BADMAC Visit to RAF Scampton Heritage Centre

Beverley and District Model Flying Club visited the RAF Scampton Heritage Centre on the 7th June 2014. A number of members and guests attended all had a very informative visit.

RAF Scampton Heritage Centre
RAF Scampton has had a rich and varied history. Search the Internet and you will find no end of references to the exploits of the airmen who served here. Of course, our most famous squadron is 617 also known as the Dambusters. Post-war Scampton was an extremely important base housing one of the United Kingdoms nuclear deterrents - the Blue Steel Missile. Even today Scampton leads an interesting life as home to the RAF Aerobatic Team - The Red Arrows.To celebrate the history of Scampton, we have created a station Heritage Centre, it's housed in one of the original WW2 hangers and contains over 1500 artifacts (including a Blue Steel Missile) which will be of interest to all aviation enthusiasts around the world. Entry to the Heritage Centre is free to the general public. All we ask is that you contact the curator prior to your visit as the Heritage Centre is not permanently manned and due to current security measures access to the station is not possible without prior arrangement.

Pre War
With the expansion of the RAF to meet developments in Germany, during the 1930s the Air Ministry turned first to abandoned First World War landing grounds when looking to build the required new airfields. The Scampton aerodrome site proved suitable although a larger acreage was required taking in farmland to the south in the parish of Scampton, a village to the west of the B 1398. Compulsorily purchased in 1935, work took the best part of two years and the RAF appeared on site before completion. The camp area was placed in the south-east corner and accessed from the A15 which formed the eastern border of the station. Substantial flat-roofed, brick buildings predominated and four Type C hangars were erected. The weapons stores were further north on the eastern side of the airfield.By October 1936, No. 9 Squadron and its Heyfords and No. 214 with Virginias arrived from Northern Ireland with No. 3 Group administering the station. No. 214 converted to Harrows early in 1937 only to be transferred south to Feltwell in April. In June, `C' Flight of No. 9 Squadron became the reformed No. 148 Squadron, flying Audax biplanes for two months while awaiting Wellesley monoplanes. In March 1938, the recently formed No. 5 Group was given bomber stations in Lincolnshire so Nos. 9 and 148 Squadrons moved south to No. 3 Group's new station at Stradishall. Their place was taken by Nos. 49 and 83 Squadrons, ex-Worthy Down and Turnhouse respectively. Both surrendered their Hawker Hinds for Handley Page Hampdens later in the year.

At War
With the outbreak of war, the most frequent operational commitment was mine-laying the approaches to the enemy's ports. The first two Bomber Command VCs went to men from the Scampton squadrons.On August 12, 1940, Flight Lieutenant Roderick Learoyd's No. 49 Squadron Hampden was badly damaged by ground fire when he pressed home a low-level attack on the Dortmund-Ems canal. The award was made for his conduct in this action and bringing the badly mauled bomber safely back to base.Sergeant Hannah was a wireless operator / air gunner in a No. 83 Squadron Hampden, which was set on fire from a direct flak hit in the bomb-bay while attacking invasion barges on September 15, 1940. Sergeant Hannah could have baled out but he stayed and fought the fire, which enabled his Canadian pilot to fly the crippled machine back to Scampton. Sergeant Hannah was the youngest recipient of the VC for aerial operations during the war.On March 15, 1943, a bomb accidentally released from a No. 57 Squadron Lancaster, detonated and destroyed this and four visiting No. 50 Squadron aircraft parked nearby. Six days later No. 617 Squadron was formed at Scampton for the task of attacking Ruhr dams with the Barnes Wallis's rotating mine. The raid, carried out on the night of May 16/17, 1943, brought No. 617's leader, the legendary Wing Commander Guy Gibson, the station's third Victoria Cross. At the end of August 1943, No. 57 Squadron moved to East Kirkby and No. 617 to Coningsby so that Scampton could be upgraded with concrete runways. In the early war years, 36 asphalt hard standings had been built round the airfield and several of these were lost when the hard runways were added. These were 05-23 at 2,000 yards, O119 at 1,500 yards and 11-29 at 1,400 yards. A total of 11 loop hard standings were laid down along the perimeter track to replace those lost or isolated by the construction. New bomb stores were fashioned on land north of the north-west corner of the airfield and a T2 erected nearby. Total accommodation available at Scampton at this time was given as 1,844 males and 268 females.Work was not completed until the summer when a fighter affiliation unit, No. 1690 Flight, moved in to conduct exercises for bomber defence training. As of October 1944, Scampton passed to No. 1 Group which immediately moved in the newly re-formed No. 153 Squadron with its Lancasters. No. 1687 Bomber Defence Training Flight took up station in December 1944 to perform much the same duties for No. 1 Group as No. 1690 BDT Flt had done for No. 5 Group. At the end of March this unit moved to Hemswell and Scampton once again had two operational bomber squadrons when No. 625 arrived from Kelstern. The two Lancaster squadrons undertook their last bombing raids from Scampton on April 25, 1945 when they mounted an attack on Hitler's mountain retreat at Obersalzberg. During the war the total losses of all squadrons operating from Scampton was 266 aircraft. Of these 155 were Hampdens, 15 Manchesters and 95 Lancasters.

Cold War
Post war, Scampton became host to training organisations. Bomber Command Instructors' School appearing in January 1947 and remaining for the next six years. From July 1947 to April the following year runway strengthening and other upgrading was carried out.In 1953 the station once again supported regular bomber squadrons, Nos. 10, 18, 21 and 27, all Canberra equipped, but by June 1955 all had been moved elsewhere so that Scampton could be redeveloped for heavy jet bomber use. The main runway was re-laid to Class 1 standard and extended to 3,000 yards necessitating a diversion of the A15. On completion of this work, No. 617 Squadron was re-formed at Scampton in May 1958 to fly Vulcans, joined in 1960 by another former resident, No. 83 Squadron, also on Vulcans. The latter squadron was disbanded in 1969. No. 230 OCU appeared again that year, its task being the preparation of Vulcan crews, and in 1973 a second regular Vulcan squadron was again added to the station complement when No. 27 was re-formed. Two years later a third Vulcan squadron appeared, No. 35.The V-bomber force remained in being until 1982 from when Scampton again reverted to a training role, the Central Flying School taking up station in September 1984 and remaining until 1996 when the station was closed.

RAF Scampton By Roy Wood