Scampton is sited just north of Lincoln and to the west of Ermin Street. This site was first used in the First World War when it was known as Brattleby. The airfield opened in 1916 and at that stage comprised only temporary wooden huts and six hangers. The airfield was used for a short period for anti-zeppelin patrols but was then taken over by No. 60 Reserve Squadron in April 1917 flying Avro 504’s and RE8’s. In July 1918 the three squadrons that had been at the station during the previous twelve months were combined to form No. 34 training depot station operating Sopwith Camels and Dolphins. At the end of the first war training came to a halt and in 1919 the airfield was closed. By 1920 all the buildings had been removed and the land was back under agriculture.
As part of the RAF expansion in the late 1930’s a new airfield on the site was planned. In 1935 work commenced and comprised an arc of C type hangers in the south east corner plus substantial brick built barrack blocks, workshops and messes. The original accommodation was tented however and wooden huts were used for some of the administrative buildings and messes. On August 27th 1936 the airfield officially opened as part of No. 3 group before being transferred to No. 5 group on March 10th 1939. The airfield was still incomplete at this stage. No. 9 Squadron were flying Heyfords and then came No. 214 Squadron with Virginia and Harrow aircraft. Handy page Harrows followed along with Harts, Audax and Vickers Wildibeast and No. 49 Squadron and 83 Squadron then took over the airfield and re-equipped with Handley page Hampdens. At the beginning of March 1940 Fairey Battles of 98 Squadron arrived but soon moved on to RAF Finningley. During April bomber command commenced its mine laying campaign (‘gardening’) particularly in the North Sea area. This was the main work of the airfields squadrons for the first two years of the war.
‘Babe’ Leroyd of No. 49 Squadron won the first bomber command Victoria Cross whilst flying from Scampton on August 12th 1940 when attacking the Dortmund-Emms canal. Shortly afterwards in September 1940, 83 Squadron won the second Victoria Cross when Flt Sgt John Hannah managed to put out a fire in his Hampden despite the fact that two other crew members had bailed out.
On February 9th 1941 the Luftwaffer visited Scampton and dropped a stick of bombs across the flare path. The next night an intruder followed one of 49 Squadrons aircraft home after a raid on Willhelmshaven and shot it down at Langworth five miles from the airfield. On May 12th a JU88 was shot down over the airfield, the crew all being killed and buried in Scampton churchyard on May 14th 1941. In December 1941 Avro Manchesters arrived for 83 Squadron. By May of 1942 these aircraft were being replaced by Lancasters. 49 Squadron followed suit soon afterwards. 83 Squadron moved to Watten in August 1942 to become part of the Pathfinder Force and three weeks later 57 Squadron arrived from Feltwell but did not become operational until mid October. 57 and 49 Squadron took part in many operations with their new Lancaster Bombers. 467 Squadron formed at Scampton on 7th November 1942 but soon moved to Bottisford and 1661 heavy conversion unit also occupied the airfield from November until December 1942.
In January 1943 Scampton was designated No. 52 Base 5 Group with control of Dunholm Lodge and Fiskerton. At this stage the airfield still had no concrete runway and heavily laden four engine bombers were churning up the surface badly. On March 15th a photo flare exploded in a parked Lancaster and the resulting fire and explosion destroyed four other fully bombed up Lancasters. Two of the aircraft disintegrated completely.
In March 1943 617 Squadron was formed at the airfield. On May 10th No. 5 Group servicing flight was established with the task of assisting all units in the group with any technical problems. During June 1518 BATF with Oxfords moved away from the airfield. 617 continued to operate from the airfield. On August 29th 57 Squadron left for East Kirkby and 617 Squadron left for Conningsby on 30th. Scampton was then formally closed and work started on runway construction and general expansion, which then lasted for nine months. During this period Scampton still controlled the operations from its satellite and the airfield remained the home to several training units. One of these was the Air Crew Commando School, which moved in from Warsall Hall and involved training crew in the art of escape. On July 13th 1944 the airfield opened again and No. 1690 Bomber Defence Training Flight arrived from Syreston. The unit had Spitfires, Hurricanes and Martinet Target Tugs with the role of providing fighter affiliation training for all squadrons in 5 group. In October 1944 Lancasters of 153 Squadron arrived and Scampton was then transferred to No. 1 Group on 30th of the month. No. 52 Base moved to Syreston and Scampton became No. 15 Base with Fiskerton and Hemswell as satellites. 627 Squadron arrived on April 2nd 1945 and the unit took part in operations ‘Manna’ ‘Dodge’ and ‘Exodus’. It was disbanded on October 7th 1945.
Following the outbreak of peace Scampton was retained as a permanent RAF station and held the first Battle of Britain day on September 15th 1945 with over fifteen thousand people attending. In January 1946 57 Squadron which by now had re-equipped with Lincolns moved to Lindholm and Scampton was left without any resident flying unit. No. 1 Group major servicing unit however had taken over from No. 5 Group servicing and had the task of disposing of surplus Lancasters. The airfield was closed for some considerable time due to the appalling weather in the winter of 1946/47. In January 1947 Bomber Command Instruction School moved in flying an assortment of Mosquitoes, Spitfires, Wellingtons, Lancasters and Lincolns. This later became the bomber command instrument rating and examination flight.
On July 17th 1948 Superfortress bombers of the 28th bomb group USAF arrived at the airfield. This unit was replaced on October 8th 1948 by 30 B29 Washington aircraft of the first bomb group on January 15th 1949. Lancasters and Lincolns of 230 OCU were the next unit to occupy the airfield.
The following years were quiet with Shackletons occasionally using the airfield along with some Fortresses and Constellations of the US Navy. In July 1953 10 Squadron occupied the airfield with Canberra B2 bombers. On June 1st 1955 the station was closed and placed on care and maintenance. Work however was carried out at a great rate to make the airfield capable of operating the new generation of V Bombers. The old wartime runway pattern was replaced by a single 9,000ft runway with more land being obtained on the North and East sides of the old airfield. On May 1st 1958 the airfield reopened as a class 1 airfield and 617 Squadron reformed here with Vulcan B1’s. Several other squadrons operated Vulcan B1 and B2 from the airfield and in 1972 the Hastings radar flight joined 230 OCU at the airfield. 35 Squadron joined the airfield in January 1975 but in 1979 it was announced that all but one of the V bomber squadrons would be disbanded and be replaced by Victor Tanker squadrons from Marham. The Vulcan conventional role was retained until 1982 when Scampton reverted to a training role with the Central Flying School arriving in 1984. RAF Scampton was placed on Care and Maintentance for a period from 1996 until the Red Arrows took up residence again. Today the station hosts the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT) (Red Arrows), No 1 Air Control Centre (1ACC), Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) Scampton, and the Mobile Meteorological Unit (MMU).
The airfield was also known as Brattleby and Brattleby Cliff
Google Earth Co-ordinates:
53°18 31.9″N 0°33 9.9″W
01/19 = 4500 x 150 ft
05/23 = 6000 x 150 ft
11/29 = 4200 x 150 ft
05/23 = 9000 x 200 ft
R.A.F Scampton station museum is housed in one of the original WW2 hangers and contains over 400 artifacts and exploring the rich and varied history of RAF Scampton, including its most famous squadron 617, also know as the Dambusters, and home to the Red Arrows. Search the Internet and you will find no end of references to the exploits of the airmen who served here. Post-war Scampton was an extremely important base housing one of the United Kingdoms nuclear deterrents – the Blue Steel Missile. The museum would be interest to all aviation enthusiasts around the world.
RAF Scampton Museum RAF Scampton Lincoln
01522 683856 or 07748630832 or 01522 500738
Please contact the curator prior to your visit as the museum is not permanently manned and due to current security measures access to the station is not possible without prior arrangement.
Entry to the museum is free to the general public, donations are welcome. All we ask is that you contact the curator prior to your visit as the museum is not permanently manned and due to current security measures access to the station is not possible without prior arrangement.