8th Air Force Station No 428
Updated : 10 Feb 12
Closed: May 1945
Airfield/Station Identification Code: CG, later WC2
Squadrons based here:
253 Sqn :: May 1940 - Jul 1940
264 Sqn :: 1940?; Nov 1943 - Dec 1943
307 (Polish) Sqn :: Mar 1944 - May 1944; ?? - May 1945
402 Sqn RCAF :: May 1941 -
409 Sqn RCAF :: 26 Jul 1941 - 23 Feb 1943; 19 Dec 1943 - 5 Feb 1944
410 Sqn RCAF :: Feb 1943 - Oct 1943
288 Sqn :: Mar 1943 - Nov 1943
68 Sqn :: 5 Feb 1944 - 1 Mar 1944
2882 LAA Sqn RAuxAF :: formed 1 Mar 1944 - 14 Apr 1944
17 SFTS ::
425 Sqn US 9th Air Force :: 1944
1515 BAT Flight :: Feb 1945
107 EGS ::
142 Sqn :: 1959 - 1963
Opened in 1939 as a relief landing ground for RAFC Cranwell with 253 and 264 Sqn starting to use it. In May 1941 it was transfered to 12 Gp, Fighter Command and became an RAF Digby satellite, 402 Sqn then moving in. 409 Sqn RCAF were present from Jul 1941 to Feb 1943 and again from Dec 1943 to Feb 1944. 410 Sqn RCAF filled the gap from Feb to Oct 1943 on nightfighter defence duties. The station was also home to 307 (Polish) Sqn, departing May 1945.
The airfield never took on an air of permanence like its parent Digby, only ever having one hangar and a single grass runway. Nearby Coleby Hall was pressed into service as the Officers' Mess during the war.
The three grass strips were: NE/SW, 2000 yards (1800 mtrs), NW/SE, 1400 yds (1280 mtrs) and 966 yds (880 mtrs). A concrete perimeter track encircled the airfield site, part of which utilised the B1202 road which formed the southern boundary. The airfield was ultimately equipped (by 1944) with nine hangars; one T.1, one blister and seven extended over-blisters and accommodation was provided for c. 1800 personal, RAF and WAAF's, all ranks.
Once German daylight raids stopped in 1943, RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey became a training unit and RAF Hibaldstow also closed in Jan 1943. After Aug 1944 RAF Digby took on a non-operational role involved in radar calibration and other duties. This left Coleby Grange standing alone to combat the threat of night raids in Lincolnshire.
One of the first Battle of Britain aerial displays was conducted in 1946 from Coleby Grange.
425 Sqn US 9th Air Force deployed from Coleby Grange to participate in the Allied Expeditionary Air Force effort during Op OVERLORD/NEPTUNE in Normandy, Jun 1944. At the time it was equipped with P61/70 aircraft.
From 1959 to 1963 Coleby Grange re-opened with 142 (SM) Sqn which was a Thor IRBM unit and 3 launchers. Each missile was armed with a one-megaton nuclear warhead, controlled by the US Air Force under so-called dual-key arrangements. RAF Hemswell was the headquarters for the 5 Lincolnshire dispersal sites at RAF Hemswell, RAF Bardney, RAF Caistor, RAF Coleby Grange and RAF Ludford Magna.
The Viking Way long-distance footpath passes 1.5 km to the west of the former airfield site, along the B1202.
1959 saw the station re-opened with 142 Sqn Thor ICBM unit closing again in 1963.
Today the airfield is in private hands and used for agriculture. The Dunston Land Pillar, which can be seen to the north-east of the airfield on the East side of the A15, was reduced in height by 40ft and had its lantern removed during WII due to it being a hazard for aircraft in the Coleby circuit. The land pillar had originally been built by Dashwood to lead travellers across the difficult to navigate Lincoln Heath after it had been reclaimed from heath and scrubland.
Photos of RAF Coleby Grange control tower
Aerial photograph of RAF Coleby Grange
> USAAF Station Numbers
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