USAAF Station 342
Atcham Airfield – 9 May 1946
|Type||Royal Air Force station|
Royal Air Force|
United States Army Air Forces
31st Fighter Group|
14th Fighter Group
495th Fighter Training Group
RAF Flying Training Command
|Battles/wars||Second World War|
Royal Air Force Station Atcham or more simply RAF Atcham is a former Royal Air Force station located 5.0 miles (8.0 km) east of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, on the north eastern boundary of Attingham Park.
Royal Air ForceEdit
Atcham was built to house two squadrons of RAF Fighter Command with the first to arrive being 131 Squadron on 27 September 1941 with Supermarine Spitfires. It was planned to open RAF Condover as a satellite station but when it opened in 1942 the RAF had decided to hand over the Atcham for American use.
United States Army Air ForcesEdit
Atcham was transferred to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Eighth Air Force on 15 June 1942. It was designated as Station 342 (AP). Located some distance away from the other Eighth AF bases in East Anglia, at first Atcham was used as an operational fighter base, however beginning late 1942 its primary use became operational training of fighter pilots for both Eighth and Ninth Air Force units.
31st Fighter GroupEdit
The first American use of Atcham was the 31st Fighter Group, consisting of the 307th, 308th and 309th Fighter Squadrons. The ground echelon of the 31st arrived from New Orleans AB, Louisiana on 11 June 1942, with the pilots following later in the month, and was assigned to the Eighth Air Force. The group consisted of the following squadrons:
- 307th Fighter Squadron (MX)
- 308th Fighter Squadron (HL)
- 309th Fighter Squadron (WZ)
The group arrived without assigned aircraft as its Bell P-39 Airacobras were found unsuitable for long-distance formation ferry flights. Provided with British Supermarine Spitfires by the Royal Air Force (RAF), the 31st FG entered combat in August and supported a raid made by Canadian, British, American, and French forces at Dieppe on 19 August. The group also escorted bombers and flew patrol and diversionary missions.
14th Fighter GroupEdit
Equipped with Lockheed P-38 Lightnings, the 14th escorted Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers to targets in France. In addition, fourteen P-38s of the 48th Squadron were sent on detached service to RAF Westhampnett and RAF Ford in southern England, where in co-ordination with British squadrons, the pilots engaged in a number of practice sweeps across the English Channel.
1st Provisional Gunnery FlightEdit
495th Fighter Training GroupEdit
From November 1942 to October 1943 Atcham was host to 6th Fighter Wing, as a Combat Crew Replacement Centre, flying Spitfires and Bell P-39 Airacobras, these being replaced with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts.
- 551st Fighter Training Squadron (VM)
- 552d Fighter Training Squadron (DQ)
Back to Royal Air Force controlEdit
Atcham was returned to the RAF Flying Training Command on 14 March 1945 becoming a satellite of RAF Ternhill. No. 5 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit ((P)AFU) and No. 6 Service Flying Training School (SFTS). No. 577 Squadron RAF target towing with Airspeed Oxfords, Spitfires and Vultee A-31 Vengeances used the airfield until the end of the war.
Atcham was abandoned on 22 October 1946 and disposed of on 20 January 1958.
With the end of military control, Atcham airfield was returned to farmland with the runways being broken up and removed and the control tower demolished.
Today there is little evidence of Atcham airfield. Some minor agricultural roads which were part of the perimeter track remain as access to farm fields, and the B4394 uses part of the former North-South main runway. The three T-2 hangars of the former technical site remain together in use with all the administration buildings, the whole complex forming the Atcham Industrial Estate northwest of the former airfield area.
- ↑ Jefford 2001, p. 59.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "RAF Atcham airfield". Control Towers. http://controltowers.co.uk/A/Atcham.htm. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Freeman 2001, p. 22.
- ↑ "Atcham". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. http://www.abct.org.uk/airfields/atcham. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Maurer 1980, p. 85.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Maurer 1980, p. 83.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Maurer 1980, p. 84.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Maurer 1980, p. 58.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Maurer 1980, p. 57.
- Freeman, R. Airfields of the Eighth – Then and Now. After the Battle. London, UK: Battle of Britain International Ltd., 2001. ISBN 0-9009-13-09-6.
- Jefford, C.G, MBE, BA, RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
- Maurer, M. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. USAF Historical Division. Washington D.C., USA: Zenger Publishing Co., Inc, 1980. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
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