|RAF Ludford Magna|
Last updated: 7 Dec 12
Opened: Jun 1943
Closed: 25 Oct 1945 (parenting to RAF Binbrook)
Polish transit camp until spring 1956
Closed: May 1963
Sold off: Oct 1965
Airfield code :: LM
ICAO Code ::
Airfield call sign :: REVOLVE, BOOKWORM
Squadrons based here:
101 Sqn :: 15 Jun 1943 - 1 Oct 1945
Station Flight :: - 1944 -
3 Flt, 2706 Sqn RAF Regt :: Jun 1943 - Nov 1943
2702 Sqn RAF Regt :: Nov 1943 - ??
104 (SM) Sqn :: 22 Jul 1959 - 24 May 1963
RAF Ludford Magna was sited immediately to the south of the twin villages of Ludford Parva and Ludford Magna. With concrete runways authorised for the site in Dec 1940, construction on the airfield, covering 600 acres, began in 1942 and was completed in 90 days. Ludford Magna was never intended to be a permanent RAF station and was therefore dominated by Nissen huts and the few permanent buildings which included up to 6 T2 and one B1 hangars. When the airfield opened in June it was the highest bomber airfield in England, at height of 428ft above sea level. Due to the slope on the site, the the main runway was constructed north-south instead of the more conventional north-east south-west orientation. The airfield lighting was MkII and it was was protected by a Q site night decoy (Q192A) at Rand, one mile north of Wragby.
101 Sqn arrived on 15 Jun 1943 and commenced offensive bombing operations with a part in a raid on Krefeld on 21 Jun. On 25 Jun, 233 MU at RAF Market Stainton became a subsidiary unit of Ludford Magna. During the same period 3 Flt, 2706 Sqn RAF Regt was posted to Ludford Magna for airfield defence. In Nov 1943 the Station prepared to receive a second flying squadron, 576 Sqn, the nucleus to be formed from 4 crews of 101 Sqn and other crews from 103 Sqn at Elsham Wolds. In the event the atrocious mud and limited infrastructure at Ludford Magna led 576 Sqn to be formed at RAF Elsham Wolds. The other flying unit to be located here was the Station Flight, equipped with at least one Oxford.
At the end of Oct 1943 beam approach equipment had been installed and was tested but found to be not up to standard. The station was later further enhanced with FIDO for fog dispersal, being the first airfield in 1 Group and one of the handful of RAF bases to be equipped. Prevailing muddy conditions led to the nickname of 'Mudford Magna'.
RAF Ludford Magna became 14 Base HQ on 16 Dec 1943 and had satellite airfields at RAF Wickenby and RAF Faldingworth. However the Base was somewhat below power from its creation until Apr 1944 as Ludford Magna had only one sqn and Faldingworth had only a HCU! 101 Sqn became somewhat of a specialist squadron in Electronic Warfare in both jamming and location. View the 101 Sqn history for full details.
The first bomber attack against Ludford Magna took place on 4 Mar 1945, damage being restricted to a small crater and some canon fire. Soon thereafter the post VE-day drawdown began to effect the Station and in Sep 1945 an advance party of the 101 Sqn left for RAF Binbrook, the remainder following shortly thereafter. This inevitably brought about the disbandment of the flying support units and of 14 Base HQ on 25 Oct 1945. Administrative control and parenting of the Station passed to RAF Binbrook.
The Stn was briefly used as a major transit camp for up to 700 Polish refugees until around 1948 while the land was transfered to the Ministry of Agriculture for disposal. Thereafter a dwindling core of around 40 families remained beyond Sep 1955, probably leaving by Apr 1956. See northwickparkpolishdpcamp.co.uk for more information on Polish refugees in general.
RAF Ludford Magna was selected as home to 104(SM) Sqn with its three Thor IRBM launchers in a new role. From 1959 to 1963 each missile was armed with a one-megaton nuclear warhead, controlled by the US Air Force under so-called dual-key arrangements. RAF Hemswell was the headquarters for the 5 Lincolnshire dispersal sites at RAF Hemswell, RAF Bardney, RAF Caistor, RAF Coleby Grange and RAF Ludford Magna. However with only 54 personnel assigned to Ludford Magna the site was quite austere location compared to its wartime role. The Thor force disbanded on 15 Mar 1963 and 104 (SM) Sqn disbanded 10 days later.
With the end of the Thor force the buildings and disposable assets at Ludford Magna were disposed of in public auction from 20-22 Jul 1964. The military association with Ludford Magna ended on 19 Oct 1965 as the remaining 505 acres were sold to farming companies.
Most of the operating surfaces were broken up during the 1970s but the Thor silos have proved more resilient.
The Viking Way long-distance footpath skirts the perimiter of the former airfield site to the north and east.
101 Sqn history on RAF website
RAF Ludford Magna page on Royal Air Force website
RAF Ludford Magna on the Wartime Memories Project
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