Strubby airfield (RAF Strubby, ICAO: EGYI, Strubby airfield's ICAO: EGCG) is an airfield 200 kilometer north of London. Strubby was built as a late Class A standard bomber airfield from 1943. It had 36 'loop'-type aircraft parkings, three hangars (1 B1-type, two T2-type) and a technical site on the soutwest side of the airfield. Dispersed domestic sites were capable of handling 2400 personnel. The first recorded landing at Strubby was by an USAAF Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, which was forced to make an emergency landing on the runway before the station had even been completed. Although the site had been planned to become a 5 Group Bomber Command airfield, it was put on Care&Maintenance upon completion. It was ultimately officially opened on 13 April 1944.
When it opened, Strubby became a sub-station for 55 Base (East Kirkby), but it took until 1 May 1944 before the first squadron arrived. 280 Sqn of Coastal Command brought Air-Sea Rescue equipped Vickers Warwick. The Coastal Command squadron was brought to the airfield due to the airfields' proximity to the North Sea. On 1 July 1944 Strubby received two more squadrons: 144 Sqn and 404Sqn (RCAF) with Beaufighter bombers, which made up the Strubby Strike Wing, tasked by and under control of Coastal Command. Although successful at striking German shipping, 144 Sqn and 404Sqn (RCAF) were withdrawn from Strubby on 3 September and 280 Sqn left on the 6th. Three weeks later 619 Sqn arrived from RAF Dunholm Lodge, bringing Lancaster bombers with them. Within a week they flew a mine-laying mission to Oslo-fjord. On 7 October 1944 'B'-flight of 227 Sqn was formed at Strubby. For two weeks they were attached to the 619 Sqn operations, after which they left to join their squadron mates of 'A' flight at RAF Balderton. 227 Sqn returned to Strubby on 5 April 1945. 619 Sqn's last operational bomber mission took place on 25-26 April. The last overal mission for both squadrons was to ferry ex-POWs from the continent back to the UK. In total the base lost 65 Lancasters during the war.
Shortly after VE-day, on 30 June, 619 Sqn left the airfield for RAF Skellingthorpe and 227 Sqn left for RAF Gravely. They were replaced by the ground component of 'Tiger Force', the long range heavy bomber force that was to fight the Japanese. They needed to be fited out and as part of this force, 381, 382, 383 and 384 Maintenance Units (MUs) were formed at the airfield on 9 July 1945. By the start of September all had either left the airfield (382 and 383), or been disbanded (381 and 384). Other units formed at Strubby as part of the Tiger Force were 81 Mobile Field Hospital, 38 Field Hygiene Unit and the 39 Malarial Control Unit. Like the MUs, all had left the station the start of September. Tiger Force was officially disbanded on 31 October 1945. However, many unwanted Lancasters continued to be stored on the runways. Again, RAF Strubby was placed on Care&Maintenance and by 1 November 1945 all flying from the station had ceased. The administration of Strubby was transferred to East Kirkby and 40 Group Maintenance Command took over the airfield on 20 November 1945.
The airfield remained under 35 MU control until 29 July 1949, when it was passed on to the RAF Flying College, RAF Manby. At the same time it was announced that, from 1951, the airfield would become a Relief Landing Ground to be used by a large range of aircraft of the RAF Flying College. Reason was that its long runway made it better suited to jet operations than Manby. As a result, the airfield began to see use by DeHavilland Vampires, Gloster Meteors and Avro Athenas. The Vampires did not remain long: they were withdrawn from RAF service the following year. In 1953, the airfield received a Royal guest when the Duke of Edinburgh arrived to see the damage of the February floods to the East Coast. That same year Englih Electric Canberra bomber aircraft started to arrive. IN 1954 the main runway was extended and an operational readiness platform was built. Over time, some additional work was carried out to airfield facilities, most notably a modern 'glass house' on top of the existing wartime control tower. In July 1955, Gloster Meteors of 3 All Weather Jet Refresher Unit arrived at Strubby, and replaced the outgoing Avro Athenas. Just before the end of the same year, the first Hawker Hunters had started to arrive. With all the tennant units (Canberras and Hunters of the RAFFC and Meteors of the AWJRU), the station was operating at full capacity again.
Until November 1961, all personnel serving at the station was housed there. From this date however, all personnel were rehoused at nearby RAF Manby and the domestic housing site was closed down. In July 1962, the AWJRU left Strubby but it was quickly replaced by personnel and aircraft from the newly formed School of Refresher Flying at Manby. The RAFFC had been renamed the RAF Collage of Air Warfare, but it was still operating the Canberras from the airfield. Hawker Hunters were slowly starting to be withdrawn however. In March 1964 the Hunting Jet Provost began to appear at the airfield. These aircraft replaced the outgoing Meteors and by April 1965 all had gone. The Jet Provosts did not make it until the end of the year though, as by the end of 1965, all had been replaced by Vickers Varsities of the CAW. In February 1966 the first Hawker Siddeley Dominies started to appear, replacing the now outgoing Canberra. The last Canberra left in December 1966.
RAF Strubby closed as an air station on 8 September 1972. At the end of a final parade and flypast, a single Dominie and a single Varsity flew over the airfield. When they had passed the airfield the Dominie flew directly to RAF Manby and the Varsity to RAF Oakington, both representing their new homes. In the following week, the last remaining aircraft left the base and the station was closed down.
Varsities, Dominies and Jet Provosts overfly RAF Strubby during the Farewell Flypast on 8 September 1972 (PPRuNe)
A single Varsity overflies the airfield during the closing ceremoney on 8 September 1972 (BCAR)
The close down did not mean the end of aviation at Strubby. In 1974, the Conoco oil company began to ferry employees to and from their gas platforms in the North Sea from a heliport on the northeast side of the airfield. For this purpose, they had acquired a section of the taxi-track and four 'loop' type aircraft parkings. On the site, they built a hangar and a station building. They were followed by the Lincolnshire Gliding Club, coming from RAF Swindereby. They were briefly known the Strubby Gliding Club, but soon became the Lincolnshire Glliding Club again.
In March 1980, the airfield was auctioned and soon after the sale much of the runways, dispersals and perimeter taxi-track was torn up to be sold for aggregate for roads. Part of the taxitrack near the technical site began being used as a go-kart circuit. Conoco and the Glliding club continued to use their operations from the airfield however. In 1999 Conoco departed for a new facility at Humberside Airport, but that did not close the airfield. The old helicopter station was converted into a small GA-airfield, which continues to be active as Strubby airfield and operated by the Strubby Aviation Club. A glider site is operating a few hundred meters to their southwest. The former control tower had been left derelict until 2006. It was then converted into a private home, completed in 2008.
Ca. 2000 map, which I first saw on the Bomber Command history pages on the RAF website. It shows Strubby Airfield (disused) but also an encircled H at the location of the Helicopter port (aircrewremembered.com)
An undated map of the airfield, but presumably made in the early 2000s as it still lists the north site as 'old heliport'. The south site is the glider airfield (airfieldinformationexchange).
2011 aerial photo of the formeer air station (Google Earth).