Validation date: 09 04 2016
Updated on: Never
See on the interactive map:
Runway: 05/23 - 4200ft x 150ft - tarmac
Runway: 11/29 - 6000ft x 150ft - tarmac
Runway: 16/34 - 6000ft x 150ft - tarmac
Spilsby airfield (RAF Spilsby, also known as Firsby airfield) was an airfield 185km north of London.
It opened in September 1943 as a Class 'A' bomber airfield allocated to 5 Group, Bomber Command. It had a main runway of 1430 yards, with the remaining two of 1400 yards. It also hadtwo T2 hangars, one on the technical site on the south-west side of the airfield, the other outside the eastern perimeter track. A third hangar, a B1 type, was located outside the northern perimeter track, where the bomb stores also located. The airfield was home to 2,112 males and 222 females. The 16/34 1400yd runway was later extended to 2000 yards.
On 12th October 1943, 207 Sqn arrived with Lancaster Bombers from RAF Langar.
Besides the obvious risks for aircrews in wartime, life on a bomber airfield also had other dangers. On 10 April 1944 a tragic accident occurred on Spilsby’s bomb site. A 1000lb delayed action bomb suddenly exploded while being disarmed. The blast claimed the lifes of ten armorers, three of whom were never found.
Spilsby became a two-squadron airfield on 30 September 1944 when Lancasters of 44 (Rhodesian) Sqn arrived from RAF Dunholme Lodge.
The air war came to Spilsby on 3 March 1945 in the form of an Intruder attack by the Luftwaffe. Intruders would mingle with the returning bomber streams and when over the airfield, they would carry out attacks on both aircraft and airfield structures. On this occasion Spilsby received two bombs near to a runway and number of cannon shells.
The two Spilsby squadrons had their final mission on 25 April 1945, when the target was Hitlers retreat in Berchtesgaden. 44 Sqn stayed almost ten months before departing to RAF Mepal, on 21 July 1945, trading places with 75 (NZ) Sqn until they disbanded in October 1945. 207 Sqn carried out operations from Spilsby until the end of WWII. They left for RAF Methwold on 30 October 1945.
After the war, the airfield was retained by the RAF and housed 2 Armament Practice School, which operated the de Havilland Mosquito, Miles Master, Supermarine Spitfire and Miles Martinet. The Armament Practice School left Spilsby on 1 May 1946, when the base was put on Care and Maintenance. It saw a return to life as a USAF non-flying site for the 7536th Material Sqn in 1955. Strangely, during this period the 11/29 runway was also extended to 2000 yards, but it was never used and the airfield was fully closed in March 1958. The site was sold off in 1962.
Today, very little of the airfield remains with the two T.2 hangars having been demolished. The runways were torn up in the 1970s to be used as aggregate for the Humber Bridge. Several fragments of perimeter track and parts of dispersals can still be seen alongside the minor roads on the east side of the airfield. The B1 hangar still stands, as does the operations block. Part of the domestic site is still extant, in use as farm buildings. A fine memorial can be found built on the base of the crash tender shed. This replaced an existing memorial and was unveiled on 21st June 2012.The outlines of RAF Spilsby were still visible in the soil in this 2006 aerial photo (Google Earth)