Updated: 13 Feb 12
Opened: spring 1942
Squadrons based here:
18 OTU :: Spring 1942 - 1 Feb 1943
199 Sqn :: Nov 1942 - 1 Feb 1943
1662 HCU :: 26 Jan 1943 - 1945
18 (Polish) Op Training Unit :: ??
1481 Bomber Gunnery Flt :: ??
7 Aircrew Holding :: ??
Airfield code :: AL
ICAO Code ::
Airfield call sign :: SLEEPWALK, WOOLSACK
Blyton airfield was constructed in 1942 between the Blyton and Northorpe villages and is now bordered by the B1205 to the south and the A159 to the west side. The main runway was 03-21 at 2,030 yards, the 14-32 runway at 1,400 yards and 11-29 at 1,430 yards. The usual 36 pan hard standings were provided off the concrete perimeter track although one was lost on the east side to a T2 hangar erected north of Cold Harbour Farm. A B1 hangar was positioned south of Cold Harbour and a second T2 on the technical site situated southwest of the runway heads 03 and 11.
Bomb stores were located in fields between runway heads 14 and 21. Six domestic, two WAAF, two communal and sick quarters sites were dispersed among fields north of Blyton village on either side of the A159. Total accommodation provided for 1,966 males and 389 females.
Opened as a 1 Group airfield it began service with B Flight of 18 (Polish) Operational Training Unit arrived with Wellingtons from Bramcote. 199 Sqn reformed at Blyton in early Nov 1942 on the Wellingtons; its first op was on 6 Dec with a six ship formation bombing Mannheim. After only one month the Sqn relocated to Ingham, leaving Blyton on 1 Feb 1943 , after 119 sorties with only one aircraft lost and a single fatality. The move out was triggered by the requirement for long, hardened runways for 1662 HCU's heavies - Lancasters and Halifaxes - for whom their current grassy home at Ingham was unsuitable.
1 Group was planned to become an all Lancaster force. However, production could not keep up with the increasing demand and thus by the end of 1943 all the Lancaster had been withdrawn from Blyton. 1662 HCU was left with some 30 Halifaxes.
One year later Blyton was transferred from 1 Group to 7 (Training Group) in November 1944, when Lancaster production finally allowed the Halifaxes to be retired
1662 HCU remained at Blyton for 26 months losing over 50 aircraft in crashes, many of which were in the farmland around the airfield which became quite unpopular. By the end of March 1945, the demand for specialized operational training was being more than met and the unit disbanded early in April.
From late 1943 the runways and taxiways at Blyton had often needed repair and by the spring of 1945 these surfaces were generally in a poor state. The runways and perimeter track suffered considerable strain and needed major repair work through prolonged heavy bomber use towards the end of the war. As a result no further RAF flying units were based on the airfield after the 6 Apr 1945 of 1662 HCU. After a period of care and maintenance, the airfield was left to decay. In the fifties it appeared that the Cold War would give the station a new lease of life as it was allocated to the USAF for refurbishment as a reserve airfield. However, no renovation is known to have been carried out and the USAF party soon withdrew.
The following two decades brought sale of the hangars and land and the inevitable removal of runway concrete for hard core.
The airfield is now used - in part as the Blyton Raceway. It is employed for off-road racing cars and test running refurbished and/or new designs of trucks.
Photos of RAF Blyton control tower
RAF Blyton page on Royal Air Force website
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