

The Electronic Warfare Operational Support Element now known as the Air Warfare Centre moved from RAF Wyton to Waddington in March 1995.

In 1998 26 Squadron RAF Regiment moved to RAF Waddington from RAF Laarbruch in Germany. The squadron was equipped with the Rapier Field standard C short range air defence missile system and remained at Waddington until its temporary disbandment in 2008.

34 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) was formed at Waddington on 1 April 2006 to create a deployable air force structure.

All of the aircraft operating squadrons based at RAF Waddington were dispersed to other airfields in July 2014 when the runway was closed for rebuilding. The project, valued at £35 million and due to take 12 months, actually took 26 months and re-opened to aircraft officially in November 2016. The work was expected to increase the operational capability of the runway and airfield by 25 years.

216 Squadron reformed at Waddington on 1 April 2020 as an experimental unit testing future drone swarm technology. Also 1 Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance Wing was formed on 1 April 2016. It is a mix of the staff and capabilities of the Tactical Imagery Intelligence Wing (TIW) at RAF Marham, 54 Signals Unit at RAF Digby and  5 (AC) Squadron. Waddington is home to the wing headquarters.

In September 2020 work to convert a hangar into a joint flight simulator training facility was completed. The facility, operated by the Air Battlespace Training Centre, allows simulators at different locations to be linked together enabling UK and US crews to train with one another.

5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron was disbanded in March 2021 when the Sentinel R1 was withdrawn from service. The E-3D Sentry was also retired in 2021, with No. 8 Squadron subsequently relocating to RAF Lossiemouth to re-equip with the Wedgetail AEW1.

In August 2022, 39 Squadron disbanded, with a MQ-9A Reaper Ground Control System returning from Creech AFB in Nevada to Waddington for use by No. 13 Squadron, which continued to operate the Reaper.

During early October 2022, the RAF Aerobatic Team the Red Arrows and its 146 personnel relocated to Waddington from its previous home at RAF Scampton which is now closed.

RAF Waddington is the home of the  RAF's Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) hub and is home to a fleet of aircraft composed of Shadow R1 and RC-135W Rivet Joint and is an operating base for the RAF's MQ-9 Reaper.

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Waddington church memorial

Waddington church airfield memorial

RAF Waddington shelters

RAF Waddington sheltered storage

Pill box and Antanov An 12

Yarnold Sangar and Antanov An 12 in the background. Very unlikely ever to see one of those in the UK again

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Compiled by David Fell with photos from my archive

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Bomber Command interest are the

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