No. 7 Squadron Short Stirling Mk.III

Discussion in 'Start to Finish Builds' started by Lucky13, Jul 21, 2012.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    #1 Lucky13, Jul 21, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2012
    Not got the kit yet, but as I enjoy the research as much as everything else, I thought that I'd start a thread anyway, about the airfield, Oakington etc., see how much and what I can find..

    RAF Oakington

    Oakington will always be the spiritual home of 7 Squadron yet the Squadron was based there only from October 1940 to July 1945 but being unique in Bomber Command having been based at the same station throughout its World War II operational career.

    Construction of Oakington began in the summer of 1939 - the site, some 5 miles north west of Cambridge, having been selected for an expansion scheme airfield. Operational use started in July 1940 when it was used for 218 Squadron (2 Group), which had recently returned from France, with the first offensive operation in August 1940.

    In September 1940 Oakington became part of 3 Group when it was chosen as the base for the first Stirling squadron - 7 Squadron.218 Squadron left Oakington in November 1940 so that 7 Squadron could have more space. Then in November 1940 Spitfires of the recently formed 3 Photo Reconnaissance Unit arrived - however because of the poor surface during the winter months the Spitfires frequently used Alconbury.

    Oakington’s grass surface was also the cause of problems for the heavy Stirlings during the winter of 1940/1941 - there were a number of landing and take-off accidents because of the strain put on its undercarriages.

    Oakington was first used by 7 Squadron for an offensive mission in February 1941 to attack Rotterdam docks.

    But because of the service Oakington was frequently unserviceable with the result that the Stirlings had to fly to Wyton to bomb-up for operations. In the spring of 1941 runway construction began - the main runway 05-23 and 1700 yards long was completed first with 01-19 (1300 yards) and 10-28 (1400 yards) completed over the next twelve months. 05-23 was subsequently lengthened to 2000 yards and 01-19 to 1530 yards.

    Subsequent building work included realigning the perimeter track and expanding the domestic accommodation to allow for nearly 2000 personnel.

    The Pathfinder Force, which 7 Squadron had joined in August 1942, became No. 8 Group in the January of 1943. Its policy was to have two Squadrons per airfield. At Oakington 7 Squadron, which was being re-equipped with Lancasters to replace the Stirling, was joined by 627 Squadron formed with the Mosquito.

    The latter Squadron moved to No. 5 Group in April 1944 being replaced by the newly formed 571 Squadron. With the end of the conflict 7 Squadron moved to Mepal, 571 to Warboys with Oakington now becoming part of Transport Command. During the summer of 1945 it was the base for 86 and 206 Squadrons flying ex-Coastal Command Liberators for long-range troop transport to the Far East.

    After these Squadrons were disbanded in April 1946 a series of other transport squadrons occupied Oakington. It was then taken over by Training Command towards the end of 1950. Eventually the Army took the station over as a barracks. The final regiment to occupy the camp was the Royal Anglian Regiment which moved out in 1999.

    The runways were removed for hard-core for the construction of the nearby M11 Motorway (although the perimeter track remains).



    Also found this,

    Meadowland five miles north-west of the centre of Cambridge was selected as a site for an expansion scheme airfield in the 1930s and construction of Oakington began in the summer of 1939. However, the specification was changed after war was declared and, as a result, a limit was placed on the number of permanent buildings and more utility types were dispersed around the village of Long Stanton St Michael, which was adjacent to the camp site at the north-west side of the landing ground. The original plan called for a crescent of Type C hangars on the technical site but two Type J were erected instead.

    The station came into use under No. 2 Group in July 1940 as a refuge for battered No. 218 Squadron, recently returned from France, and re-equipping with Blenheims and its first offensive operation from the station was made on August 19. In September, Oakington was passed to No. 3 Group and chosen as the base for the first Stirling squadron - No. 7 - which had been working up on the type at Leeming away from the air battles in the south. In November 1940, No. 218 Squadron left for Marham and re-equipment with Wellingtons and to give the expanding Stirling complement at Oakington more room. The squadron had lost two Blenheims while on operations from the airfield.

    During that same month, a few Spitfires appeared in a corner of the station to take up the newly-formed No. 3 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) with a mission to conduct high altitude camera work over Bomber Command's targets but due to poor surface conditions during winter months, the unit often operated from Alconbury. The following summer it was moved to Benson.

    The choice of grass-surfaced Oakington to base Stirlings when hard-surfaced runways were available elsewhere in No. 3 Group is puzzling. Oakington's fen soil had under drainage of the landing ground but it was no place for such a heavy aircraft in winter, and the soft surface put added strain on the Stirling's ungainly undercarriage resulting in a spate of landing and take-off accidents during the winter of 1940-41. Nevertheless, No. 7 Squadron sent out its first sorties on February 19, 1941 to attack Rotterdam docks. However, the airfield was so often unservicable that the Stirlings had to take off light and bomb-up at drier Wyton to carry out operations. During 1940 a perimeter track and at least 26 pans and six square-shaped hard standings were put down, two of the former being lost when two T2 hangars were erected on the north-west side of the technical area. Bomb stores were off to the north.

    Hard runway construction began at Oakington during the spring of 1941 but No. 7 Squadron remained in residence while work was in progress laying concrete parallel to the grass strips. The main runway OS-23, 1,700 yards long, was completed first but the other two were not finished until the spring of the following year, the 01-19 being 1,300 yards and 10-28 1,400 yards. Thirty pan hardstandings were provided.

    In June 1941, No. 101 Squadron arrived from West Raynham to be re-established as a Wellington unit in No. 3 Group. In February 1942 No. 101 was moved to the new satellite at Bourn and in August No. 7 joined the Pathfinder Force as an original squadron.

    Further work on the runways during the spring of 1942 saw 05-23 extended to 2,000 yards at its 23 end and O1-19 to 1,526 yards the north-eastern end. As a result of this work, the B1050 road had to be closed. Reworking the perimeter track to meet the extensions resulted in some loss of hardstandings, these being reduced to 28 to which eight loops were added. At a later date a B1 hangar was erected on the north-west side of the airfield near Long Stanton village. Expanded domestic accommodation allowed for a maximum of 1,591 males and 350 females.

    In January 1943, the Pathfinder Force became No. 8 Group and, with the gradual withdrawal of the Stirling from main force bombing operations, an early move was made that summer to re-equip No. 7 with Lancasters. No. 8 Group had settled on a policy of two squadrons per airfield, one with Lancasters and the other with Mosquitos and to this end No. 627 Squadron was formed at Oakington in November 1943 and became operational on the night of the 24th/25th. In April 1944 it went to No. 5 Group when that formation was developing its own target marking techniques for precision attacks. A new squadron - No. 571 - was formed to replace No. 627, which started life at Downham Market, beginning operations from Graveley before moving into Oakington.

    Total operational losses of bombers flying from the airfield, including those destroyed in crashes in the UK, amounted to 258. This was made up of 113 Stirlings, 93 Lancasters, 36 Mosquitos and 16 Wellingtons.

    Post-war, No. 7 was moved to Mepal in July 1945 when Oakington was transferred to Transport Command, the squadron being unique in Bomber Command m having been based at the same station throughout its operational career. It was at Oakington for over four and a half years during which time it flew 546 raids - more than 5,000 sorties with 78 Stirlings and 87 Lancasters failing to return from operations. The same month No. 571 Squadron was moved out to Warboys.

    Ex-Coastal Command Liberators of Nos. 206 and 86 Squadrons then took up station at Oakington in July and August 1945 for long range troop transport to the Far East but these squadrons were disbanded the following April after which Yorks arrived. A succession of transport squadrons came and went until late in 1950 when Training Command inherited the station. Harvards, Meteors, Vampires and then Varsities and Jetstreams were the main types in succession through the next 25 years. The Army then took over the camp as a barracks but in 1999 the Royal Anglian Regiment moved from Oakington to North Luffenham. The runways have now been removed for hard-core but the perimeter track remains. In 2000, part of the former domestic area was earmarked for accommodating overseas applicants for asylum in Britain.
     
  2. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Looking forward to this build Jan, let me know when you intend to start...
     
  3. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Good stuff Jan. I should have a plan of Oakington somewhere if you want it? It's in what used to be the smallest County in England, Rutland, but as far as I know, it's now Cambridgeshire, since the boundaries changed.
     
  4. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting Jan. Looking forward to this sir!:thumbright: :cool:
     
  5. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Hope around the time when back from Sweden, a months time...

    Go right ahead old boy!

    Cheers Aaron! Should be interesting, not touch a 1/72 for......must be almost 30 years! :oops: :lol:
     
  6. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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  7. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    I almost exclusively work 1:72...

    In a month or so is good Jan, won't have time for modelmaking before then myself.
     
  8. Airframes

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    I'll find, scan and post the plan as soon as old boy.
     
  9. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Much obliged old boy! Have a snifter or two!
     
  10. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    This is really cool, and great info you've posted Jan! I'm really looking forward to this one.
     
  11. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Me too! Will be fun! Back to the days of homework and Biggles! Will try to pick up a Lancaster and a Halifax too, as time go....
    Need to try to remember which I built of the Matchbox' Halifax'. Remember that you could build them with either of two noses and tails.
    Not too sure about the engines though... :lol:
    Seing that the No. 7 Squadron used the code MG, I might do her as MG-B, like the classic car... :lol:
     
  12. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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  13. Airframes

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    It's at KK old boy, along with the Revell boxing of the same kit, at £14.99. And I always thought MGB meant Might Go Bang ......
     
  14. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    That or Mighty Good Bang! :lol:
     
  15. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    :lol:

    That Matchbox kit halifax is nice Jan, built it myself many moons ago. Im hearing a 'British heavies' build...not just Stirlings. Be a good excuse to get into my Lincoln conversion.
     
  16. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Been looking at a few old Airfix 1/72 kits, those that I wanted (dreamed about) as a kid, built the Lancaster and the Stirling, but I also wanted the Hampden, the He 177 and the B-29, a kid could daydream, right? So, it surely will be a unofficial RAF Heavies GB! :lol:
    Found a couple of good Hampdens, in the old boxing, like I remember them, on the proper Lancaster etc... :lol:
     
  17. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Sounds great to me!

    Btw Jan, if you can cover the postage, I have a pre-loved Hampden going free if you want it. I scored a new one a while back so don't need both.

    Had been largely completed (sans glasswork, etc) in '98 in a failed OOB attempt - couldn't bear the lack of detail, so autopsied it. Glass work and small parts are in original condition.
    Pulled her out from storage about 2 months back and thinned the inner walls, added an 'inaccurate but representative' Airwaves PE set and a little scratch work.
    Drop us your address in a PM if interested! (can throw in the Airfix reissue Flygvapnet markings for 1-90 too which are great, unlike the originals!)
     
  18. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    I'll keep her in mind pal, cheers a bunch! :thumbright:

    In the meantime, what I'm keeping an eye on ebay, a few there...

    $(KGrHqR,!rgE+jc(YSK0BQBhu,J2uw~~60_3.jpg
     
  19. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Cool, glad they're around! They were going for horrendous prices for a while before the rerelease.
    Btw, if you get the original issue, let me know which scheme you want to do and and I'll send you the new decals - really MUCH better!
     
  20. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Will keep you posted mate! :thumbright: If this kick off, we'll need a separate thread for the RAF Heavies! :lol:
     
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