RAF Rivenhall

Summary

Royal Air Force Rivenhall or more simply RAF Rivenhall is a former Royal Air Force station located in Essex, England. The airfield is located approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) south-southeast of Braintree, Essex, England.

RAF Rivenhall
USAAF Station AAF-168
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svgPatch9thusaaf.png
Silver End, Essex in England
Rivenhall-04-1944.jpg
Rivenhall airfield photographed in April 1944 with the B-26 Marauders of the 397th Bombardment Group parked on the grass, while the P-51 Mustangs of the 363d Fighter Group still on the dispersal loops.
RAF Rivenhall is located in Essex
RAF Rivenhall
RAF Rivenhall
Shown within Essex
Coordinates51°51′19″N 000°38′23″E / 51.85528°N 0.63972°E / 51.85528; 0.63972Coordinates: 51°51′19″N 000°38′23″E / 51.85528°N 0.63972°E / 51.85528; 0.63972
TypeRoyal Air Force station
CodeRL
Site information
OwnerAir Ministry
OperatorUnited States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
Controlled byNinth Air Force 1943-44
RAF Fighter Command 1944-
Site history
Built1944 (1944)
Built byW. C. French Ltd
In useDecember 1944 - January 1946 (1946)
Battles/warsEuropean theatre of World War II
Airfield information
Elevation51 metres (167 ft)[1] AMSL
Runways
Direction Length and surface
00/00  Concrete/Tarmac
00/00  Concrete/Tarmac
00/00  Concrete/Tarmac
Rivenhall airfield headquarters site, 1944.
North American P-51B-5 Mustang, Serial 43-6830 of the 382d Fighter Squadron.
Formation of Martin B-26Bs of the 397th Bomb Group. Closest two aircraft are B-26B-55-MA S/N 42-96137 (9F-Y) and 42-96191 (9F-N) "Milk Run Special" of the 597th BS, 397th BG, 9th AF. The other B-26's are from the 598th Bomb Squadron. 42-96137 was shot down on 13 May 1944. 42-96191 was shot down on 24 June 1944. Photo taken before D-Day, as the Marauders are not painted with invasion stripes

Opened in 1942, it was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces. During the war, it was used primarily as a combat airfield with various fighter and bomber units. After the war, it was closed in 1946 and kept in reserve until 1956.

Today, the remains of the airfield are located on private property with the northern half being turned into a quarry.

HistoryEdit

USAAF useEdit

Rivenhall was known as USAAF Station AAF-168 for security reasons by the USAAF during the war, and by which it was referred to instead of location. Its USAAF Station Code was "RL".

363d Fighter GroupEdit

On 22 January 1944, a squadron of the 363d Fighter Group arrived from RAF Keevil where it had been awaiting equipment. The group had been selected as the third in the European Theatre to be equipped with the new North American P-51B Mustang. The group consisted of the following operational squadrons:

On 14 April 1944, as part of a general movement of Ninth Air Force fighter units in the Colchester area to the advanced landing grounds, the 363d moved to RAF Staplehurst. The actual movement of all elements had begun two days previously.

397th Bombardment GroupEdit

On the day following the departure of the 363d, the first Martin B-26 Marauders of the 397th Bombardment Group arrived from RAF Gosfield. The group consisted of the following operational squadrons:

The group's identification marking was a yellow diagonal band across both sides of the vertical tailplane.

Early in August, officially on the 5th, the 397th transferred from Rivenhall to RAF Hurn in Hampshire, to give the Marauders a better radius of action as the break-out of the Allied forces from the Normandy beachhead meant that potential targets were receding.

RAF useEdit

The following units were here at some point:[2]

Current useEdit

Upon its release from military use, in June 1956, Marconi leased part of the airfield and within ten years had taken over most of the surviving buildings. Today, the northern half of the former airfield has been turned into a quarry, with the vast majority of the land in the northwest of the airfield being excavated.

The perimeter track of the airfield has been reduced to a single track agricultural road. However, some of the loop hardstands still remain in the southwestern quadrant of the field. All three runways either have been quarried, or substantially reduced in width, with agriculture fields taking over the grass areas of the former airfield. One T-2 hangar remains, along with a scattering of buildings. An automobile salvage yard has taken over some of the hardstands in the east end of the airfield, where once C-47s and gliders were stored. As of 2013, only one of the two T-2 hangars remain, with demolition claiming the other historical remaining buildings.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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

CitationsEdit

  1. ^ Falconer 1998, p. 77.
  2. ^ "Rivenhall". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 25 April 2022.

BibliographyEdit

  • Falconer, J (1998). RAF Fighter Airfields of World War 2. UK: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-2175-9.
  • 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

  • Rivenhall - A History of an Essex Airfield
  • Rivenhall Airfield Pictures 2006[permanent dead link]