RAF Waddington

RAF Waddington opened as a Royal Flying Corps flying training station in Lincolnshire not far outside of Lincoln in 1916. In 1920 the station went into care and maintenance.

The station re-opened as a bomber base on 12 March 1937, with squadrons flying the Bristol Blenheim and later Handley Page Hampdens. In November 1940 RAF Waddington was the first station to receive the Avro Manchester heavy bomber.

44 Squadron and 50 Squadron, both based at Waddington, were in action on the first day of World War II attempting to bomb the German Navy at Keil. During the Battle of Britain, Hampdens from Waddington bombed German invasion barges anchored in Channel ports.

The Hampdens gave way to Avro Manchesters, and then, in December 1941, the first of the vastly superior Avro Lancasters entered RAF service for the first time with 44 Squadron at Waddington. It was with this unit Squadron Leader John Nettleton earned the Victoria Cross in June 1942 leading an attack on a German U-boat engine factory at Augsburg in southern Germany.

Concrete runways were laid during 1943 after which two Royal Australian Air Force Lancaster squadrons took up residence. The final WWII raid from Waddington took place on 25/26 April 1945 against an oil refinery at Tonsburg, after which the station was heavily involved in Operation Exodus, the repatriation of Prisoners of War.

Post-WWII, Waddington hosted a variety of Lancaster and Avro Lincoln squadrons and later Washingtons.

The station was put into care and maintenance in 1953 to prepare it for the V-bomber force.

June 1954 the Queen approved the RAF Waddington badge, incorporating the towers of Lincoln cathedral, and on 25 April 1959 the station was granted the Freedom of the City of Lincoln. Since then all Waddington aircraft have carried the City Crest.

During the Cold War, the station was home to Vulcan V bombers. These were ready at a moment's notice to deliver nuclear bombs deep into the heart of the old Soviet Union. The last use of the Vulcan bombers was during the Falklands War, when its planned retirement was postponed because of the Falklands conflict. The only surviving Vulcan is based at Waddington. This has been brought back into service and flew at the Farnborough International Airshow 2008 and later that same year to commemorate 90 years of the RAF.

RAF Waddington is now home to Nato AWACs and the latest strike aircraft the Typhoon.

RAF Waddington is home to the Waddington International Air Show, which weather permitting usually takes place in the last weekend of June.

Lincolnshire ~ 50 Squadron
(c) Keith Parkins 2009 -- February 2009 rev 1