Unit History: RAF Swinderby

RAF Swinderby
Garrison/HQ: Swinderby, Lincolnhire.
Motto: Haec porta moenia viri - these are the gates, the Men are the walls
RAF Swinderby (now closed) used to be a Royal Air Force Bomber Command airfield, one of the last of the stations completed under the RAF's expansion plans which started in the 1930s. It is built near the village of Swinderby, Lincolnshire just off the south east side of the A46 near Lincolnshire, England.
Under the command of Number 1 Group, Swinderby came under the control of RAF Bomber Command and housed numbers 300 and 301 squadrons, mainly Polish manned initially flying the Fairey Battle. Later squadrons would use such diverse aircraft as the Handley Page Hampden, the Vickers Wellington, Avro Manchester and finally Avro Lancasters.
In the 1950s it was the home of No. No. 8 FTS, converting trainee pilots to Vampires. In 1956 it hosted a brief experiment to keep all the flying training to wings stage straight through on one base. This was abandoned after a month due to the obvious danger of collisions in the circuit between the Vampires and the much slower piston engined Provost basic trainers.
In 1964, Swinderby changed its role to that of recruit training, responsible for the basic training of all enlisted RAF personnel prior to their trade training.
In 1995 the station was put up for sale to commercial development and the airfield plays host to semi-regular events including antique fairs.
Many buildings, hangars and the air traffic control tower remain in evidence along with acres of concrete runways and taxiways.
Part of the Parris Island boot camp scenes for the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket were filmed at Swinderby.

RAF Swinderby during WW2

The airfield was ready for use by June 1942 so No: 50 Squadron returned to convert Manchester while runways were being put down at Skellingthorpe. This lasted until October when the squadron returned to its former base. A No. 50 Squadron Lancaster failing to return on the night of September 23/24, 1942 is believed to be the last Bomber Command aircraft lost in operations from Swinderby, bringing the total wartime losses to 84. These were two Battles, 54 Hampdens, 12 Wellingtons, two Manchester’s and seven Lancaster’s.

Swinderby was then selected to become an operational training station for No. 5 Group with the formation of No. 1660 Heavy Conversion Unit using Manchester’s and Lancaster’s. However, a shortage of Lancaster’s in the autumn of 1943 caused most to be withdrawn from the HCU and Stirling’s were employed instead until the position improved. Some form of training activity was henceforth to be Swinderby's lot. No. 1660 HCU came under the control of No. 7 Training Group in November 1944 and remained for two more years before moving to Lindholme. It was replaced at Swinderby by No. 17 OTU - initially with Wellingtons - later redesignated No. 201 Advanced Flying School being joined by No. 204 AFS using Mosquito’s. In following years, further changes of unit and equipment occurred with Swinderby remaining a flying training establishment until March 1964.

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