RAF Matching

Summary

Royal Air Force Matching or more simply RAF Matching is a former Royal Air Force station located 5 miles (8.0 km) east of Harlow, Essex and 22 miles (35 km) northeast of London.

RAF Matching
RAF Matching Green
USAAF Station AAF-166
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Patch9thusaaf.png
Located Near Harlow, Essex, England
Matching-aug1943.jpg
Matching airfield photographed on 1 August 1943 while still under construction.
RAF Matching is located in Essex
RAF Matching
RAF Matching, shown within Essex
Coordinates51°47′03″N 000°14′34″E / 51.78417°N 0.24278°E / 51.78417; 0.24278Coordinates: 51°47′03″N 000°14′34″E / 51.78417°N 0.24278°E / 51.78417; 0.24278
TypeRoyal Air Force station
CodeMT
Site information
OwnerAir Ministry
Controlled byRoyal Air Force
United States Army Air Forces
Site history
Built1943
In use1944-1946
Battles/warsEuropean Theatre of World War II
Air Offensive, Europe July 1942 - May 1945
Garrison information
GarrisonNinth Air Force
RAF Bomber Command
Occupants391st Bombardment Group
No 38 Group
Martin B-26C-45-MO Marauder Serial 42-107837 of the 575th Bomb Squadron. "Aksar Ben Knight"
Martin B-26B-50-MA Marauder Serial 42-95835 of the 391st Bomb Group. "Mad Mohawk"

Opened in 1944, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces. During the war it was used primarily as a bomber airfield. After the war it was closed in 1946.

Today the remains of the airfield are located on private property being used as agricultural fields.

HistoryEdit

USAAF useEdit

Matching was known as USAAF Station AAF-166 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. Its USAAF Station Code was "MT".

391st Bombardment GroupEdit

The first combat organisation, the 391st Bombardment Group, arrived at Matching on 26 January 1944 from Goodman AAF, Kentucky flying Martin B-26 Marauders. Operational squadrons of the group were:

The group marking was a yellow triangle painted on the tail fin of their B-26s.

The first mission was flown on 15 February and 150 more were completed before the group moved into France in late September 1944. The group moved onto the continent, transferring to Roye/Amy, France (ALG A-73) on 19 September 1944. The group then switched to Douglas A-26 Invaders and flew its last mission on 3 May 1945 from Asche, Belgium (ALG Y-29).

The 391st Bomb Group returned to the United States in October and was inactivated at Camp Shanks, New York on 25 October 1945.

With the move of the 391st to France, this was the end of Matching airfield's association with the Ninth Air Force as a combat airfield.

Royal Air Force useEdit

Douglas C-47 Skytrains of IX Troop Carrier Command were detached to Matching later in 1944 for exercises with British paratroops. In 1946 the airfield was closed and sold to private owners.

Post warEdit

With the facility released from military control, it was rapidly returned to agricultural use and the concrete was soon removed for road hardcore but the hangar on the technical site survived for farm use. However, in the late 1980s the T-2 Hangar was dismantled and re-erected at North Weald for Aces High where it was used for TV productions, including 'The Crystal Maze' set.

Current useEdit

The control tower still stands a half century after it was built and for some years has been used for radar experiments by Cossor Electronics. Many remaining Nissen Huts and corrugated roof buildings in the former technical site are now used for small industrial units, farming and storage along with the water tower.

Part of the main runway (03/21) that remains is now used as a public road and another surviving portion was used for heavy goods vehicle instruction. Many single-width sections of the perimeter track are used for agricultural vehicles. However very little of the runways, perimeter track or dispersal hardstands of the former airfield survive. Even in aerial photography, there is very little evidence of the airfield's existence.

A memorial plaque to the men of the 391st Bomb Group is housed in Matching Church.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

CitationsEdit

BibliographyEdit

  • Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0-900913-80-0
  • Freeman, Roger A. (1996) The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle ISBN 1-85409-272-3
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present

External linksEdit

  • USAAF Station 166 - Matching, Essex