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RAF Kirton in Lindsey
Rapier Barracks
USAAF Station 349

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Eighth Air Force - Emblem (World War II).png Flag of the British Army.svg

Located Near Lincoln, UK
Type Military airfield
Coordinates Latitude:
Location code KL
Built 1940
In use 1940--present
Controlled by Royal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Garrison RAF Fighter Command
Eighth Air Force

European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945

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Royal Air Force Kirton in Lindsey or more simply RAF Kirton in Lindsey is a Royal Air Force airfield 15 miles (24 km) north of Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England.

On 25 March 2013 it was announced to dispose of the airfield and technical facilities with only accommodation remaining. The airfield used to host No. 1 Air Control Centre (1ACC), the RAF’s only deployable ground-based early warning and air control radar unit, which was parented by RAF Scampton.

First World War[edit | edit source]

The Royal Flying Corps and later Royal Air Force airfield at Kirton in Lindsey was used during the First World War from December 1916 to June 1919. The airfield was used by detachments of 33 Squadron from nearby Gainsborough until the squadron moved was based from June 1918, 33 Squadron was a home defence squadron equipped with the Bristol Fighters and Avro 504s.

With the end of the war, the airfield was returned to agricultural use.

RAF Fighter Command use[edit | edit source]

Kirton in Lindsey was opened on a new site in May 1940 as a Fighter Command Station covering the NE of England during World War II. Many Defiant and Spitfire Squadrons rested here for a short time during the Battle of Britain.

The first pilot casualty during the Battle of Britain, when Sgt Ian Clenshaw flew a dawn patrol from here on July 10, 1940, and was killed in what is generally regarded as a disorientation accident.[1]

The airfield was home of Number 71 Squadron of the RAF's Fighter Command. 71 Squadron was composed of mostly Americans and was one of the "Eagle Squadrons" of American volunteers who fought in World War II prior to the American entry into the war. 71 Squadron was assigned the squadron code XR.

The squadron arrived at the station in November 1940. By January the squadron was declared combat ready and began flying convoy escort over the North Sea. On 9 April No. 71 was moved to RAF Martlesham Heath.

RAF units and aircraft[edit | edit source]

Dates Unit Aircraft Variant Notes
1942 No. 43 Squadron RAF Hawker Hurricane I Short stay in September before the squadron moved to North Africa
1941 No. 65 Squadron RAF Supermarine Spitfire IIA February to September operating coastal patrols before moving south
1940–1941 No. 71 Squadron RAF Hawker Hurricane I Eagle Squadron
1940 No. 74 Squadron RAF Supermarine Spitfire IIA Short stay August/September 1940
1940 No. 85 Squadron RAF Hawker Hurricane I Short stay October/November 1940
1941 No. 121 Squadron RAF Hawker Hurricane I and IIB Eagle Squadron formed May 1941 before moving to RAF North Weald
1941–1942 No. 133 Squadron RAF Supermarine Spitfire IIA then VA and VB
1941 No. 136 Squadron RAF Hawker Hurricane IIA and IIB Squadron formed August 1941 before moving to the Far East
1942 No. 169 Squadron RAF North American Mustang I Detachments from Doncaster
1940 No. 222 Squadron RAF Supermarine Spitfire I Two short stays
1940 No. 253 Squadron RAF Hawker Hurricane I May to July
1940–1941 No. 255 Squadron RAF Boulton Paul Defiant
Hawker Hurricane
1940 No. 264 Squadron RAF Boulton Paul Defiant I
1943 No. 302 (Polish) Squadron RAF Supermarine Spitfire VB
No. 303 (Polish) Squadron RAF Supermarine Spitfire VB
1942 No. 306 (Polish) Squadron RAF Supermarine Spitfire VB
1940 No. 307 (Polish) RAF Boulton Paul Defiant I Formed September 1940
1941–1942 No. 409 Squadron RCAF Bristol Beaufighter IIF Detachment from Coleby Grange
1941 No. 452 Squadron RAAF Supermarine Spitfire I and IIA
1942 No. 457 Squadron RAAF Supermarine Spitfire VB Short stay before move to Australia.
1942 No. 486 Squadron RNZAF Hawker Hurricane II Formed March 1942
1940–1941 No. 616 Squadron RAF Supermarine Spitfire I

USAAF use[edit | edit source]

Kirton in Lindsey was allocated to the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force in 1942. It was assigned USAAF Station number 349, code "KL"

1st Fighter Group[edit | edit source]

Beginning in June 1942, the 94th Fighter Squadron of the 1st Fighter Group at RAF Goxhill used the station for training with Lockheed P-38 Lightings. The squadron remained until October.

81st Fighter Group[edit | edit source]

In October 1942, the 91st Fighter Squadron of the 81st Fighter Group used the station for training. The squadron arrived in Europe from Muroc AAF California flying Bell P-39 Airacobras. The squadron remained until December then departed for French Morocco as part of Twelfth Air Force.

RAF Flying Training Command use[edit | edit source]

In May 1943, the station was transferred back to RAF control for use as a Fighter Operational Training Unit with Spitfires of 53 OTU from Llandow, Caistor and Hibaldstow used as satellite airfields. Kirton in Lindsey remained a front-line RAF base during the Cold War and afterwards, with the following units assigned:

  • 05/46 to /48, No.7 Service Flying Training School with Oxfords from Sutton Bridge, moved to Cottesmore.
  • 48 to /52, Used by non-flying RAF Training Schools.
  • 52 to /57, No.2 ITS (later renamed No.1 ITS) with Tiger Moths.
  • 57 to /60, Airfield closed and on Care and Maintenance.
  • 60 to 12/65, Reopened with 7 School of Technical Training and a Gliding School.

British Army use[edit | edit source]

In 1966, control of Kirton in Lindsey was transferred to the Royal Artillery and was renamed "Rapier Barracks".

Due to the Royal Artillery association, the Army Cadet Force detachment which is housed there has the Royal Artillery cap badge. The former RAF camp was taken over by the army in 1966 and the 1st btn Royal Northumberland Fusiliers were there for 3–4 years ( going to Aden for about nine months) and then were amalgamated into the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in 1969/70 and left for Gibraltar in 1971 after a few tours of Northern Ireland

Return to RAF control[edit | edit source]

In 2004, the station was returned to RAF control and became the home of No. 1 Air Control Centre (1ACC), a deployable ground-based early warning and air control radar unit having relocated from RAF Boulmer in 2004-05.

Kirton also provides accommodation and messing for personnel based at, and is administered by, RAF Scampton.

In 2011-12, the technical site was vacated and No 1 ACC moved all personnel and equipment to RAF Scampton. During the same period the Junior Ranks Mess, accommodation blocks and dental centre were all closed. The Officers' Mess, Gym and a number of Service Families Accommodation remain open as a satellite of RAF Scampton, but it was announced on 25 March 2013 [2] that a decision had been taken to dispose of the former airfield and technical facilities.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

Citations[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Freeman, Roger A. (1978) Airfields of the Eighth: Then and Now. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-09-6
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1991) The Mighty Eighth The Colour Record. Cassell & Co. ISBN 0-304-35708-1
  • Halpenny, Bruce Barrymore Action Stations: Wartime Military Airfields of Lincolnshire and the East Midlands v. 2 (ISBN 978-0850594843)
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.

External links[edit | edit source]

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