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RAF Ridgewell
USAAF Station 167

Ensign of the Royal Air Force Eighth Air Force - Emblem (World War II)

Halstead, Essex, England
Aerial Photo of Ridgewell Airfield - 1945
Type Military airfield
Coordinates Latitude: 52.04
Longitude: 0.54
Location code RD
Built 1942 (1942)
In use 1942-1957 (1957)
Air Ministry
Controlled by Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
US Army Air Corps Hap Arnold Wings United States Army Air Forces
Garrison RAF Bomber Command
Eighth Air Force
Occupants No. 90 Squadron RAF
381st Bombardment Group (Heavy)
Battles/wars European Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945

Royal Air Force Station Ridgewell or more simply RAF Ridgewell is a former Royal Air Force station located 7.5 miles (12.1 km) north west of Halstead, Essex, England.

During the war, the airfield was used by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force.


Ridgewell airfield was an early example of stations completed to Class A heavy bomber airfield design for the RAF, and had three intersecting runways of 6,500 ft each in length, thirty-six hardstands, two T-2 hangars and accommodation for 2,900 men in temporary buildings.

RAF Bomber Command useEdit

The airfield was opened in December 1942 and was first used by No. 90 Squadron of RAF Bomber Command, equipped with Short Stirling Bombers until May 1943, the station being at that time a satellite of RAF Stradishall.

USAAF useEdit

Ridgewell was the only long-term heavy bomber base of the Eighth Air Force in Essex. For United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) use, the number of hardstands was increased to the fifty required by a US bomb group. The station was part of the 1st Combat Wing establishment of the 1st Division and was the furthest east of its thirteen heavy bomber stations. It was assigned USAAF designation Station 167, station code "RD".

381st Bombardment GroupEdit

From 30 June 1943 the airfield was used by the USAAF 381st Bombardment Group (Heavy), arriving from Pueblo AAB, Colorado. Its tail code was Triangle-L. The 381st Bomb Group consisted of the following operational squadrons and fuselage codes:

After V-E Day, the 381st Bomb Group returned to Sioux Falls AAF, South Dakota in July 1945 and was inactivated on 28 August.[1][2]

B-17Gs 381st BG en route to target c1944

B-17s of the 381st Bomb Group, Ridgewell Airfield England, en route to targets over Nazi-occupied territory. The aircraft in the foreground is Boeing B-17G-70-BO Fortress, Serial 42-31443 "Friday the 13th" of the 532d Bomb Squadron. This aircraft was lost on 22 February 1944 on a mission to Oschersleben, Germany.


Boeing B-17G-55-BO Fortress Serial 42-102664 "Happy Bottom" of the 532d Bomb Squadron being christened by Edward G. Robinson, 5 July 1944. Unfortunately this aircraft ditched in the English Channel on 16 July 1944


Boeing B-17G-70-BO Fortress 43-37675, of the 532d Bomb Squadron en route to targets over Nazi-occupied territory. Named "Patches", "Flak Magnet" and "Trudie's Terror" by various aircrews, This aircraft survived the war and was retired to Kingman AAF Arizona on 17 December 1945.

Air Ministry useEdit

After the war, Ridgewell was used for bomb storage from 15 July 1945 to 31 March 1957. It was then disposed of and sold. The United States Air Force retained the old aircraft hangars which were used by units from nearby RAF Wethersfield and RAF Alconbury for storage until both bases were closed in the early 1990s.

Current useEdit

With the end of military control, the majority of the base was returned to agriculture, with the buildings and control tower being torn down. The concrete runways and hardstands were removed for hardcore, although much of the perimeter track was reused for country roads, albeit at a reduced width.

Recently part of the airfield has been purchased by the Essex gliding club and is their home base for gliding throughout the summer months.


There are two memorials to the men of Ridgewell. One is to the men of RAF 90 Squadron, and a second is dedicated to the USAAF 381st Bombardment Group. Both are located on the site of the base hospital,[3] where a small museum is also located.[4]

See alsoEdit


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website



  • Comer, John. Combat Crew: The true story of one man's part in World War II's allied bomber offensive. Time Warner Paperbacks, 2003. ISBN 0-7515-0796-2
  • 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.
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1991) The Mighty Eighth The Colour Record. Cassell & Co. ISBN 0-304-35708-1
  • 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.

External linksEdit

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